Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Thursday, April 14, 2005

More on planning


Judging by the number of comments on what I wrote a couple of days ago, planning seems like a worthwhile topic.

Let's start by limiting "planning" to what goes on during a race. Planning can also be about how you design your training or pick your goals or whatever, but I'll stick with a single race.

I think there are two distinct types of planning: planning for the leg you're running and planning for later parts of the course. I don't have good names for these two types of planning. For now, I'll just call them planning 1 and planning 2.

Planning 1 is about finding the control you're looking for. Think about running a leg. You look at your map and plan something like this -- I'll follow the trail about 100 meters, down two lines; then at the bend, I'll head off into the forest to the north; I'll look for a two line knoll with a boulder on the tip of it; just beyond the knoll, I'll see a small marsh, that's where the control sits.

Planning 2 is about the rest of the course. Think about running the leg I described above. Planning 2 would happen as you run the 100 meters on the trail. You might unfold your map and take a look at the rest of the course. Maybe you see a long leg in the last few kilometers and you spend some time looking at the route choice options. The idea with planning 2 is that when you reach that leg, you've already decided what you're going to do.

In my experience, planning 1 is a fundamental skill for orienteering. You've got to be able to do it to orienteer well. If you do it, you'll avoid big booms. Planning 1 is what Theirry Gueorgiou is talking about when he says you should orienteer 100 meters in the future.

In my expereince, planning 2 is a good thing, but not a fundamental skill. If you do it well, you can save some time. Planning 2 is what Kent Olsson is talking about when he says he looks ahead when he can.

If you don't use planning 1, you probably won't find the first control. You'll get lost and lose a couple of minutes (or more).

If you don't use planning 2, you might have to stand still for a few seconds trying to decide how to run that tricky leg when you reach it in the last few kilometers. Maybe you'll stand still for 30 seconds trying to make up your mind.

My brain doesn't seem to handle switching between these two types of planning. If I'm running along that trail and start looking ahead, whooops, I run too far and miss the place I was supposed to leave the trail. I have trouble switching back and forth between orienteering 100 meters in the future and orienteering 2 or 3 kilometers in the future. Kent Olsson doesn't have that problem. I'm no Kent Olsson.

One reason I favor (and am better at) planning 1 is that I learned to orienteer in Sweden. If I'd learned to orienteer in England or Switzerland, maybe I'd have mastered planning 2.

posted by Michael | 7:07 PM


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