Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Strange ideas from Sweden


Checking some O' web pages today I came across two strange ideas from Sweden. Either of these ideas might be interesting for a small race or club training, but it seems a bit strange to use in important elite-level races.

Shopping center team trials

The classic distance WOC test race for the Swedish team is going to begin with a prolog of about 1 km in a shopping center. According to Alternativet, the map will be at 1:2000 and covers four floors of the Nacka shopping center. The times from the prolog will be added to the times from the classic race the next day.

Elite series race with time bonuses

For the first Swedish elite series race, runners can earn time bonuses (a bit like in cycling). The race is mass start and orienteers get bonuses:

30 seconds for taking your own route choice on an entire leg.

20 seconds for taking your own route on a part of a leg (at least 200 meters).

15 seconds for being alone when you punch (no one within five seconds ahead or behind).

10 seconds for being the first to punch in a group of orienteers.

5 seconds for entering through the on-line entry system.

The idea is to keep a mass start race, but reward runners who take the initiative and don't just follow.

posted by Michael | 8:20 PM


Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Some notes about France


I'm glad to see yesterday's list of peer nations is generating some good comments. Keep the comments coming.

I expected that putting France in the US peer group would probably get some comments. I knew that France fits in the group, except they've got some amazingly good results the last few years.

If I was putting the list together for the French team, I'd put France in a different group. But I'm putting it together for the US team and I think having France in our group is worthwhile. It is good to have a country that has some strong similarities but also has some much stronger performances. If we think of France as a peer, maybe we'll try to learn from them.

Thinking about the level of French orienteering inspired me to look at the results from the 1987 WOC in France. I decided to compare US and French results:

Men's qualifying races:

1. Oyvin Thon (NOR)
26. Mikell Platt (US)
28. Jean Daniel Giroux (FRA)
34. Franz Mareigner (FRA)
40. Bruce Wolfe (US)

1. Kent Olsson (SWE)
21. Bruno Haberkorn (FRA)
26. Michael Eglinski (US)
36. Dan Meenehan (US)
39. Alain Pourre (FRA)

Women's qualifying races:

1. Brit Volden (NOR)
17. Sonia Rodiere (FRA)
23. Sharon Crawford (US)
34. Marine Jallas (FRA)
39. Virginia Lehman (US)

1. Ragnhild Bratberg (NOR)
10. Odile Haberkorn (FRA)
20. Christine Antoine (FRA)
31. Heather Williams (US)
32. Peggy Dickison (US)

Men's Final

1. Kent Olsson (SWE)
31. Mikell Platt (US)
40. Bruno Haberkorn (FRA)

Women's Final

1. Arja Hannus (SWE)
33. Odile Haberkorn (FRA)
48. Sharon Crawford (US)
50. Sonia Rodiere (FRA)
53. Christine Antoine (FRA)

In 1987, the US and French men were about even and the French women were a tiny bit better than the US women.

I seem to have misplaced the relay results. If my memory is right, France had an outstanding first leg among the men with Jean Daniel Girioux winning the leg.

posted by Michael | 8:00 PM


Monday, March 29, 2004

Finally...the peer nation lists


Here are my groups of peer nations.

Top Elite (1): Denmark, Switzerland, Great Britain, Czech Republic, Norway, Russia, Finland and Sweden.

1 Step Behind (2): Estonia, Latvia, Italy, Spain, Hungary, Romania, Austria, Germany, Lithuania, Australia and Ukraine.

USA Peers (3): Portugal, Slovakia, New Zealand, France, Bulgaria, Belgium, Canada, Japan, Poland, Ireland and USA.

Euro 2nd Level (4): Liechtenstein, Netherlands, Slovenia, Croatia, Belarus and Serbia/Montenegro.

Newcomers (5): Brazil, China, Korea, Hong Kong, Israel, Kazakstan and South Africa.

The main factors I used to group nations are the number of runners (men and women) ranked in the top 1000 in the IOF world rankings and the number of times the nation had a men's or women's relay team at the world champs in 1966, 1976, 1987, 1997 and 2003. I also used some other measures and made some subjective decisions.

Group 1 averages 154 top runners and 4.1 WOC appearances.
Group 2 averages 55 top runners and 2.5 WOC appearances.
Group 3 averages 17 top runners and 3.3 WOC appearances.
Group 4 averages 8 top runners and 0.8 WOC appearances.
Group 5 averages 2 top runners and 0.6 WOC appearances.

Keep in mind that these groups aren't necessarily based on WOC performance. They should give a sense of potential performance, actual performance may be quite different. For example, to me it looks like France over-performed at the 2003 WOC in Switzerland (taking a couple of medals).

