Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Friday, June 30, 2006

If I had a video Ipod...


I read a newspaper story about MLB teams using video Ipods to help their players prepare for games. For a pitcher, the team loads an Ipod with videos of the pitcher throwing pitches and the results (like a batter taking a strike or hitting a home run). The pitcher can then study the video and get an idea of how to pitch to a specific opponent or how their own pitching motion looks.

But, I'm an orienteer, not a baseball player. So, if I had a video Ipod, I'd load it up with Tero's Follow Me videos, like his latest effort.

Does it work? Does watching a video help?

The newspaper story included interviews with players and coaches about the videos. In baseball, there is a clear feeling that video study works -- that it can help a player. It would, if you had the time and the information, be pretty easy to do some analysis to see if, in fact, it did seem to work. Maybe some of the teams already have done that study.

Would it help an orienteer? It might. Sitting here at my desk and watching Tero run through the Finnish forest, and looking at the map and terrain, feels like it puts my mind in orienteering mode. And even if it doesn't, it sure is cool to watch.

Updates in coming days

I'll be at a mini-training camp over the next few days. I plan to update this page, but might not manage to do that every day.

posted by Michael | 1:18 PM


Thursday, June 29, 2006

Swedish JWOC team leader on goals


A quick and rough translation of some comments from Anneli Ostberg, the leader for the Swedish women at JWOC.

Ostberg believes that having fun is important for success, but success isn't something she measures in medals.

"We don't have result goals, because how well we do in terms of medals depends on how well we stand compared to our competition. I think it is more useful to focus on how and what the runners want to be, to feel and to do during the race. If the girls suceed in meeting their own goals, then everyone wins regardless of the results."

To come home from the JWOC and really be satisfied, what will have to happen?

"I'd like the girls to all have runs they are completely satisfied with, that'd be great! Of course it would be good if we could have a good race at the relay. But what is most important is for the girls to enjoy being here."

The story is from Orientering.se and is here.

I guess you could either call Ostberg's comments: (a) a really healthy approach to competition, (b) a cop out that'll just breed week competitors, or (c) a way to reduce pressure and stress that the team might be feeling from high expectations.

I lean toward a mix of (a) and (c).

posted by Michael | 8:14 PM


Google map test


If this works, you'll see a Google map with a marker indicating the trail head at PNS (Parkville Nature Sanctuary). On my way home from work today I stopped at PNS and ran on the trails.

posted by Michael | 8:08 PM


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Holmberg interview


A quick and rough translation of a part of a newspaper interview with Sweden's Anders Holmberg:

"A lot of my success this year is because of my running. But it isn't enough to just have fast legs, you've also go to think fast, stay cool, and make the right judgments if you're going to be able to use your running strength."

What do you hope to accomplish if you make the WOC team?

"If that happens, I won't look at the results but I'll think about how well I completed my race technically."

"What is separating me from the top is experience. But with continued training and experience I think I've got the potential to really improve as an orienteer."

What is the long term goal -- best in the world?

"Yes, why not? I like to set high goals."

If you can read Swedish, the original article is here, where you'll also see a picture of Holmberg and learn that he's 22 years old.

Sweet terrain at JWOC

With the JWOC starting in just a few days, I decided to take a look at the JWOC home page and came across some map bits - Sweet terrain!

posted by Michael | 8:03 PM


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Enjoy watching the TDF?


I try not to "rant" on this page. But, today is an exception. I'm sick and tired of doping in sports.

I spent some time reading Velonews.com yesterday, reading the depressing story of alleged doping reported in a Spanish newspaper. I also checked out the original story, running it through Google-Translate and trying to make sense of what came out. Basically, it makes professional cycling sound as if it has been so completely medicine-ized that the sport is losing its appeal to me as a spectator.

I wonder if I'll enjoy watching the Tour De France this year. I've always liked it, but I'm just sick and tired of the medicine-culture that seems to be a part of the sport.

