Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Wednesday, June 30, 2004  

Nat gives the thumbs up at the spectator control during a race at TJOC.

posted by Michael | 9:09 PM


Baseball and orienteering


Last week Mary and I went to a baseball game and, since my mind seems to always wander from whatever I'm doing to orienteering, I started wondering -- what is a way that orienteering and baseball are alike?

It'd be a lot easier to come up with differences. Orienteering is an endurance sport with lots of thin athletes. Baseball is a skill sport with lots of overweight players. But, thinking of ways the two sports would be alike was a bigger challenge.

While I was watching the game, I was keeping score, tracking the game pitch-by-pitch. Keeping score reminded me of a similarity.

Both sports are continuous, but can easily be split up in to small segments. In orienteering you run a course made up of lots of legs. We often keep split times and compare how we did on legs. We divide the race up in to little bits. Baseball is the same. You can divide the game in to nine innings, or 27 outs, or a bunch of at-bats, or even each pitch.

posted by Michael | 8:55 PM


Tuesday, June 29, 2004

A few legs from a long time ago


I wasn't sure what to write today, so I pulled out an old book of maps to look for inspiration. I came across a map from a relay race at a place near Stockholm. No guarantees, but I think this terrain might have some similarity to the WOC terrain.

The race was a district relay champs. I ran the second of three (or was it the third of four?) legs and had a good race.

The maps below show the first few legs (click on the image for a larger image).

posted by Michael | 8:01 PM



To the first control I used some linear features (the trail in the beginning, then the hill with the cliffs). I just read the map carefully -- and slowed down -- for the last 350 meters or so.

posted by Michael | 8:00 PM



The second leg was another medium length leg. I ran this leg hard. The next two legs were short - tempo change. I don't have a distinct memory of running these legs. Looking at my routes, I must have been keeping close map contact.

posted by Michael | 7:58 PM


Monday, June 28, 2004

Embarrassment as motivation


A couple of weeks ago I was running at a place called Parkville Nature sanctuary. It was hot. I was wearing a synthetic running shirt with a big zipper on front. Usually this sort of shirt feels pretty comfortable even on a warm day. But, it was really warm and humid. So I pulled the shirt off and ran without a shirt.

"Geez, I could lose a few pounds."

I've decided that running without a shirt on warm days is a good idea. Not because it is comfortable (though it is), but because I feel embarrassed to look tubby. If I run without a shirt, it'll remind me to pay a bit more attention to what I eat. If I pay a bit more attention to what I eat, I'll drop a few pounds. If I drop a few pounds I'll be able to run faster.

posted by Michael | 8:30 PM


Sunday, June 27, 2004



Both times I've written about picking my hypothetical WOC team, I've gotten comments about the idea of picking a team for the short term or the long term. Here is a bit of one of those comments:

This is all good but only has one shot (one year) mentality. In building the team it is very important to have generations in the team.

In putting together a WOC team, I would pick the best at the time. If I was sending 4 men and 4 women, I'd want the 4 and 4 who I thought would be the best at the WOC. I'd only favor a younger, less experienced runner if everything else was equal. If I had to pick between a 20 year-old and a 40 year-old who were absolutely equal, I'd pick the 20 year-old. But, If I had to pick between a 40 year-old and a 20 year-old, and the 40 year-old was better, I'd pick the 40 year-old.

My criteria for selection, in other words, is "Who will be the best orienteers at this year's WOC?"

Without getting in to all of the reasons behind my thinking, I'd like to write a bit about experience.

Some thoughts about experience

It seems to me that three types of experience matter for sports:

1. Technical experience. In orienteering this means experience dealing with different types of terrain, different maps, different course setting and so on.

2. Side show experience. In orienteering this means dealing with all of the not-on-the-course distractions that go along with some events. A WOC has lots of side show stuff, like an opening ceremony, bus rides to the model events, etc.

3. Level of competition experience. I won't use orienteering as an example for level of competition experience, I'll use basketball. In basketball, you've got to work with team mates and against another team. Moving from high school basketball to college basketball is a huge jump because you're suddenly facing another team of people who are much better. You've also got team mates who are suddenly a lot better than they were in high school.

In terms of results for an orienteering, technical experience is probably the most important. Technical experience comes from lots of time in the forest using a map to find controls. It comes from racing and training. Importantly, technical experience doesn't require having been at a WOC (though travel to lots of different races in lots of different places is a great way to get technical experience).

You get side show experience from going to a WOC or from talking to people who've gone to a WOC. I don't think side show experience matters much. It doesn't matter much for two reasons. First, WOCs vary so much in terms of the side show experience. I've been to four WOCs and the side show stuff (accommodations, model events, opening ceremony, start draw, etc.) have been different each time. The side show experience I gained at my first WOC in France, didn't translate directly to my second WOC in Sweden. Second, an orienteer can get a lot of the side show experience by just talking to people who've been to prior WOCs. In France, I remember watching Eric Weyman carefully. I knew he knew what he was doing, so I watched him to get ideas about what I should do. If I'd been a bit more on the ball, I'd have spent some time months before the WOC asking questions of people like Eric.

