Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

A is for ankle


If you get hurt orienteering, chances are you hurt your ankle.

Ankle injuries are 59 percent of all acute O' injuries. A Swedish study found that other injuries are much less common. Injuries to the lower leg (15 percent), knee (11 percent) and foot (8 percent) were also relatively common. Here is a translation of some text from the book, Träning:

The most common acute injury in orienteering is a twisted ankle. It is an injury of bad luck, but it is most comment when the runner is tired, has poor coordination, isn't used to running in the forest, is tight/stiff or has poor flexibility.

I've been lucky and haven't had many ankle problems. I remember being unable to finish a race because of a turned ankle once. I also missed a day or two of a training camp with a turned ankle. Otherwise, I haven't really had much trouble in 22 years of orienteering.

I think one reason I've avoided many problems (so far!) is that I do a reasonable amount of my training in the woods. Running in the woods changes your form a bit. You run with a bit more bend in your hip and don't shift your weight the same as when you run on a road. Maybe that reduces the chances of an ankle injury? Or maybe I've just been lucky?

There is some discussion about ankle support at Attackpoint. I've run with the Active Ankle device. In my limited experience, it seems quite good -- comfortable and gives a lot of support. Back in the late 1980s, Active Ankle (or someone who sold them) sponsored the US O' team. Everyone on the team got at least one Active Ankle.

A could also be for analizo

I'm pretty sure that "analizo" is Slovenian for analysis. Take a look at this analysis of an O' course.

I can't make any sense of the text (wish I could) but looking at the course and the routes is interesting anyway.

posted by Michael | 7:36 PM


Monday, December 30, 2002

A to Z for 2003


Last year at about this time, I wrote an orienteering A to Z. Each day, I'd write about an orienteering topic. I began with "A is for Attackpoint," then "B is for boom," and so on. Working my way through the alphabet was fun. So, I'm going to do it again with the beginning of the new year (I might even cheat and get it started on New Year's Eve).

posted by Michael | 8:29 PM


Sunday, December 29, 2002

Last winter's ice storm


Last winter we had an ice storm.

Gene and I ran at Wyandotte and the snapshot gives you an idea of how thick the ice got. You can see a good bit of ice on the branches in the foreground. What looks like snow on the ground is actually ice. Wyandotte was one of the areas with relatively little ice. Wyandotte was one of the forests with the least damage to the trees.

Today, Mary and I ran at Blue and Grey -- one of the areas with the most ice damage.

Even 11 months after the storm, there is still a lot of damage to the forest.

Throughout the forest, there are downed trees and limbs. It makes for tough going. In some areas, you really can't get through. In some areas it is just a bit tough, a bit rough.

The trails are in good shape. The park gets a lot of use from horse riders and they must have put in a lot of work clearing deadfall.

Orienteering in a forest like we were in today is a challenge. It is tough physically -- lots of stuff to fight through or go over (or under). It is tough mentally -- you feel like you're not making much progress. It is tough technically, too. Because the forest is so rough, you can go a long way off the straight line and make good time. Taking a careful look at different route choices paid off today. A long route that kept you to the trails and fields saved time and made for much more pleasant running.

Sometimes when I'm running in really awful weather I like to think my competitors wouldn't be out training. Today I was struggling through some really crappy forest and wondered if anyone else (other than Mary!) was running in rougher woods.

posted by Michael | 7:41 PM


Saturday, December 28, 2002

What to write about?


What should I write about? What to write?

I didn't have any ideas, so I picked up a notebook I'd kept when I travelled in Sweden and Finland in 2001 and looked for some inspiration. I came across a few notes I took at the östgöta 3 Days. The event speaker interviewed Anders Berg, who'd either won M21 that day or had a very good race.

The speaker noted that Berg was 38 years old and didn't miss many controls and asked how Berg managed to do so well.

Berg answered, "I train much more orienteering now."

I remembered Berg -- who runs for Linköpings OK -- from when I lived in Linköping. He was a very strong runner (I believe he ran under 15 minutes for 5 Km). He was often near the top of the elite races. That was back in 1988, when he would have been 25 years old. It is impressive that he managed to do well at 38 (and he is currently ranked in the top 50 in Sweden).

I poked around the Linköpings OK home page to see if I could find anything interesting. I did. They've got something a bit like Attackpoint that they call the "training barometer." It gives you a quick view of how much the top runners for LOK are training (as long as they actually entered their info). It doesn't really tell you how they train (or what they train), but it is interesting anyway.

Berg has only entered training for the last seven weeks. He's averaged about a bit under 8 hours a week.