A bit of orienteering...

Check out Graham Gristwood's routes from the British WOC selection race. The map is in Denmark and will be the sprint model event for the WOC. Gristwood won the selection race.

I don't know who set the courses. I could probably poke around the web a bit an find out. But, my guess is that the course setting is quite relevant for the WOC.

Gristwood described it:

The course was technically very easy and there wasn't a huge amount of route choice.

You have to take the winner's comments with a grain of salt. When you win, it often feels like the course was easy. But, I think he's generally right. The course looks pretty easy and the route choice problems are simple.

You might want to add Graham Gristwood's web page to your bookmarks.

posted by Michael | 8:53 PM


Monday, June 26, 2006

An Orienteer's Story


One of my many theories, is that it helps an orienteer if they can tell their story. It might be that going through the exercise of telling your story helps motivate you to train...which is, of course, the only way you're going to be a really good orienteer.

I wrote a bit about this idea last month.

Today I came across an nice story that I hadn't seen before. Katri Kerkola is a top Finnish orienteer. Check out her story (written in English!).

I'd never seen her page before, but it looks like it has been around for a long time. You might want to add a bookmark Katri Kerkola (and I might want to stop calling her Katri Kerkola and go with her just-married name of Katri Lindeqkvist). I haven't had time to read much of her page, but it looks like lots of interesting maps and short reports from races and training.

posted by Michael | 6:57 PM


Newspaper story on Saturday's Steet Orienteering


The Lawrence Journal World reported about Orienteeering on Mount Oread.

The photo of "an orienteering particpant begins the arduous task..." is me.

posted by Michael | 7:13 AM


Sunday, June 25, 2006

Street Orienteering in Lawrence


Here are a couple of map clips from yesterday's street orienteering in Lawrence. White on the map is private/out of bounds. The event was score orienteering -- find as many points as possible in a given time (1, 2 or 3 hours).

This was the fourth year that OK hosted a street score O' in June. I've run all four. I guess I like it, but my legs always feel really sore afterwards. I attribute that running on pavement. As I think back over the four races, I've only felt good on one of them. In the other three, I've suffered a lot from the heat.

I ran the 2-hour category this year. The idea was to save my legs and feet some pounding. I figured I'd be fine with the distance. I felt fine for a little over an hour. Then I felt bad for about ten minutes. Then I felt really drained for the last 40 minutes or so as I made my way back to the start/finish.

I think the heat got to me. Except, it wasn't really very hot (mid 80s, I'd say). But, my routes took me in the newer parts of town, where there is much less shade. So I was running in the sun. I think the sun must add a good 10+ degrees.

Fun, but it didn't feel good.

posted by Michael | 1:15 PM


Friday, June 23, 2006

My notes on how to run in the Scandinavian forest


I found my notes about how to run in the Swedish forest. These notes were idea about how to prepare for the 5-days given that I've got just a few days in Sweden before the races. The challenge is to go from training on comparatively smooth, firm surfaces to racing in soft, lumpy surfaces. Here are the things I plan to do to make that transition:

1. Do some technique training where I'm following a Swedish runner (like Magnus) and getting a feel for his line through the forest.

2. Think about how the running technique feels when you've got months of running in the forest in your legs. I know what it feels like to be comfortable and smooth running in Swedish forests. Your running style feels a little different -- more sitting-back, more upright upperbody, a different way of moving your legs.

3. Do some short O' technique courses (say 3-4 legs over about 1.5 km) that you run 2 or 3 times. Concentrate on smooth running and keep splits. See if you get faster as you get smoother.

4. Do the same thing, but with no navigation, just running in the forest. Wear a hrm and try to find a good, smooth (no thrashing) effort and pace.

Aspleaf wondering

Aspleaf wrote about Norwegian O' bloggers being more active than Swedish O' bloggers. He posed the question:

varfar sa manga Norska orienterare bloggar?