As an aside, I think some of what people consider side show experience is really the stress of having to perform when everyone knows it is important. Because an event is a World Champs, everyone you know expects that you'll try to do your best. You can't hide. You can't have a bad race and then say, "well, I had a bad race, but I was just using it as a tune up before some upcoming event." I think the pressure from running a WOC is largely the pressure of having to perform publicly. You wonder, "what will everyone think if I screw up?"

continuing the aside, one way to practice dealing with this sort of pressure would be to pick a couple of events each year and declare them as your priorities. Tell everyone that you're aiming for the U.S. Champs (put it on your training log at Attackpoint), for example, and that'll put some pressure on you to perform. Another way to practice dealing with this sort of pressure is to run relay races.

Back to experience...

The third type of experience is level of competition experience. I used basketball as an example. I didn't use orienteering because I don't think level of competition experience is important for orienteering. In orienteering you don't even see your competition, let alone have your competition defending you.

If level of competition experience is important, putting together a team that mixes young and old members is important. That's why you see basketball coaches putting less experienced players on the floor even if they aren't the best players. The coach wants them to get some time playing against players at a high level. The coach wants them to learn and wants to see how they react.

But, as I wrote above, I don't think level of competition experience matters much in orienteering because you compete alone with very little feedback about other competitors.

Another aside...I should point out that I think regularly racing against tough competition matters. But not because you gain level of competition experience. What I think happens when you run regularly against tough competition is that small errors start to matter more. If you ease up on a trail and take it a bit easy, or miss a control and lose 20 seconds, you'll drop in the results list if the competition is tough. In most races in the U.S.,those small errors don't affect the results. You can get away with them. But, in Sweden, for example, those errors might cost you a place or two. Regularly facing that sort of competition teaches you to focus because it directly penalizes failing to focus. That is a sort of level of competition. But, I think it takes regular exposure to good competition, not a one-shot trip to a WOC.

posted by Michael | 9:47 AM


Saturday, June 26, 2004

Some nice maps


I spent some time poking around web pages this evening and came across Even Lillemo. Lillemo is a Norwegian and has a nice collection of maps on his home page. Among other things, he's got a good scan of his map and routes from Jukola.

I haven't read much of what Lillemo has on his page, but it looks like it might be interesting. He's had an interesting history. He was a top junior, who then struggled with injury and overtraining. Apparently he took a long break from training to recover physically and get his motivation back.

posted by Michael | 6:56 PM


Friday, June 25, 2004  

Night racing at Lakeside Speedway (near the Wyandotte O' map!).

posted by Michael | 10:05 PM



Using a slow shutter speed and panning the camera should give a sense of speed.

posted by Michael | 10:04 PM



The "modifieds" coming out of the last turn. Modifieds make a lot of noise.

posted by Michael | 10:03 PM



this is an audio post - click to play

posted by Michael | 5:13 PM


Thursday, June 24, 2004

Quick note on O' spectating


Halden's newspaper has a story about tests to make O' a TV sort (a Norwegian TV network is working to put O' on TV). I don't have time to translate the original article.

One thing they're testing is making O' a bit more like biathalon. In biathalon, when a skier shoots at a target and misses, they have to ski a bit extra as a penalty. In the O'-for-TV-format, an orienteer can get penalties and have to do a bit of extra running.

As I understand it, they've got a section of an O' course on a really small area with lots of extra controls (the call it a "micro course") and orienteers are penalized for each mispunch.

It seems like an interesting idea.

posted by Michael | 5:00 PM


Wednesday, June 23, 2004  


posted by Michael | 8:43 PM


Some U.S. O' history


A letter showed up in my mailbox yesterday. The return address read "Peter Gagarin." I opened it wondering what in the world Peter would be sending me in a letter.

Turns out the U.S. Team is sending former WOC team members to ask for donations to help support the team. It seems like a good idea.

The letter included a list of everyone who ran at a WOC for the U.S. (going back through the 1974 World Champs in Denmark).

I know most of the people on the list. For the people I don't know, I've heard of them. Except for one -- who is Tom Keene? I don't ever remember hearing his name. He ran at the WOC in 1974.

Since I like to count things, I counted the number of individuals who'd run in WOCs 1 time, 2 times, 3 times, and so on.

WOC teams Number of people
1 28
2 15
3 7
4 5
5 2
6 2
7 1
8 0
9 1
10 1

The people who've gone to more than 6 WOCs are who you'd expect (Mikell Platt - 7, Peggy Dickison - 9, and Sharon Crawford - 10).