Other than Berg, I only recognize two of the names on the training barometer -- Anders Karlsson and Anna Mårsell. Mårsell's training stands out. For one thing, she's entered her training for the entire year. For another thing, she's clearly training more than anyone else in the group. Her average is just over ten hours a week. She's also just been named to the Swedish national team.

posted by Michael | 8:02 PM


Friday, December 27, 2002

A race from Norway in 1991


I was poking around in some old maps and came across my maps from the O-festival 1991. I have a lot of good memories from that event. Before the races, I spent a few days at a training camp in Halden and the racing went well. If I remember correctly, there were three days. I went home after two. I can't remember why. Maybe it had something to do with school? I don't know.

This map shows a bit of one of the races.

There isn't anything special about the legs I scanned. I guess they illustrate typical near-Halden O'.

I have a couple of distinct memories from the race. I remember a long leg (not shown above) of about two Km that gave some opportunities to run on trails. I also remember struggling every time I had to run through a felled area. The footing in felled areas is rough and I never really learned how to run well though them. I suppose I never spent enough time practicing.

I ran M21 elite and had a decent result. The notes I've written on the map say I was 11th overall after two days, about 10 minutes back of the leader. The map above is from the second day and I see that Janne Salmi won. He was about 50 seconds a Km faster than me -- a lot, but not all that bad, actually. Vladimir Alexejev (sp?) was 3rd on the day -- 36 seconds a Km faster than me. He went on to finish 4th at the 1991 WOC a few weeks later. I suppose he must have been taking it easy in Norway.

posted by Michael | 8:05 PM


Thursday, December 26, 2002

Wait till next year!


We got Peggy and Nadim's Christmas card today. It is always fun to get Peggy's card and study the pictures. Most years, at least most recent years, I've found myself on her card. Mary is there. This year, I'm not there. Bummer. Wait till next year.

The best way to get on the card is a podium spot at the relay champs in June. That'll be a goal -- take a medal at the relays and make Peggy and Nadim's card.

posted by Michael | 8:07 PM


Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Course setting contest


The first ever Okansas course setting competition is underway. You can start now. The competition closes on January 17, 2003.

Just design a course on the map of Woodridge, send it to me and you're entered into the competition. You can send it to me by mail (email meglin@juno.com for my home address) or you can use a graphics program to draw your course on the jpeg file and email it to me). If you'd like the map in OCAD format or as a PDF, let me know and I'll email it to you.

The course should be 4-6 km long. The start and finish should be within 1 km of the campground/parking area (on the west side of the map just north of an uncrossable fence). The course should not use any of the areas that are marked "area not field checked."

Judging will be simple. I will look at the courses and pick our favorites (if there are loads of entries, I'll get Mary to help with the judging). I'll be looking for a good mix of leg lengths, variety and changes of direction.

Prizes? If I get enough entrants, I'll probably cook up some sort of prizes.

I'm setting this up as a way to get a couple of courses to run for training. I'm looking forward to seeing what okansas readers come up with.

I plan is to make a training session out of running the two top courses. I'll probably spend a day out there in late January or early February.

posted by Michael | 10:29 AM


Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Mook on physical training


Mook wrote a bit about physical training. It is worth a read. Here it is:

I think my physical training for orienteering is best when I make it well rounded. I presume everyone is different, but I respond best when I have put in runs of many different types. That means runs that are long and slow, short and fast, in resistance-less areas (like roads), low-resistance areas (like unsmooth trails) and in high resistance areas (forest or something similar). I strive to do runs that are long climbs, flattish areas, and rolling hills. Running an orienteering course is also excellent physical training, but certain specialized runs allow you to concentrate on one thing at a time. I decided to philosophize about the types of runs I do...

Short and fast runs, particularly intervals, build up most of the physiological adaptations a body should have to go race pace, especially for courses requiring a lot of variation in running intensity. I think this is well documented. Intervals make rough, nasty days. They build mental toughness. I rarely do intervals shorter than about 5 minutes. It seems too Old School, like something people were doing in the 70's. I can't do that in the summer anyway because my body temperature will go through the roof and I'll feel too sick. Another reason is that I don't have a track to run on. The Rillito is sometimes crowded or has uneven areas and little up and down dips. The streets are even worse and have traffic. Running really fast there, and getting cramped up, is slightly dangerous. More importantly, I think leg speed is not a big part of orienteering. Running at an intensity around the lactate threshold is and long intervals do that. A good session for me is 3 15-minute intervals with 5 minutes rest between them. A heartrate of upper 160's to lower 170's will send me flying along.

Long slow runs put a great deal of stress on joints and things. After doing enough distance work, I get quick recoveries from one day to another and my level of energy is higher. They are usually the most interesting runs I can take since I can go to interesting areas. I do a lot of this on trails. I'm an advocate of significant amounts of training for times longer than the expected competition time. A good long run for me is 2.5 hours or more. A heartrate of 130 or 140 is probably enough. These runs are good for finding out about what effects different food and drinks have on the run. They are good for burning excess fat as well!

