Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Friday, February 28, 2003

Wandering conversation


It is strange how a conversation can wander from subject to subject.

As Mary and I were eating dinner tonight (fish tacos from a newly opened Baja Fresh in KC!), I asked Mary if she knew today was the 50th anniversary of Crick and Watson's discovery of the structure of DNA. That's the sort of thing Mary, a virologist, would know.

I knew about the anniversary because I'd heard a news story on the radio about it while driving home from work.

Quickly, the discussion turned to whether there is a genetic basis for the ability to read a map. My guess is there isn't. But, I could be wrong.

In discussing a genetic basis for map reading, I proposed that looking at a lot of art might be a good way to develop, at a very early age, some of the skills of map reading. As I was growing up, I spent a lot of time looking at paintings. Painters spend a lot of time dealing with the problem of showing three dimensions on a two dimensional surface. That's what contours are all about. Maybe looking at all those paintings as a 5-year-old helped me when it came to map reading.

At this point, we were done eating dinner. So, the conversation turned to putting the dishes in the dishwasher.

It is strange how a single conversation can move from DNA to map reading to painting.

posted by Michael | 7:46 PM


Thursday, February 27, 2003

Snapshots from my Sanoran Safari


Here are a couple of snapshots from my visit to the Sonoran desert and mountains.

Mook runs by saguaro cacti. I think this snapshot was taken on a trail in Sabino Canyon (check out the topo).

Mook runs on the ridge between Sycamore and Sabino Canyons (check out the topo). I like this snapshot. Mook's got both feet in the air, moving fast. The contrail from the jet is a bit annoying. I suppose I could use some software to erase it.

posted by Michael | 8:10 PM


Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Competing while injured


Competing while injured is scary.

I was watching a basketball game tonight where one of the players, Wayne Simien, was playing with an injured shoulder. About six weeks ago he dislocated his shoulder in a game. He missed a month or so, but has played in the last three or four games.

In tonight's game his shoulder popped out again. He put up his arms to defend against a player who was driving toward the basket. Suddenly, Wayne let out a yelp, his shoulder dropped and he grabbed his arm. It wasn't pretty. You could see that the shoulder was not right.

Apparently doctors have cleared Wayne to play and say that he won't do any further damage, though he will have surgery after the season. So he has been playing hurt.

Orienteers have been known to compete while hurt. I've got a bit of experience competing as I was recovering from tearing up my leg.

Orienteering is probably a good sport for competing while injured since you're alone and set your pace yourself. It is relatively easy to take it easy. It also helps that orienteers compete in forgiving surroundings -- the forest is a lot easier on you than a road (though I guess the chance of falling or turning an ankle is high).

In my experience, the most difficult part of coming back from my injury has been mental. I'm struggling with feeling comfortable and confident while running in the woods. I'm getting better and better, but it has taken a long time.

I hope Wayne doesn't start to feel uncomfortable on the basketball court.

posted by Michael | 8:51 PM


Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Thinking about the big event


What are top orienteers thinking about before big race? Maybe something like this....

I'm going to approach the race the way I always do. I stay in the present I don't think much about what my competitors are doing. If I orienteer well, things will fall into place.

The quote isn't an orienteer. It is a professional golfer. Of course, I made a few changes to the quote (race=tournament, my competitors=the other players, and orienteer=play). The quote is from Annika Sorenstam, the best female golfer in the world, talking about her approach to competing in a men's professional tournament.

The basic ideas in the quote seem sound: stay with your normal routine, concentrate, don't worry about the competitors and let the good race happen.

Maybe orienteers can learn something from golfers. At least a few of the orienteers who read this page are also golfers. Are there parallels between orienteering and golf?

posted by Michael | 8:48 PM


Monday, February 24, 2003

Sonoran O'


At our weekend training camp, Mook and I ran two O' sessions at a place called Maternity Well. My expectations were low, but the area turned out to be quite good for orienteering.