I also looked at the number of people who were at their first World Champs each year. In 1974, all five U.S. orienteers at the World Champs were at their first World Champs. I think this list is interesting.

Year WOC first-timers
1974 5
1976 6
1978 5
1979 4
1981 3
1983 4
1985 5
1987 1
1989 4
1991 7
1993 3
1995 4
1997 2
1999 4
2001 2
2003 3

posted by Michael | 8:24 PM


Tuesday, June 22, 2004  

Experimenting with the macro setting on my camera.

posted by Michael | 6:30 PM


Jukola maps


Emma Engstrand posted her maps from the last leg at Venla. Check out the first and second parts of the course.

The terrain looks unusual. I can't recall running anywhere that looks similar. My understanding is that the terrain was very open -- you could see a long way in the forest. It looks like the main difficulties would be holding a good pace and not getting pulled off by other runners on your leg but not your fork.

Engstrand missed control 179 and it looks like she might have been pulled to the wrong control by seeing the other control (170) or maybe runners heading to it.

What else would have been tough in this year's Jukola terrain? Maybe running through the marshy areas would have been difficult. (Some people who regularly read this page also ran Jukola, maybe they'll add comments?).

Historic Jukola Maps

Map freaks will want to check out the collection of Jukola maps going back to 1949.

posted by Michael | 6:15 PM


Monday, June 21, 2004

Picking my WOC team


A couple of weeks ago I described a thought experiment -- the basic idea is to think about how I'd pick a U.S. WOC team assuming:

1. It was entirely up to me.
2. I financed the team.
3. I had enough money to pay entry fees and expenses in Sweden (and maybe a bit left over to help one or two team members with some travel expenses). But, I didn't have enough money to fully pay for the trip or compensate team members for time away from their jobs.

You can read the original post if you want to know more.

My selection process

Without getting in to too many details, here is what I'm thinking about as principles for my selection process:

The relay is the goal. I want a team to do as well as possible in the relays. I also want runners who will accept the relay-focus as a goal. They'll still run the individual races and have their own individual goals. But, what I really want my team to do is have a good relay.

Having the relay as a goal should have a couple of side benefits. First, the relay is the last event. Having the focus on the last event should keep the individual runners focused throughout the week. Second, it should help keep everyone on the team motivated. If you're the last person to make the team, you've still got to work hard because you've got a reasonable chance to run in the relay, and the relay is the main focus.

Pick the team relatively early. I'd want to have my WOC team picked no later than the end of May. Why? In the U.S. orienteering is a true amateur sport. The WOC team members will need to fit the WOC travel and time around their work or school schedules. This is easier if you've got a fair amount of time to arrange things. I'm also hopeful that having the team picked relatively far in advance will give the team members time to get over to Sweden well in advance of the WOC itself.

Test races, but no automatic picks. I would use spring A-meets as test races. I'd look at those results very carefully. They'd weight heavily in my decisions. But, I wouldn't automatically pick the winners of those races. This is very different from the way the U.S. teams (not just in orienteering) get selected. In the U.S. we tend to have selection races where, for example, the top 3 finishers are automatically on the team. We place a strong emphasis on having a process that reduces the chances for selectors to have discretion. I understand the thinking, but if it was my money, I'd want to use my discretion.

Looking back at this spring's schedule, I think the races I'd use as tests would be the A-meet in Wisconsin and the A-meet at Harriman. I might also use the North American Champs in Ohio. The Wisconsin event was in "neutral terrain." It wasn't home terrain for any of the top runners. I'm a believer in the idea that neutral terrain does a good job of finding the best runners. The Harriman meet was in terrain that feels a bit like Scandinavia. So, it gives some information that might help find orienteers who have skills that transfer to Sweden. Harriman is also convenient for a lot of orienteers. The North Americans would be a good test race because the competition would be tough (largely since the Canadians used it as a test race).

As a selection I'm going to talk with everyone I think has a shot at the team. In the 6 months or so before the WOC selections, I'd touch bases with the top ten or so men and women. I'd like them to know my plans, understand the goal of the relays, and have chances to talk about anything else that comes up. Note that I said "talk" not "email." I think you've got to be face-to-face to really have a good discussion.

Focus on the top. I've written before about the importance for the U.S. to have the top orienteer at the WOC even if they might not be at their personal best. Brian May was the example I used. The U.S. is a whole lot better off if Brian is at the WOC. That's the case even if Brian might not be at his best. I'll put effort in getting Brian on the team. If he isn't sure, I'll try to convince him -- remind him of how much he can mean to the relay team, for example.

One way I'll judge the success of my selection process is if the top man and woman actually go to the WOC. If they don't, then the process didn't work well.

Help from others. I'd try to put together a small group (maybe 4 other people) to help me view my selections critically. If I'm thinking of putting someone on the team, I'd like someone else to be able to think about that selection and give me some critical feedback.