Running high resistance areas works muscles needed for orienteering meets. I have some muscles that only feel worked when I run in such areas. The more I run there, the more efficient I run. Mapreading and concentration is improved during an o' race because moving through the forest feels comfortable. If I run with a HR around 160 or 165, it is a good orienteering effort. I need a pretty fast forest to match that however.

Running rolling hills feels like orienteering where the effort is usually varying. If I kept the same effort going up as going down, I'd crash
into a tree going downhill and slow to a crawl going up. I don't orienteer like that. I recover going downhill and can dip into an anaerobic state on some uphills. Training for that is invaluable.

Running big climbs spikes the intensity level as high as you'd like it to be without requiring fast leg turnover. If you didn't have to descend, it would be a great way to have low impact on joints while keeping the cardiovascular system working. Climbs are a way I can run off-road at high intensities and it is fun. The top of a mountain is a good tangible goal. A big climb for me is 60-90 minutes. If my heartrate is in the mid to upper 150's on a reasonably smooth trail, I'm putting in a good day. The heartrate on the descent is maybe 100-110 (not too hard) so I don't have to hold back that much on the way up.

Running somewhat longish in low resistance areas can be a way to recover from bone or muscle strains while doing something in the way of work. A heartrate in the 130's for 50 minutes or so isn't wasted. I can squeeze in such a run just about anyday, anywhere.

posted by Michael | 9:24 PM


Monday, December 23, 2002

Hanne and Björnar on map study


I poked around staff-valstad.com a bit and found something about map study. Here is a quick translation:

Hopefully, you're on of those who has a notebook of maps for each season. Put those maps to use in the winter. Look at them and how you ran. Look at both training and races. See if there is a pattern for when you have a good technical race and for times when you had mistakes. Are there situations where you boom (important races, certain types of terrain, controls on hillsides, flat and diffuse terrain, drifting off line, etc.)?

Pay special attention to when it went well! You should learn from when it goes well!

Look for different route choices -- choices other than what you did during the race.

Try to think back to the competitions. What where you thinking about? Where you in control or where you getting lucky? What information did you use (contour features, trails, etc..)?

What did you do when you were uncertain? Did you stop for a few seconds and correct yourself or did you keep going and hope for luck?

This particular bit of text isn't signed. So, I can't be sure if it is Hanne Staff or Björnar Vlastad (not that it really makes any difference). To me it sounds like Björnar, and he seems to write more of the stuff on the page than Hanne.

posted by Michael | 8:35 PM


Sunday, December 22, 2002

Map study


I read that Michael Vick (an NFL quarterback) spends 90 minutes a day watching video tapes of football games, studying upcoming opponents and analyzing past games. It is a bit like an orienteer doing map study.

Thinking about Vick's video study made me wonder -- how much time do orienteers devote to studying maps? How much time should you devote to studying maps? Is it worth spending much time studying maps?

I know a fair amount about how top orienteers train. I've read books and articles and studied training diaries. But, I know almost nothing about how much time top orienteers spend studying maps.

Kent Olsson talked about spending a lot of time studying maps during the month or two leading up to a world champs. But, he never said what he meant by a lot of time.

Bjornar Valstad and Hanne Staff are collecting courses on the map that will be used for this summer's long course at the world champs. Presumably, they'll study the maps and courses to prepare themselves.

90 minutes a day would seem to be a lot of time to spend looking at maps. A few minutes a day would seem to be very little. Somewhere between 5 minutes and 90 minutes would probably be ideal. I'll have to give it some thought (and some experimentation) and see what seems to work.

posted by Michael | 6:03 PM


Saturday, December 21, 2002

Some thoughts on Line O'


Eric W's comments on yesterday's post are interesting. If you haven't read them, take a look.

One thing Eric wrote about was concentration and overdistance technical workouts. I'll probably write a bit about that idea sometime, but not today.

Eric also wrote, "I think Line O (w or w/o controls) is the best way to make sure the map reading is focussed." In case your not familiar with it, Line O' involves having a line drawn on the map and then following that line.

Eric's comment got me to thinking about line O' and inspired...five comments about line O':

Line O' is a good way to train on maps you're familiar with. To follow the line you've got to look at the map and pay attention. That is true even on maps you are very familiar with. No matter how well you know the map, you don't know the line until you run it.

Arja Hannus used line O'. Arja has won world championships in both orienteering and ski orienteering, so if she has any advice on training it is worth listening to. At one of the O'ringen clinics years ago, Arja told me that a lot of her training was running hilly line O' courses.

