Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Long O' lesson


I learned a lesson today.

I've always known that if I think about running hard, then I don't orienteer well. Just read the map and let the running happen.

But, today I learned that if I think about running easy, then I don't orienteer well. When I ate a light breakfast before today's long O' race, I wrote a couple of notes to help plan my race. I wrote, don't run too fast in the beginning and look for ways to save energy. That's how I ran today. I ran hard, but below my normal race effort. But, I also didn't make good orienteering decisions. I had some small mistakes and some bad route choices. I think I'd have had a better result if I followed my usuall plan -- read the map.

Lesson learned....I hope.

posted by Michael | 7:09 PM


Saturday, April 29, 2006  

this is an audio post - click to play

posted by Michael | 8:22 PM


Friday, April 28, 2006

Updates over the next week


I'm traveling during the next week and I'm not sure how often I'll update this page. I might manage daily updates (probably from my phone) but don't count on it.

First on the agenda for this week of travel is the U.S middle distance champs in Albany, NY. I'm running M21 (since the course is short enough!).

posted by Michael | 7:22 AM


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Okansas.blogspot.com Tio Mila team


The last few years I've picked a Tio Mila team for Orienteer Kansas. Check out last year's team as an example.

This year I decided to pick an Okansas.blogspot.com team. To make the team, you've got to write a orienteering blog that I like (and you get big credit for writing in English). I haven't put much thought into this, so I've probably left of some deserving runners...but here goes.

1. 14km Night: Sandy Hott Johansen leads off. Sandy's web page is one of the best around. Her positive, no B.S., hard working attitude comes through in nearly every entry.

2. 14km Night: Mats Froberg. Mats is a Swede, living in the U.S. His blog is in Swedish, and I wasn't planning to give him a spot on the team until I read his Tio Mila entry. I was inspired by his 1998 run on the long night (and it was fun to read about his race with my old club mate Jonas Giding).

3. 7km Night: I put myself on this leg. I probably don't deserve a spot on the team. But, hey, I'm picking the team so I put myself on it (and recognizing my limits, I'm only going to have to run 7km).

4. 18km Night: The long night goes to Holger Hott Johansen. It is tempting to hold Holger for the last leg. But, he seems to be in good form and I've got a good anchor leg in mind. Holger might be able to pull off a legendary long night -- breaking away and gaining minutes on the competition. Coming to North America this winter and putting on a training camp in Hamilton earns Holger high marks.

5. 7km Night: Kim Fageruud gets this short night leg. He writes his web page in Swedish, but I'll put him on the team anyway. He's got the capacity to do a longer, tougher leg. But, he's been injured, so he'll get a short one. Last year I spent a couple of hours reading Fageruud's page and training log and analyzed his training. It was an interesting way to spend some time at the computer and I feel like I got a pretty good sense of how he trains.

6. 9km Night/Dawn: Someone from GHO, whoever is in the best form at the moment. That might be Sudden, or maybe Hammer, or Patrick or someone else. I've been following GHO with interest as they implement a Scandinavian club model in North America. They've done a great job. I hope they'll inspire some other clubs in North America.

7. 9km Day: Oystein Kvaal Osterbo. He writes a no-frills blog with frequent updates (in English!) and lots of photos and maps. His page is one of the first places I look for maps from big races and his page is usually the first place I find the maps.

8. 7Km Day: He doesn't write in English, he isn't one of the world's best orienteers, but Aspleaf is one of my favorite reads. Aspleaf, despite his "gubbvader" (i.e. "old man's calves") can make his way around a 7km course.

9. 12Km Day: He doesn't write a blog (as far as I know) but he writes a bunch on his Attackpoint training log. Who is he? Boris! Boris has been living, studying and training in Uppsala since the beginning of the fall school semester. Following his training (which seems to be going great) and adventures is inspiring.

10. 16Km Day: Theirry Gueorgiou gets the anchor. Judging by his web page, Gueorgiou may be the world's biggest, greatest O' geek...and he writes in English.

posted by Michael | 9:09 PM


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

L.A.M. intervals


One of my flaky training ideas is what I call "L.A.M. intervals."

Before I explain what that is, I should explain that one of the things I've been doing with my training the last few months has been to test some ideas for sharpening my O' technique without doing technique training. L.A.M. intervals are the result of an experiment.