The advice I'd been giving about running in Sonoran terrain was simple -- if it is vegetation, don't touch it. But, Maternity Well was covered in sparse grass, with widely scattered trees and only an occasional cactus.

Mook took a snapshot of me running in the terrain.

The photo might not make it look like an interesting area, but the terrain has a lot of spur/reentrant contour detail. You can get a good idea of the detail by looking at an aerial photo of the area. The shading in the area north of the road indicates the relief.

Although the area is fairly flat with a lot of relatively fine contour detail, the O' map uses a 40 foot (12 meter) contour interval.

The mapper handled the contour detail in an interesting way. Instead of adding contours (or even form lines), the mapper just drew the bottom of the reentrants as line features.

The dotted black lines on the map below are the bottom of reentrants.

You can compare the map to the aerial photo. The road running across the aerial photo is the road a bit south of the start triangle on the O' map. The black dots on the O' map are the trees that show up on the west side of the aerial photo.

I thought it was an interesting approach to mapping the contour detail. It isn't ideal, but it worked pretty well once you had a few kilometers of experience. It wouldn't be difficult to take the current O' map and improve it by adding contours (or form lines) using the dotted lines as a guide.

Orienteering at Maternity Wells was fun. There is enough relief that you need to pay attention. There is enough detail that you could make a parallel error. The black dots are distinct oak trees. They are easy to see and cam make the navigation pretty easy at times.
We ran with a black and white map. I'm not sure if there is a color map, but the black and white version was fine.

If you'd like to see more of the map (and a bit of the control picking course Mook and I ran), you can see a larger section of the map.

posted by Michael | 8:11 PM


Thursday, February 20, 2003

Expect the next update on Monday


I'm going out of town for a bit of a training camp this weekend. I might not get to a computer to update this page until I'm back home (Monday).

The camp should feature some long, easy runs in hilly terrain. I'm hoping to do a bit of O' (though it may be on USGS maps rather than orienteering maps). The big question mark is how my injured ribs will manage. In the last few days I haven't run and I've been having trouble sleeping. I'm getting better...slowly.

Live WOC Coverage this summer

There should be live audio coverage of this summer's World O' Champs! Check out www.internetradio.nu for some preliminary info.

posted by Michael | 12:31 PM


Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Spiking controls


A month or so ago there was a discussion at Attackpoint of how to define a "spike."

Without getting into a definition, I've got a few thoughts about "spiking." I like to identify the legs and races that I've done very well. I want the bar to be set high. I want a "spike" to be common but not so common that it is typical. If I had to guess, I'd say I typically don't "spike" more than about 25 percent of the controls on a course. I don't usually boom more than a couple of controls each race. Most of the legs in a race are ok, but not spikes. I'm not really describing what I mean very well, but that's ok.

The reason I try to identify my best legs and races is to spend some time understanding what was going on when things went well. I look at booms and bad races, too. But, I try to focus on figuring out why I did something well. If I can figure out why I spiked a control, then I can try to do that again. Maybe I'm thinking a certain way before a good race (or warming up a certain way or whatever). Maybe I prepare a certain way before my good races. Maybe I can recreate those ways of thinking and preparing and have another good race.

This might sound like "positive thinking." It isn't. It is a way to make sure I spend time understanding what it takes to do well, not just what it takes to do poorly (which is, to some extent, what focusing on analyzing mistakes does). I want to make sure I don't take orienteering well for granted. It isn't something that just happens. It isn't something that happens easily. But, it is something that I hope I can make happen more often.

posted by Michael | 10:05 PM


Tuesday, February 18, 2003

50 km of O'...1-2 minutes of misses!


Here is a translation from an article Bjornar Valstad wrote about last weekend's training camp:

The winter training camp was an unmitigated success. The forests outside of Aalborg [Denmark] were nearly free of snow and ice.

It was a short and hectic, but very effective, weekend of training. We traveled by boat on Thursday and returned home Sunday night. We got in five good O' technique sessions.

