How to train in a wrong way?

Part one:

As I’ve done decathlon almost 15 years I have gotten some experience from sports, competing, training, injuries and developing oneself. Unfortunately, during the last years of my career I’ve had also too much experience from injuries and plateau. But the most important ”lesson” for me has been the fact that sometimes less is more!


Now, when my career is over or let’s say the most active phase of my career has ended, I’ve gotten some perspective to my own training and also to doing sports and exercising in general – especially to Finnish athletes training!


Too many times during my career good or even great training season resulted in some injury or overtraining. If I managed to walk a tightrope without injuries over the training season, I ended up to a doctor’s bed during the competition season. ”But hey, that is normal!”, some might say, but does it have to be like this? So many times, especially young talented Finnish athletes has a habit of getting injuries when they should climb to the next level, where they would succeed in ”the big games”. Motivation and talent would be enough to compete on the top level, but injury, overtraining or some other reason appears on the edge of breakthrough and stops the promising development.

Because the number of injuries at least in track and field is so high on the edge of competition season, there has to be something we Finns do wrong in the training field during spring. This is no exception - only a common thing that just happens year after year.

The tough life of a professional athlete

Let’s take an example from the last year: the Finnish long jump. We were suppose to have between 6 to 8 ”eightmeter longjumpers” in a excellent form. It should have been an easy task to get 2 or 3 jumpers to the plane to Moscow World Championships, but look what happened. During spring and summer we had to hear some very unfortunate news from the athletes. Who had problems with Achilles tendons or knee, and who had so much back pain of readytotear thighs that they had to quit the competition season. The end result was that we didn’t have a single jumper in the World Championships. Such a big waste! Put your head down and towards new disappointments – or how do you say it?



This is so common – almost everyday life in the Finnish sports. The biggest problem in this pattern is that we can’t afford to lose these great talented athletes, because we are such a small nation. There is so few ahtletes who do sports with the professional attitude that we have to find ways to prevent injuries from happening so often. I don’t have numbers to represent here, but I would say from my experience that our athletes have more injuries than other athletes around the world. Wiser people can tell me if this is true or not!?

What is the medicine to this? I’ve noticed, now having a bit of a distance to sports, that especially during the last years of my career and mainly in springs I trained and competed too much and had too little resting time. This wasn’t due to the fact that I didn’t have the courage to rest (I’ll have to write from this later!), but more due to the fact that sports, training and competing was too absorbing. I wanted and was able to do the thing I wanted the most – to do SPORTS and COMPETE! Summer is the best time for a trackandfielder – especially when you are in an excellent shape. The hard work done during the long training season gets rewarded… or not!

The plight of training camps

The biggest problems comes from traning in Finland vs. training camps somewhere in the warmth. Training in Finland in the familiar hall atmosphere goes great, but when a Finn has a possibility to train in the best possible conditions few weeks in a year, many times we do way too much everything there!


During those 2 to 4 weeks training camps one shouldn’t do everything possible – especially those exercise sessions that one hasn’t been able to complete during the training session before. Even repeating the normal training routine might be too much, because in the warmth you get more out of your body. Of course, the reason to go to the training camps is to make the body ready for the competitions and tune the body in the competition readiness. But one should still remember the limitations of the body – it has to be ready to this kind of training!

Waiting for the flu

The other spot to spoil the great training season is when athlete comes back from the training camp to the cold Finland. Flu is waiting already at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport. Also the colder weather increases the risk of injury quite a lot every time athlete comes from warmer climate back home to Finland. It is just a fact that here it is freezing or at least it is raining and the wind is blowing a lot when one get’s back home. Because of this, athletes should be extra careful when they return to normal daily training schedule.

Luckily, motto ”a Finn trains with Sisu in Finland” isn’t that common anymore, but still we give too much lead to others in training conditions. Without any exceptions, there is no point training in Finland if you want to develop yourself - if you have the possibility and resources to train elsewhere. If you are doing sports as s professional or you want to train like one, you should choose the training conditions accordingly. When you have the possibility to make long training camps, there is no rush while training. Then you can forget the training mentality ”I have to do everything possible and even a bit more, while for once in my life I’m here in the perfect training conditions!” Keep it simple and take your time while training! Concentrate on essential things!

In the ”How to train in the wrong way? Part two:” I’m going to write more about training conditions and the significance of great conditions, training like a professional and the meaning of muscle maintenance in the top-level training.

Tatu Pussila

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