I was thinking about how I orienteer when I've been doing enough technique training compared to how I orienteer when I haven't been doing enough technique training. One difference seems to be that I don't look at the map frequently when I haven't been doing much technique. I tend to look at the map, make a plan, and then run. That isn't a terrible way to orienteer, but the problem seems to be that I have a tendency to then keep running when I should look at the map. On the other hand, when I am orienteering well, I'm taking lots of quick glances at the map.

Watching video from some top elite races, I started to pay attention to how often the best orienteers in the world glance at their maps. Some of them look at the map very frequently.

With those two ideas in mind (i.e. when I orienteer well, I take lot of looks at the map; and some of the best in the world take a lot of looks at the map), I decided to train that -- to train myself to look at the map a lot. Look at the map...L.A.M.

I began by running a set route that takes 3 minutes, carrying a map, and counting how many times I looked. I trained myself to take lots of short glances at the map while running hard. I used a heart rate monitor to make sure I kept the effort where I wanted it. It felt different than just running hard.

When I first experimented with L.A.M. intervals and then ran a race, I ran well. That isn't proof it works. But, it was promising.

To get ready for this weekend's races (a clip of the map with Peter's routes is below), I'd planned to do 3 or 4 L.A.M. workouts in the weeks leading up to the race. I didn't do that because I've been struggling to run well (sore ribs). But, today I did some L.A.M. intervals and it felt good. It feels useful.

Mongolian Music

I heard a report on NPR about a "rock opera" honoring Genghis Khan. Check out the NPR story and listen to a short music clip. It's got a bit of the Mongolian long song sound. Cool. Though I'd say Lumino is my favorite Mongolian pop music.

posted by Michael | 9:04 PM


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Tio Mila advice


Boris is running his first Tio Mila this weekend. He's running the short, unforked, 8th leg. He should be going out at about 6 a.m.

I spent a little time thinking about advice for a first Tio Mila. I've run the race 4 times. Three of those times I ran an early morning leg. Once I ran a night leg.

I could come up with lots of advice, but then it occurred to me that a key bit of advice would be:

Don't pay too much attention to people giving you advice.

It is worth seeking out advice, but paying too much attention just isn't worth the trouble. You'll find people giving contrary advice. People who think one thing is absolutely essential, but others who think that same thing is meaningless.

I think taking advice with a grain of salt is, well, good advice.

posted by Michael | 8:00 PM


Monday, April 24, 2006

What good is USOF? Part I


I posed the question yesterday, "what is the U.S. O' federation good for?"

I thought I'd start to write up a few thoughts. Consider this Part 1 (though I've no idea how many more parts there will be).

So, what good is USOF?

I'd suggest (and I'm sure many will disagree), that USOF does a couple of things pretty well:

1. Provide access to insurance for event organizers.
2. Sanction good quality events.

If you disagree with me, you probably disagree with 2.

As I think back over more-or-less 25 years of orienteering in the U.S., I can only think of two sanctioned A-meets that really sucked.* Lots of events, probably even most events, have a few problems. Lots of maps could be better. Lots of course setting could be better. Lots of organizers could do a better job. But, overall the quality is reasonable and generally improving over the years.

I haven't done any adventure races, but from what I've heard of races (even big, major events), the standard for organizers is much worse than the standard for orienteering A-meets. (Adventure racing is a much newer sport; I understand that).

I could add to my list of things USOF is good for. For example, USOF has done a good job of funding WOC teams. As far as I can tell, the US has sent a team (usually a full team) to the World Champs since the late 1970s. That's pretty remarkable for a small, low publicity sport with weak international results.

The point of asking "What good is USOF?" is twofold. First, it is an interesting exercise and if it was done carefully and systematically, I bet there is something to learn (e.g. what situations is a national federation best at dealing with). Second, as I read discussions on the internet, I think we (all of us, really) tend to focus on what people and organizations can't do (or do poorly). I'm convinced that by focusing on what someone can't do, you miss the boat -- you miss the chance to solve problems and move forward. It is quite easy to, for example, explain why you can't train properly. It is another thing to figure out how you can make the best of your situation.

After I read some of the discussion about a high performance program on Attackpoint, I've been thinking about this stuff off-and-on. I can't really explain or defend my feeling, but I'm not convinced that USOF is an organization that can do a good job at developing orienteers. That's not to say I think USOF is a bad organization; maybe it is just an organization that can best address certain types of issues (like insurance).