Line O' works better in nicer forest than we have in the KC area. One of the problems with doing line O' around Kansas City is that it sometimes forces you to go through really crappy forest. If the line goes through an area that is crappy, you've got to either go through the area or get off the line. In the KC area we have a lot of variation in the light green forest (which dominates most of our terrain). Some of the light green is not so bad, but some is quite unpleasant. You can't always tell, until you get there, what type of light green you're getting in to. Point-to-point courses let you use small swings off the planned route to avoid crappy forest.

Beaver O' is a great form of line O'. Beaver O' is a special form of line O'. You do the session as a group (at least two runners and probably not more than 4 or 5).

To illustrate, lets say you're group is three runners -- Mook, Gene and Fritz. To begin with Mook has a map with a detailed line O' course. Gene and Fritz have blank maps. Mook starts and follows the line. Gene and Fritz follow Mook and keep track of where they are. One of these guys has a watch that is set to beep at an interval of, say, 4 minutes. When the watch beeps, everyone stops and quickly picks out exactly where they are. Mook, who has the map with the line, gets two beavers if he is off the line or doesn't know where he is. Gene and Fritz each get a beaver if they don't know where they are. Once they've done the scoring (which shouldn't take more than 20-30 seconds), Mook gets a blank map and Gene leads until the next alarm, and so on.

Beaver O' has some advantages as a training exercise. It is fun. It requires a lot of concentration. The intensity is usually low (because the idea is to be accurate and precise, not necessarily fast). Low intensity also makes it feasible to do even if the group has a mix of strong and weak runners. Low intensity and high concentration make it a good exercise for the middle or end of a training camp when everyone is getting a bit worn out.

I've used beaver O' with groups of relatively inexperienced orienteers at the Texas Junior O' Camp and it has gone pretty well. For inexperienced orienteers the line can be simple (following handrails, for example) and the pace can be low (even walking).

Line O' can be "passive". A weakness with line O' (including beaver O') is that it can become "passive." Instead of reading the map and then looking in the terrain, you can get into a mode of looking into the terrain and then checking the map to see where you are. That isn't a worthless skill, but I think a more active approach is a better way to compete (Oyvin Thon talked about being a -- that's where I am going orienteer, not a that's where I am orienteer).

posted by Michael | 11:27 AM


Friday, December 20, 2002

A couple more thoughts on long runs


When I wrote about loooooong runs a couple of days ago, I didn't do a very good job of explaining my thougths about long runs. So, I want to add a couple more comments.

Long runs are, of course, useful and fun. For most of us, I don't think the long runs really need to be much longer than 90-120 minutes. The "marginal benefit" of a 3 hour run compared to a two hour run isn't all that much.

Running in the snow (as Eric W. mentioned in a comment) is a great way to train and a lot of fun. Some of my best running memories are long runs in snow.

If you're running in the snow, it is worth buying a pair of neoprene socks. They come in handy for any cold/wet running conditions.

posted by Michael | 2:04 PM


Thursday, December 19, 2002

Sweden's top ten maps


Alternativet has a list of Sweden's top ten maps (they call it the "map national team"). The criteria are something like: esthetically pleasing both on site and from the armchair and providing some navigational challenges. They've include little clips of the maps.

Check out the top ten.

Which is your favorite?

My personal favorties are Lissma-Tornberget and Lunsen (those are the only two that I'm sure I've run at).

Lissma-Tornberget is great terrain for course setting. You can get interesting route choice legs and detailed fined naviagtion. A lot of the terrain just south of Stockholm looks like Lissma-Tornberget. Just looking at the map makes me wish I could put on my headlamp and go for a run.

Lunsen is a very special terrain. It is very flat (2.5 meter contours) and a great place to practice map contact -- if you can run at Lunsen without losing contact, you're doing well. If you lose contact at Lunsen, relocating can be a rel challenge. Lunsen is just outside of Uppsala (a short bike ride from Magnus and Sanna's house).

posted by Michael | 7:28 PM


Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Looooooong runs


Sometimes it is fun to do really long, but easy, training sessions.

Check out the heart rate curve for Pasi Ikonen's (2001 world short champ) 3+ hour O' training session. Pasi spent 3+ hours running and hiking in the snow. He spent nearly all of the session at a low intensity.

I've experimented a bit with very long sessions. Typically, I'd do them in the summer (in KC we can't really run in the forest in the summer). I'd mix easy running with walking. Often I'd stick to a schedule, for example, running 12 or 13 minutes, then walking for 2 minutes.

By mixing in walks, you can go for much longer than you could otherwise. You also recover quickly.

Long session like this can be a lot of fun. You've got plenty of time to explore, plenty of time to think and let your mind wander....

"My competitors can't be training as much as I am today..."

"What am I on? What am I on? I'm on my feet, running for 3 hours a day. What are you on?"

