Occassional thoughts about orienteering
Saturday, April 06, 2013
First test with OpenOrienteering Mapper
I finally got around to downloading OpenOrienteering Mapper and trying it out. My first test was to create a tiny map of an area I'm familiar with but that is a long way away. You can see the result below.
The map is based on a georeference air photo that I downloaded from the National Map Viewer. I haven't done any fieldchecking, but I might do something the next time I'm in the area.
My general impression of OpenOrienteering Mapper is positive. I was able to make use of it without much frustration. That's a bit unusual for me when I'm first using new software.
Back to okansas.blogspot.com. posted by Michael | 5:01 PM
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
My training tree
And that is, in fact, almost exactly right. My training for today was 45 minutes of biking on my way to and from work.
Here's another example:
One last example:
I think it is an interesting way of looking back at a year of training.
I should play around with the data a bit more. I think it might be good to look at the season (probably the month of the year) as well as the activity and day of the week.
Back to okansas.blogspot.com. posted by Michael | 7:06 PM
Monday, January 21, 2013
MTBO Project updateThe theme for last week in the 2013 MTBO Project was "steal without apology ." My stealing was to read the new ski O handbook and lift a training idea. I'm not sure I'd really call that stealing, but it was close enough to meet the theme for the week.
I set up a "batong" (see page 58 of the ski O' handbook). Basically, a batong training combines riding around in a figure 8 with studying a map. Each time you come to an intersection, you turn left/right or go straight while imagining that you're following a route on a map that you're looking at.
I set up my course in a parking lot near my house and found a MTBO sprint map from a race in the Czech Republic. I rode around the course making turns "simulating" the turns I'd make doing the course. I rode at night, so I had a lamp to read the map and a lamp on my bike. It felt like a useful exercise, particularly given that I don't have access to a lot of MTBO terrain nearby. Given that I was just rolling around a parking lot, it felt surprisingly interesting. Certainly if you have to kill some time biking around a small area, a batong training is a great way to make it interesting.
To make it better, I need to find a better place to set up the route. Rougher ground would make the training more interesting.
This week's theme is " buy a notebook." But it isn't really about buying something. It is about keeping lots of notes about ideas. Coyle wrote:
What matters is that you write stuff down and reflect on it. Results from today. Ideas for tomorrow. Goals for next week. A notebook works like a map: It creates clarity.
Back to okansas.blogspot.com. posted by Michael | 4:58 PM
Sunday, January 13, 2013
Looking at mapsPart of the first two weeks of my 2013 project involved some map study. Easy and fun. A great feature of orienteering as a sport is that you can practice without actually getting up off the sofa. Small amounts of concentrated map study - say 2 x 10 minutes a day - take very little effort. It also fits in with some of the principles from Coyle's book.
Coyle writes about how chess players use databases of matches to study other players and study different situations. That's exactly what orienteers can do easily, espcially with so many maps easy to find on the internet.
Here's a quote about a study of expertise and chess players:
Stronger players also tended to own more chess books (and read them) than weaker players. As an individual activity, reading chess books was the most important predictor of chess skill.Is reading chess books analogous to studying maps?
When I was more serious about orienteering I typically spent at least 2 x 10 minutes each day looking at maps. My record was roughly two years without missing a day. These days I'm much less systematic in map study.
Back to my project...last week I studied MTBO maps. It feels a bit different from looking at a regular orienteering map. I end up thinking more about what it would feel like to ride a trail - thinking about the roughness of the surface and the hilliness in a different way than when I'm running in the woods. That's largely a reflection of my weak MTB skills. A rough trail slows me down, but it also causes stress. I'm slow running or biking through really rocky terrain. But when I'm running I'm just slow. When I'm biking I'm stressed about crashing.
Looking ahead to next week, Coyle's third "tip" is to "steal without apology"
Back to okansas.blogspot.com. posted by Michael | 11:01 AM
Saturday, January 05, 2013
2013 MTBO ProjectIn 2013 I'm going to be a better MTB orienteer. That shouldn't be too difficult because I'm not a good mountain bike rider and I've done very little MTB orienteering (a local event a few years ago and a few training sessions on my own last fall).