*For the record, I think the two lowest quality events I've been to were an A-meet in Louisiana in the early 1980s and the U.S. Relay Champs in Idaho a few years ago.

World Of O'

If you haven't already done it, you should add World Of O' to you bookmarks. World Of O' has been around for a while, but this is a new and improved version. It looks quite promising. And, I'm not saying that just because it has a link to my page.

posted by Michael | 7:22 PM


Sunday, April 23, 2006

A couple of quick translations


Before I forget it, a topic for a future day: "what is the U.S. O' federation good for?"

Nordberg's Week

Here is how Anders Nordberg trained last week:

Monday: Swedish elite series race 1:45
Tuesday: An hour easy jogging and a half hour strength
Wednesday: 1:30 O' technique training; 0:55 night O'; and 0:10 strength
Thursday: 1:15 easy jogging and 0:10 strength
Friday: 1:05 O' technique; 0:15 "hurtighet" [I'm not sure what that means. It sounds like some sort of speed or speanst training...anyone who knows what it means, please leave a note in the comments, thanks]; 0:30 strength

Yesterday he won a middle distance race in Sweden's elite series and today he finished 7th in the classic distance race in Sweden's elite series. It seems like he's in good form going into Tio Mila (and his club Baekelaget SK, while a bit of a long shot, might be a good outsider to bet on).

If you've been to Sweden, you'll recognize this

Aspleaf wrote a list of things he misses from orienteering competitions. Here are a couple of my favorites:

When you step down from the showers where you tried to get the shampoo our of your hair in the cold water. You usually step right in an old pasture that the showers are set up in and your feet stand in a mix of grass, cow pies, shower water, and discarded ankle tape.

All of the parking officials. There are always one or two who stand in the wrong place, right in the middle of the field, and point to the place you're supposed to park. Yes, yes, I'm going there...just like the 100 cars before me. Thank you.

Here in the U.S. we rarely park outside of parking lots. But, we still have the parking personnel at some events. I'm not exactly sure what they're up to. Sometimes I think it is a harmless spot to use a volunteer who doesn't have the skills to do something more useful. Sometimes I think it is just a job that some people must like.

posted by Michael | 8:21 PM


Saturday, April 22, 2006

Gambling on orienteering


Here are the current odds for next weekend's Tio Mila (from www.svenskaspel.se).

I suppose if I was in Sweden, I'd probably bet a few Kroner. But, I'm not sure who I'd bet on. Halden and Kalevan Rasti are the clear favorites. But, betting on clear favorites wouldn't be much fun. I suspect that some of the teams with higher odds have decent chances. I'd be the true chance of, say, Baekkelaget SK winning are better than the current betting odds of 25.00.

Svenskaspel also offers bets on the best Swedish team and a couple of head-to-head bets among three Swedish clubs.

posted by Michael | 6:53 PM


Friday, April 21, 2006

What is Kent thinking about?


The audio clip is from an interview with Kent Olsson in 1989. He was asked to talk about what he does and what he thinks about in the year before a World Champs.

The quality of the audio isn't great, but I think you'll be able to understand it.

posted by Michael | 7:10 PM


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Cool baseball graphics


No orienteering today. If you're not a baseball fan, don't even bother reading further.

Win Probabilities

Some baseball geeks have been looking at how the probability of winning a baseball game changes as the game situation changes. They've reviewed loads of past games to come up with things like:

88 percent of the times a home team is ahead by 2 runs in the 5th inning, with no outs and a runner on first, the home team wins. But, if the home team is down by 2 runs, the expected winning probability is just 34 percent.

You can describe any situation in terms of the team (home or visitor), inning, number of outs, number and position of baserunners, and score difference.

You can try yourself by looking at an online win expectancy calculator.

You can track the progress of a game by tracking the changes in win probability throughout the game. It is a bit like the split graphs you can get for an O' race through Attackpoint or Winsplits.

Here is yesterday's game between Kansas City and Chicago.

The graph is a picture of the flow of the game. You can see that Chicago quickly took charge when Cintron scored in the first inning. The game moved along pretty evenly, but with Chicago ahead by a run, until Chicago scored 3 runs in the middle of the game. Uribe's home run made the graph jump up. From then on, Chicago and KC played fairly evenly, but time ran out on Kansas City.

