Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Monday, October 17, 2005

Work stress and orienteering


Over at Yepsport, Ollie O'Brien wrote about the relationship between work and orienteering. Here is part of what he wrote:

One of my fellow orienteers in JOK advanced the theory that the stress of work affects my results adversely. Case in point - after a week’s holiday, I got my best results of the season during the Scottish 6 Day. On the other hand, I generally perform badly in races in southern England, i.e. racing at the weekend when working at the week.

O'Brien has another explanation for some poor results and it is worth reading his analysis.

O'Brien's post brings up an intersting topic -- the relationship between work-stress and orienteering performance. Here are a few quick thoughts:

1. In my experience a high stress workday is really draining. After a high stress workday, I don't want to train or race, I don't feel good, and I'm worn out. I have no doubt that I wouldn't race well after a high stress day at work.

2. A little work stress can be good. At the end of a slightly stressful day in the office, I feel like running. I really enjoy training on those days. I tend to put in a little bit more (or harder) training.

3. I think most of the better orienteers in the world have some non-O' activity like work or study. I think most of them work part time and would (or have) found a full time job to be too much.

4. Eva Jurenikova and Sandy Hott Johansen recently wrote about the relationship between work and orienteering training on their web pages.

Here is a bit of what Jurenikova wrote:

Why do I have doubts about the next year then? The reason is that it is difficult to manage with the little money I make in my job. Since the beginning of this year I have been working as a substitute teacher at primary schools in Borlänge. I do not have any job-contract.....I like working with kids more then working with money even if I have an university degree from business administration and not from pedagogy. However, sometimes the teaching is quite tiring and I need a lot of discipline to get myself out and train in the evening.

Here is a bit of what Hott Johansen wrote:

My work weeks increase to 60-100 hours. I sleep even less and somehow train even more, but the combination is killing me. Meanwhile my golden opportunity is passing me by. Kristiansand is one of the best cities in the world for orienteering, but I am in the hospital 24/7. Oh, the irony. By February 2005 I finally figure out that I can't do both. Orthopedic surgery will wait. I quit my dream job and start on a Selective in Physical Medicine, 50% job. I am officially a "semi-professional" orienteer.

5. I am better, much better, at managing work stress now that I was in my first 5 years on the job. I suspect that most people learn how to manage work stress and get better at it as they gain experience. The problem for orienteers is that those first 5-10 years in the work world coincide with the time an athelete is at their peak.

An interesting topic that Ollie O'Brien brought up....

posted by Michael | 7:59 PM


Stress and Anxiety can be a destroyer. Simply put I try to deal with this each day by using tension meditation systems.
Dealing with Anxiety
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