Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Always surprised


I'm always surprised when I find that people actually read what I write. I'm always disappointed when I realize I wrote without proofreading. I really should do that. I'll correct something I wrote that Helen Palmer quoted in Are Online Training Diaries a Good Idea?. It should read:

I'd never give someone advice to train less if I thought they were smart enough to figure out the right amount of training on their own. One of my basic theories is that most people need to experiment to learn what works best for their own situation.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 1:12 PM


Thursday, February 26, 2009

What I think about when I'm bored


On airport shuttle bus I overhead a conversation.

I don't like it. I'm not any good at it.

I don't remember what "it" was. Maybe bowling or Soduko or something.

It got me thinking about the relationship between what you like to do and what you are good at.

There aren't many people who don't like orienteering but are good at it. On the other hand, there seem to be a lot of people (more than I'd have expected) who like orienteering but who aren't good at it.

Can't stop mapping

I'm in a strange town. I'm staying in a hotel. I was hungry. I decided to go for a walk and see if I could find anything to eat. As I was walking around, I realized I was mentally mapping. I'd see a wall and without thinking about it, imagine how it would look on a sprint map.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:55 PM


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Quotes from a swimming coach


Some quotes from a NY Times article about the swimming coach at Kenyon College:

Though swimming is an individual pursuit, Steen treats it as a team sport. He preaches to his athletes that everybody has a redeeming quality; as teammates, their job is to find the positive in one another and let go of the rest.
Steen...is a big believer that the result should never overshadow the process.
...Steen swiveled to meet a visitor eye to eye. He leaned in close and said the pursuit of a single goal often inhibits the risk-taking and creative thinking necessary for personal growth.
Steen challenges his swimmers to reshape their contours of success. In one mass e-mail message to them, he wrote, "Find a place within yourself where success and failure don’t matter, a place where you can engage in battle without compromise."

The entire article is here. I read a bit about the Kenyon College coach in a book by Hodding Carter about his efforts to qualify for the Olympic Trials in swimming at the age of...well, I can't remember exactly...maybe 40 or so...

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:47 PM


Sunday, February 22, 2009

A bit of laziness in yesterday's race


Here is a heart rate track from a bit of yesterday's race.

I cut off the control numbers. The course goes from left to right.

The heart rate curve shows that I was taking it fairly easy into and out of the control. I've drawn red marks that indicate the area where my heart rate was a bit low. My heart rate in this section was between about 162-165. That's an honest effort, but it is just a bit low for this race.

Taking it a bit slow into and out of a control isn't especially unusual. You might need to slow down to take a careful look at the map. You might ease off a bit as you look around for the features in the circle and the flag. You might leave a control a bit easy as you make some decisions about the next leg.

In this case, I was just lazy. The first red line on the heart rate track is at the edge of the field. I could see the control feature - a spur - from that point. I shouldn't have eased off. I just got lazy. Instead of keeping a steady effort, I rested a bit.

The problem with resting is that I have a tendency to then push a bit too hard. On the next leg, I pushed a bit too hard on the hill, got my heart rate over 170. I can't maintain that effort for long and I tend to struggle with my navigation when I push above 170 for long. I start having trouble keeping ahead with my map reading. Instead of reading the map and looking for features, I begin looking for features and then reading the map to see where I am. In tricky terrain, that won't work consistently.

With my current condition and on yesterday's course, I did best when I kept my heart rate between 165 and 170.

So, how did I do yesterday?

The graph below shows the portion of my race at different heart rates. I excluded the first leg (where my heart rate was a bit low after standing for a minute or two before starting). I excluded the last few hundred meters where running at a heart rate that I couldn't maintain doesn't matter - you don't need to navigate after you've crossed the finish line.

I spent about 20 percent of the time in the "lazy" zone; about 20 percent in the "too hard" zone; and the rest was about right. I don't really know if that's good or bad. I need to do this sort of analysis on some more races to get a good idea of what to expect. It seems ok. I'd hope to have a bit less in the "too hard" zone.

I suspect there's a relationship between the "lazy" and the "too hard" zones. As in the control I wrote about above. If I get "lazy" I tend to try to make it up by going "too hard."

