Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Saturday, November 30, 2002

Quote from an orienteer in SI?


Here's a quote from the latest Sports Illustrated:

People told me I wasn't trying hard enough. So I tried harder, and that just made it worse.

I learned a lesson -- if I'm going to win races, it won't be by trying harder, it'll be by eliminating mistakes, by making choices to take chances in places I can, by following a process.

It sounds like an orienteer, but it isn't. The guy who said this is Erik Schlopy. Schlopy is a ski racer, one of the best in the U.S. (5th and top American at the recent World Cup giant slalom). He also lives in New York City, of all places.

When I read Schlopy's quote, I thought it sounded like something an orienteer would say. It reminded me of an interview with Kent Olsson where he talks about never hearing of someone losing because they "tried to easy."

posted by Michael | 11:38 AM


Friday, November 29, 2002

More from Dalin


Here is another bit from an interview with Kalle Dalin, a Swedish elite orienteer...

I'm going to start a new effort. I've been working too much (at a school as a gym teacher and a student advisor) and haven't been able to recover adequately after training.

I'm going to cut back and work 60 percent. That'll give me the chance to lie down on the couch and rest for a few more hours after training. I think that'll do the trick.

Work less, relax on the couch more!

Two on a scale of 1-10, but hope for the future

I give Dalin's new homepage a 2 on a scale of 1-10. He recently released www.kalledalin.com and I've spent a bit of time looking at it.

So far it is in Swedish only and features a few newspaper articles, a bit of info about Dalin, a list of sponsors and a guestbook. The content is a bit weak. There doesn't seem to be any original writing and the guestbook has ten entries for the last seven days (none of them especially interesting).

Let's hope that Dalin uses some of the time he has available since he reduced his work schedule to work on his home page!

Here are 3 things it needs:

1. Maps -- scan in some races and training sessions.
2. Add a current training log or a summary of past training.
3. Write some original articles. Take a look at Staff-Valstad.com for inspiration.

posted by Michael | 12:55 PM


Antarctic O' map


Check out this O' map from Antarctica.

posted by Michael | 7:21 AM


Thursday, November 28, 2002

Some thoughts from Johan Ivarsson


It was about 9:30 last night when I couldn't take much more. UNC was spanking the Jayhawks. It was interesting for a while. UNC was playing great and giving Kansas a lot of trouble. It was fun to see how Kansas tried to adjust. But, then it just got tiring. I couldn't quite get myself to turn off the TV. But, I also couldn't quite get myself to watch.

I picked up a book sitting on the table next to me and started reading with the TV on in the background. I read a bit of an interview with Johan Ivarsson. Here is a translation of a bit of the interview:

I don't do any cross-training during the competition season. I want my O' training to be like upcoming competitions or my main goal for the season. I try to do a lot of model trainings. I think about the course setting and look at old maps from terrain that is similar. I think about the mental aspects: techniques and tactics, that the orienteering will steer my running speed, that I will be prepared to stop when I get unsure -- put on the brakes if I need to.

During a race I'm often a bit passive at the end of the course, I seldom blow a race near the end. I tend to begin harder than most.

My tactic is to take each control one at a time. I seldom look at the whole course and see it is difficult at the end. Kent Olsson said, "if you go hard from the beginning and it goes well, you'll be able to keep going hard all the way to the finish." I try to look at the route to the next control if I can, but not at any cost. I'd rather take an extra ten seconds at each control.

Thanks, Johan. You helped get my mind of the basketball game!

posted by Michael | 9:32 AM


Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Found while running


When I was running last night I found a CD. I just popped the CD into my computer and discovered it was music by a group called "The Alexander Trio." They seem to be some locals who play at weddings and other events. I listened to a couple of minutes of their music. It wasn't terrible or anything. But, I don't expect to listen to any more.