Since this was the first camp in snow free terrain for a long time, Hanne and I focused on the fundamentals. That meant spending as much time as possible with a map to work on the fundamental skills. We emphasized map reading rhythm, folding the map [not sure I've got the translation right], and "doing it right" the whole time. That meant that speed wasn't important at all. What was important was to develop good routines and make the O' techniques automatic.

Even if there were some session with a bit higher intensity, it was still running and O' technique that were the focus of those session. We let our O' technique set our speed and we didn't push hard on these sessions.

The other sessions were long O' technique runs of a bit over two hours.

We were very satisfied with our visit. The O' technique was surprisingly good and in total, we lost about 1-2 minutes in 50 kilometers of orienteering.

If you'd like to see a couple of the maps from the camp, you can go to the original Norwegian article and click on the links at the end of the article labelled "karta fra kortdistansetrening" and "karta fra klassik trening."

I don't care how slow you're going, missing 1-2 minutes in 50 km of orienteering is impressive.

My Norwegian is getting a bit better (and I bought myself a Norwegian-English dictionary a few weeks ago). I'm fairly confident I got the gist of the story right. If not, my apologies for any errors.

posted by Michael | 9:25 PM


Monday, February 17, 2003

Gazing into the crystal ball


What will the future of O' training be like?

I posed the question a few weeks ago. When I was running yesterday, I thought about it a bit. I didn't think about it especially carefully (more like a stream of consciousness). Here are a few possibilities...

Better "management"

I think orienteers will be more likely to work with coaches. They'll be more likely to carefully plan their training. They'll be more likely to focus on preparing for specific events.

The internet is a big player in better management. With email and the web, it'll be easy for orienteers to have frequent contact with coaches and advisors even if they don't live near each other.

You might start to see professional coaches who are working with orienteers all around the world. You might live in Texas, but have a coach in Norway. You'll pay your coach a few hundred bucks a year to help you set goals, plan your training and review you training.

Other sports seem to be going this way. If you've got the cash, you can get Lance Armstrong's coach (or at least his company) to work with you. Cross country skiers might want Beckie Scott's coach. Well, you can hire him.


I think you'll see some top orienteers who try to specialize. The best discipline for specializing is probably the sprint distance. It is the most different discipline.

If I had to bet, I don't think specialization will become a big deal. The middle, long and relays are still so similar that the same people do well in any of those races. I don't think the sprint event will ever catch on as a discipline; it'll remain an event the top orienteers race but don't specialize in.

Better understanding of O's physical demands

I think people will start to study the physical demands that are specific to orienteering. How different is O' compared to running? Does overall strength training help an orienteer? What is the best -- most specific -- way to cross train? How can you best recover from an O' race and be ready for the next day?

I don't think this sort of research will change how orienteers train very much. I'd expect there to be some changes, but nothing major.

Figuring out how people navigate

The physical side of the sport is understood much better than the technical side. In the next 10, 20 or 30 years, I think people will begin to figure out ways to understand how people navigate. What is Pasi Ikonen doing, thinking, seeing, feeling, etc., while he orienteers? It won't be easy to understand, but it seems like an area people might start to try to understand.

Understanding navigation might (or might not) change how people train. I'd guess it won't change things much, but it might.

Positioning data

I suspect that it won't be long before orienteers carry little GPS receivers with them and download them after the race. The data will be fun to look at. But, I don't think it will have an immediate effect on how people orienteer or how they train. Mostly, it'll be something people talk about after races. You'll see people standing around the finish running through their split times on GPS receivers instead of with Casio watches or SI punches.

Or maybe I'm wrong

Maybe I'm entirely wrong. Maybe there will be some huge change in how people train. Maybe sprint O' will become the main form of the sport (I sure hope not!). Maybe I've got it all wrong (afterall, I figured Dale E would win the Daytona 500 yesterday)....

posted by Michael | 11:18 AM


Sunday, February 16, 2003

A couple of short translations


When I started writing about orienteering, I thought it'd be interesting to see if I could come up with something to write every day. Sometimes I don't have any trouble. Sometimes I do. When I do, I often look for something to translate. Here are a couple of short translations.

