Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Friday, September 30, 2005

Next update on Sunday evening


My next update will be Sunday evening. I'm doing a good bit of O' training this weekend and won't be at my computer.

Before a race or technique training, I like to think about what I'm trying to get out of it. I'm a bit unsure about this weekend. I think what I'm really looking for is:

1. To have fun; to get a good feeling about orienteering.
2. To move smoothly (even if slowly) through the forest.
3. To get a sense of where I stand physically.

I'll be running with (and against) Dave F. and Eric B. Both are about my age, but both are usually faster than me. I don't know how Dave's training has gone this summer, but Eric's training looks like it has gone well. I expect to come out of the weekend feeling slow, but also feeling motivated.

Some cool maps and video

Check out some cool O' maps and a video (over half an hour of footage).

posted by Michael | 8:07 PM


Thursday, September 29, 2005

Halden-style relay training


A couple of weeks ago, Tom H. wrote that he'd done "Halden-style relay training." What is that, you might ask...and I did. Check out Tom's description of the training. It sounds like a fun way to train.

posted by Michael | 7:52 PM


Wednesday, September 28, 2005  

Morning in Mongolia.

posted by Michael | 7:10 PM


Sharing notes


I listened to an interview with a Nascar driver on the radio a couple of days ago. The driver was talking about how teams work and how he learned from the other car on his team. He talked about watching tapes from the other driver on different tracks and getting notes about how the car was set up. It got me thinking about orienteering.

How can orienteers share their knowledge to help their team? If an Orienteer Kansas runner has a chance to train in an area, how best can they share what they learn with other OKers? Or if a few members of the U.S. team train in Denmark, how can they share what they learn with the rest of the team?

Some things are obvious -- like sharing maps with routes and split times. But, there must be ways to get more out of it.

I'll have to give this some more careful thought, but here are a few initial ideas:

Keep and share lots of written notes.

Focus on sharing the sort of information that you can't get from just looking at a map. A lot of that info will be about the vegetation, visibility and runnability.

Tie each bit of info to a specific individual. For example, "Boris felt that the runnability in the white forest was very good."

Include objective measures as much as possible. "Boris felt the runnability in the white forest was very good, he could run at 5 minutes/km; compared to about 4:30/km on the single track trails."

Think about the strategy implications of the info. "Since the white forest was so fast, you can stick close to the straightline without losing much time."

Think about how the information can affect how you prepare. "Since the white forest was so fast, you need train to hold a high pace and to read the map at a high pace."

Beware of traps. "The white was very fast, but the race will be at a different time of year and the locals say the flat areas fill up with stinging nettles."

Take lots of notes, but also take some photos and videos. "Here is a video of Boris running through the white forest."

Remember to expect the unexpected. Even on a single map the terrain can vary tremendously. You have to be ready for something you hadn't prepared for. Maybe the white forest in the competition area turns out to have more stony ground.

I'll have to give this some more thought.

posted by Michael | 6:48 PM


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Lots of maps


I've got something to write (inspired by an interview I heard on the radio with a Nascar driver), but I'm a bit short of time. So, I'll just post a link to a bunch of maps with GPS tracks. Most of the maps are around Stockholm. Seeing the maps makes me miss the city.

posted by Michael | 8:40 PM


Monday, September 26, 2005

Some easy training


Inspired by reading about Anne Margrethe Hausken's easy training, I decided to go for a very easy jog on the trails tonight. I wore my heart rate monitor and made an effort to run extra-easy.

For 30 minutes my average h.r. was 124. If I take out the climb, I averaged about 119. I don't think I can go much easier without walking. I suppose if the temperature had been a bit cooler, I could have shaved a good 5 beats per minute (maybe more?). I bet that some practice at running really easy would also shave a few beats.

I also looked at Pasi Ikonen and Kim Fagerudd's training logs, to see if I could find some really easy runs where they recorded their h.r. data. I easily found some easy runs, but nothing with average h.r. as low as Hausken reported. I found an easy 34 minute run where Ikonen averaged 124. I found an easy hour run where Fagerudd averaged 123.

posted by Michael | 8:30 PM


Sunday, September 25, 2005  

The local O' season starts next weekend...time to venture back into the Kansas forest.

posted by Michael | 8:15 PM


A training idea


Last week's flaky training idea was eyesight training. This week....

In the summer I tested an idea I had -- training myself to look at the map frequently. Here is what I did:

I ran intervals on a trail loop. The loop takes me about 3:20 to run and follows a trail with a number of bends and stream crossings. I carried a trail map and made a point of looking at the map a lot, checking off features or looking to see what was coming next. What is "a lot"? I counted each look and averaged ten/minute.