I started thinking about the stuff I've found while training. I've been running for a bit over 20 years. Here are a few of the things I've found:

Two "Leatherman" tools.
A $20 bill.
An SUV in a river (must have been a stolen car). I called the police about that one.
A watch.
A Polaroid of a naked woman sitting on a couch, smoking a cigarette.
A photocopy of an orienteering map.
A collection of "Soldier of Fortune" magazines (I changed my running route to avoid going to that spot again).

What have you found?

posted by Michael | 7:58 PM


Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Gag-inducing work


One of the things I like about my job is that some people pay attention to what I do. Today's newspaper described part of a report I managed as "gag-inducing." Check out what the Kansas City Star business editor has to say.

He wrote about a survey of public parks in Kansas City, Missouri. Two staff auditors spent a bunch of time this summer looking at city parks, rating the conditions in the parks, and snapping photos to document and illustrate what they saw. It isn't quite the typical performance audit.

You can read the report (fairly large PDF files) by going to the table of contents.

posted by Michael | 1:09 PM


Monday, November 25, 2002

Work less, train more


I read two articles today about elite orienteers who talked about working less, training more, and having good results.

Kalle Dalin from Sweden has set his sights on the 2004 WOC. "I am 27 years old and I feel like I'm at a cross road. Either I go for it or I retire. I've decided to go for it." One thing that means for Dalin is reducing his job -- currently he works 80 percent and he plans to go down to 60 percent.

Holger Hott Johansen explained his good results, "I'm working less this year, 50 percent compared to 80 percent in other years."

Work less, train more. That sounds good to me.

posted by Michael | 8:48 PM


Sunday, November 24, 2002

Biggest mistake? Training log on the internet


The great Norwegian skier, Thomas Alsgaard, said that one of his biggest mistakes was putting his training log on the internet. Here is a bit of an interview from the Swedish newspaper Expressen:

People expect me to be out on the ski trails all the time. I often have to explain why I drive a rally car. A lot of people think it would show I was serious if I only focused on skiing.

Regrets the internet training log

Alsgaard talks about his biggest mistake: putting a training diary on the internet.

Everytime I had a day off, a reported called and wondered what was wrong. Because I didn't train, they wondered if I was sick. Sponsors wanted to know what I wsa doing and private people asked if I needed help.

I appreciate that people take an interest. They care about the sport and the skiers. But, it is also difficult that they don't trust me. If I can be left alone -- train how I want and drive a rally care when I feel like it -- then things usually go well.

I don't regret having my training on the internet. But, reading the article made me think about some of the different audiences that people who record their training at Attackpoint seem to be writing for. Some seem to write for a general audience. Some seem to be writing notes to themselves. Some seem to write for a specific small group (maybe their friends or clubmates). Of course, some seem to write the absolute minimum -- writing for no audience?

posted by Michael | 8:20 PM


Saturday, November 23, 2002

Course from today's local meet


PTOC hosted a meet at Wyandotte Lake today. Here is the red course; short but plenty of climb (3 meter contour intereval).

posted by Michael | 6:16 PM


Friday, November 22, 2002

The price of an elite orienteer


Kalle Dalin is an elite orienteer in Sweden. He's been just off the national A team in Sweden and is training with the 2004 WOC as a goal.

Dalin is also looking for sponsors. He's got a price list, including:

Lecture -- The road to success = 6,000 SEK
Orienteering lesson for kids, 3 hours = 3000 SEK
Large ad on competition suit = 6000 SEK
Small ad on competition suit = 3000 SEK
Sweatband = 5000 SEK

These days one dollar is about 9 SEK. So, an ad on Dalin's sweatband would be about $550.

posted by Michael | 8:28 PM


Thursday, November 21, 2002

Doping and O' .... again...


Doping and orienteering has come up as a discussion topic again. I've bumped into discussions at the Norwegian O-Nett and the Swedish Alternativet. Both discussions have had links to a discussion over a year ago on the OK forum.