Form an interview with Jorgen Rostrup:

Do you have a special training philosophy?

Lots of short, hard sessions in the forest with a map.

From a newspaper article about Jörgen Olsson (bronze from the 2001 WOC sprint race):

I've decided to work hard and go for it for the next two years. I feel good and I'm averaging 10 of training a week, with most of it running.

After focusing on running for a while, I'll also do running in a pool and cycling. I'll also do some movement-exercises and flexibility training. I'm building on past experience. When I'm training hardest, I'll be up around 12-13 hours of training a week.

posted by Michael | 6:29 PM


Saturday, February 15, 2003

Some advice when planning your race


A few words of advice when planning a race...

You must finish to win.

The race is won in the last kilometers, not the first.

Patience pays.

Consistency is more important than absolute speed.

It is more important to be fast at the end of the course than at the beginning.

Those bits of advice are all worth thinking about. I bumped into them in a book about auto racing and adapted them a bit to fit orienteering. The basic ideas -- patience, consistency and the importance of the later parts of a race -- all seem sound.

posted by Michael | 8:08 PM


Friday, February 14, 2003

Some night O' snapshots


Last night I was at Shawnee Mission Park for some night O' practice. I'm still suffering some painful ribs after a hard fall last weekend, so all I did was jog easily for 20 minutes. That gave me some time to take a few snapshots of the others as they finished the course. Here are a few snapshots.

Eric was the first to finish.

Dan was the next to finish, but I didn't get a photo of him. I did managed to get a shot of Gene.

Mary was right behind.

posted by Michael | 8:17 PM


Thursday, February 13, 2003

Training camps


Bjornar Valstad is on his way to Denmark for a training camp. Jorgen Rostrup just got back from a training camp in Denmark. Emil Wingstedt is on his way to France for a camp. The Norwegian club, Nydalen SK, has been in South Africa for a training camp (check out a few snapshots from Nydalen's camp).

Seems like a good time to write about training camps. So, here are a few random thoughts about training camps:

My plans leading up to the relays include three camps. I'll begin in about a week with a "Sonoran Safari" in Tucson. The focus will be on long/easy trail runs. In March, I'm hoping to spend a long weekend visiting my in-laws and training in Harriman. March may also feature a KC-based training camp. Then in June, I'll probably be working at the Texas Junior O' Camp.

Individual camps are easy to set up, but not necessarily as fun as group camps. Traveling some place to do a bunch of O' training is a lot of fun. If you're on your own, it is very easy to organize. But, being on your own can get a bit dreary. It is good to have some other people with you to push the pace a bit and liven up the down time.

O' is a sport especially well suited to training camps. Because such a big part of orienteering is finding your way through unfamiliar terrain, camps can be especially useful for orienteers. It can be good to do some technique training on unfamiliar maps. Always training in familiar terrain might let you get sloppy with your technique.

My best training camp memory is from a camp in the middle of the winter in a place called Ludvika, Sweden. We did a long line O' course through fresh snow one morning. It was amazingly beautiful (not to mention tough). Picking a best memory is tough because I've been to a lot of fun training camps. Certainly, the first "Mook's Mountain Madness" in Laramie and "Wallenborgs' Wild West" in the bay area are very good memories.

My worst training camp memory is from a camp in Laramie, Wyoming. Dan and I went up there for a long weekend. As soon as we arrived in Laramie, we drove up to the mountains and hiked/jogged up to the top of Medicine Bow Peak. At 12,013 feet of altitude, the view was fantastic. But, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that going straight from sea level to 12,000 feet isn't a good idea. One the way down, I got sick. It wasn't pretty.

posted by Michael | 1:12 PM


Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Getting older


Yesterday was my 39th birthday. Getting older is interesting. Figuring out how to best train as you get older keeps things interesting.