To give some structure to my 2013 MTBO Project, I'm using the ideas from Daniel Coyle's book The Little Book of Talent. Coyle has 52 "tips" - one a week. That's a perfect structure for a year long project. Coyle has written several books about performance. He wrote about Lance Armstrong. He wrote Tyler Hamilton's book about Armstrong's doping. He wrote The Talent Code. As he was working on his books, Coyle kept notes:
Whenever I spotted a nugget of advice or a potentially useful method, I jotted it in my notedbook and marked the page with an electric-pink Post-it.
The Little Book of Talent is a collection of those ideas for improving skill.
My idea is to take a chapter a week and test out an idea from each chapter and use it to improve my MTB orienteering. Most of the ideas are things I've already used when I was working to be a better orienteer.
This week I've been watching, intently, some videos of expert mountain bikers. Trying to learn about their technique and, coincidentally, getting a bit of inspiration.
Next week, I'll move on to the 2nd tip - spend 15 minutes a day "engraving the skill on your brain."
By the end of the year, I'll be a better MTB orienteer.
Back to okansas.blogspot.com. posted by Michael | 9:31 AM
Monday, December 24, 2012
Contour map of USA and Canada WOC results
I mapped the USA and Canada WOC qualifying results for 2003-2012. I created contours to show the shape of the results over time. I'm not sure that makes sense, but it makes for some interesting contour features.
Sunday, December 09, 2012
Playing with training text analysisI read training logs for a number of orienteers at Attackpoint. It is fun to see how people train. It is especially fun to read what they write about their training and racing. Attackpoint makes it pretty easy to get summaries of the basic information about how someone trains. Say you want to see how Emily Kemp trained in October. In three mouse clicks you can get a summary with the amount of training by type with a graph showing day-by-day totals. You also get narrative description like:
my room mates had started hanging their socks on the spokes of my bike so i figured it was time to fix my flat tire and get it back on the road. the arm did fabulously!! hardly any pain at all and it was so amazing to feel the wind through my hair!! :)And
For a university campus I definitely wasn't expecting so many little passageways and tricky spots. Good thing I've been practising at reading my control descriptions! I never really made any large mistakes however I did feel like I had a lot of hesitations. On the way to control 10 what is marked as an overhang passageway thingy actually goes right through a building. I think I spent a good 5sec with one foot in the doorway trying to figure out if I would be disqualified or not! The top 3 places were super close with Celine coming in first, me 4sec behind, and Isia 1sec behind me. Eek! I definitely put everything out there and don't have many regrets although it would have been nice to find those 4 sec somewhere ;)The narratives are a lot more fun to read than the base description of a training session. The base description that goes with the first quote is "velo 41:31 ." The base description that goes with the second quote is "orienteering race 15:17  2.4 km (6:22/km)."
At work, I've been analyzing written responses to open ended survey questions using "text mining" and it seems as if that sort of approach might be worth using to look at the narrative portion of an orienteer's training at Attackpoint.
A simple example...
I started by collecting all of the narrative descriptions from my log for the last year of entries. That gives me 544 small bunches of text that I'd written in my log. I cleaned up the text by removing numbers, punctuation and white space. I did some further cleaning by taking out the common English words that don't really carry much information. These "stop words" are terms like "the", "is" and "at". Finally, I combined words that describe essentially the same term. So, the words "orienteering", "orienteer" and "orienteers" are all treated as the same and are renamed "orient". Once the text is cleaned-up, I can start looking at it.
I created a list of every word that appears and of how many times that word appeared in each of the 544 entries. The result is a big table that tells me which words appear or don't appear in each entry. For example, I know that the 7th entry doesn't include the words "basketball" or "beer" but does include the words "work" and "commute" (and it includes each of those words once).
You can start to look at the entire year of training and find the words that show up most often. For example, among the 48 terms that show up at least 30 times are: bike, fun, jog, map, mtb, orient[eer], train, warm and work.
You can also get figure out how different words are correlated with each other. Take a term like "compass" and calculate the terms most frequently correlated with compass, which include:
I know why those terms are correlated (I ran a race in North Carolina without a compass because I feel like my navigation is sharper when I run without a compass - especially if I haven't recently done much O' technique training).