Which, in English is, "why do so many Nowegian orienteers blog?"

I've wondered that myself. My theory is that you can trace it back to Hanne Staff and Bjornar Valstad's page. They were the model for Norwegian orienteering bloggers. They made it cool.

posted by Michael | 6:49 PM


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Plus or minus ten pounds


When I was at my best, I was about ten pounds lighter than I am now. When I was at my worst, I was about ten pounds heavier. Carrying the extra pounds certainly slows me down. But, I like food.

I had a very nice meal on the weekend. My camera has a "cuisine" mode - so I photographed each course.

I began with a bistro style charcuterie. I didn't know what that was. It turned out to be some bread, cheese, sausage and mustard.

Next up was Foie Gras with blueberry. The combination of flavors was perfect.

Scallop, potatoes, onions and bacon.

Next up was duck. I don't usually like duck. Duck sometimes tastes heavy and fatty. But this was not like that. The duck sat on chickpea and oyster ragout.

What would a meal in the midwest be without some beef -- so the next course was veal.

A salad was next, with cucumber, onions, basil, greens and olive oil.

Desert began with some apple and cinnamon.

And, why not have two desserts? Chocolate with ice-cream.

When I was at my best racing weight, I ate a lot of meals of things like yogurt and musli or rice and beans. That's fine, but it isn't quite as nice as the dinner we had this weekend.

posted by Michael | 8:54 PM


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Process and outcome


Kristiansands OK hasn't performed as well as they'd expected at TioMila and Jukola over the last few years. I read some thoughts about the team performance over on Kristian Dalby's blog (all in Norwegian). I don't have the energy to translate the entire bit, but to give you an idea, he titled it "Kristiansand OK, the world's worst relay team?"

In the comments following the post, Dalby wrote (in my quick, rough translation):

My point is that we haven't gotten out what we should from the team and that we should do something about that. Who ran well and who ran poorly, who should be blamed or not, doesn't matter. The team and the club stand together for the result, it is the result that matters and everyone involved, runners and leaders, has some responsibility for the results to be as good as possible. I have as much responsibility as anyone.

Watching the discussion unfold is interesting. To some extent, they've got to deal with the problem of separating process (i.e. how they prepare) from the result (i.e. weaker than expected relay results).

posted by Michael | 8:50 PM


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

How to run in Scandinavian forests


I've spent some time thinking about how to run in Scandinavian forests. The places I can train at home have relatively smooth and hard ground. But, in Scandinavia the forest tend to be soft and bumpy. In my experience, it is difficult to make the transition.

When I was in Stockholm a couple of weeks ago, I got some clear evidence of the difficulty. I ran with orienteers who do a lot of training in Scandinavian terrain. As I ran with them (either leading or following) I could tell I was working harder and not taking smooth lines through the terrain. I had to expend more thought on running that I should, making it easier to boom.

So, I need to figure out how to make an efficient and effective transition to Scandinavian forests when I go back to Sweden to run the 5-Days. I've got some ideas about how to do that. But, I'm not certain where I put my notes. When I find them, I'll post them.

I was amused to see Holger Hott Johansen struggling with the same problem (though Holger feeling slow is certainly moving faster than I ever do). Here is a bit of what he wrote:

After very little running in typical Nordic terrain this spring I just didn'?t manage to run that fast on rocky ground. The o-technical mistakes I did could not explain my time loss to the winner. It was a frustrating feeling not being able to run fast on a surface where I normally feel very confident. I assume one explanation is that Tiomila and the three days of training before Tiomila are my only kilometres in typical Nordic terrain this year. Other than that my time in the forest has been spent in Skane (southern Sweden), Denmark and Estonia.

Three practices, 3,5 hours of running, and 20 km of orienteering later I was ready for Jukola. Now my running worked much better.

posted by Michael | 7:37 PM


Monday, June 19, 2006

More on practice and expertise


I came across another article about deliberate practice and expertise, a topic I wrote about a couple of weeks ago.