As you play around with the win expectancy calculator and look at graphs of different games, you get a feel for how to read the game by looking at the graph. Just a quick look at a graph gives you a feel for how the game went.

The graph above is from www.fangraphs.com where they track win expectancy for every major league game. Point your browser there and check out a few games for your favorite team.

I first came across these win expectancy graphs in a book called The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2006 - a book I recommend to geeky baseball fans. It seemed like a cool idea, but it also seemed like a bit of work to track win expectancy for a lot of games. I'd planned to track the Kansas City team by calculating win expectancy at the end of each inning (which is not much work), when I discovered the fangraphs.com graphs.

If you've read this far, you must be quite interested. If so, you should check out Dave Studeman's article on win expectancy graphs on The Hardball Times web page.

Ok, ok, here is some orienteering

I'm supposed to write about orienteering everyday. So, let me just suggest that you check out Eva Jurenikova's maps from last weekend's races in southern Sweden. Look for the news item from 2006-04-20.

posted by Michael | 9:09 PM


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Hojsgaard on her coach


Norrkpings Tidning published an article about Peter Holgersson, who coaches both Karolina A Hojsgaard and Jenny Johansson. Here are a few quick translations of some of the article.

Hojsgaard on her classic race in Japan:

I made a 9 minute boom on the first control. It was a strange feeling to have such a failure because I felt like I was in the same form as in 2004.

and on why the WOC in Japan wasn't a success:

It didn't feel right. Being away from my family for three weeks was tough. Also, I'd been sick in December and January and lost some base training.

and on her coach Peter Holgersson

...He steers my training in detail and we talk on the phone twice a day.

You are 35 years old and never really had a coach?

(Laughing), No. My husband, Thomas, has been a sounding board. The national team leader, Marita Skogum, has also helped.

Holgersson is a track coach in addition to coaching orienteers (he's also a math teacher!). If you can read Swedish, you might poke around Holgersson's web page.

posted by Michael | 8:51 PM


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Effect of dehydration?


I bruised my ribs in Ohio and I've noticed something strange in the last few days. I've gone on longish (around 90 minute) runs in warm weather and near the end my ribs have become very uncomfortable. Tonight it was enough that I stopped early and walked back to my car.

In both cases, I've felt significantly better after drinking some sport drink. Is that a cause-effect relationship. Did the sport drink help? Or is it just a coincidence?

Another Swedish Champs sprint map

A couple of days ago I posted a map from the area where the Swedish Sprint Champs took place. Below is the map of the finals, with Emma Engstrand's winning routes.

A Sprint Lesson

One of the important skills in sprint orienteering is going to the next control. It sounds simple, but I've seen a lot of good orienteers who've been disqualified or lost lots of time because they skipped a control in a sprint race.

Take a look at the fuzzy photo of this sprint map with Oystein Sorensen's routes. Its is a great race..except that if you look closely, he ran from 4 to 6.

When you're standing at the starting line of a sprint race, it is probably worth remembering that you've got to go to the first control, then the second, then the third, and so on. That sounds simple, but it isn't as easy as it sounds.

posted by Michael | 8:28 PM


Monday, April 17, 2006

Two projects


I've spent some time in the last day thinking about two projects. One is to work on a map of the KU campus. We plan to use the map for December's Kansas O' Champs. The other project was an idea I've thought about off and on for years -- to collect information from a bunch of different sources on "high performance" programs and create something like a menu of options.

The mapping project is pretty self explanatory. But, the other project probably takes some explanation.

I have a standard set of questions for thinking about how people train. Take a look at H is for Hammer to get an example.

The idea for looking at "high performance" programs would be to develop a similar list of questions and then answer them for a bunch of different programs (say, GHO, the French National Team, OK Linne, Texas Junior O' Camp, and so on). Answering these questions for be fun and the work could be easily farmed out to three or four interested people. It wouldn't really take much time -- maybe a month to get a good set of questions, maybe a month to get some answers, and maybe another month or two to make sense of the information.

At the end, you'd have a set of descriptions of different programs. You could find commonalities and differences. You would almost certainly get some good ideas. And, maybe most importantly, you'd probably be able to get a good idea of what it takes to implement different ideas.