I ran with a heart rate monitor and on a loop that I run intervals on regularly. That kept me from getting lazy with the effort.

I did these sessions once a week for a few weeks before I ran the night O' and relay champs in Colorado.

I think it was worth the effort. It certainly didn't cause any harm and it might have helped put me in the habit of looking at the map.

posted by Michael | 8:00 PM


Saturday, September 24, 2005  

My office was in the clouds yesterday morning.

posted by Michael | 12:22 PM


Easy training


I was over at Anne Margrethe Hausken's web page reading about her training leading up to the World Cup races in Italy. I was struck by how easy a lot of her running training seems to be.

Hausken runs with a h.r. monitor and recorded her average and max heart rates for her sessions during the last week. This isn't all of her training for the week (if you can read Norwegian, you can see the whole week):

Monday's 30 minute run: average h.r. 111
Tuesday's 80 minute run: average h.r. 105 (max 117)
Wednesday's 30 minute run: average h.r. 113
Wednesday's 90 minutes of O' technique: average 98 (max 128)
Friday's 75 minute run: average h.r. 108 (max 124)
Saturday's 30 minute jog: average h.r. 106
Sunday's 125 minutes of O' technique: average h.r. 114 (max 131)

That adds up to 7:40 at an average heart rate of 108.

This isn't all of Hausken's training for the week. For example, she has some interval sessions and some cross training.

When I first saw the averages, I thought they seemed very low and wondered if Hausken has something unusual about her heart rate (like a very hard session being at an unusually low rate). But, I don't think that is the case. On her training page she breaks down her heart rate levels:

Very high: 173-186 (max)
High: 160-172
Moderate: 135-160
Low: 100-135

My guess is that he heart rate average for an O' race would be in the 165-170 range in most cases.

posted by Michael | 12:03 PM


Friday, September 23, 2005



Several times a year I get an email asking my advice about headlamps. I write a response and email it off. It occurred to me that I ought to write a bit on this page, then I can just point people to this entry. So, here is some advice about headlamps.

1. In the U.S. there seem to be three good options for getting a decent night O' headlamp. You can buy a lamp made for biking at a bike shop or through a catalog; you can buy a headlamp designed for night O' from an overseas company (Compasspoint, for example); or you can build your own lamp using parts you pick up at an electonics shop.

JJ built his own lamp. I don't know what it cost, but I'm sure it wasn't much.

I'm not as "handy" as JJ. I'd buy a lamp from Compasspoint or buy a bike lamp from a local bike shop.

2. I'd go for a lamp that has 10 and 20 watt halogen lamps. Less than 10 watts will run for a long time, but probably doesn't give you enough light to really run through the forest. With less light you'll be forced to move slower. On the other hand, lower wattage means you can go for a longer time on a given charge. That might be useful for rogaining. I've seen a newer type of light (HID?). I've never used them. The put out a lot of light (with a strange blue color) but seem to cost a good bit more. They look like a good option to me.

3. Don't worry too much about how much the headlamp costs. The upfront price might seem like a lot, but the lamp should last for a long time. I bought my lamp in 1988 and it is still serving me well.

4. Don't economize on the battery. It is tempting to save a few bucks and buy a smaller battery. But, it is a lot better to spend a little bit more and have more hours of run time.

posted by Michael | 7:34 PM


Thursday, September 22, 2005

More on first controls


John wrote a comment about yesteday's post that raised some interesting questions.

Do you think that this has something to do with the fact that the top Orienteers are winning most of the controls anyway. It would be interesting to see how the top Orienteers results on the first control compared with their results on the other controls.

I looked at how the winners placed on each leg for 8 different races (2005 Swedish long and middle champs and 2004 WOC long and middle races). That's a small sample, but it looks like the winners tend to do relatively well on the first control compared to other controls.

For the 8 races I looked at I saw two types of patterns. The first was steady, but with a couple of bad legs that seemed to crop up at random. The second was a fast finish (i.e. last 1/3rd of the course being run better). The fast finish races were from the 2004 WOC long races. That makes some intuitive sense. In the later stages of races some of the competitors might slow down because they are not strong enough or because they've boomed enough that they ease off a bit. At the same time, the really strong competitors (the ones who are both fit and having good races) will have a better chance of winning legs.

I think you might find that the first control is actually no different from any of the other controls.

