Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Sunday, November 16, 2003



I wonder if it is easier to concentrate continuously or to concentrate in little bursts?

When I ran a long control picking course last week, I felt like I was able to hold my concentration well. I concentrated more-or-less continuously for the entire session. Of course, my mind wandered now and then, but the training session was designed to require concentration continuously. When I ran six short courses today (each between about 600-900 meters), I struggled a lot more. Between each course, I jogged for 5-15 minutes. When I was jogging, I let my mind wander. Then when it was time for the next course, I needed to concentrate, if only for 5 or 6 minutes. Today I struggled a lot to concentrate.

Tuesday, when I needed to concentrate continuously, I was able to pay attention quite well. Today, when I needed to concentrate in little bursts, I struggled. It felt like it was harder to "turn on" concentration than it was to hold concentration once it was turned on.

Two days is not enough to reach a conclusion. But, over the years I've orienteered with the strategy of holding a fairly steady level of concentration. Maybe my way of thinking requires me to pay attention continuously rather than flit around.

I do very little planning ahead. I rarely look at anything other than the leg I'm running (though I think ahead about the leg I am running). When I tried to plan ahead -- looking a leg or more ahead on the course -- I had trouble. I found that I'd miss the leg I was running because I seem to have trouble switching back and forth between the leg I'm on and other legs. So I don't plan ahead.

Planning ahead seems like a good idea. People who are much better orienteers than me plan ahead (people who are much worse than me also plan ahead). But it doesn't seem to work for me.

posted by Michael | 4:11 PM


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