Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Saturday, January 10, 2004

H is for Hammer


Back in November I wrote about a project to help me learn something from looking at orienteers' training logs on the Internet. The idea was to come up with some questions I could ask as I looked at training logs. I figured having a standard set of questions would help me see things I wouldn't see if I just looked at the logs.

So, today I decided I'd try some questions out. I picked Hammer's training on Attackpoint because he's one of the top North American orienteers and I've been looking at his training once or twice a week for over a year.

I put the questions in three groups, from those that are easiest to answer (and most likely right) to those that are hardest to answer (and most likely wrong).

Hammer's training -- easiest to answer questions

Training volume – even year round or lots of up-and-down? If the volume is uneven, is it because of periodization or something else?

The volume looks fairly steady, he trains more than most. I also see some periodization. Some of the unevenness comes from extremely high volumes during adventure races (and corresponding lower volumes recovering). It looks like Hammer does some fairly short term planning as well – e.g. building up over two months or so toward a goal.

Cross training – does the orienteer use other sports in training? Do they compete in other sports?

Hammer does a lot of cross training. Most of the cross training looks to be mountain biking, but he also skis and paddles. He competes in adventure racing. He does some strength training.

O' technique – Does the orienteer practice technique or do they get their technique through competitions?

Hammer does a fair amount of practice (often it looks like practice is setting up training and racing sessions). The local club seems to have a lot of races.

Injuries and illness – Does the orienteer have problems with injuries and illness?

I see a few illnesses. It does not look like Hammer is unusually susceptible to getting sick and missing a lot of training, but it happens. He broke a bone in the shoulder (falling?) and that seems to have affected his training, but not as much as you might expect. Maybe he's really tough?

Hammer’s injuries and illnesses do not look like “mistakes.” I have not found myself looking at his training and thinking "he is doing way too much, too soon; he will probably get sick next week.”

Hammer's training -- possible to answer, but easy to get wrong

Does the orienteer have clear, known goals?

Hammer’s training looks like it is goal directed, but I do not know what the goals are. So, I would say he has some clear goals, but I do not know what they are.

Does the orienteer work with a coach?

Not that I can tell. Hammer has a lot of experience and I suspect he has worked with a coach during his career. But, I do not think he does that now. It looks to me like he coaches himself, but trains with others a lot (which might result in some feedback).

Does the orienteer's approach seem to be scientific and detail-oriented or more intuitive?

I would not say scientific or detail-oriented, but it looks thoughtful. I would be surprised if Hammer just heads out the door and decides what to do on the spur of the moment. But, it does not quite look like he follows detailed plan. I think the adventure racing – which requires you to be on a team and plan ahead – forces some planning and goal-setting that I have not recognized when I look at the training on Attackpoint.

Hammer's training -- hardest to answer, probably wrong

Does an "attitude" come through? Does the orienteer come across as having a positive approach? Do they whine a lot?

Positive, aggressive in a good way, Hammer comes across as competitive.

Does the orienteer seem to be experimenting or following a template?

I think he's got a template, but a template that I’d guess he’s developed by experimenting and relying on past experiences (so he’s probably done a lot of experimenting over the years and settled on things that work well). I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s doing a lot of experimenting that I don’t recognize.

What sort of background does the orienteer have? Do they make maps? Have the competed at a high level in another sport? Did they start at a young age? Have they lived in Europe?

Hammer has been orienteering a long time. He’s lived in Sweden (Umea, I think) and maybe lived in Norway, too (?). I don’t know if he has done much mapping, but he seems to do a lot of organizing (course setting and setting out markers), which has some similar benefits to mapping.

Does anything seem striking or unusual?

Not really. Hammer lives in Hamilton, Ontario, which seems to be a very good place to be an orienteer these days. He has decent terrain and lots of good orienteers to train and race with. It looks to me like the atmosphere in the GHO club is strong.

posted by Michael | 1:05 PM


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