Any comments?

Comments are welcome. Anyone think the groups are wrong? Let me know. People all over the world read this page. A lot of people know a lot more than I do about orienteering in different nations. Maybe I've dropped the ball in a few cases (or more!). If you think I've got a nation in the wrong group, let me know.

posted by Michael | 8:13 PM


Sunday, March 28, 2004

A training idea


Some years ago I ran a few local events with an extra map. In the back of my map case I carried a map from a race several years old (and from a different area) and did some on-the-run map study. For example, at a local event on one of the Clinton Lake areas I carried a map from a Swedish 5-days a few years earlier.

As I orienteered each leg on the local O' event, I'd flip the map over and "armchair" map read a leg from the other race.

The idea was to add some additional stress to a local event on a map I'd run on many times.

I'm not sure if it was a good way to train. It definitely added some additional stress. Flipping back and forth from map to map and from "armchair" thinking to navigating was a bit odd.

posted by Michael | 8:24 PM


Saturday, March 27, 2004

More on peer nations


I thought I'd write a bit about how I went about identifying peer nations. I've got a list, but I don't want to publish it until I've gone through and checked a bit of the information.

My approach

I considered two approaches to defining peer nations. One way would be to carefully study international results and find nations similar to each other in terms of results. Another way would be to think about the characteristics that make nations similar. I picked the second approach because I think it has more potential to learn something.

A quick -- and rough -- example will illustrate one way the two approaches differ. Consider France and the U.S. you'd see that France has much better results and you'd conclude that France and the U.S. are not peers. But, if you think about characteristics of each nation, you might discover that France and the U.S. are very similar...except that France has a world champion. To me that is interesting information.

To work my approach, I spent some time thinking about things I'd like to use to characterize nations. I had to keep in mind that I wanted to be able to measure these things without too much trouble. A great way to characterize nations would be to know something like per-capita O' maps. But, that info isn't available.

Here are the main things I decided to try to include in my thinking:

Level and depth of orienteering talent.
International O' history and experience.
Geography -- size of the nation and location relative to the center of competitive O' (Europe).
Ability to fund a national team.

The idea is that nations that are similar in terms of the characteristics above are peers.

My measures

How did I measure the characteristics? For each IOF full member nation, I collected six bits of data:

1. The number of men and women in the top 1000 of the IOF's world rankings.
2. The number of times the nation had a mens or womens relay team at world champs in 1966, 1976, 1987, 1997 and 2003.
3. The land area and population of the nation.
4. The per capita gross domestic product.
5. Whether or not the nation was European.

I set up a weighing system and calculated a score for each nation. Nations with similar scores are potential peers. I say "potential" because the I don't intend to group nations strictly on the scores. The scores just give me a starting point and I'll do some subjective grouping (for example the U.S. and Canada aren't as close as you might guess, so I'll fudge and put them together because I think they ought to be considered peers).

Without getting into specific scores and groupings, I'll give you a couple of examples of very similar peer nations under this approach:

Sweden and Finland have exactly the same score.
Brazil, China, Korea and Liechtenstein have exactly the same score.

So, Finland and Sweden are clearly peers as are Brazil and China. No surprises. But, the rest of the list is more interesting (and once I check the information to make sure I haven't screwed up the calculations, I'll publish more info).

A couple of notes

As I thought about the characteristics I'd use and looked at the information a couple of thoughts came to mind:

1. We (i.e. U.S. Orienteers) often feel envious of nations with state support or lots of sponsors. I thought about trying to find a measure of sponsorship and/or state support. But, I decided that actual sponsorship and financial support wasn't as interesting as capacity for sponsorship. I settled on per-capita gross domestic product as a measure of potential financial support for orienteering. It also made me realize that U.S. orienteers are at a great advantage compared to a lot of the world. As a nation we are very, very rich. We can afford "self sponsorship" to an extent that much of the world can't.

2. Looking at per-capita gross domestic product also shows a clear economic/political system distinction. Nations with a relatively strong democratic tradition, market based economy and strong legal system are wealthy. Nations without those are much poorer. Including per-capita gross domestic product in similarity scores makes it harder for the U.S. to consider an eastern European nation as a peer.

3. Counting WOC appearances was a way to get at O' tradition and "infrastructure" (by infrastructure I mean potential for coaching knowledge and maps). Some nations score relatively low on WOC appearances despite well developed O' traditions. Nations that used to be part of the Soviet Union score like nations where O' has developed quite recently. The same thing happens for the Czech Republic. I'll have to do some fudging to give nations such as Estonia and Czech Republic some credit for O' tradition while they were part of the USSR and Czechoslovakia.