Here is a quote from one of the Norwegian commentators, "I Orientering er det lite penger innvolvert og det tror jeg er en av grunnene til at vi til nå ihvertfall har unngått doping skandaler." What that means is, "there isn't much money involved in orienteering and that is one reason we have avoided doping scandals."

Does money cause doping?

I don't think money causes doping. I don't think athletes who are doping are doing so for normal rational economic reasons.

Doping is like fraud. It is like an employee who is stealing from their job. The employee doesn't sit there and calculate the amount of money they can steal and the likelihood of getting caught. They don't balance the "benefit" of stealing $20 from the cash register versus the risk of getting caught, fired and perhaps even prosecuted. They just take the money. Fraud examiners find that many employees committing fraud justify their theft (e.g., "I'm underpaid and under appreciated, this is just paying me what I'm really worth to the company.").

Orienteers aren't likely to earn much money, but that doesn't mean they treat their sport as a rational economic exercise. If money drove my decisions, I wouldn't be an orienteer. I wouldn't take vacation days from work to pay my way own to A-meets.

Some doping probably is driven by money. A professional football player might take steroids that they wouldn't take if they were in college. Maybe.

A lot of doping is probably a mistake. An athlete takes a "supplement" that turns out to include an illegal substance. Sometimes it probably happens because an athlete doesn't realize the substance is illegal or doesn't realize the substance is in the supplement.

I don't really know what should be done about doping, but I think it is a bad idea to assume doping isn't a problem because there isn't a lot of money in orienteering.

Assuming money drives doping is dangerous because we then assume that a sport like orienteering is clean.

I hope orienteering is a clean sport.

I hope government employees aren't stealing tax money.

But, relying on hope isn't a responsible approach to a problem, especially when it is based on treating doping as a decision based on a rational cost/benefit analysis.

posted by Michael | 1:18 PM


Wednesday, November 20, 2002

A couple of links


I'm a bit busy today, so I'll make it easy. Here are a couple of links that might be worth checking out.

Pasi Ikonen's heart rate curve while playing "innebandy" (aka floorball).

Ted De St. Croix's article on how orienteers progress as they develop. Often when I post articles, I'll describe them as "interesting." I'll describe Ted's article as not just interesting, but also very good. His orienteering progression framework has the potential to be a very useful way to figure out how you orienteer and what sort of changes you might need to move up. With a bit of work, you could take Ted's framework and build up a training plan around the idea of moving from one level to the next. It is definitely worth spending some time reading and thinking about.

Have people seen Ted's article before? I bumped into it a couple of months ago and thought it was quite good, but I'm not sure if it has been widely distributed.

posted by Michael | 1:06 PM


Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Top orienteering events in the USA


Last week, I listed 5 top orienteering events world-wide; today I'll list 5 top O' events/venues in the USA.

The US Relay Champs The relays champs has evolved into a premier event each year. After some experimentation, the format seems to work well. The level of competition is getting better and better. More and more clubs seem to be taking the champs seriously.

One feature of the relay champs in the US is that the courses are straight -- no forking. A case can be made for forking courses, but to date the straight course format has worked well. I think the organizers for next years champs in Idaho intend to fork the courses. I think it is a mistake, but I also expect it'll be a one-time experiment.

Harriman State Park Harriman hosted the 1993 World Champs. It is a great place to orienteer: nice terrain and fabulous maps (all within an hour or so of Manhattan).

A "goat" Clubs all over the country now host "goats." A goat is a long distance race with a mass start. There are often some special rules (like you can skip any one control). The Billygoat is the original. I've run the Billygoat once, the Scapegoat (Rocky Mountain) once, and the Possum Trot five times. My personal favorite has been the Trot. Check out www.billygoat.org for all you ever wanted to know about goats.

French Creek I love French Creek terrain. The area offers lots of challenges -- in a given course you'll almost always face some difficult route choices, short legs in technically interesting areas, running through fantastic open forest, and fighting through some thickish areas. The maps are great.