The first control is different. Some years ago I spent a lot of time looking at boom rates. I looked to see if there were any patterns. I saw two patterns: a slight tendency to have more booms in the last quarter of the course; and a clear tendency to have fewer booms on the first control. The first control is different (though there are, of course, some races where this won't be the case and I suspect there are some specific orienteers who tend to boom the first control regularly).

I don't think that this indicates that good performance on the first control will result in a good performance on the rest of the course.

But, I think a good performing orienteer will usually have a good performance on the first control. It isn't that a good first leg causes a good result. It is more the other way around -- a good orienteer will cause a good first leg.

Keep in mind that I've only looked at a small slice of history. 56 races isn't really many. And I've only looked at all of the legs for 8 races. Drawing any conclusions from so little data is risky. I've looked at quite a few races where I've checked the boom rate on the first control (not sure how many but it'd be well over 100), and I'm fairly confident that first controls have, compared to other controls, a lower boom rate.

Anthony also raised an interesting comment. He's pointing out that as a strategy, starting slow and safe is better than going out fast and taking a risk. I tend to agree. It reminds me of how Kent Olsson talks about starting races. He tells himself to walk to the first control. If he does that he runs slowly. If he tells himself to run slowly to the first control, he runs fast. If he runs fast, he is likely to miss the control. Olsson likens missing the first control to running the course with a heavy backpack.

Finally, if you've read this far...well, that shows some real endurance. I can't imagine anyone being such an O' geek that they've read this much about race splits!

posted by Michael | 7:32 PM


Wednesday, September 21, 2005  

Mary rounding up sheep for milking. You can't tell from the photo, but this was pretty good exercise as the you had to spend a lot of energy trying to grab the sheep and then the sheep didn't necessarily want to go where you wanted them to go.

posted by Michael | 8:10 PM


First control results


I added a few more races to my spreadsheet of first leg results. Just in case anyone (other than me) is actually interested....What I've done is looked at the top ten finishers in a bunch of top level individual races and checked the place of those top ten runners at the first control.

For example, Johan Modig won M21 at the Swedish long champs and was in 4th place at the first control. Emil Wingstedt finished 2nd; he was 7th at the first control.

My spreadsheet has the results of 56 races. All are top level elite races (either WOCs or Norwegian or Swedish national champs).

I collected the information because I was curious about whether the top finishers in races would be showing top places as early as the first control. I was wondering, for example, how often does the winner of the race win the first leg?

Here is a bit of the data.

What percent of overall winners were in this place at the first control:
1st 35 percent
2nd 13 percent
3rd 18 percent
4th 7 percent
5th 5 percent

Of the people who won, 35 percent of them were in first place at the first control. And nearly half of the winners (35 + 13 = 48 percent) were either first or second at the first control.

Another interesting little factoid...the lowest place of any winner at the first control was 19th. My spreadsheet includes all of the individual races (qualifying and finals) at the last two WOCs, and the non-sprint finals of the most recent Swedish and Norwegian championships. In all of those races, which winner do you suppose was in 19th place at the first control?

I don't really expect anyone to find that information interesting, but I do.

Oh my gosh...Mary just turned on the TV and they are showing some airplane that is going to try to land with some sort of problem. The plane is landing live. This is really scary.

posted by Michael | 7:44 PM


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A few notes


I should write a few sentences about why I have a set of questions to look at people's training (as I did a couple of days ago).

The idea was that if I had a structured way to look at training logs that I find on the internet, I'd have a better chance of learning something. I wasn't sure what I'd learn, but I was sure that having some questions to think about would force me to look a bit more carefully. Looking at how other people train is interesting. The world is full of advice on how to train (stuff like, "you've got to train at least X hours per week to reach the top"). Being able to look at what people are really doing is a good check on that sort of advice.

I know an exercise scientist who pointed out to me that exercise science tends to follow, not lead, when it comes to innovative ways to train.

Speaking of training, I was thinking about how I used to train when I was at my best. One thing I did was a lot of really short intervals -- maybe 50-150 meters. I didn't have any solid reason for doing it. My trainer at the time didn't seem to think it was a very good idea. But, it felt good. It felt like it made me stronger and better able to run in the forest.

Inspired by my training of 15 years ago, I've started running some short (30 second) intervals once a week. I've done these intervals each of the last three weeks and today I felt much quicker. Quicker is good. I don't know if it'll translate to better running in the forest, but it might.

New visitors

I looked at the site statistics and saw a bunch of new visitors. I think a link from Kim Fagerudd's page brought a lot of folks over for a look. I think I'd probably write this page even if just one or two people visited. But, it is kind of fun to see more visitors.