Here are a few words from a x-country skiing web page about some top 40+ skiers in the U.S.

How do they do it?
One thing they all have in common is that they live healthy lifestyles. Their weight is the same as when they were in their prime and the body fat is kept to a minimum - Gut – no glory! I doubt that neither Aalberg nor Engen’s body fat is above 6% - that’s comparable to fit World Cup skiers! As my friend Gordon Lange said about Bruce Cramner: "Torbjorn, this guy can kayak - all day down in The Grand Canyon and when the day is over he drinks some water and eats a prune"

How can you beat them?
Well start training – every day, year round. Rollerski, bike, run and ski – these guys are not waiting until the fall to get started. Distance, intervals, weights and time-trials are all on their year-round menu. They are in shape all year and never let up – much from when they were on top in the Nation. Can they be beaten? Sure, but it takes dedicated training over many years, a certain portion of talent and years of racing.

So what are you waiting for?

Here is the entire article "A National Ranking List for Masters?...Who is fit over 40 and why."

posted by Michael | 1:14 PM


Tuesday, February 11, 2003

International connections


One of the interesting things about the Internet is the web of connections across countries.

A few days ago, I found an article that Johan Ivarsson wrote in Swedish about an experiment at a training camp in Norway. I translated a bit of the article to English.

Then today, I went to check out one of my favorite Slovenian web pages...and I found my translation, translated to Slovenian.


posted by Michael | 6:39 PM


Monday, February 10, 2003

Field report from Indian Cave


Indian Cave is the best O' area within two hours of Kansas City.

Mary and I explored Indian Cave State Park (Nebraska) a couple of weekends ago.

Possum Trot O' Club has a basemap -- really just a copy of the USGS map in OCAD. We took the map with us and spent about two hours running around the park.

As you can tell from the map, the area is hilly (3 meter contours). For the most part, the contours are rounded. The USGS map does a decent job of showing the major features. There are also some interesting contour features that aren't captured in the USGS map. In places there are some erosion features and in places there are steep earth banks along the streams. There are also remains of some old farm roads and an area that must have been an old gravel/dirt pit (check out the row of elongated knolls running in a northeast direction on the lower part of the map shown above).

The hills are long and steep. But not so long and steep that the area wouldn't make for good orienteering.

The terrain is remarkably open. This photo shows a typical section of woods.

Of course, some areas are a bit thicker. There are a few overgrown fields.

The map we used didn't have trails on it. But, the park has a decent trail network. If I remember correctly, there are 30+ miles of hiking and horseback trails in the park.

The biggest problem with the park is that it is the middle of nowhere. It is an hour or so south of Omaha (where there are a few orienteers but no club). It is 45 minutes or so east of Lincoln (where there is a big university, but no orienteers that I've heard of). It is an hour or so north of St Joseph (where there might be an orienteer, but there isn't a club). It is 2 hours north of downtown Kansas City. Two hours is a long way to drive for a mapper or for a club that is organizing an event.

It makes for a good training day, though. You can drive up there, run in the forest for a few hours, then drive home. You can also make a weekend of it by overnight at the Lied Lodge. The lodge is a conference center in, of all places, Nebraska City, Nebraska. It is a nice place to stay and has decent restaurant (quite unexpected in a little place like Nebraska City).

Maybe a rogaine?

I'm hoping that PTOC will add the trails to the map, make a few changes to the vegetation boundaries using the USGS orthophotos, and host a 6-hour rogaine at Indian Cave.

posted by Michael | 8:05 PM


Sunday, February 09, 2003

Mass start and all alone to the first control


Today's PTOC event at Tall Oaks had a mass start. There were only about 15 of us. But, I figured I'd have some company for the first few controls.

Turns out I was all alone on the way to the first control. I was the only person who took my route.

The map below shows the leg to one. The course was two loops with forking. The alternative first control (which half the field had) is drawn in and is about down and to the right of my first control.

