Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Monday, November 15, 2004

Technique versus physical training


From Randy's description of his race last weekend:

...I ran against Nadim in the mass start. Nadim is a stronger runner than me, and that was clear on the trail running portions of the relay. But in the forest, I could hold my own, and really for the first time confirmed a theory with observation that I have some strength at running thru the forest (which I guess is why I come off as disdainful of new formats and course setting styles that emphasize running on trails and otherwise out of the forest, and other talk of emphasis of physical training on roads and tracks). Not that that stuff doesn't seem important, but I get the sense that the technique vs physical training thing may be a false dilemma -- as I've speculated before, running in the forest itself is the skill to go after, probably as a line O, but even volume work should be in the forest, or at least on crappy trails/XC. Perhaps even intervals in the forest, rather than on a track, I dunno. I guess I'll stop before I drift farther into the speculation zone.

A couple of thoughts spurred by Randy's writing....

I think there are big differences in ability to run in the terrain. Those differences get magnified when you throw in some map reading.

In my experience, when my training includes a lot of running in the forest several things. First, I become much more comfortable running in the terrain. I don't think (or worry) about how to move through the forest, I just do it. Second, I feel like my speed through the terrain increases even when the effort remains the same. Third, my running on a road feels different. I start to feel like my running form changes (that change disappears after just a week or so of non-terrain running).

Different terrains require different running techniques. Running through the thorny, sapling dense forests around Kansas City isn't the same as running through the rocky terrain at Harriman. I have some sense of the different techniques required by different terrains. But, I wish I had a better understanding of the demands of different terrains. I'd like to figure out how, for example, to prepare for Harriman terrain without leaving Kansas City.

splitting orienteering training into two things -- physical versus technical -- is a natural way to think about training. But, it is worth remembering that the split isn't what the sport of orienteering is about. It is more a reflection on how people have historically trained.

posted by Michael | 8:06 PM


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