4. I think Portugal will fit in the group of U.S. peer nations. Today I discovered that an orienteering page from Portugal links to this page! Cool. I've spent a few minutes poking around and it looks interesting (a fair amount is in English). Take a look at the page that shows a base map, field notes and final map.

posted by Michael | 6:55 PM


Friday, March 26, 2004

Preparing for basketball


The Jayhawks played UAB tonight. UAB is known for playing a full-court pressing defense. Part of the Jayhawks preparation was practicing against 8 defenders. Practicing against 8 defenders would simulate a full-court press and would force the offense to work well to bring the ball up. After practicing against 8 defenders it must seem relatively easy to play against 5.

The Jayhawks preparation must have worked as they won the game 100-74.

What would the equivalent be for an orienteer?

Maybe running a downhill O' course to force the navigating and running speed up....Maybe running through thick vegetation to get used to rough forest....

posted by Michael | 9:02 PM


Thursday, March 25, 2004

Peer nations


Peter, who is on the board of the U.S. Team, asked me to put together a list of "peer nations" that the U.S. could measure itself against. This is the sort of small project that I find very interesting. It is a lot like my job -- think about a framework for measuring performance.

I'm not quite done with my first crack at developing a list of peer nations. But in collecting some information to develop my list, I've learned a few things:

As an O' nation, France has some striking similarities to the U.S. Both nations have a small number of orienteers in the world rankings. Both nations have been sending teams to international competitions for about the same amount of time. Both nations are big (population and area). Both nations have a high capacity for funding a national team. But, France has Thierry Gueorgiou, currently the top ranked orienteer in the world. The current top-ranked U.S. orienteer is Brian May at 178 in the world ranking list.

The list of IOF members includes some nations I hadn't thought of as O' nations. Chile, Columbia, Cuba, North Korea, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Macedonia, Malaysia, Moldava, Pakistan, Puerto Rico, and Thailand are associate members. Pakistan even has two different national organizations; the Pakistan O' Association and the Pakistan O' Federation.

I met some Cuban orienteers at a training camp in Sweden in the late 1980s. I remember that they weren't actually orienteers. They were gym teachers, who liked to play basketball. I guess Peo Bengtsson had invited them to attend the O'Ringen and clinic training camp.

In looking at some old international results, I was stuck by a huge change in the sport since the mid 1980s -- there are a bunch more nations now. At the world champs in 1987, the Soviet Union had a team. Needless to say, at the world champs in 2003, there was no Soviet Union team. Instead there were teams from Belarus, Estonia, Kazakstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia and Ukraine.

If I had to put a bet on the IOF full member nation least likely to send a team to the 2005 World Champs in Japan, I'd put my money on Serbia and Montenegro.

posted by Michael | 8:20 PM


Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Thoughts inspired by a post at Attackpoint


As a rule I don't post to Attackpoint discussions. But, I read the discussions and now and then come across something interesting. Today I read a thread on "base training volume."

3000 meter times

Sergey wrote a bit about a running test the Italian team did. Sergey was impressed by Carlo Rigoni's time. But, what I noticed was that the top two Italians have really big differences in running.

Carlo Rigoni ran 8:47
Michele Tavernaro ran 9:52

For the test, Tavernaro was much slower than Rigoni. Does that represent a real difference in running speed? Well, I don't know. Maybe Tavernaro was sick or injured...or just took it easy. Maybe he really is slower.

Tavernaro and Rigoni are both quite good orienteers. You could probably make a case that either of them is a bit better than the other. Tavernaro is currently ranked a bit higher in the world rankings (65th compared to 88th for Rigoni). Rigoni's all-time best world rank was 36th (compared to 47th for Tavernaro). Tavernaro's best world ranking day was 1258 points scored (compared to Rigoni's best ever of 1250 points scored). Probably the most fair conclusion is that Tavernaro and Rigoni are about equal.

Rigoni is 34 years old this year. Tavernaro is 29.

One of the fascinating aspects of orienteering is that while it is a running sport, running doesn't decide it.


Sergey also wrote:

The difference between USA athletes and world elite is exactly this - running and navigational speed.
What can we do to correct this situation?

One obvious key would be motivation. Motivated orienteers train hard. Orienteers who train hard become stronger, faster and navigate better.

While motivation is a bit of a mystery, there are some fairly standard ways to motivate people. I think most people who read this have experience from the work place and I think most of us who have worked have been managed by good and bad bosses (some of us have even been good and bad bosses).