We got three minutes to study the map before the start. I looked at three routes to one -- straight, around to the right using the open area and trails, and to the left of the pond.

The right route seemed best to me. But, I was the only one who went there. Maybe it wasn't so good?

I should tell you a bit about the terrain to help you understand the route choice. The forest is "white" but is fairly thick (typical Kansas terrain). The trails are generally single track foot trails. The map is 1:10,000 and the contours are three meters. So, the hills aren't big, but the reentrant running through the middle of the leg is a bit steep on the sides.

posted by Michael | 7:55 PM


Saturday, February 08, 2003

Park maps


I spent a couple of hours today exploring some parks that might make good O' areas. It also gave me a chance to check the quality of a couple of park maps.

I was impressed and disappointed.

One park was reasonably well mapped. The trails were, more-or-less, in the right place. In fact, you could use the park map for O' training without too much trouble. I was impressed.

The other park map was terrible. The trails weren't drawn right. The relationships between the trails and the contours was off. If you needed too use the map, you'd be in trouble.

Both parks are managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation. The two areas are only about a mile apart. Too bad the mapper for Honey Creek didn't also do Monkey Mountain.

Bad maps are always a disappointment.

posted by Michael | 6:27 PM


Friday, February 07, 2003

100 hour month


Bjornar Valstad put in 100+ hours of training in January. Here is what he wrote about it:

My goal for January was to develop my local aerobic capacity. The priority was to do a lot of low intensity work. I wanted to get in hilly terrain with some specific strength training. I'd put little focus on O' technique during the period....

My total training for the period was 108 hours, with 102 of it endurance training [I think the period is actually all of January plus the first two days of February]

I was able to train a lot. I did a bit of high intensity -- hill intervals or quick distance work on hills.

In the next training period, I'll continue to train with the same goal, but I'll increase the specific training a bit and also add some O' technique.

I wasn't able to get in some specific training in January because of a little trouble with a knee.

My training form during January was mostly classic x-country skiing and running on the snow.

I'll add a few comments to Bjornar's training...

It is clear that Bjornar is systematic in his training. He has a plan. His plan has objectives. He evaluates how he did. Those are all good things to do.

Bjornar works part-time, which must make it a lot easier to train so much in January. The Scandinavian winters are dark. If you can't get out during the daylight during the weeks, putting in so much time would be mentally tough (as if training 100+ hours a month isn't tough enough!).

Well, I could write a bit more...but the pizza that I'm making is done.

posted by Michael | 7:50 PM


Thursday, February 06, 2003

Performance auditing and course setting


A few days ago I wondered, "what process do the best course setters go through when they are designing a course?"

I don't know the answer, but I decided to try an experiment. What would happen if I used the basic process we follow in performance auditing to design a course?

I'm going to test my process by designing a course on the area where the long distance world champs race will be held this summer.

So, here is my course setting process as inspired by performance auditing:


I'll begin by looking at the map and answering some questions:

What types of terrain are on the map?
What constraints do I have to deal with?
What problems will orienteers face in this area?

Since this is an experiment, I'll write down the answers to the questions.


For each of the types of terrain I identified in the planning, I'll design one or two long legs. Then I'll connect the long legs, trying to make sure the runners face as many different problems as I can.

Quality Assurance

I'm not sure how my quality assurance process will work. I could grade each leg. I could review each control to make sure I don't have any "bingo" controls. I could go over my list of problems (which I developed in the planning stage) and make sure I've included all of them. I could make sure I've met each of the constraints. It might be worth having an independent review (get Mary to look at the legs, for example).

What's up with the okansas course setting competition?

I've got five or six entries. They're on my PC. I plan to print them out and take them with me on my training camp (Spike's Sonoran Safari) in late February. Looking at the courses will be a good way to pass time on the flight and between flights. I'll also be able to get Mook and Andreas to help me grade the courses.

posted by Michael | 7:21 PM


Wednesday, February 05, 2003

A few words from Rostrup


Here is a bit of a translation of an article Jorgen Rostrup wrote on his training as a junior.