Someplace that is yet to be mapped The US is a huge country with loads of terrain. There must be some fantastic areas that haven't been discovered by orienteers. I'm looking forward to experiencing some as yet unmapped terrain over the next few decades.

* The redwood forest didn't make this list because I already put it on my world-wide list.
** Honorable mention goes to a place called Mission Hill in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Mission Hill is a big sand dune covered by a mature forest. It is a small map, but wonderful O' terrain.

posted by Michael | 7:26 PM


Monday, November 18, 2002

Boschee and training less


I was at my best as an orienteer in 1991. During that year, I'd made one big change in how I trained. I trained a good bit less than before. Instead of doing 6.5-8 hours per week, I trained more like 4 hours per week. I made every hour count.

I was reminded of the benefits of training less when I was reading Jeff Boschee's book about KU basketball -- Long Shot. Here is a bit of what Jeff wrote about KU practices last year (when they went to the final four).

We actually saw practice time grow shorter as the year continued...[Coach Roy Williams] demonstrated that by having lighter practices at times during January and February. It was a wise decision, as this team tended to work harder on those short days. We seemed to know that we had less time, so we tried to pack as much in as we could.

It is also easier on you mentally when you realize that not every day is going to be the same. Long practices might sound good to some fans, but when you are on the floor for hours, you start to lose concentration...

The problem with training so little is that it eventually catches up with you. Training less worked for me as long as the session were high quality. But, after a while it became hard to keep the quality high. I got lazy. I ended up training little and training with little quality. That doesn't work.

posted by Michael | 8:06 PM


Sunday, November 17, 2002

What do you think of the course?


If you plan to run the Kansas O' Champs on December 7, you can stop reading now.

If you don't plan to run the Kansas O' Champs, are you interested in offering some comments on the course?

Send me an email at meglin@juno.com and I'll send you a PDF copy of the course.

The course is a short/middle distance race. We're having a mass start. The runners begin by finding any two of the four controls in the big circle just west of the start triangle.

Take a look at the course and let me know:

How would you run from 4 to 5?
How could I improve the course?


posted by Michael | 4:15 PM


Saturday, November 16, 2002

Where will the US select the WOC team?


The US Team's egroup is full of discussion about where to have the selection races for the WOC in Switzerland. This is one of those topics that I find interesting and have written about before. If you're a frequent reader of this page, you'll know that I'm especially interested in the difficulty of selecting a team for a WOC that will use very different terrains for the different disciplines.

Right now, the debate is mainly about whether to have the selections in NY or at Lake Tahoe.

The US Team is an especially poorly structured organization for making decisions like this. It'll be interesting to see what the final decision is.

My own opinion is that NY is a much better place to host the selections. I won't go into all the reasons, but one that I think is especially important is that Lake Tahoe is at altitude (I think the terrain ranges from about 6,500 to almost 8,000 feet). Having selection races at altitude seems strange to me because the WOC isn't at altitude. Given the well known and well documented effects of altitude on running, it really does seem wierd (to me any ways).

I'll be interested to see what the decision is.

posted by Michael | 5:14 PM


Friday, November 15, 2002

CatchingFeatures makes a splash in Sweden


Alternativet has been buzzing with discussion about the O' game CatchingFeatures. They just published an article based on an interview with the game's creator, Biggins.

Here is a quick translation of Alternativet's article.

Catching Features, a promising O’ game

Based on the reaction at Eftersnacket, many of you have already tried it. The new O’ game, Catching Features, seems promising. We interviewed the game’s creator.

Greg Walker, an American, is the man behind the game Catching Features. Greg has been an orienteer for ten years, but he isn’t doing so much these days, mostly because he wrestles and is on the track team at his school.

A good O’ game was missing
Greg, or Biggins as he also calls himself, created the game for two reasons. There weren’t any good orienteering games that he liked. He thought he could do better. The other reason is that the game is a bit of a demonstration to help get a job. Greg studies at MIT and will finish his studies in the spring. He’s thinking of looking for a job as a computer game programmer and the game is a demonstration of his performance as a game creator.