In a work place people need to know what they are expected to do, they need to have the tools to do what is expected, they need feedback on how they are doing, and they need to feel that what they are doing is worthwhile. Motivating orienteers is probably pretty similar. Obviously it is a bit more complicated that than. But, a management approach might be the answer to Sergey's question.

posted by Michael | 7:13 PM


Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Recovering from mistakes


Both Mary and I boomed this weekend and did a bad job of recovering from the mistakes. I guess I'm not surprised I didn't recover well, but I am disappointed. I'm not surprised because I haven't done much racing or high speed technique training. I'm disappointed because it cost me a couple of minutes each day.

Recovering quickly from mistakes seems like a good way to save time. Even if I made the mistake, I could probably have saved a good 1:30 each day if I'd handled the recovery better.

On the second day I was particularly annoyed at my mistake. I boomed the third control. I stopped too soon, relocated wrong (a parallel error), then hesitated and finally relocated correctly and took the control. I was mad at myself because I saw the potential for the error as I started the leg. But, I didn't take care of business and pay attention to the map until it was too late.

Take a look at Peter's map with his route from 2-3. Peter made the same mistake as I did (look where he went before he made the sharp turn and got back to the control), except he recovered better. When I was at the place where Peter made the sharp turn, I thought I was actually west of the control.

So, let me see...I was writing about being annoyed at the mistake. Yes. That's what happened. I was annoyed. But, I usually orienteer well when I'm mad (as long as I'm not mad about the map or at the organizers). From that point on I had a good run -- paying attention to the map, pushing the pace, and seeing the controls from a long way away.

posted by Michael | 8:56 PM


Monday, March 22, 2004

A few notes on the St Louis race


A high quality meet

SLOC did a good job with the meet. The map and courses were fine. As far as I could tell, everything went well. As Mary said -- they knew what a good quality meet was, they knew what to get right.

Let's hope SLOC hosts another A-meet in the not-too-distant future. And, let's hope SLOC inspires some other clubs.

Hmmm....maybe it is time for OK and PTOC to think about hosting another A-meet?

Nice map

This is the first time I've run on a non-offset map and felt the map wasn't a disappointment. I was able to read the map without any trouble, even at 1:15,000.

Eric said the maps were printed on a color laser printer and on good paper. He said the key was the high quality paper. I don't know the details and I don't know much about printing technology. But, whatever SLOC did, the map was fine.

Randy found the map "100% acceptable."

Al Smith Memorial

The event was a memorial for Al Smith. The meet was a nice way to remember Al and to recognize the things he did for orienteering. It was good to see Edie at the meet. I think she appreciated that the orienteers recognized Al's contributions.

Red course

I haven't scanned my routes, but Peter Gagarin did. Check out his routes on the red course.

The day two courses were more interesting because the course took you through a bit more variety of terrain and gave you a few more navigational challenges. For the most part the orienteering problems were keeping contact at high speed (the forest is quite open) and shifting technique when you got in some thicker forest with lower visibility. On the second day a couple of the legs forced you to navigate a bit carefully in the middle of the leg, something a bit unusual (take a look at Peter's map for day 2, legs 2-3 and 4-5).

With some work I think the course setters could have given us one or two longer legs with some route choice, but overall the courses were fine.

Old men's Tio Mila

H43 Kavlen is a relay race in Sweden -- a Tio Mila for the old men. For the M43 class, the minimum age is 35 and the team's average has to be 43.

Legs 1-3 are forked, 5.5 km night
Leg 4 is not forked, 9 km night
Leg 5-6 are forked, 4.5 km dawn
Legs 7-8 are forked, 7.5 km day
Leg 9 is forked, 4.5 km.
Leg 10 is forked 9.5 km.

There were a lot of old men performing pretty well at the SLOC meet, including Mikell Platt, Tom Hollowell, Peter Gagarin, Dan Meenehan and Randy Hall. Not so far back were people like Nadim and Tom Bruce.

I'll have to take a look at a few more results and come up with a U.S. "fantasy" H43 Tio Mila team.

posted by Michael | 8:11 PM


Sunday, March 21, 2004

The winning route from M21 on Sunday


Mikell Platt won the M21 course earlier today. He's staying with us tonight, on his way back home to Wyoming. So, I grabbed his map and scanned it. Check out today's winning M21 route.

Mikell's routes aren't especially interesting. Except for the first leg he just went straight.

posted by Michael | 8:45 PM


Friday, March 19, 2004

Next update


Next planned update is Monday.


Mobile Email from a Cingular Wireless Customer

posted by Michael | 11:11 AM


US O' Federation board


An email arrived today:

After six years, Nancy Koehler is stepping down from her USOF board At-large
Competition position. I think it would be nice to get someone who is
team-savvy to fill that position, and you were suggested as someone who
would be an excellent addition to the USOF board. I agreed and volunteered
to ask you.