In general, I think decisions are better when they are subject to some different points of view. Any selection process will leave some people with questions about runners who didn't get picked. I'd like to hear those concerns before I've made decisions.

Ultimately the decision is one person's. While the selection process needs some feedback from other people, I think it is best if it ultimately comes down to my decision (remember that in my experiment, it is my money!).

posted by Michael | 7:56 PM


Sunday, June 20, 2004  

No orienteering connnection...just a bull frog sitting in the pond.

posted by Michael | 8:44 PM


What a run!


Friday I took a look at the local newspaper from Halden. I was interested in seeing if they had any interesting articles before Jukola about Halden SK. The local paper covers orienteering quite well. I came across an article about Oystein Kristiansen.

Kristiansen won the bronze medal in the middle distance race at the WOC last year. But, he's not had a great season this year.

The gist of the article is that Kristiansen is planning to take a break from orienteering, and do some other things until orienteering is fun again. Meanwhile, he's thinking about the WOC, but not the WOC in Sweden this summer, but the WOC in Japan next year.

So I read all of this and wondered how he'd run (even if he'd run) at Jukola.

He did and he had a great race. Kristiansen ran in Halden's 2nd team. He ran the second leg and went out just a minute behind the leaders (but with the race so tight, that meant 25th place). He smoked the course. His time for 13.7 km was just over 64 minutes. What a run! He brought Halden's 2nd team to the lead.

posted by Michael | 8:26 PM


Saturday, June 19, 2004

O' as a spectator sport


It seems to me that there are two ways to make O' a spectator sport (and I used the term spectator loosely).

The first approach is to cover an event start to finish, using split times and announcers to try to keep the crowd informed about what is going on. It works best with relay or other mass start races. The advantage to this sort of coverage is you get a good sense of how long the events are. You also get the sense of a live event -- you wonder what is going on out in the forest between radio reports. But, if you aren't an orienteer (and even if you are) it isn't necessarily exciting.

This weekend's Jukola coverage on the internet was a good example of the approach.

The second approach is the "Sportcenter" approach. Film the runners at the start, at a control or two in the forest, then at the finish. Film a few interviews, before and after the race. Then edit the whole thing together to tell a story. Essentially, you're treating O' like a the Sportcenter report of a football game. You get the highlights, you get the story, and if you're lucky you get some nice pictures. It might make orienteering interesting (for a few minutes) for a non-orienteer.

Swedish TV is doing a decent job of this approach. Go to SVT's sports and look for the link to "13/6 OL eliteseriefinalen" on the left side of the page. (The start of the long O' race where the runners run right through the announcer is amusing).

posted by Michael | 7:10 PM


Friday, June 18, 2004

Focus on the sprint


The first sprint WOC was in 2001. Sprint O' has really only been around as a more-or-less serious event for a few years. I guess it started to be treated as a serious O' discipline with the beginning of the Park World Tour. As far as I can tell, the first PWT season was in 1996.

So, sprint O' is a relatively new discipline.

I don't know much about sprint O', but I'm interested in learning. One of the many "projects" I have in mind is to study sprint O' course setting. I'd like to have a sense of what sprint O' tests. I've got some ideas about how to think systematically about course setting and I think I'd learn something if I took a careful look at a bunch of sprint O' courses.

Another part of my this "project" (or maybe a separate project?) would be to poke around the various elite O' pages and see what people like Lowegren, Valstad and Engstrand have to say about sprint O'.

Even without much study, one thing that is clear is that sprint O' places a special demand on looking at the course and figuring out where to go. At the 2003 WOC, people had trouble when they ran to the wrong control (4 to 6 instead of 4 to 5, or something like that). You can get an idea of how difficult it might be to figure out where to go next by looking at Fredrik Lowegren's maps from the final race of the Stockholm City Cup. Here is part I and here is part II.

posted by Michael | 7:57 PM


Thursday, June 17, 2004  

Sprint to the finish in front of a crowd of TJOC particpant/spectators. You've got to question the sanity of someone running with bare legs and no shirt in the Texas terrain. For old-timers, note the guy in the red pants on the far right side of the picture. Recognize him? That's Peter Gagarin...whoops, I mean Lans Taylor.

posted by Michael | 8:26 PM


Am I falling for another April fools joke?


The latest news O-Nett is that the Norwegian team to the junior WOC includes a runner who has also competed at the World Champs in rhythmic gymnastics.

posted by Michael | 8:18 PM


Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Jukola this weekend


With Jukola coming up this weekend I spent a few minutes looking at some pages with info about the race.

If you're not familiar with Jukola, what you need to know is that it is a HUGE relay race in Finland. This year there are 814 teams entered in the four leg Venla race for women and 1323 teams entered in the 7 leg Jukola for men. That's a total of over 12,000 runners.