If you're not training for a rogaine or an ultrarun, this sort of long session probably isn't especially useful (or a very good use of your time). I have noticed that when I've done regular runs of 2:30 or more, I feel slightly slower but I also recover after races a bit quicker.

posted by Michael | 8:30 PM


Tuesday, December 17, 2002

A bit of an interview with Johan Ivarsson


Last night I read a bit of an interview with Johan Ivarsson. He talked a bit about motivation and his thinking about orienteering. Here is a bit of the interview translated from Swedish:

Motivation leads to concentration. My motivation is to do the perfect race. That's what pays in the long run. You should still be satisfied with a good race. In my perfect race I make a few stops (that I've allowed myself to do). Orienteering technique steers my running speed. When I begin to think about running faster or pushing harder, then I've lost focus in what is important (orienteering technique) in favor of less important things. I've noticed that my running speed is high when the orienteering is going well.

I find Ivarsson's description of his approach appealing. It is quite close to my own way of thinking about orienteering.

One outcome of this sort of approach is that you tend to have steady results, but don't necessarily have the great results. You're a lot more likely to run five races and finish 3rd, 4th, 3rd, 5th and 4th, than to finish 1st, 10th, 1st, 10th and 10th.

Here is what Ivarsson said:

It is more fun to have a good run in every race and finish 5th than to win a race and run poorly in 4 or 5 races.

* The interview is part of the book "Traening" form the Swedish O' Federation.

posted by Michael | 8:59 PM


Monday, December 16, 2002

End of the Trot


Mary took some snapshots at the finish of the Possum Trot. I look like I'm moving pretty well. I didn't feel like I was moving well.

posted by Michael | 8:26 PM


Welcome to Slovenian readers!


I checked out the site statistics this morning and discovered a number of readers from Slovenia. Cool.

Turns out a Slovenian O' page linked to me.

I think they've even translated what I wrote a couple of days ago. Doesn't this look like the questions to ask before and after technique training (see my 12/14 entry)?

Pred treningom se vprašajte:
Kaj je namen današnjega treninga?
Kako se današnji trening umešèa v moje cilje?
Kako se poèutim pred treningom (motiviran- nemotiviran, svež-utrujen, dobro pripravljen-slabo pripravljen)?

Po treningu, ko boste lepo suhi stuširani in s polnimi želodci, se vprašajte:
Ali je bil namen današnjega treninga dosežen?
Ali sem bil skoncentriran med treningom?
Kaj sem se danes nauèil?
Kaj mi ni šlo v redu in kako bom to popravil?
Kaj mi je šlo v redu in kaj bom naredil, da mi bo šlo vedno v redu?

I also learned something a bit strange from the site statistics. Someone found my page by searching for "Jeff Boschee naked." If you're not a serious Jayhawk basketball fan you might not know that Boschee was a starting gaurd on last year's Final Four team.

Whoever was searching for Boschee naked was probably disappointed in this page. But, I like to think some of the Slovenian readers might find my O' stuff interesting.

posted by Michael | 7:45 PM


Sunday, December 15, 2002

Respect the green


Yesterday I wrote that after an O' technique session you should ask yourself, "what did I learn today?"

Today I learned to respect the green, especially at Landahl Park.

Landahl is an area on the east side of Kansas City. It's a decent map (needs some updates to show the new mountain bike trails). It has some of the thicker/thornier terrain in the Kansas City area. Mary and I ran at Landahl this morning.

The map below shows a big boom I made on the third control of our course (my route is marked with red arrows on trails and red dashes in the forest). The control itself is easy. But, the route choice is difficult. There is not easy way to get straight to the control.

I started off fine. I stuck to the mountain bike trails and kept track of where I was going. About half way through the leg, I bumped into a major new trail. At first I thought about following it (it was running straight whereas the trails I was using wound a lot). After a hesitation, I decided to just stick to my plan.

My plan was to go to the point marked "A", cut through a hundred meters or so of green (going north east), then pick up the trail to the control. It seems like the best route.

The problem with a route is that it has to be both a good decision and well executed. I screwed it up. I didn't have enough respect for the green.

When I left the trail at "A", I immediately hit a fallen tree and some thorns. I started thinking about getting through the thick woods and about moving. I stopped thinking about navigating. I left myself be lead by the thickness of the forest (i.e. going where it was less thick).

Instead of going due north-east, I went just a bit east of due north.

It didn't take long to realize I was off, but I didn't see any point in just standing and trying to relocated. I knew I was in a bland, green area with lots of thorns. The best idea seemed to be to just keep going and find a trail or at least some nicer woods. I saw a few old overgrown trails (not on the map) and eventually bumped into a mountain bike trail.

I was clearly beyond the control and it didn't take long to see exactly where I was. I was a good 150+ meters north of the control. I could either go back through the green, or just run on the trail and go all the way around the green. I decided to go all the way around.

My time for the leg, which is only about 750 meters, was 13:19! Ouch.