Currenlty there is only a demo version of the game available and Biggins says he will have some new things in the final version. The biggest thing will be that the program creates its own maps. After you specify the type of terrain the computer will generate a random image of the terrain and map.

What is it like to play?
Serious computer game players immediately notice how the movement of the characters and the overall look is similar to the best-selling Tomb Raider. Running the easiest courses, where you just run along handrails, is easy. The only real difficulty is occasional crashes into tress. You can also be knocked down by other runners in the forest.

You immediately have problems when you go out in the forest off the trails. Just like the earlier O’ games, it is difficult to simulate the relationship between active map reading and looking at the terrain. But if you stay sharp, you can do it. It feels like it’d be difficult to spend several hours with. That is just an impression.

Grade: 4 out of 5 pelicans

OCAD files
Greg tells us that the game probably won’t be able to read OCAD files and turn them into game terrain. The problem is that it is a very time consuming process that requires a lot of modifications.

Greg will sell the game on a CD. It is difficult to say if it will be possible to buy the game from Sweden because of legal issues and tax regulations.

posted by Michael | 8:43 PM


Don't forget the "guestmap"


The site statistics have shown a number of new visitors to this page. If you're a new visitor (or an old visitor who isn't in the guestmap), please add yourself to the map by clicking on the "guestmap" link on the right.

posted by Michael | 1:11 PM


Top orienteering events


When I posted the photos yesterday, I thought, "the Swedish mountain O' race is one of those events I'd love to experience." What other races would make a top 5 or top 10 list?

Here are some suggestions (use the comment function to suggest additions):

The World Champs The WOC is the premier competitive event. Every O' fanatic would love to compete or watch a WOC. An opportunity to see the best in the world at their best is something special. I'm lucky to have competed in the WOC several times.

Tio Mila Tio Mila is a ten leg relay race in Sweden every spring. The race begins in the evening and finishes the next morning. It is a classic event. I've been lucky enough to run the race four times.

Orienteering in Venice One of the best parts of orienteering is being in the forest. But, if you have to run orienteering in an urban setting, what could be better than Venice? Lennart Gustavsson (a club mate from my year with OKS Ljungsbro and a Swedish B-team member in the 1980s) said that orienteering in Venice was as hard as any orienteering he'd ever done. Check out the Orienteering in Venice web page. I haven't (yet!) orienteered in Venice. It is on my list of things to do.

Redwood Forest The Bay Area O' Club has maps of redwood forests. The orienteering isn't the best, but the setting is amazing. Orienteer Kansas had a training camp in San Francisco a few years ago and we spent a day orienteering in the redwood forest at Big Basin State Park. As you run a course through the redwood forest, you have trouble keeping your mind on orienteering. It is hard not to stop and admire the huge trees.

Czech sandstone terrain I've never run in the Czech Republic, but I understand the sandstone terrain there is fantastic -- huge cliffs with small passages that allow you to run through them. The terrain makes for excellent route choice problems, difficult navigation, and a beautiful setting...at least that is what I've heard. I think the terrain was used for a World Champs a long time ago (maybe 1972?), a Student WOC (1983?) and World Cup (1985?). Someday I hope to get there.

posted by Michael | 1:10 PM


Thursday, November 14, 2002

O' on TV


Some snapshots of the 2001 Swedish mountain orienteering on Swedish television.

posted by Michael | 7:37 PM


Wednesday, November 13, 2002

More about "relevance"


If you're a regular reader, you'll know that I'm interested in how to prepare for O' races and the whole idea of "relevance." There's been some discussion on the US Team's egroup about relevant training camps. Reading the discussion got me to thinking some more about relevance.

Most of the discussions about relevance focus on:

What does the terrain look like?
What do the maps look like?
What will the courses look like?
What techniques will be important?
What are the physical demands?