Another thing Jukola is becoming known for is outstanding internet coverage. Last year you could sit at your computer and watch live video coverage from the forest. I don't know what is in store for this year, but I hope to be able to spend some time this weekend following the race.

The teams and runners are listed at the official Jukola site.

The Norwegian web page O-Nett has a poll with the question -- who will win the men's relay at Jukola? As I write, the poll has 633 votes and the favorites are Kristiansands OK, Bekkelaget and Halden (all Norwegian teams). The next two favorites are Kalevan Rasti -- a Finnish team that I think will have Gieorgiou running the anchor leg -- and "andre" (which means "other").

I have no idea who will win. I'm torn between Kristiansand OK, Halden and Kalevan Rasti. It'd be fun to see someone beat Halden. I'm a bit of a Kristiansand OK fan (I look at their web page now and then). It'd also be cool to see Gieorgiou smoke the last leg and put a Finnish team on the top of the podium.

The Attackpoint team is still a bit up in the air. I wonder how they'll do. Check out Randy's pre-Jukola thoughts.

And for something entirely different...check out the routes from Kristain Dalby (who finished third) from the Norwegian test race that I wrote about yesterday.

posted by Michael | 7:47 PM


Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Like the rest of us?


I like looking at routes from top orienteers. Some very good orienteers put some of their maps on the internet.

Today I was looking at Bjornar Valstad's routes from a test race the Norwegian team used to help pick their European Champs team.

As I looked at Valstad's routes I thought, "wow, he's orienteering like the rest of us!"

Check out his map and route.

Start to 1 and 2: Valstad seems to start fine. His routes are straight and it looks like he must be picking up some details as he approaches the controls. At the second control his time is 2:42 -- a few seconds ahead of Holger Hott Johansen, who ended up the top Norwegian.

To 3, 4 and 5: Whoa! On each of these legs Valstad gets off line. He missed the controls at 3 and 4. Look at the route to 5. It reminds me of the mistake I made years ago and wrote about days ago. By the 5th control, Valstad was 1:04 behind Hott Johansen and 1:24 behind Bjorn Eriksen, the leader at that point.

Actually, Valstad isn't as far behind as I'd have guessed by looking at his routes. That suggests that he was moving fast. Was he running too fast? Was that what caused the mistakes?

To 6 and 7: Valstad's routes look fine. But you can see that he drew his route to 7, then crossed it out and drew it again. The corrected route is quite different from the x-ed out route. That's the sort of thing that I do now and then. When I'm drawing my route after a good run, it is easy. I don't make mistakes in drawing the route. But if my concentration was way off, then I might make a mistake as I draw the route.

Pure speculation here...maybe Valstad's concentration was off so much that he's unsure at first glance how he ran...

Now jump up to that last, from control 12 through 19: It looks like Valstad is taking extra-careful routes. He's running to very distinct attack points (14, 16 and 17 are good examples). His routes are far from the straight line.

I wonder if he took those routes to avoid thick terrain with lots of stinging nettles. Maybe. Or maybe he revised his strategy -- emphasizing caution to recover a good rhythm to his race. I don't know.

By the finish, Valstad was only 1:55 behind Hott Johansen. Just looking at the routes I'd have thought he'd lost a good bit more time than that.

Certainly if I'd have run the routes Valstad drew I'd have lost a lot of time (not just because I'm running a lot slower).

Sometimes it is fun to see a great orienteer with routes that look like the rest of us. I suppose it is a bit like watching Tiger Woods miss a putt!

posted by Michael | 8:19 PM


Monday, June 14, 2004  

A bit of the Telemark O' map from 1983.

posted by Michael | 8:35 PM


Four months till Telemark


About four months to go before the U.S. Champs at Telemark, Wisconsin.

I spent a few minutes looking at the 1983 map of the area (above). The terrain is special. It'll be worth spending some time in the next four months thinking about the sort of problems we'll face at Telemark.

I'm not sure of the best way to orienteer at Telemark. Obviously, you don't want to get lost and have to relocate. Relocating won't be easy. Look at the map above and imagine you're standing at one of the gentle bends along one of the trails. It'd be hard to figure out exactly where you were unless you knew where you were. The countours look like they're subtle. That's another reason to stay in contact with the map.

The map is relatively easy to read. The competition map will be printed at 1:10,000. I expect that you'll be able to read the map without much trouble on the run. The part that'll be tricky will be recognizing up-and-down.

I should point out that some parts of the map have bigger contour features with a clearer pattern. The bit of the map shown above is some of the more difficult terrain on the map.

It has been about 20 years since I ran at Telemark. I don't really remember much about the terrain. I took notes when I ran there. But, I don't make much of those notes (I'd only been orienteering a couple of years and I'm not sure I trust what I wrote back then).