Being on the USOF board means....

I haven't replied yet.

My first reaction was -- no way. I don't want to be on the board. I've been asked maybe 3 or 4 times over the last 20 years and I've always declined.

I've got two main reasons for not wanting to be on the USOF Board. First, I've got a limited amount of time to devote to orienteering and I prefer to spend that time at the local level. I make maps, set courses, set up training sessions, write newsletters, etc. for the local club. That is what I enjoy and I think it has more direct benefit to the sport than if I was a board member. I've had a rule that I work at the local level since the mid-1980s. I've stuck to it with one exception -- working at the Texas Junior O' Camp. Second, I don't think it'd be any fun. I've known several people on the board and many of them didn't enjoy their terms. One person actually dreaded going to national events where a board meeting was being held because of the meeting.

I can think of two reasons to be on the board. First, someone asked. Second, I have a professional interest in how boards function. At work, I've done a lot of writing and analysis of how boards work well and what happens when they don't work well. But, I've never actually been on a board of any kind. So, it might be interesting to see a board from the inside.

I haven't yet replied. I don't intend to express any interest in being on the USOF board. Maybe my reply to the email should be "what is the pay?"

posted by Michael | 8:34 AM


Thursday, March 18, 2004

Plan for this weekend's race


I'm running M40 (for the first time!) at the St Louis A-meet this weekend. I spent some time this evening thinking through my plan for the weekend. The plan is simple -- read the map.

I think visibility might be pretty good in the forest (check out some photos and map clips). So, if I keep my head up and look far ahead, I ought to be able to orienteer fast and spot some controls for a ways away. I won't be surprised if they hide the controls a bit because of the good visibility. Sometimes course setters hide the controls with the idea that it forces you to navigate all the way to the control. I don't know it that'll be the case, but I won't be surprised it if happens.

I want to make a conscious effort to have a good picture of the terrain in and around the control before I get there. When I'm orienteering poorly, I tend to just look for the feature that the control is on (e.g. the boulder). When I'm orienteering well I tend to orienteer to a much bigger and more distinct feature (e.g. the boulder on the little spur about two lines below a large cliff and due north of the sharp bend in the stream 100 meters away). I think the map study I've been doing the last couple of weeks will help have a good picture of the control.

It should be a lot of fun.

posted by Michael | 8:01 PM





posted by Michael | 2:58 PM


Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Night O' maps


I haven't gotten around to scanning my maps from the night O' last weekend. But, Aaron Luffman scanned his maps and routes.

If you're not familiar with Knob Noster, you'll see that it is quite nice terrain. The area is the best local area for orienteering by far. The only real drawback is that it takes an hour or so to drive to the map. As a result, the local club doesn't use the area very often.

As you can also tell, the map was printed on some sort of ink jet printer. It isn't too bad. But, I found the contours difficult to read. It might have been easier if it hadn't been raining. It would have been easier if the map had been offset printed (not that I'm criticizing the organizers).

posted by Michael | 6:43 PM


Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Map study update


A couple of weeks ago I began another map study experiment -- 30 minutes a day through next weekend's Hawn A-meet. How is it going so far?

I haven't met my goal of 30 minutes a day. Last week was especially bad. Monday I didn't look at an O' map all day. I only met my 30 minute goal one day last week. This week is going better. In addition to 30 minutes a day of map study, I've done a fair amount of in-the-terrain map reading, too. Last weekend I did 6:15 of O' and the weekend before I did about 2:30.

Today I noticed that I was "seeing" a map as I look at the terrain. When I was running I pictured the contours, trails, vegetation, etc. I did this without thinking about it. When I've done a lot of fieldchecking the same thing happens. The last time I experimented with doing a lot of map study the same thing happened. I think it is a good sign.

I've also had fun looking at some very interesting maps. Today at lunch I studied the courses from one of the recent Park World Tour races in Italy. Check out the map and course.

The Italian park race reminded me of the corn maze O' race Fritz organized a few years ago. Check out the corn maze map and course.

posted by Michael | 7:46 PM


Monday, March 15, 2004

Lowegren's new web page


Fredrik Lowegren is the latest elite orienteer with a web page. Lowegren placed 5th in the classic at the 2001 World Champs, but he's been struggling with injuries the last couple of years.

I've poked around Lowegren's page a bit and it shows some promise, though it is too early to tell if it'll be a must-visit page. So far it is entirely in Swedish.