New mapping method?

I'm not going to pretend to understand what this is all about, but Eddie B. has been experimenting with something called "Lidar" for making maps. It looks like it might be a good way to prepare basemaps. Check out the discussion over at Attackpoint for details and some interesting images.

posted by Michael | 8:38 PM


Monday, September 19, 2005  

The Gobi Glacier -- It was an unexpected find in the middle of the summer in the middle of the Gobi.

posted by Michael | 9:10 PM


Eye training?


I heard someone on the radio talking about eye training for baseball players. Then I picked up an old Outside magazine that was sitting on the floor next to my bed and came across an article on how to train your eyes for sports.

Can train your eyes? Would it make sense for an orienteer?

I have some trouble reading the details on maps. I just can't seem to quickly focus. Details don't always look as sharp as they used to. Maybe some sort of eye exercises would help.

My plan is to put together a simple eye exercise (lifted from Outside magazine) and give it a three week test. The exercise I've got in mind forces you to shift between a near focus (like reading a map) and far focus (like looking out into the forest).

posted by Michael | 8:58 PM


Sunday, September 18, 2005

Kim Fagerudd's training


I took a look at Kim Fagerudd's year of training. I used my standard set of questions to give some structure to my thinking. I've used this approach before, for example, H is for Hammer.

For those who don't recognize the name, Fagerudd is on the Finnish national team and ran his first WOC in Japan. If you can read Swedish, check out Fagerudd's web page. Even if you can't read Swedish, you can poke around and find some nice photos and maps.

easiest to answer questions

Training volume – even year round or lots of up-and-down? If the volume is uneven, is it because of periodization or something else?

Fagerudd did a lot of training in the winter, then increased the intensity as the season began. Beginning around mid-December and ending at the beginning of March, here are his weekly hours (rounded to the nearest hour) of training: 11, 12, 9, 12, 9, 15, 15, 18, 8, 15, 16, and 15. His average for the year (actually the last 47 weeks) is 9 hours/week.

The pattern in Fagerudd's training year looks like the normal Scandinavian pattern.

Cross training – does the orienteer use other sports in training? Do they compete in other sports?

Fagerudd does a fair amount of cross training -- skiing, cycling, working in a gym, playing innebandy, and even some ultimate frisbee. It looks to me like his cross training is mostly to give some strength training and to have a bit of a break from running.

He did some ski racing in the winter.

O' technique – Does the orienteer practice technique or do they get their technique through competitions?

Fagerudd does a lot of O' technique. He averaged finding 45 controls/week and a bit over 2 hours/week. I see a total of 8 weeks (of the 47) with no O' technique or races.

It looks to me like he does a lot of races, a lot of club training sessions, and a few training camps.

Injuries and illness – Does the orienteer have problems with injuries and illness?

I don't see any big injury problems. I see a few colds. He also wrote about having some breathing problems and visited an asthma doctor. Maybe he had some allergy/asthma problems that he got diagnosed (and fixed?) last fall.

possible to answer, but easy to get wrong

Does the orienteer have clear, known goals?

Fagerudd wrote his goals on his training log (and he wrote them in English!):

"My goal is to qualify for NOC in Norway and finish among the 5 best. Before that, my goal is to make the Finnish team for World Cup in England. And if the spring goes well, why not WOC!"

I think his main goal -- that is the competition he focused his training around -- was the Nordic Champs.

Does the orienteer work with a coach?

Fagerudd plans his training with Janne Salmi. He began working with Salmi about a year ago, before that he worked with Jan-Olof Nas.

I Googled Jan-Olof Nas and it looks to me like he's been a cross-country ski trainer.

Fagerudd lives in Abo (aka Turku), where he is a student. There is some sort of Sports Academy that gives good orienteers who study in Abo the chance to get some organized training. Apparently they have three organized training session per week. And, I think Salmi is part of the academy.

Does the orienteer's approach seem to be scientific and detail-oriented or more intuitive?

Detail oriented but not obsessive.

hardest to answer, probably wrong

Does an "attitude" come through? Does the orienteer come across as having a positive approach? Do they whine a lot?

Fagerudd seems positive, active, forward looking, etc. He doesn't whine.

I read his page a couple of times a week. As I was looking back over the whole year, I scanned through the last 47 training weeks. As I was reading them, a bunch struck me as negative sounding. I was surprised because I'd never noticed that before. Then around December (about 8 weeks in the 47), the tone changed.

The negative tone was understandable. Fagerudd was struggling with some illness (and his asthma problem) and must have been getting frustrated with it.