It seems like there are a few things to do to make that histogram look a little better. If I'm doing more racing, I'll have a better sense of the right effort. If I do more training right around that sweet spot, maybe run a minute just above 170, then a minute just below.

Keep in mind that the sweet spot (at 170 bpm in yesterday's race) can shift around a bit day-to-day. It would, I think, vary with the weather and current fitness, and the demands of the terrain. With QuickRoute, you can figure out that sweet spot for the day by looking carefully at the relationship between pace and heart rate at different parts of the course.

If you're a complete QuickRoute geek, you can download the .qrt file for this race and play around with the data yourself. I put several .qrt files here.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 4:16 PM


Saturday, February 21, 2009

QR track from HCC race


Fun course at HCC today.
Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 5:22 PM


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Word cloud analysis of Boris' training


I had nothing better to do, so I made a "word cloud" of my analysis of Boris' training. You can also click here to see it in a bit better quality (and to make your own word clouds). And you can read the analysis of Boris' training from a couple of years ago (part 1 and part 2).

Vancouver camp stuff

1. A nice write up of the camp at Ultimate Orienteering

2. The camp spreading its influence...check out this notice for some technique training in Norway.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:40 PM


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Training the first control


One of the sessions at the sprint camp focused on the first leg. We got a stack of little maps (the image shows all of them together, but we got a stack of little maps stapled together rather than one big sheet of paper).

Take a look at the map bit labeled 1. We started in groups of 4 runners. One person would say "start" and we'd all turn over the map, find the triangle, and then head to the control (which was marked by a small flag), then on to the finish circle, then walk to the next start triangle. At the next triangle, we'd start again - turning over map 2, finding the triangle, and heading to the first control and then the finish.

Because we did this in groups, there was some stress. You didn't want to run off in the wrong direction and you didn't want to be the last one to get going.

I ran a bit easier - or at least slower - than the rest of my group. I made a point of reading a lot of features on the way to the first control even if it wasn't actually necessary to find it (my "rule of thumb" for starting a sprint race is to read more than necessary on the way to the first control.

It was a fun session and a good way of using a really small area.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:03 PM


Monday, February 16, 2009

Another sprint...another QR track


Another QR track from the sprint training in Vancouver. Not much to say about the track. A number of people had trouble with 10. It is a bit hard to figure out exactly where the flag is going to be. If you took a route to the left, you ended up on the bridge and had to run down some stairs to get to the flag. I approached from below but hesitated when I was a bit unsure of whether or not I'd be able to get to the control (I first thought the bridge symbol was an uncrossable wall). You can see the hesitation quite clearly on the track - as I approach the control I slowed and the tack shows some yellow and even some red.
Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 3:51 PM


Sprint Camp - QR track from the first race


My QuickRoute track from one of the sessions at the Vancouver Sprint Camp. The camp was a lot of fun. I'll probably post some more maps and thoughts later.
Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 10:11 AM


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Approach versus outcome


Last year's Kansas basketball team was very good and very experienced. When I listened to the coaches radio show, I was struck by how often he talked about focusing on process versus outcome. He'd say things like, "I don't care if the shot goes in as long as the shot was a good one to take."

It seems to me like the coach - Bill Self - isn't talking about process versus outcome as much this season. Instead, he seems to be talking about "approach" versus outcome. Tonight he talked about the need for the inside players to "attack the rim" on offenses. He talks about being "tough" and "aggressive."

It struck me that emphasizing approach, rather than process, might reflect the fact that this year's team is very inexperienced.

Self's model of how players develop might look something like this:

Inexperienced - focus on developing a good approach
Experienced - focus on developing a good process

And this model would, I think, make sense for orienteers.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:55 PM


Monday, February 09, 2009

Full speed, no mistakes


Spent a few minutes looking at Thierry Gueorgiou's QuickRoute track from a sprint race. What can we see from the track? The thing that strikes me first is that he moves fast the whole time. At first glance, it looks like the only places where the pace slows a bit are where the terrain forces it (going up hill, going down a steep bit, etc).

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:17 PM


Saturday, February 07, 2009

Some work on the dowtown map


My sprint mapping project has been sitting on the shelf for a while. I put in some time working on it today.