I've just translated a little bit of the article (focusing on technique training):

If you're doing three high intensity sessions a week, two of them ought to be in the forest.

Up to 1/3rd of the total physical training should be with a map. O' technique should be trained year round.

O' technique training should be at a relatively high speed...It is important to learn the running technique for going fast in the forest...

O' technique...shouldn't always be done with others. Training with others can make for too much stress and then the technique suffers. When you train alone, you have time to concentrate on what you should be doing at your own speed...

I'm not sure I've got the translation quite right. Some of Rostrup's writing is a bit hard for me to translate. I also struggle a bit with the Norwegian.

posted by Michael | 8:26 PM


Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Map reading and booming


Johan Ivarsson is a great orienteer who has written some interesting stuff about orienteering. Here is a short translation that includes discussion of an informal study of the relationship between map reading and booming:

Both Pasi [Ikonen] and Jörgen [Rostrup] must have an amazing ability to read the map and to read the map at full speed in the forest. I think they can do that because they take many looks at the map each leg.

At a training camp with the Norwegian team before the 1999 WOC, they did a simple study of the number of times each runner looked at a map on a leg. The best men in the world that year -- Petter Thoresen and Bjørnar Valstad -- read the map more than 20 times on a 400 meter leg. Hanne Staff, who has been the best woman the last few years, read the map 15 times, while the worst of the women in the test read the map just 5 times.

Jörgen and Pasi probably take a lot of looks at the map. They get it. Read the map a lot and you won't miss much. And they're able to read the map at full speed!

You've got to get out and train and, as Bjørnar says, "it will pay off!"

Reading the map 20 times on a 400 meter leg is a lot. That's a glance at the map every 20 meters on average.

My experience with map reading on the run is that it is easiest when I've been doing a lot of map reading in training. If I'm doing a lot of technique training, I am able to read the map quickly -- just a short glance at the map and I get the information I need. If I'm not doing much technique training, I need to really stare at the map to really make sense of it. When I have to look carefully at the map, I can't keep moving well. I slow down a lot. I think I tend to read the map less frequently because I don't want to waste time slowing down. Penny wise, pound foolish...I boom and lose minutes. That's one reason I try to do a fair amount of technique training.

I've also noticed that I'm able to read the map quickly when I've been doing a lot of armchair map reading. I guess spending a lot of time looking at maps trains the eye (and the brain) to get the information quickly.

posted by Michael | 8:58 PM


Monday, February 03, 2003

5 questions


Here are five questions that I'd like to know the answers to:

1. What process do the best course setters go through when they are designing a course? I've always been impressed by good course setters. I can set a reasonable course, but I'm not a great course setter. I'd like to understand what the great course setters are thinking as they design a course. What do they do first? How do they review and revise their work? What are they thinking as they put the course together?

2. Who was the greatest orienteer ever?

3. What was the best ever O' performance by an American? The best performance by a North American was almost certainly Ted De St. Croix's top-ten at the 1985 WOC. I'm not sure about the best performance from the U.S. I'm pretty sure it wasn't Mikell Platt's win on the elite course in France in 1986!

4. How will the best orienteers be training 10, 20 and 30 years from now? Training will probably change as O' becomes more professional, training becomes more organized, and researchers and coaches learn more. What will those changes be?

5. Could an American orienteer, living on individual sponsorships, become a "professional"? A few top Scandinavians are surviving as full-time orienteers with personal sponsors. Could an American? When will an American try?

posted by Michael | 7:22 PM


Sunday, February 02, 2003

Worn out legs


My legs are tired. I've done a lot (for me) of training over the last nine days and now it is time to rest. My plan for the next 4-5 days is to take it easy -- probably a few 30 minute session on the bike and maybe some easy night O'.