The U.S. Champs is in mid October. I wonder if the leaves will still be on the trees. I think they will. I wonder if the leaves will be turning yellow, orange and red. I think they will. Colored leaves in the forest will be another challenge, making it harder to see and harder to see the orange on a control flag.

posted by Michael | 8:32 PM


Sunday, June 13, 2004

How hard do you run during an O' race?


I wonder how hard different people run when they orienteer. I guess one way to look at that is to look at heart rate data.

Yesterday I took it easy (but was out for a long time so it was still a tough day). I kept a steady pace. My heart rate averaged 146. I suspect that running at the same pace on a day with cool weather would have given my a heart rate average of about 140. That's not hard at all.

For the relay race at TJOC, I ran a good bit harder. My average heart rate was 173. That is about as hard as I can run.

This season I typically run an A-meet at about 163-166 for an average heart rate.

My max heart rate is right about 180-182. I suppose if I did a max heart rate test it might get a little bit higher -- we'll say 185.

My normal O' race pace (163) is about 88 percent of my maximum.

In general, when I look at the curve from a race it is fairly even. My heart rate goes to about 160-165 and stays there. It'll drop briefly at water stops or booms where I have to stand a bit to relocate.

What about other people?

I've been looking at my own h.r. data for a few years. I have a fairly good idea of how my h.r. curve will look before I download the data. I'm rarely surprised by either the average or the shape of the curve.

But, what about other orienteers? How hard do other people run? How much variation do they have in their h.r. curves?

One of the cool things about the internet is that I could get answers (or at least something like an answer) by looking at people's logs on Attackpoint or looking at other orienteers' web pages.

Today I spent a few minutes looking at Emma Engstrand's training log. Engstrand is a top Swedish runner who (conveniently for me) logs her heart rate average and max for a lot of her sessions. Unfortunately, she doesn't usually log the data for races. Maybe she doesn't use a heart rate monitor in competitions.

I looked at a couple months of her training and the highest h.r. she recorded was 182. If you use the very rough method of 220-age to calculate max h.r., Engstrand's would be 194. So, I'll split the difference and guess that her maximum h.r. is 188.

The highest average h.r. I saw for Engstrand's O' training was for sprint sessions. She had average h.r. for some sprint training races of 163-168. For other O' sessions, her heart rate averages was lower. As an example, on April 16, Engstrand ran a middle-distance course of 7.6 km at a WOC training camp with an average h.r. of 152 and a max of 162.

If you calculate race average as a percent of 188, you get up to about 89 percent for some sprint sessions and about 81 percent.

I don't know if it is fair to use average-as-a-percent-of-maximum as a measure of how hard someone is running. It seems like a measure, but perhaps not the best measure (probably a mix of heart rates, perceived effort and pace would be best).

What to make of this...

Well, I wouldn't make much of it. I guess it suggests that running an O' race is hard work. No kidding.

What I really ought to do is look at some different people and see how they stack up.

posted by Michael | 4:45 PM


Saturday, June 12, 2004  

2nd place at today's Mop Run got me an Orienteering Chesty Lion as a trophy. You can't get much better than that.

posted by Michael | 5:24 PM


Today's Mop Run


I finished 2nd. That surprised me a bit. In retrospect, I shouldn't be surprised because I struggled a lot the last 40 minutes or so.

I felt fine running for the first two hours. I kept a moderate, steady pace. I drank water regularly and had a few shots of gu. I saw Eric Saggars around the two hour mark. He was walking and looked tired. I remember thinking, "well, I feel a lot better than Eric."

Soon after seeing Eric I began feeling tired. But, I knew that would happen. I felt tired, but not dead. The last hour would be tough, but I didn't think I'd have much trouble.

Then my calf muscles started hurting. They didn't cramp, they just got stiff and sore. Running became uncomfortable.

At about the 2:20 mark I realized I'd better look for a short route back to the finish. I picked a return route that was as short as I could come up with. It took me through an area with almost no controls. So I'd sacrifice points. But it was better to give up points than be overtime (there was a 3 hour limit with a big penalty for finishing late).

What happened?

I think what happened is that running on pavement made me change my stride just a bit (I almost never run on pavement and when I do it is usually for no more than 10 minutes at a time). Two+ hours with a slightly different stride caused problems.

Well, despite some troubles I had a lot of fun.

I haven't lived in Lawrence for a good 15 years. The town has changed a lot. I spent most of the race in the west part of town, which is where most of the growth has been the last ten years of so. I don't know my way around the west part of town. I had to pay close attention to the map. That made it fun. I probably would have scored more points if I ran in the older parts of town. That is the part of town I know well. But, it wouldn't have been as much fun.

posted by Michael | 5:12 PM



A bit of the map from today's run. White areas without buildings are private. Yellow areas and white areas with buildings are public (most of this map shows the KU campus).

posted by Michael | 5:12 PM


Friday, June 11, 2004  

Another TJOC snapshot.

posted by Michael | 7:44 PM


Long and short urban orienteering



I'm running the MOP run tomorrow -- a 3 hour score O' course in Lawrence.