My route wasn't so bad, but my execution was terrible. I should have known better than to stop thinking about where I was going when I was in the green. Mistakes in the green are especially easy to make and cost a lot of time. I should have known better.

The rest of the course went much better!

posted by Michael | 3:22 PM


Saturday, December 14, 2002

Before and after technique training


Mary and I went up to Weston Bend for some O' technique training today. On the short drive to the map, we talked a bit about the training. On the way home we also talked a bit about how it went. When I got home, I went to the book shelf and pulled out a Swedish O' training book and found that it had a set of technique training questions that was quite close to what Mary and I talked about.

Here is a translation of the questions from the Swedish book:

Before the session:

What is the purpose of today's training?
How does today's training relate to my overall goals?
How do I feel before the session (motivated -- unmotivated, tired -- fresh, poorly prepared -- well prepared)?

After the session:

Did I meet the purpose of today's training?
How was my concentration?
What did I learn today?
What didn't go so well and what can I do about it?
What went well and how can I make sure it goes well again?

The Swedish O' manual doesn't just set these questions out, it include a form that you're supposed to fill out before and after the session. I guess the idea is to force yourself to go over the questions and make sure you've got a record of what you did. If you don't think through these sort of questions before and after training, having a paper form is probably a good idea.

posted by Michael | 8:04 PM


How to make a pie


My brother's pies are featured in the NY Times cooking section. In addition to the recipes, you can see a bunch of videos of Stephen standing in a kitchen and making pies (follow the links below and look for "multimedia"). It is quite cool.


Apple crumb tart

Pear and walnut tart

Cranberry-mincemeat pie

Pumpkin pie

posted by Michael | 10:05 AM


Friday, December 13, 2002

Living on a map


Mary and I live on an O' map, though I don't do much technique training on it.

posted by Michael | 7:41 PM


Thursday, December 12, 2002

5 sport books


The latest Sports Illustrated magazine has a list of the top 100 sports books. These books aren't necessarily among the top 100, but here are a few sports books I enjoyed reading:

Long Distance by Bill McKibben. McKibben is a writer who at the age of 30-something decided to see what it was like to live the life of an elite athlete for a year. His sport of choice is cross-country skiing. It makes for an interesting story and McKibben is a professional writer (not a professional athlete), so the writing is decent. While McKibben is working on his skiing, his father is dying of cancer -- so you get a bit of human drama thrown in for good measure.

The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract James is a Lawrence resident and KU econ grad who has made a living writing about baseball. I find his approach to looking at sports interesting -- he thinks and does research like an economist.

Its Not About the Bike by Lance Armstrong and Sally Jenkins. If you participate in any endurance sport, you've got to be impressed by Armstrong. The book is not especially good or bad -- but Armstong is amazing.

Endless Winter by Luke Bodensteiner. Bodensteiner wrote about his life as an elite cross-country skier. The parallels between cross-country skiing in the US and orienteering in the US are obvious (both are Scandinavian "suffering sports" with few participants in the US). The first line of the book is, "I am an American competing in a European sport." The book is written as a diary, following his training and racing for about a year up to the 1994 Olympics.

Think to Win by Don Alexander. Alexander writes about how to drive a race car. While there aren't a lot of obvious reasons an orienteer would want to read about auto racing, there are some interesting similarities. Both O' and racing take a lot of concentration and are about going the right speed at the right time. An orienteer has to run fast when the terrain and navigation allow it, then slow down as needed. A race driver needs to go fast, but not so fast that they lose traction and control.

posted by Michael | 8:36 PM


Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Interesting new article...wish I had a copy


The latest issue of the Norwegian O' mag has several articles I'd like to read. The one that I'd most like to read is about Jorgen Rostrup's training -- from the age of 14 through his world championships. Here is what the magazine's web page says..

- Tren først og fremst med kart i skogen. Vi er altfor dårlige til å finne fram, sier Jørgen Rostrup.

Which quotes Rostrup as saying, "first and foremost, train with a map in the forest. We are absolutely too weak at finding our way."

I don't expect the article to show up on the web, and I don't subscribe to Veivalg. So, I guess I won't get a chance to read it unless someone who reads this page gets "Veivalg" and sends me a copy!

And now for something completely different...

The KC adventure racing egroup had a note from a software guy pushing something called "Trek Analyst."

I took a quick look.

It looks like Trek Analyst is a way to use a GPS as a tool for evaluating and monitoring your training. To me, that's always seemed like the best use of a GPS for an orienteer (don't get me started on what I think about GPS and O' mapping).

posted by Michael | 12:48 PM


Tuesday, December 10, 2002



I just wrote something and then deleted it instead of posting it. I hate when that happens.

Well, instead of trying to re-create what I wrote, I'll point you to an interesting article.