Does the orienteer seem to be experimenting or following a template?

It looks to me like he follows a fairly standard Scandinavian approach, but I'm sure he's doing some experimenting (and probably doing some things this season that he'd never done before?).

He spent three weeks in South Africa in February. Most of the training in South Africa was running, but he also did a bit of orienteering. I think he was living at altitude.

What sort of background does the orienteer have? Do they make maps? Have the competed at a high level in another sport? Did they start at a young age? Have they lived in Europe?

He started orienteering at about 15 years old (which might be a bit old for a top-level Scandinavian orienteer). He's done some ski racing. No idea if he's done any mapping.

Does anything seem striking or unusual?

Even though his goals for the year mention the WOC, I don't get the impression that he really believed he'd make the team. I think he saw it as a possibility, but not a probability. But, I could be wrong.

It looks to me like Fagerudd does a lot of short/high intensity O' technique training (O' intervals). He might run 2 or 3 1.5 km O' courses during a training session.

posted by Michael | 3:18 PM


Saturday, September 17, 2005  

Mary, Summer and I ate dinner in downtown Lawrence on Thursday night. I had the fish tacos.

posted by Michael | 7:16 PM



Mary and Summer walking home after dinner.

posted by Michael | 7:15 PM


Maps from Australia


I spent a bunch of time today looking at training logs on the web. I was going to write something about training today. But, spending so much time sitting at the computer wore me out. Instead, I'll point you to a link worth a look:

Mark Roberts lives in Brisbane and posts lots of orienteering maps.

posted by Michael | 7:04 PM


Friday, September 16, 2005

The wrong clothes?!


I take a look at a couple of Swedish O' web pages most days. A topic that comes up over-and-over again in discussion is clothing. A photo will show up of an orienteer finishing a race, and you'll notice (if you care to look) that there is a little gap between the top of the socks and the bottom of the O' pants. This is a violation of the full-body-cover rule in Sweden.

The history behind the clothing rules is interesting. As I understand it, there was an outbreak of hepatiti among orienteers decades ago. The theory was that orienteers, running in shorts, were spreading hepatitis. Sweden put in a rule that prohibited you from running without full-body-cover.

I know a little bit about epidemiology, but not enough to know if the theory makes any sense. I do know that I'm not worried about running races where other competitors have a gap between their socks and their O' pants.

I was thinking about all of this when I read a report from the Swedish middle distance champs qualifying race where my old clubmate, Tina Junegaard, was apparently accused of wearing the wrong clothes ("felaktiga kladsel"). The jury met to consider Tina's case, but didn't disqualify her.

Here in the U.S. the clothing debates seem to center on how ridiculous looking most O' clothing is. Maybe someone should protest this O' outfit for ridiculous color combo (note that the short pants would be a clear violation in Sweden).

More on Micro O'

One of the complaints about micro O' is that it is too slow -- almost like trail O' -- rather than a running race. Take a look at Mats Troeng's heart rate curve from a race with a mirco O' section. It doesn't look like Troeng's effort changed with the micro O' section (I'll leave it to you to guess what part of the curve is the micro O').

posted by Michael | 8:22 PM


Thursday, September 15, 2005

A couple of quick notes


My box of Clif Shot Blok arrived in the mail today. I ate one block. I gave one to Mary. I'll test them out a bit this weekend. My first reaction was, "tastes ok, seems easy to eat." Mary ate half of the block I gave her. She threw the other half in the trash.

Several people who ran in New Hampshire have reported developing a cough during the weekend. I had the same thing. On Saturday, I developed a slight feeling of congestion and a very light cough. It went away when I came home. It seems like there was something in the environment causing the coughs. I'd guess some sort of allergy or maybe some kind of dust. The humidity was low, which might have aggrevated it. Strange.

Since I posted a link to the Swedish Champs yesterday, I should post a link to the Norwegian Champs (with Tore Sandvik's winning routes). This course looks fun.

posted by Michael | 9:27 PM


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Modig's winning race


Johan Modig won the Swedish champs and wrote about his race on his web page. I've translated a bit of it. Modig hasn't scanned in his map. But, you can see the course with Mats Troeng's routes. Here are quick translations of some of Modig's leg-by-leg comments.

Start-1-2: Nothing unusual. I had a good start and spiked the first two controls. I took the lead by two seconds, in other words a good starting speed.