I find this stuff really interesting. Probably because it largely fits with what I've come to believe about orienteering and it gives me a little bit different way to think about training.

How long does it take to become an expert orienteer? From the article I read today, here is an answer:

As it turns out, expertise requires about ten years, or ten to twenty thousand hours of deliberate practice. Little evidence exists for expert performance before ten years of practice. Even prodigies like Bobby Fischer (chess), Amadeus Mozart (music) and Wayne Gretzky (sports) required a decade of practice to generate world class results.

Here is another quote from the article that struck me as very relevant for thinking about orienteering

In field after field, researchers find expertise requires many years of deliberate practice. Most people donÂ?t become experts because they donÂ?t put in the time.

The article I read is by Michael Mauboussin. If it sounds interesting, check out a PDF of Mauboussin's "Are You an Expert."

posted by Michael | 8:04 PM


Sunday, June 18, 2006

RAAM team snapshots


Here are a couple of snapshots of Team NorEaster. Unfortunately, I didn't get a good picture of Ken (who is on the team but injured after a hard crash).

Dave and Brad resting and eating while Greg is out riding (Greg is on the video below).

Part of the crew -- Lex and Eddie.

posted by Michael | 5:29 PM


Race Across America Video


I did my small part to help Team NorEaster in the bike Race Across America. This morning, I shuttled a new crew member, Dave, down to the race route and brought Sandy back to Kansas City after she'd been a crew member since the beginning of the race.

Here is a short video clip of Greg (probably best known among orienteers as the creator of CatchingFeatures). The video is from the highway a bit east of Collins, Missouri.

It was inspiring to see the team. They looked good. Well, not really good, but not as bad as you might expect after riding so far.

You can follow their progress at Valerie's bike ride page or at the official RAAM site.

posted by Michael | 12:07 PM


Saturday, June 17, 2006

Live coverage overload


I'm getting overloaded by live sports coverage.

I've got a couple of browser windows open for Jukola. I'm listening to the speaker coverage (which is a nice mix of Finnish, Swedish and English). I don't understand the Finnish, but it sounds good. Just hearing Finnish makes me think of Jukola.

Jukola does a great job with online results reporting. I've got a browser open to the Cambridge Sports Union team as they make their way through the first leg - Go Boris!

I have some nice memories of Jukola, probably because I had one of the best races of my life at a Jukola long ago.

In addition to Jukola, I'm watching the US-Italy match in the World Cup. The score is tied 1-1 with only about ten minutes to go. I think the U.S. goal was an Italian own goal.

In another browser, I'm following the Race Across America bike race. Early tomorrow morning, I'll be driving over to Jefferson City, Missouri, to help the Team Nor'Easter crew. I'll be exchanging crew members (leaving Dave P. with the team and getting Sandy F. to the airport).

Trying to follow three events at once is a bit overwhelming.

posted by Michael | 3:47 PM


Friday, June 16, 2006

What is wrong with Jukola?


Jukola is one of those great O' events -- a huge relay (13,000+ orienteers) in great Finnish terrain. I'll probably spend a little time this weekend checking on the race through the Jukola 2006 web page and the Swedish language radio coverage.

Jukola is a great race. But, something is missing, and that something is Burritos. The competition center has restaurants, pubs and saunas. But, I'm willing to bet you can't get a burrito at Jukola. And that is a shame.

posted by Michael | 8:23 PM


Thursday, June 15, 2006

Vitalturen seems like a good idea


Vitalturen seems like a good way to introduce people to orienteering maps.

What is Vitalturen?

Basically, it is a very simple (and free) chance to take a short hike on an orienteering map. You can go on the Vitalturen web page and download a PDF brochure with a bit of an O' map and a simple route on it. There are hikes spread out all over Norway. The maps have a route drawn in and include text description of the hikes.

