Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Running in the forest


When I lived in Sweden I could run in the forest as often as I wanted. I lived on a map. The forest began about 100 meters from my door. It was great.

I don't have that any more. But I still make an effort to train in the forest. I try to do a fair amount of technique training which gets me out in the forest.

I've never really tried to measure running in the forest. I ought to do that some time. Running in the forest helps your running technique, but I don't know how much I need. What is the minimal amount worth doing? Is once a week enough to do any good? When do you reach a point of diminishing returns?

In some terrain I change my running technique after just 30-40 minutes of running in the forest. When I run in Hudson Valley terrain (rocky, hilly, Scandinavian-like) I try to spend a half an hour or so jogging around in the forest the day before the race. It seems to help. At the same time, I'm sure 30 minutes isn't enough to reach a point of diminishing returns.

Here is a comment from Bjornar Valstad about running in the terrain:

Last year I didn't run in the terrain through the winter because of a knee injury. Looking back at my training log I see that I wasn't satisfied with my running strength/technique before the middle of June, after 12 weeks of intensive running in the forest.

12 weeks is a lot of training (and Bjornar trains a lot).

How much do orienteers in North America train in the terrain?

It isn't exactly a random sample, but I took a look through the last week of training logs at Attackpoint for the 20 orienteers with the most training logged right now (i.e. about 7 p.m. today). For each of the 20, I read through their entries for the last seven days and counted how many sessions appeared to be running in the terrain. I might have missed something because some people don't record enough information to be sure what they are doing. Still, I'm pretty sure I haven't missed a lot of terrain running training...

It looks like people don't spend more than about one session a week running in the terrain (and most of the terrain running is in O' races). The average for all 20 was 1.35 sessions in the terrain (and the median was 1 session a week).

One way to gain an advantage in a sport is to do something that your competitors aren't doing. I suspect most of us could gain a bit on our competition by spending a bit more time running in the terrain.

posted by Michael | 7:10 PM


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