Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A note on the Nebraska terrain and map


I spent a few minutes looking at the map from yesterday. It is a shame that the base map is USGS contours. The contours just don't do a good job of showing the terrain - and the terrain is much more interesting than it looks from the USGS contours. The area is loess terrain, meaning there are more reentrants and some deep gullies. It would be a real chore to adequately map the terrain from the USGS contours. But it would make the area much more interesting from an orienteering standpoint. Hopefully it won't be too many more years before some Lidar data shows up for Indian Cave.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:07 PM


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Orienteering in Nebraska


As far as I know, this was the first orienteering event in Nebraska. It was certainly the first O' race I've run in Nebraska. The map is a bit sketchy - not a whole lot more than a USGS map. The trails in the area a bit west of 5 don't make much sense. The forest had a couple of inches of snow. That made the running a bit slow.
Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 5:04 PM


Friday, March 27, 2009

Wake up and smell the coffee


"I love the smell. I love the taste. It’s heaven."

That's Mark Tarnopolsky - famous Canadian orienteering racer - quoted in a New York Times article about the effects of caffiene on performance. Here's another quote, this time summing up the research:

There is so much data on this that it’s unbelievable. It’s just unequivocal that caffeine improves performance. It’s been shown in well-respected labs in multiple places around the world.

Here is the entire article

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:01 PM


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Another map update


Another update. The area marked with purple lines is an area I haven't (yet) fieldchecked and probably won't get around to fieldchecking in the near future.
Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:14 PM


Another downtown map update


The far north end of the downtown map includes the KU boathouse.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:43 PM


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Does failure breed new knowledge?


Of all things, I read a bit of a story in the business section of the NY Times about predicting success of entrepreneurs. New businesses usually fail, so some researchers looked at whether people were learning from mistakes and doing better in the future. Here's a quote from one of those researchers:

"Does failure breed new knowledge or experience that can be leveraged into performance the second time around?" he asks. In some cases, yes, but over all, he says, "We found there is no benefit in terms of performance."

That's interesting. And, of course, it reminds me of orienteering. Certainly the conventional wisdom (and it does make a lot of sense) is to analyze your booms and learn from them. I'm a proponent of spending more time analyzing non-booms and trying to learn from them, but I'm just as guilty as any other orienteer of focusing on my mistakes. I have to force myself to focus more time looking at what went right (though it has gotten easier over the years).

Control Picking Course

Check out Jon Pedersen's control picking from a Norwegian training camp in France. Crazy terrain (Fontainebleau, I think).

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 11:28 AM


Saturday, March 21, 2009

QR track from today's trail race


I ran a 5K trail race this morning. I carried a contours-only map so I'd have something to look at while I ran. You can get an idea of the forest and the trail in the snapshot below (no idea who the runner is).

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 5:33 PM


Monday, March 16, 2009

Training tip from Helana Jansson


The Swedish O' Federation is publishing some training tips. Here's a rough translation of a bit from Helana Jansson about how she prepares for the first races of the season:

I usually sit down in peace and quiet, think through how my winter training has gone and what I've done. Has my training gone well? I have been healthy and have done my best, and have trained well. So there isn't much to worry about. I also think about the previous year, about competitions that went well. I think about why it went well and about how it felt before the competitions and how it felt after.

Before I am at the starting line for the season's first race I have a bunch of positive thoughts. I remember exactly how I felt when I ran well. That makes it easier to get that same feeling this time....

Here's the entire Swedish article.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:22 PM


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Today's race at Watkins Mill


Today's course.
Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:23 PM


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Small steps


A quote about the Sporting News college basketball coach of the year:

...he was leaning too hard on his young players to match that 2008 standard. After embracing the idea of daily improvement, he became Sporting News Coach of the Year for 2009.

Focusing on daily improvement seems to have worked well. The concept translates well to just about anything.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:26 PM


Monday, March 09, 2009

Slightly behind = more motivation


"Encouraging people to see themselves as behind others, albeit only slightly, should increase motivation."

That's from the conclusion of an academic paper that I read about in the Wall Street Journal. The WSJ reported:

According to their [Jonah Berger and Devin Pope] findings, men's college basketball teams increase their chances of winning by 5.5% to 7.7% if they are behind by a single point at halftime. In fact, if a team goes to the locker room after 20 minutes down by one point, they actually have a 51.3% chance of winning the game.

I think most people recognize what they reported. If you are a little bit behind your competition, you work pretty hard to do better. It is encouraging to be just a little bit behind.

About a year ago I wrote about a study that found a similar effect (more like being far behind is discouraging).

to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:21 PM


Sunday, March 08, 2009

MAP model of orienteering performance


You can think of orienteering performance being a function of three things: map use; approach to preparing and competing; and physical ability to get around the course.

Map reading/use refers to the sort of thing that we think of as O' technique. It include things like making route choices, matching up the terrain and map, recovering from mistakes, and so on.

Approach refers to the sort of thing that we often think of as mental ability and motivation. Approach gets at the drive to get out the door and train on a cold, rainy day. Approach gets at the ability to have just the right level of nerves to perform your best when it really matters.

Physical ability refers to...well, I guess it is obvious. Think about the ability to run through the relevant terrain, run at just the right pace, jump over obstacles, and have the endurance to maintain a good pace.

Orienteering performance = f(map, approach, physical)

I'll call this model MAP (from map, approach, physical).

Like any model, MAP is a gross oversimplification. You could, for example, split each of these factors into many sub-factors. The Swedish elite plan has maybe a dozen different factors that make up O' performance. You can also think of orienteering as being made up of navigating and running - just two factors.