Vlad wrote a bit about quality and A-meets, including his take on the top (and bottom) A-meets of the year.

posted by Michael | 9:04 PM


Monday, December 09, 2002

Running in the woods


One of my goals for the fall O' season was to feel comfortable running in the woods.

I hurt myself running in the woods about 15 months ago. Since then, I've struggled to feel comfortable. The worst it got was at the US Short Champs when I felt scared. Running in the woods felt like standing face-to-face with a snarling Pit Bull.

At the US Short Champs, I was still suffering a bit physically. My left leg wasn't yet strong.

More recently, I've felt good most of the time with a few hesitations. My left leg is fairly strong. But, running down hills is not comfortable. Jumping across logs or ditches doesn't feel good either. By "not comfortable" and "doesn't feel good" I don't mean it is physically difficult. I mean that it is mentally difficult. I just don't feel comfortable.

The Possum Trot was a good test. I spent a lot of time running in the woods. Some of the running involved going down hills, jumping logs and running at a decent pace. Those are all things that should test my comfort level.

I'm pretty happy with how I felt. Most of the time, I didn't think about my leg. Most of the time, I ran well. I still hesitated a bit on the downhills and crossing ditches. But, even then I felt cautious rather than stressed.

My goal was to feel comfortable running in the woods. I'm not quite there, but I'm very close.

posted by Michael | 8:19 PM


Sunday, December 08, 2002

First news from the Possum Trot


It was a long, tough race. Brian May followed up yesterday's win with another win today.

Check out the first part of Brian's race. Then take a look at the second part.

The Trot is a mass start race with one special rule -- you can skip any two controls. Brian skipped 15 and 18.

posted by Michael | 6:06 PM


Saturday, December 07, 2002

And the winner is....


Brian May won. Mook (aka Mark Everett) was about 20 seconds back and Mikell Platt was not far behind.

Check out Brian's winning route (294kb).

posted by Michael | 4:55 PM


Friday, December 06, 2002

Tomorrow's race...


Tomorrow is the Kansas (and Missouri) State O' Champs. I set the course, so I'm looking forward to seeing how it goes.

We've got a strong field for the men's race: Brian May (winner of the last 2 US Champs), Mikell Platt (many time US Champ), and Mark Everett (no US Champs, but he's been on the US WOC team).

An interesting entry is Dave Dunham from New Hampshire. Dave is a very strong runner. Here are Dave's running PRs: 5K – 14:08; 8K – 23:27; 10K – 29:17; 12K – 36:59; 10M – 49:36; 20K – 60:53; ½ Marathon – 65:02; Marathon - 2:19:28; 50K – 2:57:36; 100K – 6:46:39. I think Mitch Bentley is the only US Orienteer who has that sort of running speed (and Mitch hasn't been seen in orienteering for quite a while).

The women's field isn't as strong, but still looks interesting. Yvonne Deyo from St Louis is expected. Suzanne Armstrong (St Louis and CSU) may show up.

Head to head racing

The race will use a mass start and I look for some head-to-head racing. From the start, runners will have to find any two of the first four controls before going on to the rest of the course. I hope this splits up the field just a bit.

The course -- about 4.5 km -- is designed for head-to-head racing (I'll try to post the course tomorrow). Runners will have two good chances to see how they are doing compared to the rest of the field. The leaders should get a sense of how far ahead they are. The chasing pack should have a good idea of how far back they are. There aren't any tricky controls (it isn't easy to make technically difficult navigation in Kansas). I don't expect any large booms. But, small booms could decide the race.

The terrain is fast. Much of the course will be crossing open fields. Some of it will be on single track trails. The runners won't spend much time in the thick/thorny forest.

The high speed might cause some problems. Easy legs can sometimes be quite hard if you're moving fast. I think the race will feel a bit like a park O' race.

There are a couple of legs with some route choice options. I'm hoping the route choice will give people some chance to think about strategies. If you're chasing someone, will you take a different route with the hope that you'll be able to make up ground? If you're running with someone, will you ease off a bit forcing them to take the lead and make the decision?

posted by Michael | 6:04 PM


Thursday, December 05, 2002

Habit forming


I wonder how long it takes to form a good habit. There are a lot of little habits that would be good to have: doing some sit-ups and push-ups every day; stretching more; never skipping a day of armchair orienteering; passing on the ice cream; getting a good night sleep; and so on.

My theory is that it probably takes about 3-4 weeks to develop a daily habit to the point that it sticks.

One of my goals for the month is to do more stretching. I've never done a good job of stretching. I've never been very flexible. Getting a bit more flexible seems like a good idea. The only time I was reasonably flexible was when I was running in the forest every day. I wasn't really doing much stretching, but my theory is that the varied terrain kept me from getting too tight.

