Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Monday, February 17, 2003

Gazing into the crystal ball


What will the future of O' training be like?

I posed the question a few weeks ago. When I was running yesterday, I thought about it a bit. I didn't think about it especially carefully (more like a stream of consciousness). Here are a few possibilities...

Better "management"

I think orienteers will be more likely to work with coaches. They'll be more likely to carefully plan their training. They'll be more likely to focus on preparing for specific events.

The internet is a big player in better management. With email and the web, it'll be easy for orienteers to have frequent contact with coaches and advisors even if they don't live near each other.

You might start to see professional coaches who are working with orienteers all around the world. You might live in Texas, but have a coach in Norway. You'll pay your coach a few hundred bucks a year to help you set goals, plan your training and review you training.

Other sports seem to be going this way. If you've got the cash, you can get Lance Armstrong's coach (or at least his company) to work with you. Cross country skiers might want Beckie Scott's coach. Well, you can hire him.


I think you'll see some top orienteers who try to specialize. The best discipline for specializing is probably the sprint distance. It is the most different discipline.

If I had to bet, I don't think specialization will become a big deal. The middle, long and relays are still so similar that the same people do well in any of those races. I don't think the sprint event will ever catch on as a discipline; it'll remain an event the top orienteers race but don't specialize in.

Better understanding of O's physical demands

I think people will start to study the physical demands that are specific to orienteering. How different is O' compared to running? Does overall strength training help an orienteer? What is the best -- most specific -- way to cross train? How can you best recover from an O' race and be ready for the next day?

I don't think this sort of research will change how orienteers train very much. I'd expect there to be some changes, but nothing major.

Figuring out how people navigate

The physical side of the sport is understood much better than the technical side. In the next 10, 20 or 30 years, I think people will begin to figure out ways to understand how people navigate. What is Pasi Ikonen doing, thinking, seeing, feeling, etc., while he orienteers? It won't be easy to understand, but it seems like an area people might start to try to understand.

Understanding navigation might (or might not) change how people train. I'd guess it won't change things much, but it might.

Positioning data

I suspect that it won't be long before orienteers carry little GPS receivers with them and download them after the race. The data will be fun to look at. But, I don't think it will have an immediate effect on how people orienteer or how they train. Mostly, it'll be something people talk about after races. You'll see people standing around the finish running through their split times on GPS receivers instead of with Casio watches or SI punches.

Or maybe I'm wrong

Maybe I'm entirely wrong. Maybe there will be some huge change in how people train. Maybe sprint O' will become the main form of the sport (I sure hope not!). Maybe I've got it all wrong (afterall, I figured Dale E would win the Daytona 500 yesterday)....

posted by Michael | 11:18 AM


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