The outcome of this sort of project, would (or rather "could") be a menu -- a bunch of different ideas with different "prices." I think that would be interesting and useful.

As I wrote, this second project has been an idea I've thought about off and on for years (since at least 1989), it came back to mind when I was reading some discussion on Attackpoint about USOF plans and high performance programs.

I posted a comment to the Attackpoint discussion and made two points: (1) that instead of rushing a plan, it might make sense to identify some different options for USOF to consider (which would probably involve something like the project I described above) and (2) that in my experience the membership of USOF is supportive of the "sport side" of orienteering.

My ideas went over like a lead balloon. Vlad didn't actually dismiss the idea, but didn't embrace it either. That doesn't bother me at all. In fact, I think Vlad would probably be receptive to at least some of what I'd like to look at. I've got a lot of respect for Vlad and he's often got some very interesting (even good!) ideas. Sergey dismissed my second point (I'd even go so far as to say he ridiculed it). Now it may be childish, but when I read Sergey's response, I just thought, "to hell with it." My second thought was that if Sergey is right -- that only about 4 percent of USOF membership supports O' as a "sport" -- it would be irresponsible to advocate for the organization to treat O' as a sport.

My mapping project will certainly be more rewarding. So, on with the mapping!

posted by Michael | 7:49 PM


Sunday, April 16, 2006

"You can't just do what you're good at or what you love to do"


One of my training theories is that you should do more of what you don't like (or what you don't do). I don't like road racing. So, I should do more road races. I like middle distance events. So, I should do more sprint and long distance races.

I came across this quote in a NY Times article about middle-aged people suffering through sports injuries:

"Like other lessons in maturity, it's about being smarter," said DiNubile, whose book "Framework" outlined a seven-step program for recreational athletes. "You can't just do what you're good at or what you love to do. Men tend to like to do weight training when they should be doing more flexible things, and women tend to do flexible things when they should be doing more weights.

Randy's tests

Randy tested some of the routes I'd picked at the Fair Hill sprint. Take a look at his summary of the race and his route tests.

The times on the different options are very close and the experiment probably isn't sensitive enough to count those small differences as significant. Still, I was glad to see that my armchair route choices look reasonable.

posted by Michael | 7:36 PM


Saturday, April 15, 2006

Sprint race on campus terrain


I listened to live coverage of a sprint race in Sweden this morning while I was eating breakfast. In addition to being the Swedish Champs, the Norwegian team was using the event as a team trials for the European Champs (which will be in Estonia, I think).

Here is the map with Oystein Kvaal Osterbo's routes (he won the Norwegian race).

The terrain doesn't look super interesting. But, I'm sure it was fun.

I think this map was used for the Swedish Champs qualifying race, with the final held on a map in the town.

posted by Michael | 9:11 PM


Friday, April 14, 2006

Easter egg orienteering


I came across a newspaper story about the Easter egg orienteering in Uppsala. If you can read Swedish, take a look at the story in UNT.

An O' club (IF Thor) and the local paper sponsor the event in a park in the middle of the town. Uppsala is a lot like Lawrence. I'm guessing the population is around 50,000 to 70,000. They got 800 kids to the orienteering.

It looks like fun. I don't think the kids are getting much orienteering, but they are getting some exposure to it (and they go home with an idea of what the sport is about and a map).

At the bottom of the link to the newspaper story you'll find a link to a short video from the event (look for WEBB-TV and then look for "paskkaringar i slottsbacken"). I watched the video hoping to spot Magnus, Sanna and Moa. But, I didn't see them.

posted by Michael | 7:59 PM


Thursday, April 13, 2006

Thoughts on Boris' leg


I spent a little bit of time looking at the leg Boris ran and thinking about how I might run in.

A couple of features stand out in the first half of the leg and it looks like you could run fairly quickly in the beginning. As you left the control, a long set of knolls leads you northwest. From the end of that set of low knolls, you could probably spot the knolls with the cliffs on the other side of the marshes. If not, you could take a quick glance at the compass (or just orient the map by the shape of the first marsh) and head in the right direction.

The second half of the leg looks trickier. You could slow down and try to read lots of features. You could move a bit quicker if you could pick out the more distinct features. I suspect that the rows of knolls and, in particular, the little open marsh (circled in yellow) might be fairly distinct. Those features would get you to the ring. The control feature, a little outcrop, should be pretty distinct.