It can be fun to explore the text by looking for correlated terms. I do a lot of my running at biking at Clinton Lake. Here are some terms correlated with Clinton: trail, run and snake.
Playing around with the text is fun and I suspect that it could even be useful once I've learned more about how to do "text mining." One of the really easy things to do with text data is to create a word cloud. Here's the word cloud of my last 365 days of training log narrative:
Back to okansas.blogspot.com. posted by Michael | 11:19 AM
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Another look at WOC qualifying results 2003-2012One of the things I can do with my spreadsheet of US WOC qualifying results is compare those results with what you might expect given a simple measure of each orienteer's performance. For the US runners, I've looked at each individual race and ordered the entrants based on their OUSA rankings. It makes more senses with an example.
The US entered three women in the middle distance qualifying race in 2003: Pavlina Brautigam, Erin Olafsen and Karen Williams. If you look at the OUSA rankings for 2003, you'll see that Pavlina was the best ranked of that group, followed by Erin. I put the runners in a rank order:
You can then look at how they placed in the WOC qualifying races.
Pavlina placed 22nd
Erin placed 18th
Karen placed 28th
There's not a perfect relationship between the rank order and the places. You wouldn't expect it to work out that way always, but you might expect that over the longer term the better ranked orienteers would tend to have better WOC races.
I looked at all 10 years of WOC data for the US (2003-2012) and created graphs the graphs below. The first set of graphs illustrate the places for the best ranked US runner , the second set of graphs the next best ranked US runner, and the last set of the graphs the 3rd best US runner.
The graphs show you that generally, the better US runners have better WOC qualifying races. But, there is a lot of overlap. But the overlap suggests that you shouldn't be too surprised if the 2nd or 3rd ranked US runner beats the 1st ranked.
If you are trying to forecast US WOC results in qualifying races, you might start by assuming that all three runners will have an average qualifying place. But then you might give some "extra credit" to the best ranked of the three and forecast that they'll finish a little better than the average. You might make a similar adjustment to the worst ranked of the three.
That is more-or-less what the SPROUT method for forecasting WOC results does.
I'm guessing no one has read this far...but if you have, here's a couple of other little graphics based on my US and Canada WOC spreadsheet. These word clouds show the names of each WOC runner from 2003-2012 with the size of the text related to the number of qualifying races they ran.
Back to okansas.blogspot.com. posted by Michael | 5:52 PM
Sunday, November 25, 2012
Looking at US and Canada WOC qualifying results (2003-2012)I came up with a really simple way to try to forecast the U.S. WOC results last summer and called it SPROUT. I've been planning to improve the system a bit, mostly by adding 2012 results and by more carefully collecting some historic data. This weekend, I spent some time putting together a spreadsheet with all of the U.S. WOC qualifying race results from 2003-2012.* In response to a tweet, I also added Canadian results.
I have some ideas about how to refine SPROUT, but before I do anything with that, I thought it would be interesting to share some of the basic information.
The first graph shows shows Canada and the U.S. qualifying race places across 10 years of WOC qualifying races.
The second graph shows the same information, but I've added some straight trend lines.
One of the things that you notice looking at both of the graphs is that the difference between Canada and the U.S. is pretty small. Another thing you'll notice is that the women have done better than the men. Neither of those things is a surprise if you've been following North Americans at the World Champs.
I also took a look at how the nations have done by discipline. In the graph below you can see results for the long (lq), middle (mq) and sprint (sq) qualifying races.
Now it is time to get away from the computer and head out into the forest.
* I used to sources for WOC results - the World of O' WOC team overviews and Maprunner's WOC results database.
Back to okansas.blogspot.com. posted by Michael | 11:09 AM
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Adding some more training hours to the graph of training hours
I updated my graph of the relationship between total training hours and orienteering training hours. I added 7 of the North American orienteers and their hours. I also changed the line from a straight line to a "loess" smoothing. The North Americans that I've added include five who live in Europe.
Back to okansas.blogspot.com. posted by Michael | 10:05 AM