Here's a quick translation of a bit of Lowegren's training philosophy:

When I began working with Anders Garderud [olympic steeple chase gold medalist and current Norwegian national O' team coach] we changed my training before the 2000 season. Earlier I'd trained everything at the same time, I did a mix of endurance, speed and strength. Anders training philosophy with different training periods has given me more continuity in my training. I do more distance training in the winter, without many intervals and speed. As the competition season nears I do more running strength training, like running in marshes, hills and sand. I do speed training a couple of weeks before the most important races....

And from another part of his page:

...It was fun to win junior cups, junior national champs, junior nordic champs and junior world champs but hose are really just a small part of my merit list. Those races should have been important goals on my way to a senior championship. But back then I thought they were the most important things. Unfortunately, in my junior years nobody convinced me to set out a much more long-term plan. At most I thought a year ahead, and sometimes I planned no farther than the next weekend. I didn't dare set priorities, I wanted to have good results at all of the races, which led to not training well enough.

I picked these two small bits of Lowegren's page to translate because I think they illustrate an important idea -- planning for the long-term and the difficulty younger people have thinking in the long-term. Though I don't have any data to back this up, I'd guess that very few orienteers under the age of about 23 or 24 really think beyond a year or two at a time. Of course, I'd also guess that very few orienteers of any age think beyond a year or two at a time!

posted by Michael | 8:49 PM


Sunday, March 14, 2004

A few notes from yesterday's races


I ran about 6:15 yesterday. I'm tired. But, not so tired I can't spend a few minutes writing a few notes.

Score O'

Both events were score O' -- find as many controls as you can in a given time. We got the maps a bit in advance, so we had time to plan our routes. I'm not sure why, but I don't really like score O' all that much. Maybe I don't like the planning?

The magic of Gu

Dan carried some Gu during the night event and I got to witness the magic of Gu. After about 2:45 (remember we'd already done 2:15 in the afternoon), Dan was suffering. He sucked down a Gu and within minutes he picked up the pace. It was amazing how quickly the Gu took affect and how strong the effect was.


I used my new 7ah battery. It should have given me about 4.2 hours of the 10 watt light. But, the light dimmed after not quite 3 hours. I don't know why. Maybe new batteries need to be run and re-charged a couple of times before they hold a full charge?


Gene took a hard fall during the first event and cracked or bruised a rib. Apparently he tripped on an old barbed wire fence and fell hard. He managed to make his was (slowly and painfully, I'd imagine) to a main road and got a lift back to the finish. We got him to the emergency room for x-rays and pain pills. Mary got him back to Lawrence. Let's hope he recovers soon.

How common is this sort of injury among orienteers?

Chest/rib injuries don't make the list of common injuries among orienteers in Elitloparen (a book by a Swedish national team doctor). I guess they fit under the 14 percent of "other" injuries. The most common injury is to the knee (35 percent).

Some snapshots

The PTOC photo page has a few snapshots. Me and Dan chatting with Dick (meet director, I think) 45 minutes or so before the night race. Me and Dan just before the start (Dan doesn't look that fat in person!). KU orienteers with first place ribbons from the afternoon's race.

posted by Michael | 6:32 PM


Friday, March 12, 2004

Long day tomorrow


My next update will be Sunday

Why? Because tomorrow is a loooooong day. I don't expect to have time to sit down at the computer.

Possum Trot O' Club hosts two events tomorrow, and I'm running both. The first is a three hour score O' and the second is an 8 hour score O' (I guess you'd consider it a mini-rogaine). Both are at Knob Noster, easily the best mapped area in the area.

I'm not a huge fan of score O' events and I'm certainly not in shape to do 11 hours of running. So, I'll take the day as a chance to put in some long, slow training with a lot of map reading.

I don't expect to run 11 hours. My current plan is to run 2 of the 3-hours, then run 2-4 hours of the 8-hour event. The 8-hour race begins at 10 p.m. I've got a new battery for my headlamp and it is fully charged. But, it'll only give me a bit over 4 hours of light. That'd take me to about 2 a.m. That's enough.

PTOC won't let you run the 8-hour event as an individual. I'm running with Dan. That should be good (Dan's got about 4 hours of light in his battery, too).

I don't have much experience with such long events. I guess a key will be to keep from wasting energy, stay hydrated and eat enough. There's enough time between events to get some real food. I'll carry some Hammergel and a couple of Clif Bars to eat during the races. I plan to wear a Camelbak, too.

posted by Michael | 8:17 PM


Thursday, March 11, 2004

Route choice training


A couple of days ago Randy at mapsurfer.com wrote:

One thing I've noticed about O is that you can train running, and you can train navigation, but how do you train route choice?

For starters, what are you trying to do by training route choice? It seems like want to do a few things:

1. Look at the map and see the options.

2. Recognize the features of different routes (by features I mean things like thickness of the forest, climb, running surface...anything that would change your running speed).