It'd take a lot of confidence to run the second half of the leg fast. Keep in mind that the contour interval is just 2.5 meters, so the hills aren't big.

I've only run on this particular map (Nasten) once or twice. But, I've run on similar maps (like Lunsen and Karsta) several times. These areas punish you if you lose contact and have to relocate. But, with some practice, you begin to pick out the type of feature that will be distinct. Still, this sort of terrain is never easy to orienteer through.

posted by Michael | 9:09 PM


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Boris the second time around


Here is a leg Boris ran on a map just outside of Uppsala. The contours are 2.5 meters.

Boris ran the leg twice. The first time in 6:52. The second time in 5:47.

Boris' training was similar to some training I wrote about a little while ago. And Boris' results were similar -- a significant improvement the second time.

So now what Boris has to do is figure out how to run each leg in a race the second time instead of the first.

posted by Michael | 8:47 PM


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Two birds, one stone


Running and blogging.

A map with Emma Engstrand's routes from a training camp in Denmark.

Some comments on the map. Note, as of 9 p.m. CDT the video was "processing, please wait" at youtube.com. So, if you don't see the video below, try again in a while and, if things go right, it should be there.

posted by Michael | 8:14 PM


Monday, April 10, 2006

Insult to injury


This weekend I discovered a lingering effect of my fall in the forest in Ohio. I can't find my magnifier. I suspect that it came off my hand when I fell. It is probably sitting out in the forest in Ohio.

I use the magnifier to read the map. In some terrains and with some maps, I'd struggle to read the map without the magnifier. Well, ok, I'd be able to read the map, but I'd need to stand still to do that.

With the magnifier, at a given speed I can read much more from the map. I also make fewer interpretation mistakes where I'd misread one symbol for another (like a boulder group versus a boulder field).

I've already got an order in for 2 new magnifiers from Compass-Point.

Thierry Guergiou wrote about some recent training, including the following:

I started without magnifier glass for the first couple of controls and even if I have always thought having a good vision, I simply couldn'?t run and read the map at the same time. Honestly, it is not anymore the same sport with this scale. Then I used a magnifier glass for the rest of the course, it helped a lot, even if it was still difficult and I couldn'?t avoid some stops in the dark forest.

Of course, the entire article is worth a look.

posted by Michael | 8:12 PM


Sunday, April 09, 2006



Driving to the grocery store tonight, I tried to come up with something to write. I settled on "uncertainty." I was going to draw an analogy between people who think there is A way to train for orienteering and President Bush and the war in Iraq.

I thought it was a clever idea.

But, then I starting thinking about the war and I got annoyed. Annoyed enough that I won't write much.

The idea was to point out that President Bush operates as if he is always certain. Some orienteers are certain there is a right way to train -- A way to train. I don't have much respect for that view of the world.

The grocery trip ended up better than the drive to the store. I discovered that our local store carries Smithwicks Irish Ale!

posted by Michael | 8:26 PM


Relay champs video


A short (less than a minute) video from the U.S. relay champs in Ohio last Sunday.

posted by Michael | 12:10 PM


Saturday, April 08, 2006

Learning while injured and some old maps


From a Swedish newspaper's interview with Emil Andersson:

Last summer, Emil hurt his knee, but the six month break from training wasn't as negative as feared.

"Before I ran fast and took a lot of chances. With the injury, I was forced to walk in the forest and my orienteering technique became much better."

Some old (and one new) maps

Peter posted a series of maps from a place called Wells State Park:

1976 map (in black and white)

1985 map

Current (2006) map

It is interesting to compare the maps and see the development of mapping.

posted by Michael | 6:14 PM


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


Thursday, April 06, 2006

WOC sprints


Writing an O' blog has some perks. You get to meet people you might not otherwise meet. And those people are nice to you, sometimes they even do things like give you maps.

On Sunday, for example, Matthew gave me some sprint maps from Ohio. I've been looking at them the last few days over my lunch hour.

Looking at the maps got me thinking about the WOC sprint race in Denmark. Coincidentally, I read Eric's thoughts about "sprint philosophy" (check out his April 5 entry at carolsteam.org). As I read Eric's analysis, I think he's expecting some tricky sprint courses at the WOC. But, as I've thought about it, I'd expect the sprint courses in Denmark to be quite straightforward.