I'' treat the run as a long training run. I expect it'll be tough. Most of the time I'll be running on pavement and any time you run (even if it is slow) for three hours you get tired. At least I do.


Check out this map of a sprint course in an area that is relevant for this summer's WOC.

posted by Michael | 7:28 PM


Thursday, June 10, 2004

Kazakhstan trip report


Randy's report from his O' trip to Kazakhstan makes for some great reading.

posted by Michael | 7:42 PM



I was looking at some old maps today and came across this boom. I remember parts of this race, but I don't remember this leg. I wonder what I was thinking? I'm sure I wasn't reading the map or looking at the compass. (Click on the picture for a higher resolution version).

posted by Michael | 7:03 PM


Wednesday, June 09, 2004  

this is an audio post - click to play

posted by Michael | 8:46 PM



Michael Durham -- selected for the JWOC team, but unable to go...selected for the Student team and will go to the Czech Republic for the Student WOC.

posted by Michael | 7:44 PM


Something to think about


With the European and World Champs coming up, lots of nations are picking their teams. Selecting a team must be difficult. But, it is also interesting.

To entertain myself while running, I've been thinking about how I'd pick a team from the U.S. for the WOC if:

1. It was entirely up to me.
2. I financed the team.
3. I had enough money to pay entry fees and expenses in Sweden (and maybe a bit left over to help one or two team members with some travel expenses). But, I didn't have enough money to fully pay for the trip or compensate team members for time away from their jobs.

This is similar to the selection problem faced by USOF. The big difference is that in my thought experiment it is my money and it is my responsibility. In some ways the problem is a bit more like a professional sport (say a cycling team preparing for the TDF)...with very little money.

I haven't exactly come up with how I'd pick my team. But, I've thought of some questions I'd want to ask and answer:

What are my goals? Do the goals make a difference in how you pick the team?

Where would I have a selection race? (It is even worth asking, would I have a selection race?)

When would I select the team? What are the trade-offs between picking a team early (several months before the WOC) and late?

The first question -- and to me the one that will drive the selection process -- is "what are my goals?" Well, since I'm financing the team, I guess the goals are up to me. For the purposes of my experiment, I'll say my goals are:

1. To participate in the WOC.
2. To have as strong a relay team as possible.
3. To be competitive with peer nations.

Those goals are, I think, quite close to the implicit goals of the US team (I say implicit goals because I don't think the team has yet come up with goals).

I think the goals make a difference in how I select a team and use my money. If my goals were different -- say to qualify runners for finals -- I'd probably pick fewer people and wouldn't both spending money if I thought runners didn't have a chance to qualify.

That's all for today. Maybe I'll give these questions more thought tomorrow.

posted by Michael | 7:26 PM


Tuesday, June 08, 2004  

Another TJOC snapshot

posted by Michael | 8:33 PM


Watching TV instead of writing


Instead of writing, I spent my evening watching TV. I watched the latest Swedish TV O' show. You can see it here (if that doesn't work, go to SVT.SE, scroll down and look on the left to see "eliteserien i orienteering 15/5").

If you can't understand Swedish, you can still enjoy some nice shots of orienteers running in the terrain. The interviews won't make sense (and the stuff about pig farming will be a complete mystery). If you can understand Swedish it is fun to hear the interviews with Bjornar Valstad, Jorgen Olsson, Mats Troeng, Fredrik Lowegren, Jenny Johansson and Simone Niggli-Luder.

posted by Michael | 8:23 PM


Watching TV instead of writing


Instead of writing, I spent my evening watching TV. I watched the latest Swedish TV O' show. You can see it here (if that doesn't work, go to SVT.SE, scroll down and look on the left to see "eliteserien i orienteering 15/5").

If you can't understand Swedish, you can still enjoy some nice shots of orienteers running in the terrain. The interviews won't make sense (and the stuff about pig farming will be a complete mystery). If you can understand Swedish it is fun to hear the interviews with Bjornar Valstad, Jorgen Olsson, Mats Troeng, Fredrik Lowegren, Jenny Johansson and Simone Niggli-Luder.

posted by Michael | 8:23 PM


Watching TV instead of writing


Instead of writing, I spent my evening watching TV. I watched the latest Swedish TV O' show. You can see it here (if that doesn't work, go to SVT.SE, scroll down and look on the left to see "eliteserien i orienteering 15/5").