3. Make rational decisions without spending too much time weighing the options (keeping in mind that the rational decision might not be the fastest, e.g. the best choice might be to take a trail route that isn't fastest, but is safe and lets you avoid a big hill).

You can train all of those things by looking at maps.

I like looking at maps with someone's routes drawn in and look for other ways to run the leg (practicing the first item in my list above). Then I compare the route I picked with the route drawn in (which is getting at the second item). Finally, I decide if I like my route or the drawn route and think about why (getting at the third item).


And for something completely different, check out some of the music from a Swedish O' band called SDD. You can check out SDD's web page to find out about the band and listen to some mp3 files. I think the song Do You Know How It Feels was IFK Lidingo's Jukola song last year.

posted by Michael | 8:39 PM


Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Whoops...go to the first control first


Check out Christian Wiig Boen's route to the first control at a relay race in Sweden last weekend.

I ran the first leg, so I was at the start area early. On the way to the first control, together with Jan Erik Aalberg from BKS's 2nd team, I go a lead of about 50 meters and couldn't figure out what everyone else was doing. I found the control -- damn! I'd run to the 21st control instead of the 1st.

I'm not sure how often people run to the wrong control like Christian. I don't think it is common. But, I also don't think it is especially rare. I suspect it is more common in sprint races, where runners are rushing to save seconds.

By the way, despite Christian's mistake at one (and another one at 3), he was the first in after the first leg. And his team went on to win.

posted by Michael | 8:30 PM


Tuesday, March 09, 2004

What were Staff and Valstad up to?


Hanne Staff and Bjornar Valstad have been at a training camp and some races in Sweden. Here is a quick translation:

The goal for this period of our training has been to work on the fundamental thought patterns that are the base for good O' technique at high speed. Therefore we've done some long session of classic-character at a low/moderate speed; control picking to force a high map reading frequency; and some threshold-speed sessions where both physical capacity and O' technique go together....

Well, that's a pretty rough translation. But, it gives you an idea of how they're training and how they think about different types of technique training.

posted by Michael | 8:26 PM


Monday, March 08, 2004

Season's first A-meet


The first A-meet of the year is in a bit under two weeks at a place called Hawn State Park. It should be a blast.

Check out some photos and the terrain and map clips.

Hawn was first used in 1984. Running M20, I won my first U.S. Championship. I've been back to Hawn a couple of times since then, but not since 1988 if I remember correctly. This time I'm running M40 for the first time.

The preliminary entry list shows a couple of interesting names on the red course. I'm looking forward to running against Nadim (M40), Peggy (F21), Robbie Paddock (M20), Frank Skorina (M40) and Peter Gagarin (M45). Nadim and Peggy are both struggling with injuries.

Peggy -- should be no trouble.
Nadim -- injured recently. But, he's faster than me. I've got the edge in an O' race, but on any given day Nadim could beat me. We had a great head-to-head race at the Harriman relay last spring.
Robbie -- he's faster than me but can be uneven. He's improving all the time.
Frank -- I'll be disappointed if I don't beat Frank. Frank hosted me for a few months when I was doing some mapping in Sweden.
Peter -- I've been watching his training log at Attackpoint and it looks like he's had some decent training. He's managed to train consistently without any big injuries. Peter is always good competition. He's very steady -- not many bad runs. I'm not sure who's running faster these days. I hope I am. But, I'm not sure of it. On a downhill (especially a rocky one), I can't keep up.

I gave some serious thought to running M21 at Hawn. I changed my mind when I felt like my training wasn't working quite right. I still plan (hope) to run M21 at a few races this spring.

And now to the video tape

Steve Brown shot some Quick Time videos at yesterday's race at Monkey Mountain. Check out the video of me jumping over a bit of a rock outcrop on the way to the last control.

posted by Michael | 8:45 PM


Sunday, March 07, 2004

Race at Monkey Mountain


I raced at Monkey Mountain today. Check out my map and routes.

I was fairly happy with my race. I concentrated well, even after spending a couple of minutes looking for 5 before going on. It turns out "the control bag thief" struck; the marker, which was placed in the morning, was stolen by about noon. My legs felt stronger than they've felt in a while. I was a bit surprised because I'd put in a lot of hills yesterday.

Monkey Mountain is an area Possum Trot O' Club has been using for years and years. The newest revision of the map is the best by far. Dick L., the fieldchecker, has finally gotten the contours in reasonable shape. The area has a lot of vegetation detail and Dick is the master at mapping vague, but thick, KC-area vegetation. The course setter made good use of the terrain and map -- giving us some variety and avoiding the thickest vegetation.