I think that an individual can get better at each one of the factors. You can improve at using a map, at approaching the sport, and at running. Each factor can be developed.

We know a lot about how to develop running. We know a lot about how to develop map use (though not as much as we know about running). We know something - but not alot - about how to develop the approach.

We can easily measure running. We can measure map use, but it isn't as easy as measuring running. We can make some educated guesses to measure approach, but it is quite difficult to really measure.

Physical - well known, easy to measure.
Map - reasonably well known, harder to measure.
Approach - not well known, hardest to measure.

I think there are some interesting implications of a model like MAP. And if a brand new Simpsons wasn't coming on in a few minutes, I might spend some time writing about a couple of them.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 5:53 PM


Downtown sprint map - early March update


I did a little bit of work on the downtown sprint map over the last week or so. The map now goes far enough south and west that it meets the KU Campus map. Now that daylight savings time has begun, it is practical to put in some serious fieldchecking time after work. I'm not sure I will, but I really ought to focus on checking the Burcham Park area (the area west of the river to the train tracks).

You can see the progress I've made over the last month by looking at the February 7 update.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 11:18 AM


Saturday, March 07, 2009

A few notes on the Lupine Tesla


I came across a short review/comment about the Lupine Tesla on the discussion at Alternativet. I figured it was worth a few minutes to (roughly) translate it. Someone named "OP" posted:

I've had a Tesla since November and am happy with it. The battery lasts the advertised 3 hours at full strength. My first reaction when I got the package was, "they sent it without the battery?" The battery is about as wide as my Sony Ericsson K630 but twice as thin and not as high. Ridiculously small for how much you get out of it.

The light isn't as strong as a Mila Nova, but it is enough to blind me if I put up my hand in the beam. As has been said before, the beam is a bit narrow but the light is enough to read the map and the beam is broad enough that you can read the map without having to hold the map up to your face.

[The translation of the previous sentence is a bit rough. If I understand it correctly, he's describing two parts of the beam - a narrow spot and a broader, but not as bright, beam. That broader part is enough to easily read the map]

I really have only one (minor) complaint: Lupine's headband is a little uncomfortable with a plastic bit right in the middle of the forehead, but I've gotten used to it.

I've been using a Lupine Tesla since November, just like OP. I had the same reaction as OP to the battery and the light beam. I can't compare it to a Mila Nova. I didn't find the headband uncomfortable.

I can't remember where, but I think I saw some info about an orienteering-specific Lupine headband. I don't see it at Lupine's web page, so it might be something I'm just imagining.

I think the biggest surprise was that the difference between the lowest power and the highest power wasn't as dramatic as I'd expected. I think the lowest setting is something like 35 percent of the highest power. But at the lowest setting there is plenty of light for running night O' (I'd say it is comparable to my old Silva halogen at 20 watts) but a fully charged battery would give you something like 20+ hours of burn time.

Going from a halogen to an LED light meant going from somewhat yellow light to a clean white light. I don't have trouble with the halogen-yellow, but I noticed that the white light does a better job of picking out rusty barbed wire fences.

Here is a link to Lupine's Tesla web page.

And here is a link to what I wrote soon after I first began using the Tesla.


Here is a link to the O' specific Lupine "headbelt."

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:06 PM


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Why isn't Aspleaf a professional bowler?


Bowling is a simple sport. It isn't especially physically demanding. You don't face a defender who can affect your game. You can, in fact, have a perfect game. Rank beginners can bowl a strike. You compete and train indoors. It is easy to find a place to train.

If you look at a professional bowler, you'll notice that they look like a regular person. They aren't freaks of nature, like professional basketball players or Olympic marathoners.

There's good money to be made in bowling. Top pros can win prize money well over $100,000.

So, why isn't Aspleaf a professional bowler?

I think the answer boils down to two things:

1. Even though it is a simple sport, it is more difficult than you might think.

While rank beginners can bowl a strike, putting together 12 strikes in a row, when it really matters, isn't easy. Good bowlers train a lot. They train for years. It isn't easy.

2. Aspleaf doesn't love bowling.

To be really good at something you've got to really want to be good at it.

That's why Aspleaf isn't a professional bowler.

Keep Aspleaf's professional bowling career in mind when you read ideas like this (lifted from an Attackpoint discussion):

Probably the easiest way to increase US Team performance is to recruit sub-elite (say sub 15 minute 5K for the men) collegiate or ex-collegiate runners with stipends or some such and train them to run sprints.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:31 PM


Monday, March 02, 2009

Florence street map


Alessio Tenani posted his map from a race in Florence. I spent some time looking at the map and comparing it with Google map of Florence. I was trying to trigger some dim memories. When I was 5, we lived in Florence. My memories are dim, but I think we lived not so far from the 6th control.

I wonder if traffic - cars, people, motorcycles, etc - a problem? The QuickRoute track suggests Alessio was able to keep a good pace the whole way. I think the race was on Sunday. Maybe it was early enough that traffic wasn't a problem?

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:28 PM


Sunday, March 01, 2009

Messing with your mind


Here's a question for you:

Do you plan to do some O' technique training this week?

I'm reading Nudge. I picked up the paperback to read on the flight to Orlando. The question is inspired by something I read in Nudge.

The authors describe some research on whether measuring intent changes behavior. The research found, for example, that asking people "do you intend to buy a new car in the next 6 months" changed people's behavior. They became more likely to buy a new car.

I can't say I'm surprised by the research. As a performance auditor I've seen the same thing. Asking quesitons and measuring performance changes how people behave (sometimes that is a good thing, sometimes not).

If you do some O' technique training this week. Maybe it is because I asked you.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:05 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