Those are all important questions. But, I think there are also some other important questions to think about when you're preparing for a big race. If I was preparing for the WOC in Switzerland, I'd also think about things like:

What are the interpersonal dynamics that I can expect and how will I handle them?
What are my travel plans?
How will I plan to deal with the time difference?
What non-O' distractions will I face?
How will I handle team mates who get on my nerves?

If you wanted to set up a relevant camp for a WOC, you could try to address some of these sort of questions. Should you? In my opinion, you probably wouldn't want to try to simulate these sorts of things at a training camp. But, if you were serious about the WOC, you'd want to think about them carefully. You'd want to minimize surprises (even though you are guaranteed to be surprised by something at the WOC). You'd want to think through what you might encounter and how you'll react to it.

Before the WOC in Finland, I spent a lot of time thinking about the type of legs I might see and the type of controls that would be especially difficult. How would I react? How would I recognize a control that I expected to be tricky? In the week or so before the WOC, I spent a lot of time making notes to myself about things I expected to be difficult and how I expected to handle them. I also spent some time thinking about how I'd deal with all the distractions and annoyances that are part of a WOC.

posted by Michael | 1:09 PM


Tuesday, November 12, 2002

5 random thoughts on night orienteering


The local night orienteering season is underway. Here are a few random thoughts about night orienteering:

Night O' is fun Finding a control -- especially a tough one -- at night is a blast. It still seems amazing that you can navigate to a tough control at night.

Night O' is good training Because you've got to be careful and have good technique, night O' is a good way to practice. You can't get away with sloppy navigation. Losing contact costs a lot of time because it is difficult to relocate. I find it easier to run hard (say within 5 beats per minute of my racing heart rate) when I'm doing night O'.

Headlamps are cool My absolute favorite piece of O' gear is my Silva headlamp. I bought it in 1989 in Lund and it has served me well ever since. As far as I know there aren't any US O' headlamp distributors. A few years ago a place in Texas was selling Mila lamps, but they don't seem to be around anymore. Bicycling lights are a reasonable substitute. Gene uses a Niterider lamp he picked up at a bike shop.

PTOC's night O' drew a decent crowd PTOC hosted a night O' on Saturday and got 30+ people. That's not a huge crowd, but I expected they'd get more like a dozen people. I'm hoping PTOC will make night O' a regular part of their meet schedule.


Ok, so that's only four thoughts, but it is time to stop writing, post this text, sit in front of the TV and watch the Jayhawks play basketball.

posted by Michael | 7:05 PM


Monday, November 11, 2002

Not just Star Trek


LeVar Burton isn't just an actor who is on Star Trek, he's also done some orienteering.

If you've got RealPlayer on your computer, check out a 5 minute video of Burton and Chris Cassone orienteering in Central Park.

posted by Michael | 6:13 PM


Sunday, November 10, 2002

Some notes on course setting


I'm setting the courses for an upcoming Orienteer Kansas event. We're hosting a short/middle distance race at Clinton State Park the day before the Possum Trot.

I've been setting some possible legs on paper. A couple of weeks ago I spent a few hours on the map updating some trails. Gene has also been updating the map.

Tomorrow, I'll go to Lawrence to test a few legs and control locations.

Poking around the internet, I was happy to bump into some comments about short/middle distance courses on Tore Sandvik's home page.

Tore Sandvik on short/middle distance courses

I didn't have time or energy to translate the whole thing, but here is a summary of some of Sandvik's comments:

A short/middle course should emphasize navigation. It should mostly use small and medium size features.

The course can have some route choice, but shouldn't have too much. A good course would have one route choice leg and it shouldn't be longer than 700-800 meters.

The course should have lots of direction changes.

The course should have lots of variety in leg length.

A good short/middle distance course should have a winning time around 22-26 minutes.

The course should be in relatively easy to run terrain with plenty of detail. It shouldn't be in a very hilly area.

The map should be at a scale of 1:10,000.

The starts should be at an interval of two minutes.

If you can read Norwegian, you can read Sandvik's article.

