Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

1 day = 4 races


I ran 4 races in just over 24 hours last weekend. That's unusual and turned out to be really interesting. The total racing time was modest, maybe 2 hours.

One fun part of having so many races in such little time was that it compressed the learning you usually get after a race. Typically, after a race you spend some time thinking about your run, talk to some competitors, look at the map and your split times, think about what you'll do better next time, and maybe even "kepsa" a little. With relatively litte time between races, you need to be efficient with your learning.

My favorite baseball writer, Bill James, has a theory about how sports teams and individuals learn. He calls it the theory of competitive balance. Basically the idea is that if the team did well, they tend to be conservative and not make any changes. But, if the team did poorly, they look for ways to improve. Those approaches tend to pull both teams toward a middle ground. Better teams get conservative and tend to weaken. Weak teams take some chances, innovate a bit, try something new, and tend to improve.

Did my racing and learning fit James' theory?

As a matter of fact it did. Saturday afternoon's race was not very good. But, Sunday morning I ran well in my first race. But, the second race wasn't quite as good, I made a big, dumb mistake. The third race I bounced back and had a good race (though by this time my legs were quite shot). I can't be certain, but I'm fairly sure that I spent more time and effort trying to understand my races and make some adjustments after my two weaker runs than I did after my better run.

It might be fun to do some more racing like this (i.e. lots of races in a short period of time). I think I'll have a chance to do something like that at the North American Champs (with three races over three days). We'll see how it goes.

By the way, the snapshot shows John F. and Eddie B. at the last control on the first sprint race.

posted by Michael | 7:52 PM


Nice photo.
french suit ?
Of course, you missed the opportunity to have five races in just over 24 hours, because you skipped the night-O!
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