2-3: I followed the straight line until the middle of the leg. I didn't look at my compass when I passed the marsh. I was too far to the right and when I reached the top of the hill I was a line too low. I couldn't make sense of it, but when I oriented the map I quickly understood my mistake. I estimate that I lost just over a half minute. I wouldn't be able to afford to be sloppy like that in the rest of the course.

5-6-7-8: When I came back through the finish area I found out I was 41 seconds behind Windstedt. Since I'd lost some time, hearing that information made me feel relaxed. I felt really good, though I'd only run about three km.

8-9: I got a drink and headed out again. I knew from experience that this would be a "critical" part of the face. There is a good chance of losing focus and concentration when you come through the finish area.

11-12: I judged the contours to be a little "rynkad" [I'm not sure sure what "rynkad" means] on the straight line, so I went a bit south, towards the corner of the felled area. Then I went into a green area at the little depression. Once again I was in a "critical" area -- there was a chance to get off the direction I wanted in the green area. On this leg, Mats went a bit to the left, nearer the straight line. I didn't miss the control, but I lost 25 seconds on the leg.

19-20: I left the control slowly before I'd decided to take a wide-to-the-right route choice. I followed the ride out to the forest road and then cut over to the small road. It felt good to have a little time to rest my brain. I decided that I wouldn't cut any corners. Cutting some corners might have been fast, but it would also have wasted energy. I felt really strong and Erik Andersson [who Modig caught on the way to 13] couldn't keep up. My route turned out to be really good and also saved some energy. I won the leg by 16 seconds, while Mats wandered a bit left of the straight line and lost over a minute.

That's enough translating for tonight. If you can read Swedish, go over to Modig's page and read his comments.

If you've been reading my page for a long time, you might remember that I wrote a bit about Modig's training. I would describe his training as unusual -- fairly low volume with lots of cross-training. You can find what I wrote by going to the archive for December 2004 and reading entries beginning with December 17.

posted by Michael | 8:28 PM


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Valstad on micro O'


Bjornar Valstad finished 2nd in the Norwegian middle distance champs. The course included a micro O' section and Valstad wrote a bit about it on his home page. Here is rough translation of some of what he wrote.

The question I've asked myself is, "what is the difference between micro and regular orienteering?"

Looking at the maps from the middle distance champs shows the course in three loops, one of them is micro. You have to race a course on a map. The course includes a certain number of controls. You had to visit the controls in the right order and punch at the right controls. Do you recognize the idea? What is the main difference between micro and a "regular" O' race?

Seen from this point of view, isn't micro just a short O' course on a large scale map. That isn't something new. What is new with micro?

1. We are forced to adapt to a different scale during the middle of the race.
2. We have to actually orienteer all the way to the feature and not just run to the circle and look for the marker.

Both of these things mean that the orienteer is stressed and it increases the demands on orienteering technique. It is tough.

Micro...is demanding. I have no doubt that the concept favors the best orienteers. The legs are short and that puts a huge demand on map reading and concentration. A second's lapse or running at the wrong speed can cause significant time loss.

Forget about the name micro. It is orienteering and so the name should remain "orienteering."...

That gives you a taste of what Valstad wrote. The translation is a bit rough, but you get the general idea.

After reading Valstad's comments, I went over to the Norwegian Champs results. North American O' fans will be glad to see that Sandy Hott Johansen finished 6th in the F21 middle distance.

posted by Michael | 8:21 PM


Monday, September 12, 2005

Some notes on the 203 control course


Randy posted the map and his report.

Running this sort of course is an interesting exercise in concentration. I struggled to concetrate at several points on the course. My mind drifted a bit around controls 66 and 67 and then again around controls 86 through 90. As I look back at the run, both of those sets of controls began when I got a bit hung up in some green. I had a couple of other minor mind-drifts. One happened when I got hung up in a bit of green after leaving a water stop; one happened after I ran a bit with Charlie (who was talking the whole time!); and one happened when I started thinking about how strange it was to have a control on a real "kolbotten" (i.e. a charcoal burning platform).

There is probably something to learn from those times when my mind wandered. Whenever I get in some rough forest or when I hear someone talking to me; tell myself "look at the map, read the map."

I haven't done much running in the forest in a long time. I feel it today. The muscles in my legs are shot today. Running on trails and grass is ok, but it doesn't really prepare you to run in the forest.

The reentrant about half way between controls 137 and 122 is where I hurt my leg in 2001.

I was out for a bit over 3:30. That is a long time to be running. I carried some sport drink, but didn't have any gel with me. I should have had some gel. I felt pretty good until I'd been out about 2 hours. I think I'd have finished the course a good 10-15 minutes faster if I'd carried some gel.