To meet my goal, I've been making an effort to spend 10+ minutes of stretching everyday. That might not seem like much, but it is a lot more than the minute or two I usually do. I'm hoping it will become a habit.

posted by Michael | 8:20 PM


Wednesday, December 04, 2002

2-0 versus the World Champ


I figure I'm 2-0 versus Jimmy Birklin, the current World Champ in the sprint distance!

As far as I know, I've raced him once -- at the 2001 World Champs in the relay. Sweden had a strong team. But, the USA finished ahead of them (Birklin was injured and couldn't finish, so Sweden did not finish).

On top of that, my web page seems to be more popular than his! Birklin reported that his home page averages 25-30 visitors a day. I just checked my site statistics and I'm currently averaging 71 visitors per day this week (my normal weekly average is more like 35 a day).

posted by Michael | 6:35 PM


Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Read the map, don't boom


A short translation from Staff-Vlastad.com:

Those who read the map the most, boom the least

An unofficial study at a national team camp in 1999 showed that those who felt they boomed the least were also those who have the highest map reading frequency. This is logical. Orienteers who read the map frequently have a better chance of making corrections before they lose time.

Staff-Valstad doesn't explain what this study was. It sounds like it might involve comparing how often orienteers say they look at their map and how much time they think they lose. It'd be more interesting (and a lot more work) to see how often different orienteers actually look at their maps and compare those measures to split times (to identify booms).

I'm not sure how often I look at my map. Thinking back to my training at Wyandotte last Saturday, I'd guess I was looking at the map at least once very 100 meters (probably more than once). Those looks were usually very short -- just a quick glance.

But, I'm not really sure how often I look at my map.

Maybe I could do an experiment -- set my watch to beep every 30 seconds, then see if I usually look at my map once every 30 seconds, more frequently, or less frequently.

posted by Michael | 6:44 PM


Monday, December 02, 2002

A few thoughts on drawing routes


There is some discussion at Attackpoint about drawing your route on your map. The discussion inspired tonight's entry...

It can't make much difference The person who started the discussion wrote:

After an event do you mark your route on your map? If so, doesn't this make it difficult to use the map for study at a later date? Your eye will always be drawn to your old route....

I can't imagine it makes a difference either way. If you spend say 30 minutes a day studying maps, it can't make much difference whether you're looking at maps with routes or without. But, if you spend 30 minutes a day studying maps instead of no time studying maps, you'll probably do yourself some good.

Lots of orienteers draw their routes wrong I've noticed that a lot of orienteers draw where they think they went rather than where they went. I've noticed this at training camps where I've shadowed runners and then sat down afterwards and talked about the run. I suspect all of us make some mistakes when we draw our routes. I'd bet that better orienteers do a better job of drawing their routes (but I'm not sure how to know if that's true or not).

Runoway If you like looking at routes on maps (or even just courses) Runoway is a great place. Runoway is an internet site where orienteers can draw their routes on maps from selected races. Viewers can then look at the routes and splits (even play an animation of the routes). You have to register. Runoway is a Swedish site, but there is an English version.

The best pen? Staedtler Lumocolor JJ tipped me off to the best pen for drawing routes on O' maps -- the Staedtler Lumocolor. My preference is for the non-permanent red fine. It draws a good line and is a bit transparent. They run about $1.75.

The route is the story I like to look at routes. I like to look at my routes. I like to look at other people's routes. To me, looking at routes is more interesting that looking at courses without routes. To me a course without a route is a bit like a crossword puzzle. But, a course with a route is like a good book -- there is a story that you can follow as you follow the route.

Memory from the WOC At the WOC in Finland, runners were asked to draw their routes when they finished. One of my memories from the classic race is watching the big video screen as the classic men's race unfolded. Jorgen Rostrup was in the lead and was sitting in the tent at the finish drawing his routes. The camera was switching between a picture of Rostrup calmly drawing his route and the Finnish runner Jani Lakanen in the forest. Lakanen's times were good and it looked like he had a shot to win. The camera focused on Lakanen as he raced to the finish. But, his time ran out and he crossed the finish line 34 seconds behind Rostrup. The camera switched back to Rostrup who was still sitting there calmly drawing his route! Someone congratulated Rostrup. He looked up -- without even a smile -- he shook hands and went back to drawing his route.

You'll hear football coaches talk about a player not celebrating in the endzone -- act like you've been there before. But, Rostrup looked almost too calm. Of course, he had been there before -- he won a world championship in 1999 in Scotland.

posted by Michael | 7:32 PM


Sunday, December 01, 2002

Another O' video


Check out another O' video. The video runs in Windows Media Player (I'm not sure if it'll work on other players). If you don't have a broad band connection, you'll probably do better by saving it to your hard drive and playing it from there (right mouse click on the link and "save target as...").

The video is from the first day of Alternativet's Christmas Calendar.

posted by Michael | 6:28 PM


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