If you want to, you can register on the web page and send a text message with a code you get on each Vitaltur. If you do that, you can get small prizes.

Vital sponsors the Norwegian O' team and a bunch of the hikes are named after Norwegian orienteers. The map below is the Holger Hott Johansen.

You can see a bunch of the routes by going to the main Vitalturen page and then following the links on the left side of the page under the heading "Steder." Click on a link and get to the page for each specific route. If you want to see the PDF brochure (which comes complete with photos of the top Norwegian orienteers), look for the link labeled "Last ned brosjyre."

It seems to me like it'd be very easy for an O' club to put together some similar hikes and make them available on the web. It probably wouldn't result in a bunch of new orienteers, but it is really simple and cheap and might expose a few more people to orienteering and O' maps. No harm in that.

I guess I've got a new project - create a Vitalturen-like hike for Orienteer Kansas.

posted by Michael | 7:03 PM


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Rostrup interview in Norwegian newspaper


A few (roughly translated) quotes from an interview with Jorgen Rostrup. If you can read Norwegian, the original article is worth a look.

"I've run my last WOC," says Rostrup.


"I feel burned out from WOCs. I've run every WOC since I was 16 [including JWOCs], and since I've been 18 it has been the main thing in my live. I know what it involves to aim for a championship and it isn't something that is as exciting anymore."

"I'm going to stay at a high level for at least two more years. For example, I want to win Tio Mila and the 5-Days in Sweden. I've developed a good 'machine' and it won't fall apart over night. I will keep training about 600 hours a year," said the runner from Kristiansand who at his most was training up to 900 hours a year.

posted by Michael | 7:54 PM


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Some Swedish O' Snapshots


I took a few O' photos in Sweden.

In this one, I left the shutter open for a long time in the hopes of getting a blur to make it look like I was running fast. It worked out pretty well, I thought.

Training at Lunsen is a bit different. The orienteering is really tricky. It is easy to lose contact and hard to get it back. While I was following Magnus, he lost contact and made a parallel error. I pulled out my camera and got a snapshot that is probably a typical view of an orienteer at Lunsen -- standing still and looking at the map.

Magnus got a chance to watch me boom a control soon afterwards. And, he borrowed my camera while I was trying to relocate.

When you've got map contact, running at Lunsen is really sweet. Check out the beautiful terrain.

posted by Michael | 8:01 PM


Monday, June 12, 2006

Training in Uppsala


Here is the map I trained on in Uppsala on Saturday. The map is a really small area with lots of little details, mapped at 1:1500 with a 1 meter contour interval. It shows a lot of detail.

The video shows me running (slowly!) through a tricky section of the course. You'll see me go to points 5, 6 and 7. I didn't have controls, but you can see me touch the ground at each control location (and you can probably see me punch the split time on my watch). Hammer shot the video from the hill just south of the map clip above.

Orienteering on this super-detailed, small scale map, was really fun. I had to really concentrate to orienteer well. Losing contact with the map was costly.

When I was done, Hammer and Emma spent some time walking around on the map checking out different features.

And Emma leaped off a rock.

posted by Michael | 6:57 PM


Friday, June 09, 2006

Stockholm Update


From Uppsala, a short update on my trip to Stockholm.

I managed to do all 5 things described in my previous post.

1. On Tuesday (Sweden´s national day) Magnus and I ran a control picking course at Lunsen. We ran together, taking turns leading for 3 controls. We took it easy but still made a few booms. Lunsen is the kind of place where you can know exactly where you are and then 50 meters later be off. It is really fun orienteering.

2. While I didn't walk around Gamla Stan, I spent a few hours at Vasa Museum. I´m convinced the museum is The World Class attraction in Stockholm.

3. I ran on a couple of maps - Kärsön and Lövon. Both are nice areas. Lövon seemed to be a better map and a nicer area. Coming from the U.S. and running in Swedish terrain can be tricky. For me, the biggest problems are running smoothly though the forest (the ground is lumpy and soft compared to places I usually run) and changing speed (at home you can often keep the same speed all the way to the control feature, while in Swedish terrain you often need to slow down as you get close to the control).

