Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Monday, July 31, 2006

A couple of WOC notes


WOC Bets

Betsafe.com is offering some bets on the WOC. For tomorrow's sprint race the longest odds look to be on Minna Kauppi beating Simone Niggli. Simone is the obvious favorite. But, it looks to me like the odds for Minna are a bit off. I'm not going to bet, but if I did, I think I might go with a small wager on Minna.

Does sports psychology work?

Orienteering seems to be a sport ripe for sports psychology. The orienteer has a lot of time to stress and worry. While the orienteer is racing out of the eye of the audience (and coaches), that lack of feedback can be tricky.

I know next to nothing about sports psychology, but I read an article in Slate that addressed the question "Does sports psychology work?"

The article focuses mostly on baseball. Here is a quote:

A sport psychologist would be worth a lot of money if he could give players a genuine competitive advantage. Perhaps mental imagery and self-talk really do work better than superstitious fiddling. It wouldn't be impossible to find out. Full-on experimentsÂ?with players assigned to different treatment groupsÂ?would yield the best data, but even that level of rigor isn't necessary. Mental trainers could learn a lot just by keeping careful logs of all their cases, with statistical outcomes for each player.

No one asks the baseball shrinks for these data. If a player's happy, then his team is happy, and everyone calls the intervention a success. Does A-Rod think his therapy works? Sure. Right now, that's all we have to go on.

Why I don't plan ahead

I rarely plan ahead because my brain can't handle it.

If I'm running on a trail on the way to the first control, I don't take the opportunity to look at the rest of the course and consider route choices for later legs. I sometimes take a quick glance at the entire course to get a sense of the overall shape and see if there are any unusual terrain types or extra-long legs coming up. But, in general, I keep my mind on what I'm doing and what I'll be doing in the next couple of hundred meters.

I havtroublebe switching between thinking about what I'm doing and thinking about the future. For some reason, when I start thinking ahead, I stop thinking about what I'm doing and I have trouble getting my thoughts back to what I'm doing.

I was reminded of this when I read Samantha Saeger's report of her long qualifying race at the WOC. Here is a bit of what she wrote:

On 2 I was trying to read ahead and I sort of lost contact with what I was doing. I thought I was one hill further than I really was. It wasn't that much of a problem as I simply kept on going and eventually figured out where I was and came up the reentrant from the bottom.

As I look at the splits, it doesn't look like her bobble at 2 cost much time (maybe 20-25 seconds).

posted by Michael | 8:12 PM


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