It has been more than a month since I did any work on the map. You can see how much (or little) progress I've made since November.

My current plan is to extend the map a bit northwest along the river. I'd like to include Burcham Park (home of the rowing team's boat house). I'd like to extend the map south another block or so. I'd like to include all of South Park.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 5:52 PM


Thursday, February 05, 2009

Update on time in the ring


I added another race to my "time in the ring" spreadsheet and graph. The new data includes a boom in the ring (look for the high peak in orange in the graph). I lost a good 45 seconds. One of those booms where the control was hidden...but that's another story.

The new data don't show the gradual slowing later in the course (or if they do it isn't so clear). The new data - a local race at Shawnee Mission Park - was a good effort.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:50 PM


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Another day...another experiment with QuickRoute


How much time do you spend in the ring? How long does it take you to get from the edge of the ring, to the control, punch, and then leave the ring?

QuickRoute makes it easy to figure that out. You can add splits after the fact. I took my QR data from two races - last weekend's local event at Longview and the second day of the GAOC A-meet. I added splits that began as I entered the ring and ended as I left it.

The graph below shows the data (the x-axis shows the control number).

There's a general trend. I take more time to move through the control circle later in the course. The data from GAOC (the red line) is unusual. I turned my ankle quite badly and slowed a lot near the end. The highest peak of the red curve is when I soaked my ankle in a stream for 30 seconds or so.

Getting back to the general trend of slowing a bit later in the course...I think what is going on is that as I get tired I am not quite as forward looking/thinking and I'm more likely to fumble with the punch (electronic or pin punching).

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:57 PM


Sunday, February 01, 2009

QuickRoute to see what went right


Continuing to look at the QuickRoute data from yesterday's race...

When I look at a race, I like to spend as much time studying what I did right as what I did wrong. I'd prefer to spend more time analyzing success than failure.

Yesterday, I wrote about a part of the course where I pushed a bit too hard and didn't ease off quickly (see section "D" of yesterday's post). To recover, I had to ease off the pace even when I was running in some fast terrain (a flat, open area). I looked at the data and concluded that:

failing to ease off right away probably cost me a good 20 seconds.

I decided to write about a success today. I looked for the opposite situation, that is, a place where I eased off the pace as soon as my h.r. went a bit too high.

Here's the h.r. track for leg 6:

The leg is quite simple - trail nearly the entire way.

The h.r. track shows that my h.r. was a bit high when I first hit the trail that goes north. It is a bit hard to see in the image, but the h.r. drops just a little bit within about 15 seconds of hitting the trail. I must have felt that I was going a bit too hard and eased off quickly.

In contrast, on the leg I looked at yesterday, I didn't ease off the pace until I'd been going at a high h.r. for 45+ seconds.

In theory, easing off quickly should have kept me from having to back way off the pace.

Take a look at the pace track below:

The pace stays high. Easing off let me hold a good pace. I think that if I hadn't eased off quickly, I'd have been forced to slow down quite a bit for a couple of hundred meters.

As I look at the data in QuickRoute, it looks like easing off the effort in 15 seconds instead of 45 allowed me to hold a pace that was about 1 min/km faster. You also have to look and see if pushing "too hard" for 45 seconds instead of 15 let me keep an especially high pace. It turns out there was a short stretch - maybe 30-40 meters - where I held a decent pace before I began to slow (and well before I seemed to recognize the effort was too high and backed off the effort). That's not enough to offset the recovery.

The success was recognizing the effort was just going over the edge and then backing off quickly, allowing me to hold a relatively high pace.

When I eased off at the right time, I did so before I actually slowed. When I eased off at the wrong time, I began to slow down before I eased off. Slowing down was part of the signal that I was pushing a bit too hard. On the leg that was successful, I recognized the effort before it started to affect my pace.

Take a look at the direction track:

From the point my track leaves the trail until the ring, note that the direction track is white. That means I was heading straight to the flag. That's because I could see the flag from the trail. The track goes a bit red/yellow within the ring (which was winding my way around some fallen trees).

That's enough for today...time to settle down in front of the TV and watch the Superbowl.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 4:33 PM


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