Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Friday, August 04, 2006



What lessons might we take from Moneyball and apply to orienteering?

One theme in Moneyball is the idea of using measurements and data to help avoid (or at least learn to recognize) some of the traps of less rigorous thinking. A baseball team following the Moneyball model wouldn't ignore subjective data, but they'd try to balance it with more objective data.

We can do the same thing when we think about orienteering.

Reading some of the discussion on Attackpoint about the U.S. performances at the WOC raised an example. Here is a message from the thread:

This is real achievement by Hillary, Sam, and Louise! Go girls! My daughter Masha was very happy to see them in the final. Role models for our new generation!

I just hope that men would put as much training and effort into WOC preparation.

The "real achievement" refers to some nice results by Hillary and Samantha Saeger and Louise Oram. From a Moneyball aspect, the more interesting part of the posting is the "hope that men would put as much training and effort into WOC."

I think the implications are pretty obvious. First, that U.S. men aren't training as much as Hillary, Samantha and Louise. Second, that if the men train like those three women, they can expect better results.

I'm not going to question the idea that more training is a good idea. But, I want to take a look at the idea that the U.S. men aren't training as much as Hillary, Samantha and Louise.

Here are some numbers to look at:


What are those numbers? Those are hours recorded in Attackpoint for all of the U.S. WOC team members (4 women, including Hillary and Samantha; and 4 men) who record their training on Attackpoint and Louise. The training is for about the last 19 months (all of 2005 plus 2006 through today).

Read the message again -- I just hope that men would put as much training and effort into WOC preparation. Now, look at that list and pick our Samantha, Hillary and Louise. Which are they?

Here is something interesting. On that list of 9 people, Samantha and Louise are ranked 7th and 8th (with 423 and 346 hours). I should point out that Louise hasn't updated her training since late May...so, she's probably got more like 420 hours.

All of the U.S. men (Boris, Eric, Eddie and Clem) have trained more than Samantha over the last 19 months. All of the U.S. men have trained more than Louise over the last 19 months.

Hillary is a different story. She's quite high on that list. For the 19 months, Hillary has 564 hours of training. Behind only two people (Boris and Sandra). Hillary's training is a bit unusual. She does a lot of strength work and rowing, and relatively little running and orienteering. This year she's already got 360 hours of training with only about 150 of that running and orienteering.

Two people on the U.S. WOC team don't log their training on Attackpoint: James and Pavlina. I don't know how much either of them train. I've heard that Pavlina runs to/from work most days. Having run with her in the forest, I know she's in good shape. I've talked to James about his training. He's told me that he takes lots of days off, but trains hard on the days he runs.

Getting back to Moneyball, I guess the point of this little exercise in reviewing training logs at Attackpoint is that actually looking at the evidence, rather than just writing what you think, might result in a different understanding of what is going on.

posted by Michael | 7:28 PM


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