Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Looking ahead


I was watching some old Tour de France videos last night when I was on the bike trainer.

The stage was from Gerardmer to Mulhouse and featured some fast, steep downhills. The professional riders are so smooth going down those winding roads. I'm sure that I would struggle. I'd have to break too much or not enough. I'd watch the road, but not look far enough ahead to ride smoothly. The pros look like they're reading the road as far ahead as they can see, even as they go through a tight turn.

You see the same thing when you watch the Olympic downhill skiing. When I'm skiing, I'm lucky to be thinking more than one short turn ahead. The racers look like they're way ahead all the time.

That ability to be looking far ahead seems to be a common feature of elite athletes in most sports.

I also watched a Kansas basketball game last night. Russell Robinson grabs a rebound and starts running up the court (with someone guarding him) and he's clearly looking far ahead. How else can he see Brandon Rush cutting toward the basket looking for an pass?

Looking far ahead pays off in orienteering, too. You can often see much further than you might think. You might, for example, glimpse the edge of an open area in the distance -- that field edge might be enough to let you navigate very quickly while a competitor who isn't looking far ahead is reading small features along the same route.

When I trained after work today, I practice looking far ahead. I ran on trails in the forest, but without a map. I practiceed looking far ahead and picking out features that would be on the map from as far away as possible. I have no idea is this was good practice, but it felt like it might have been.

posted by Michael | 7:17 PM


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