If you can't understand Swedish, you can still enjoy some nice shots of orienteers running in the terrain. The interviews won't make sense (and the stuff about pig farming will be a complete mystery). If you can understand Swedish it is fun to hear the interviews with Bjornar Valstad, Jorgen Olsson, Mats Troeng, Fredrik Lowegren, Jenny Johansson and Simone Niggli-Luder.

posted by Michael | 8:23 PM


Monday, June 07, 2004  

Robbie Paddock sprinting to the finish at a race at TJOC.

posted by Michael | 8:42 PM


Racing to beat someone


In the recent final for the Swedish elite series, Simone Niggli-Luder and Jenny Johansson had chances to win. Simone won the final race. In a newspaper interview she talked about the race between her and Johansson. A reporter asked Simone what she thought about before the race:

I wanted to concentrate on my self and not the duel between me and Jenny. That is tough in this environment where you run through the finish area two times and hear the announcer and the spectators...

It seems like Simone used the competition with Johansson to help her focus and concentrate.

In my own orienteering this spring, I've had my best races when I've been thinking about beating a specific person. In fact, the good races have come when I've been a bit annoyed at having finished behind someone on the first of two days. The second day I've been determined to beat someone (it has been different people at different races) and I've managed to concentrate pretty well when I've been doing that.

I was thinking about this way of motivating myself after reading an article from the North Texas O' Association newsletter. Inspired by my time in Texas, I poked around the NTOA web page and came across this report from Robbie Paddock on the Great Lakes O' Festival last October.

Robbie is one of the top U.S. juniors. He's a strong orienteer. It has been fun to see his improvement over the last three years or so.

Here is what Robbie wrote:

On the first day of competition I had a couple of mistakes but an OK race. I was trying to beat Mike Eglinski but I was 4 minutes behind him....On the second day I ran a short course of 4.2 km. The runnability of the forest was good, better than the first day, which was very rocky, with no footing. I had a 3-minute mistake on the number one control and two more 1-minute mistakes, giving me a time of 34:45. I didn't beat Mike
again; he was a minute ahead of me. On the third day it was a one-man relay course with a mass start and a map exchange. On the first leg I had a 10-minute error, which put me behind. But on the second leg I had a good race. My time was 54:11 and I finally beat Mike.

Robbie was trying to beat me! I guess it had never occurred to me that Robbie would have beating me as a goal.

If I'd known, I wonder if I could have run better. (I have to point out that I was sick on the third day and walked the course).

At TJOC this past week I was no match for Robbie. I don't think I can beat him anymore, at least not in Texas. But, maybe being beat by Robbie will inspire me to train a bit better this summer with the hope of racing Robbie in the fall.

posted by Michael | 8:24 PM


Sunday, June 06, 2004  

Checking the route from the spectator control on Thursday morning's sprint race at TJOC.

posted by Michael | 6:25 PM


5 quick notes from TJOC


I just got back from the Texas Junior O' Camp. Here are five quick impressions from TJOC:

1. The organizers do a huge amount of work and put together a great week of training. I've now been to four TJOCs and they get better each year.

2. If I could give each of the kids one bit of advice it'd probably be -- learn to make the legs as simple as possible. Don't worry about picking the route that is fastest if executed perfectly. Pick the route that is easiest (safest) and then execute it. Learn to orienteer cleanly while running hard, then start picking tougher routes.

3. While the camp is a blast, the terrain isn't. The area is rocky. Some of the vegetation is thick. Some of the vegetation is unpleasant (I pulled a bunch of cactus thorns out of my knee on the second day I was there).

4. The food was top-notch. Thursday night's menu featured steak and lobster!

5. One of my rules-of-thumb is that all of the volunteer work I do for O' is at the local level. I figure I can do more (and enjoy it more) if I'm helping Orienteer Kansas. But, TJOC isn't local. So, I guess I'm a bit of a hypocrite. Oh well. I can re-write my rule to -- I only volunteer at the local level, except for TJOC.

posted by Michael | 6:15 PM


Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Next update Sunday, June 6


I'm on my way to the Texas Junior O' Camp, so the next update will have to wait until I get back on Sunday.

posted by Michael | 7:22 AM


Tuesday, June 01, 2004  

Another nice control location in Ohio.

posted by Michael | 7:57 PM


Doping and cheating...nope, not today


On the flight to Ohio I read an article about doping in track and field. It inspired more thinking about doping in orienteering. Not just doping, but cheating in general.

It'd be something to write about. But, I don't have time tonight.

Instead, I took a look at an interview with France's world champ, Thierry Gueorgiou. The problem is I don't know French. So I plugged the web page in Google's translate tool and read the resulting interview.

Here is a bit of the English version:

How do you make to be with 100% concentrate on all the races and to keep the motivation for gains with each time you courres?

- the key is hidden, I think, in the way in which I approach the races. I do not seek the victory but rather to answer the problems arising from the chart, the layout or the ground. I am always concentrated on the manner, rather than on the result.

I think I understand what he's saying. He's telling you he thinks about the process of orienteering rather than the result. In general that is good advice, as long as you can master the process.

The interview (and the computer-translated language) is amusing. Check out the original French version or the English translation.

posted by Michael | 7:43 PM


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