What would Sandvik think about my course?

I'm not sure what Sandvik would think about my course. For one thing, it isn't yet finalized. I'm "violating" at least two of Sandvik's ideas: the race will use a mass start and the course is likely to have one route choice leg of over 1 km. The terrain isn't especially detailed (we don't really have detailed terrain around here), but it is not hilly and the running speed will be high. The courses should have plenty of variety in leg length and direction changes. The map will be 1:10,000. I'll aim for a winning time around 25 minutes.

We're using a mass start (the Possum Trot the next day also uses a mass start) and I'm not certain what technique I use to spread the field out a bit. I might begin by having a small area with 4-5 controls that the runners can either take in any order or a requirement that the runners take any two of the 4-5 controls. The ultra-long world cup in Sweden spread out runners by having too few punches at some of the early controls; I don't think I'll do that!

posted by Michael | 6:35 PM


Saturday, November 09, 2002

Micro route choice?


I've heard people talk about "micro route choice." I think they mean small decisions, like whether to go around a fallen tree to the left or the right.

I've always figured it doesn't make sense to spend time making small decisions and worrying about which side of a tree to run on. It seems like there are more important things to think about. Running around things is always risky because it is easy to drift off the line you intend to run. If you train by running in the woods, you probably make reasonable choices without thinking about it and without drifting off your line.

But, at today's local meet, I spent a lot of time thinking about "micro route choice." The forest was less than pleasant. We spent a lot of time running through hip high brush (a bit of if with thorns). Making it a bigger challenge was that last winter's ice storm knocked down a lot of trees. Parts of the forest were filled with downed trees. I was looking for deer trails to get through the brush. I followed them even if they didn't quite go the right direction. I also spent a fair amount of mental energy looking for routes through the fallen trees.

Given how rough the forest was today, worrying about small decisions was probably a good use of time and energy. But, it isn't something I want to get used to doing.

posted by Michael | 8:01 PM


Friday, November 08, 2002

Two purchases


In the last week, I've made two purchases...

Noisebuster Extreme headphones use some sort of noise canceling to reduce background noise. They're useful for reducing the constant noise of an airplane, making flying a bit less unpleasant.

In the winter, I do some biking on a trainer I've got in my basement; the Noisebusters should make training a bit nicer. The trainer makes a bit of a roar. We've got a TV in the basement that I can watch, but it is hard to hear when you're riding. The noisebusters cut down on the roar of the trainer and make it easier to listen to the TV.

The Beckie Scott CD is a fund raiser for a Canadian cross-country skier. I like cross-country skiing, I'm impressed with how strong Scott is, and I liked the idea of supporting an athlete in a sponsor-poor sport. So, I pulled out my credit card and bought a copy of the CD. I haven't spent much time with the CD, but what I've seen of it looks good. It includes some video and interviews with Scott as well as a decent collection of photos and text.

posted by Michael | 7:42 PM


Thursday, November 07, 2002

Orienteering and basketball


In a comment on yesterday's post, Eric wrote:

This emphasis on speed, through, and out of controls, is only for those who have mastered the prerequisite skill of finding controls. It is foolish to work on saving seconds after the control when minutes are still being lost before the control.

I think Eric is right.

Eric's comment reminded me of a bit of Tex Winter's principles of sound basketball offense:

Basketball is a full court game, end to end play. Skills must be learned at fast-break pace. Know the optimum speed and work to increase it. Transition basketball starts on defense. Look to run!

Practicing orienteering is a chance to learn to know the optimum speed and work to increase it.

posted by Michael | 7:56 PM


Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Rostrup on technique training


Jorgen Rostrup's homepage has a short article with his ideas about technique training. I did a quick translation (keep in mind that my Norwegian is a bit sketchy):

There is no such thing as a perfect O’ race. You will always make some mistakes during a race. The point of O’ technique training is to make these mistakes as small as possible.

In most Scandinavian terrain route choice isn't decisive. Problems usually come in the last 50-100 meters in to the control.