Near the end of today's run, I really noticed my legs were gone. I jogged to the top of a long hill (the road that goes west from the dam at Wyandotte Lake) and at the top I was done. But, I was still 20 minutes from my car. I jogged for about 5-10 minutes, then stopped my watch, rested a bit and then walked/jogged a bit more.

It feels good to be worn out.

posted by Michael | 6:52 PM


Saturday, February 01, 2003

Thomas Asp's training


Thomas Asp put a couple of weeks of his training on the web. Asp is on the Swedish National Team. Here is a translation of his training for January 6-12:

Monday's plan: Club training -- long distance orienteering, 2 hours. The usual Sunday session was moved to Monday because of the holiday.

Monday's training: Beautiful winter weather. A clear blue sky and -15/16 C. We ran together because there were 15 cm of new snow. It went well, but not very fast.

Tuesday's plan: Club training. Intervals on the road, 6x5 minutes with 1.5 minutes rest. Upperbody strength training afterwards.

Tuesday's training: Just as planned. It was rather cold, -10 C, but that made for good footing on the gravel road. Afterwards, I did the strength training. There were 30-some of us training, with half of us doing the intervals. As usual after a Tuesday training, we ate at the club house afterwards.

Wednesday's plan: Distance on skis, 2 hours in the morning. I may do something in the evening if I've got time (might skip it because of travel for work).

Wednesday's training: A really good session. Two hours of skiing in the morning sun on a golf course and a frozen lake. I skied with Staffan Eriksson. The chance to train in the daytime is really good for my motivation. It would have been tough to always be training in the dark all winter. In the evening, I did 40 minutes on a stationary bike.

Thursday's plan: Club training. Distance in the forest, line O' with a headlamps, 1:45 -- 2:00.

Thursday's training: We were out for 2:05 with headlamps, running a course where we took turns leading. There were over ten of us who took part, including two from Finland who've just come to the club. They went directly from the boat from Finland to the training.

Friday's plan: Strength training at the club house. Run there and back (for a total of 30-40 minutes of road running).

Friday's training. I changed my plans a bit. I'd planned to run a tempo run on Sunday, but I moved it to Friday because there is so much snow that I think it'll be hard to do on Sunday. So, I did a tempo session on a treadmill. I did 3.5 minutes at the highest speed (19 km/h), that works to 3:08/km. Tempo sessions on a treadmill are good in the winter because you avoid slipping on the snow/ice. I also did a strength session and ran to/from the club house.

Saturday's plan: Distance running in the forest and on trails, 2 hours. In the afternoon a short cross-training session on a stationary bike.

Saturday's training: My friends set up a Svensexa [roughly a bachelor party]. It was a blast. Over 20 of us ran course that went a bit everywhere. I had to run most of it myself and I was running for a total of 2:25. We began with a map from 1967 and got to run on a couple of other types of maps. Since it went all day and into the evening, I didn't do the biking. But, we did do an hour of beach volleyball in the afternoon.

Sunday's plan: Club training, an O' course of 1:30-2:00. Run part of the course (about 25 minutes) at full orienteering speed.

Sunday's training: The full speed part, as I mentioned before, was moved to Friday. Today was just an easy two hour session. It was beautiful weather, with great views of the sea for much of the course. The easy pace made it a good way to recover from Saturday.

Asp's week looks good. He got in plenty of training. Some of it fast. He spent a lot of time in the forest with a map (6 hours if you exclude the party session on Saturday). He did some cross-training and some strength training.

I'm envious of the chance to train with a club so much and have such a big group of orienteers. Having people to help organize session and to sit around afterwards (eating dinner on Tuesday's with Asp's club) can help motivate you. Orienteer Kansas doesn't quite have the size or organization, but we try. Wednesday night we had four of us at the session and we had a nice dinner afterwards. That's not bad. It is a lot better than shuffling around all alone. But, it doesn't come close to the 30+ on Asp's Tuesday night.

posted by Michael | 9:18 AM


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