Control 138 was a food/water stop. You could give JJ food or drinks and he hauled it out to control 138. When I got to the control, I saw a used Hammer Gel Espresso wrapper. Espresso Hammer Gel...mmmmmmmmm.

One problem with gel is that it is sticky and messy. The new Clif Shot Blok looks interesting. As I understand it, Clif Shot Blok is something like gel, but is solid.

posted by Michael | 7:29 PM


203 controls


My legs are sore. Yesterday's course was 19 km with 203 controls, billed as the "world record." I'll post some maps after work today.

posted by Michael | 7:09 AM


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Next update on Monday, September 12


I don't plan to update this page for a few days. Instead, I'll be running at Pawtuckaway.

I was going to write something tonight -- I've even got a topic -- but I'm not quite motivated to write it up.

posted by Michael | 7:26 PM


Wednesday, September 07, 2005  

posted by Michael | 8:12 PM


Another way to train micro O'


Anders Nordberg wrote about some training for micro O'. As you may know, micro O' is part of this Saturday's Norwegian Champs for the middle distance. You can bet that a bunch of Norwegian's have been thinking about how to train micro O'.

Nordberg used a local sprint race for micro O' training. Basically, what he did was run the course with a different approach. Instead of racing it as a sprint course, he ran a bit slower. You can go to his page and click on the map at the bottom of the page to see his course and route.

As I look at his map, it looks to me like he's approaching the controls with an extra bit of care compared to what he might run if he was running for his best possible sprint result.

posted by Michael | 7:59 PM


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A boom and a map a bit like Pawtuckaway


Check out Eva Jurenikova's big boom in the district relay champs for Dalarna, Sweden.

I thought the map looked a bit like Pawtuckaway. It has fewer stones and less contour detail. But, it is fairly flat and looks like the kind of place where you could waste a few minutes if you lost contact.

posted by Michael | 7:16 PM


Monday, September 05, 2005  

Everyone likes to see the little screen on the back of the digital camera.

posted by Michael | 7:47 PM


Rusty language


Reading an O' map feels a bit like using a foreign language.

When you first learn, you translate. You see a black dot on a brown cirlce and think, "the black dot means a boulder and the brown circle must be a small hill." I think some people never get beyond translation.

When you become fluent in O' map reading. The same black dot and brown circle have a meaning. There isn't a translation, you just read the map.

I was thinking about the langauge-map reading analogy today after speaking some Swedish for the first time in a long time. My Swedish was rusty, very rusty. I had to ask Sanna to slow down (and she's used to speaking to a 2-year-old). I'd say something and as soon as it was out of my mouth I'd realize it was wrong. I'd hear something and have to think (in English), "what did that mean?"

I'm sure if it wouldn't take too long before my Swedish got better. But, it sure is frustrating to stumble along.

Back to map reading....I wonder how long it takes to recover fluency if you haven't been running in the forest reading the map? I've experimented a bit with doing a fair amount of map study (i.e. sitting in a chair looking at O' maps) and it makes a noticeable difference. But, I'm not sure how it compares to actually running around and reading a map. Does the map study get me 50 percent fluent or 20 percent or 80 percent or what?

Back to Swedish....I read Swedish almost every day. I look at Swedish web pages (orienteering and newspapers, usually). It must help to keep some vocabulary and sense of the grammar. But, reading doesn't match listening and speaking.

posted by Michael | 7:28 PM


Sunday, September 04, 2005  

Playing around with photo editing software.

posted by Michael | 5:54 PM


Looking at some first leg splits


I looked at how the top ten finishers in all of the individual races at the last two world champs did on the first control. Here are a few observations:

There are 24 individual races in each WOC. That is a lot. For each discipline (sprint, middle and long) there are three qualifying races and a final for the men and women. I hadn’t really thought about how many races that added up to.

In 48 races, the winners had the best split to the first control 19 times (40 percent). 37 of the 48 winners had one of the top 4 split times. With a few noteworthy exceptions, a winner is going to be showing their class by the first control.

Having the fastest split to the first control does not guarantee a top 3 finish, but it bodes well. 63 percent of the first leg winners in my data finished in the top 3.

Being out of the top 10 by the first control does not bode well, but does not spell doom either. Only 6 of the 48 winners were out of the top 10 at the first control. And 3 of those 6 were in sprint races, with splits at the first control putting them in 11, 13 and 16 places (which is very close to the top ten given how tight sprint races are).

35 percent of the orienteers who ended up in the top 10 were not in the top 10 at the first control.