A secondary goal with training is to be able to go as fast as possible both in to and out from the control.

The best method for training both of these things is control picking. In a control picking course with legs around 200 meters you practice attacking controls. In order to have any “flyt” you have to run in control both in to and out from the controls. That requires maximal concentration and thinking ahead.

A good control picking course has continual direction changes and short distance between controls (50-200 meters). You can run it in any tempo, but higher speeds give better results. The ideal time for this sort of course is 25 minutes. Runners who are considered to have weak O’ techniques can also use the same training method. The course should just be set a bit easier so that you can keep a high speed.

The courses can be set by the athlete themselves and you don't always need to have controls in the forest. If you use black features that you are sure exist (like boulders or cliffs) you won't have to wander around and search for diffuse features.

To have “flyt” in training is something I think is very important. If I feel unsure, I generally just keep going (giving the session some practice at relocating) [Note: I'm a bit unsure of my translation of the parenthetical remark]. I’m looking for a good feeling. To have good “flyt” you need to be able to [Note: I don't understand the text]. That requires good running technique and actively looking around – again something that requires concentration. If you're not concentrating at an O’ technique session you may as well go home.

The foundation for good O’ technique should be built at the age of 15-18 years old. Therefore it is essential that you train a lot of O’ technique in this period. I did about 1/3 of my total physical training with a map. If you want to get the most out of your training – both O’ technique and running technique – it is important that you do many of these sessions at a high intensity.

If you want to be a good piano player, you have to play the piano. And if you want to be a good Orienteer, you have to…

There aren't any good excuses for not training O’ technique if you live in Sørlandet. If you are structured and effective, you can do a good O’ technique session in just an hour (20 minutes to warm up, 25-30 minutes of the main technique session and 10 minutes of jogging afterwards).

posted by Michael | 1:23 PM


Tuesday, November 05, 2002

A beginner's mistake


Before the US Champs, I wrote "my goal is to have two clean runs."

I didn't reach my goal. On the first day, I boomed and boomed a lot. I had two mistakes that must have cost three minutes each and one that cost at least a minute.

I think I failed to reach my goal because I didn't do anything to make sure I would have two clean runs. I didn't take any action to reach my goals. I hadn't been orienteering very well recently. I needed to do more than just set a goal. I needed to do something to give myself I chance to meet the goal.

Having a goal without having a plan is a real beginner's mistake. I should know better.

Saturday night I realized I needed a plan if I was to do better the next day. My plan was pretty simple. I would come to a complete stop before I attacked each control and I would come to a complete stop at each control while I planned the next leg. On the first day I was rushing. I was in a hurry with my orienteering and I paid the price.

It helped, though I still didn't orienteer all that well. I still made my share of mistakes on the second day. But, my mistakes were smaller and I caught myself before I made a couple of mistakes.

posted by Michael | 7:23 PM


Monday, November 04, 2002

Note to self: run around trees


posted by Michael | 8:20 PM


A few quick notes about the US Champs


I'll write more soon, but I thought I'd better write a few lines.

Mary won! Mary won the F35 US Championship (2nd overall in F35 and first among the US eligible competitors). That was quite cool. She's been aiming for the US Champs for the last year or so. It always feels good to reach your goal. In the last week or so, I noticed she was getting a bit nervous -- would she keep it together? She did.

A trip to the ER. I ran into a tree on day two. I was running along and took a look at the map. When I looked up, there was a tree in my face. I smacked into the tree. It didn't seem like much, but when I finished I was dripping blood from a gash just below my eye. The first-aid guy cleaned me up and suggested visiting a doctor as soon as practical. Not wanting to miss our flight home, I decided to go to the local ER in KC. I managed to be out of there in about three hours after having the cut thoroughly cleaned and then glued shut.

When I finished, a couple of friends first thought was to grab a camera and take a snapshot. Look for a photo as soon as I get a copy.

posted by Michael | 12:53 PM


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