4. I ate a pizza at Lappis for old times sake. I´ve had better pizza. I´ve eaten in places with nicer atmosphere. But it was still fun to go back to my old "home" (Lappis).

5. I spent a lot of time talking with performance auditors (effektivitetsrevisorer) at the audit agency. It was really interesting and the agency has changed quite a lot in the last 3-4 years.

posted by Michael | 1:43 PM


Friday, June 02, 2006

To Stockholm


I'll be on my way to Stockholm tomorrow. I haven't settled on exactly what I'll be doing, but I won't be surprised if I:

1. Make the trip to Uppsala to visit and to run at Lunsen (and I might even make it to Thursday evening's Tempo Cup).

2. Do some Stockholm tourist stuff, like wander around Gamla Stan and visit the Vasa Museum.

3. Spend some time running around on maps around town.

4. Get a pizza at the little restaurant in the middle of Lappis (reliving some of the old days).

5. Pay a visit to the Swedish State Audit shop.

Daily updates on hold for a while

I'll probably post an update or two from Sweden, but daily updates will have to wait until I get home. Look for daily updates to resume June 12 or 13.

Arizona Sprint Map

Check out this map from Tucson with Mook's routes from a training session.

posted by Michael | 6:44 PM


Thursday, June 01, 2006



I nearly stepped on this little copperhead while I was running tonight.

I Googled copperhead and found:

Copperheads are venomous, pit vipers. Copperheads account for more cases of venomous snake bite than any of our other species. Fortunately, their venom is the least toxic of our species. Bites from Copperheads are very seldom fatal; however, a bite may still produce serious consequences.


A Copperhead snake bite needs medical attention, is extremely painful, and may cause extensive scaring and loss of use. Many people are bitten while trying to kill or handle the snake. Don't take chances -- avoid these snakes.

"Copperhead bites are typically not fatal," says Dr. Peter Bromley, N. C. Cooperative Extension Specialist in Zoology. Small animals, like small dogs, may receive a fatal bite from a copperhead. The venom causes local tissue destruction and secondary infection often sets in. If you or your pet are bitten by any snake that you suspect is venomous, get medial attention immediately.

I wouldn't say I'm afraid of snakes. But, I'll admit that for the next 10 or 15 minutes of running I was keeping my eyes on the trail. Which may be why I spotted this little guy.

posted by Michael | 7:42 PM


March 2002April 2002May 2002June 2002July 2002August 2002September 2002October 2002November 2002December 2002January 2003February 2003March 2003April 2003May 2003June 2003July 2003August 2003September 2003October 2003November 2003December 2003January 2004February 2004March 2004April 2004May 2004June 2004July 2004August 2004September 2004October 2004November 2004December 2004January 2005February 2005March 2005April 2005May 2005June 2005July 2005August 2005September 2005October 2005November 2005December 2005January 2006February 2006March 2006April 2006May 2006June 2006July 2006August 2006September 2006October 2006November 2006December 2006January 2007February 2007March 2007April 2007May 2007June 2007July 2007August 2007September 2007October 2007November 2007December 2007January 2008February 2008March 2008April 2008May 2008June 2008July 2008August 2008September 2008October 2008November 2008December 2008January 2009February 2009March 2009April 2009May 2009June 2009July 2009August 2009September 2009October 2009November 2009December 2009January 2010February 2010March 2010April 2010May 2010June 2010July 2010August 2010September 2010October 2010November 2010December 2010January 2011February 2011March 2011April 2011May 2011June 2011July 2011August 2011September 2011October 2011November 2011December 2011January 2012February 2012March 2012April 2012May 2012June 2012July 2012August 2012September 2012October 2012November 2012December 2012January 2013March 2013April 2013May 2013July 2013September 2013