Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Friday, April 07, 2006



I read about a training camp in Norway where they discussed stopping. Among the questions they discussed:

Do you dare to stop?
When should you stop?
Is it a good tactic to come to a complete stop as soon as you notice that you're getting a bit out of control?
Is stopping to read the map good?

Johan Ivarsson was at the camp and this questions about stopping remind me of something Ivarsson wrote about a race long ago. I can't recall exactly which race and I can't recall exactly what Ivarsson wrote. The gist of it was that he felt comfortable coming to a complete stand still a couple of times in any race as long as he came to a stop because it was his plan. I'd guess Ivarsson had some interesting things to say at the Norwegian camp (he lives in Norway and was at the camp).

Without giving it too much time, here are some thoughts on some of the questions.

When should you stop?

It is worth standing still when you've got a really tricky route choice leg when it looks like making the right choice is going to be worth a bunch of time. On the other hand, some legs that at first glance look tricky, turn out to be simple (or turn out to offer several routes that are all equivalent).

I stop in some cases when I need to read small details on the map. When my eyes were younger, I could read small details without stopping. Now I need to stop to read small details (think Harriman terrain as an example).

I sometimes stop to take a look at the map when I really shouldn't. I boomed a control during the sprint race in Ohio when I felt unsure and came to a stop. I should have looked around before I stopped. Had I done that, I'd have spotted the flag.

Some terrains require you to change tempo. Typically, you run hard to a clear attackpoint, then change speeds and navigate more carefully to the control. In that sort of terrain, I sometimes force myself to come to a standstill as a way of reminding myself to slow down.

Recently I've been competing in terrain where you don't need to slow down at the control. The courses in Georgia and Florida, for example, punished slowing down. You were better off keeping a faster pace and looking for the flag. Slowing down to attack a control was just a time loss.

I'll add another good time to stop -- when you hurt yourself. I stopped when I tweaked my knee and fell down in Ohio. That was a good time to stop.

Is it a good tactic to come to a complete stop as soon as you notice that you're getting a bit out of control?

As soon as you notice you're notice your getting out of control you should do something. That something could be stopping. But, it could something else. The idea of having something to do when you notice that feeling of being insecure is to refocus your concentration. Stopping would probably fulfill that function well.

Is stopping to read the map good?

It is better than not stopping if you can't read the map. But, in the long run, learning to read the map with very few stops is a better. In most cases, you should be able to read a lot of the information on the map without stopping (by frequent, short looks). Though, I expect that it won't be more than a few years before I'll be unable to read some details without stopping as my eyesight worsens.

posted by Michael | 8:06 PM


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