One of the strangest looking races (i.e. the race where the split times to the first control look most different from the final results) was the sprint final for the men in 2004. Here are the places of the top ten men at the first control:

1 at finish: 10 at the first control
2 at finish; 3 at the first control
3 at finish; 10 at the first control
4 at finish; 13 at the first control
5 at finish; 4 at the first control
6 at finish; 6 at the first control
7 at finish; 20 at the first control
8 at finish; 6 at the first control
9 at finish; 20 at the first control
10 at finish; 18 at the first control

In general, the results I looked at showed more consistency in long races than in middle or sprint races.

posted by Michael | 5:16 PM


A question I've been thinking about


How do the results of a race compare to the split times for the first control? Is "winning" the first leg a good measure of how someone will do?

I've been looking at some results and playing around with a spreadsheet and, internet connection willing, I'll write a bit about it later today.

posted by Michael | 10:34 AM


Saturday, September 03, 2005

Exploring an area for a new map


I spent some time this morning with some PTOCers exploring an area that PTOC has begun mapping. I like it. Nice terrain and just ten minutes from my front door.

Dick demonstrated his OCAD/GPS mapping set-up (see the photo). He's got a computer that attaches to a belt. The screen is small and attached by a wire. He attaches a GPS to the computer. He can open OCAD on the computer and a cursor shows up marking the location. As he walks around, the GPS tracks his location and the cursor moves as he does. It is pretty slick. I'm not sure it is a whole lot better than a basemap on a map board under mylar. But, it is a whole lot slicker.

There is a small cemetery in the middle of the map. I'd expected a little farm cemetery, with maybe half a dozen tomb stones. In fact, it is fairly large. The setting, deep in the forest with sunlight streaming through and highlighting some of the tomb stones inspired me to pull out my camera and take a snapshot.

Rich, who works at the conference center in the middle of the map, told me that a bus would be arriving in the next few days brining refugees from New Orleans. They'll stay at the housing on the map.

posted by Michael | 6:23 PM


Friday, September 02, 2005

Micro O' training


At some point one of two things is bound to happen:

1. The IOF will scrap the plan to have mirco O' at the World Champs, or...

2. People will have to stop complaining and start training micro O'.

Here is the simplest way I can think of to train micro O':

You need two version of a map. One at 1:10,000 and the other at 1:5,000.

You need courses drawn on those maps. The course on the 1:10,000 map would look like a regular middle distance course. The course on the 1:5,000 map would look like a micro O' course (i.e. would have 5+ very short legs and would start at the end of the 1:10,000 course; ideally it would have several opportunities for parallel errors).

The whole session is run at race pace. There is nothing special about the course on the 1:10,000 map. You could have controls or vetting tapes put out, but that wouldn't be essential.

Immediately after running on the 1:10,000 map, you'd run the course on the 1:5,000 map. But for this course there are no flags or tapes set out. Your job is to put out tapes at the control locations, and you need to do it at race pace.

At the finish of the micro O' section, you could just stop. But, even better would be running another short course on the 1:10,000 map.

When you're finished running, go back to the micro O' section and see if you put the tapes out in the right spot. Grade yourself on how accurately you hung the tapes.

To me, this sort of session is easy to organize and would be fun. I think it would work to train the main skills needed for micro O'. It would even be good practice if you didn't plan to compete in micro O'.

posted by Michael | 7:29 PM


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Another Weston Bend Snapshot


posted by Michael | 9:46 PM


Time to think about Pawtuckaway


I'll be going to Pawtuckaway in a bit over a week. So it is time to start thinking about how to orienteer there.

I've run at Pawtuckaway twice. The first time was a World Cup in, I think, 1992. The second time was in 2001, when I only got a couple of km into the course before I got hurt.

The terrain looks quite interesting. Here in one map (with Peter Gagarin's routes) and here is another.

I'll spend a bit of time over the next couple of days looking at the map and thinking about how to orienteer there. At first glance:

1. It looks like a place where keeping good contact and reading the map at a high intensity will pay off.

2. In some places seeing what is going on underneath the rock features is difficult.

3. It looks like there are some small areas where two contours will get very close together for a stretch of 50+ meters. Those places are probably pretty distinct in the terrain, but don't necessarily leap out at you as you glance at the map.

4. The map reminds me of someplace else. Where was it? I can't be sure. Maybe Hallsingland in Sweden?

5. I wonder how far you can see in the forest. If visibility is good, orienteering will be much easier. I can't remember what it was like.

posted by Michael | 9:35 PM


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