Maybe the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Here is a sprint map the WOC organizers put on the web:

It looks relatively staight forward. Not the tricky, complex sprint O' we sometimes see in Europe.

Here is a map with a sprint course the Swedish team used at a recent training camp in Denmark:

As I thought about the WOC sprint, I also thought about the previous WOC sprint courses.

The first sprint WOC was in this area in Finland (Tero's routes):

The Swiss sprint WOC was in an urban area, but not especially tricky (again with Tero's routes):

The Swedish WOC sprint qualifying and final courses are similar to the Finnish race (more of Tero's routes):

The Japanese courses look a bit similar. But, I haven't gone to the trouble of finding and uploading a map. So, you'll just have to take my word for it.

I think the sprint courses at WOCs haven't been tricky because of the strong course control processes. I don't know the detail, but I know that at a WOC the course controlling function is rigorous. I'd expect that to emphasize fairness in control placement, which would probably reduce the chances of tricky legs or control locations.

This brings me back to the sprint maps that Matthew gave me. The U.S. is full of terrain like the north and west areas at Sharon Woods (these are two of the areas Matthew gave me maps of). To me, this sort of orienteering looks fairly relevant for a WOC.

posted by Michael | 5:19 PM


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Falling down


Am I getting old or just unlucky?

I've always taken falls while I'm orienteering. But, until the last few years, I didn't seem to get hurt very often. Now it seems like I'm sore for days (or more) a couple of times a season. Is that age? Or am I just having bad luck and taking harder falls?

In Ohio, I caught my right foot on a ruined wire fence. That threw me off balance and I landed awkwardly on my left leg, tweaking the knee. I grabbed for my knee, a reflex movement, and fell on my ribs/side. Ouch. The knee is doing pretty well, with the swelling going down steadily. But, the ribs are recovering much less noticeably.

Perhaps it is time to stop running M21 and act my age (M42).

Strange course from Finland

Aspleaf posted a map from the Fin-5 in 1984. Strange area. Strange course.

TioMila Odds

Froberg posted the odds for the upcoming TioMila. If I understand the odds correctly, they represent the payout per Kronor bet. If you bet 10 Kronor on Halden SK, then you'd get 25 Kronor back if they won.

I'm not sure how the odds were set. I'm not sure if the odds will change as people begin to place bets.

Orienteer Kansas Fans

A young OK relay team fan practicing his map reading and modeling his OK duds.

posted by Michael | 8:43 PM


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Interesting technique training


The Swedish team had a training camp in Denmark where they did an interesting technique training (you can read about it at SOFT, Johanmodig.com and Emmaengstrand.com).

Here is a rough translation of what Engstrand wrote:

Tuesday afternoon we did a training I'd never done before. On a map next to the WOC long distance terrain (a map from the JWOC in 1995) we ran a course at race pace in the morning. After a careful analysis of the course, we ran the same course in the afternoon. This was to let us reflect on how we completed the course and to compare with how to do a course when it goes perfectly. It is impressive that after running a course just one time you can pretty much run it again without looking at the map.

A bit of what Modig wrote:

I did a technically good run in the morning...and expected it to be hard to run faster in the afternoon. But despite having legs that were clearly more tired than in the morning, I ran a bit over a minute faster.

And here is a quote from Goran Andersson from the SOFT page:

We tested running the same course two times, taking exactly the same route choice, to see how much time could be if you optimized the time it takes for the orienteering. It turned out that most could cut about 8-9 percent on the second run, which was much more than we expected. Now we will go forward and see how we can get the orienteering to take as little time as possible from the running.

I've done something a bit similar -- but focusing on running a single leg two times in a row, taking the same route, and trying to be smoother and quicker. But, I didn't keep times (or if I did, I can't remember what the times were). It sounds like a good exercise.

posted by Michael | 8:43 PM


US Sprint Champs video


You can see a bit of video (with very little editing) from the finish at the sprint champs.

posted by Michael | 8:33 PM


Monday, April 03, 2006

Sprint race in Ohio


My routes on the U.S. Spring Champs in Ohio.

A few comments on my race:

posted by Michael | 7:04 PM


Sunday, April 02, 2006  

this is an audio post - click to play

posted by Michael | 4:35 PM


Saturday, April 01, 2006  

this is an audio post - click to play

posted by Michael | 7:02 PM


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