I remember seeing a list of O' maps with interesting names. Monkey Mountain is a good name. It probably wouldn't make the top ten, but it is quite good. I wonder why the park is called Monkey Mountain?

And a real highlight of the run was finishing in time to listen to the last 7 minutes of the Jayhawk basketball game. Kansas won it on a basket with 2 seconds left. Sweet.

posted by Michael | 8:12 PM


Saturday, March 06, 2004

"You are bike rider"


Fritz likes to do an impersonation of a Polish cycling coach he met at some sort of training camp years ago. Fritz makes an attempt at a east European accent and loudly declares "you are bike rider."

The coach he's imitating is a guy named Eddie Borysewicz. Eddie B. came to the U.S. in the late 1970s. At the time, cycling in the U.S. seems to have been a lot like orienteering is now -- not many people doing the sport, not much knowledge about the sport, little in the way of coaching and poor international results. But the cyclists weren't hopeless and Eddie B. started coaching in the U.S. Here is something he wrote about his first work with U.S. cyclists:

When I rode with those Americans I could see right away they needed a lot of information. It was fun for me to work with them....The riders were not good but they were very nice, they had enthusiasm for learning, and they loved to ride a bike. Their attitude was so different from the one I was used to in Poland, where cycling was a commercial production. Over there if you weren't good, goodbye. Nobody would pay attention to you.

This afternoon I began reading bits of a book Eddie B. wrote on cycling. I'm not especially interested in training for cycling, but the book seems interesting. I haven't read very far, but I suspect some of the ideas are a bit dated (the book was written in 1985). Some of the ideas look quite interesting (and the book is, so far, amusing).

Here is Eddie B. on what he looks for when he's looking at the potential of a cyclist:

These are the three qualities that are important to me:

1. Very fast recovery, what I call good physiology.
2. A love for the sport, what I call being crazy for cycling.
3. A desire to work extremely hard.

Substitute "orienteering" for "cycling" and you'd have a good list of qualities that might predict the potential of an orienteer.

posted by Michael | 7:42 PM


Friday, March 05, 2004  

Just a couple of quick notes:

30 minutes a day

I haven't quite kept up with my plan of 30 minutes a day of map study. Yesterday I only did ten minutes. I'm only up to ten minutes today, but I've got time to hit my target.

Part of my plan is to spend some of that time each day looking at Bjornar Valstad's routes. I've managed to do that each day this week. So far I've got a few initial impressions of Valstad's orienteering. First, I get the impression that he doesn't necessarily pick the best route on each leg. Sometimes he picks a route that will probably cost some time, but will save energy. Also, he takes some really risky looking approaches to controls. I suspect that he's able to manage some approaches to controls that most of us wouldn't. On the other hand, I might just be imagining things. In any case, looking at his routes is interesting.

For what it is worth, I've noticed that I'd select different routes. For example, look at Bjornar's route from 11 to 12. I'm quite sure I'd leave 11 going closer to straight south (aiming for the olive green private area). Then, I'd run the small road (solid black line) until about the point where the magnetic north line meets the road (nearly due west of 12).

Women training with the men

The NY Times today had an article about the men who are practice players for the UCONN's womens' basketball team (I think you need a free registration to see the article). Here is a quote:

Coaches at most of the country's major Division I women's basketball programs began using male students [as practice players] at least a decade ago. They did it, the coaches say, in search of a higher level of competition for the starters than their female reserves could provide.

A woman looking to improve in the U.S. could probably get tougher competition by running M21. I haven't looked at results carefully, but my impression is that the level of competition is deeper in M21 than F21. I know that the top North American women (I'm thinking of Kristin Hall and Pam James) have had quite good results in M21.

A word from Shin

The legendary Japanese orienteer Shin Murakoshi apparently wrote a book or an article on "How to Improve Your Orienteering." Here (lifted from Takehiko Oguma's web page is a word from Shin:

I was totally in control of myself, dealing with a fear that I might make a terrible race, holding back myself from keeping running without reading the map, pushing myself when I choked or started to play it safe, and re-focusing my concentration when it began to drift away.

As an aside, Takehiko Oguma kept a fascinating training diary on his page through the end of 2003. Unfortunately he hasn't updated it recently.

posted by Michael | 8:41 PM


Thursday, March 04, 2004

A hilly run


The graph shows the climb on tonight's run. I ran for about an hour at Parkville Nature Sanctuary. I made an effort to get plenty of climb. The total for the session was 1000 feet (a bit over 300 meters).

The curve seems quite accurate. I can match the curve with my memories of the trail. The altitude feature records in 5 foot increments.

The base level altitude is shown at 1450 feet. That's wrong. PNS is something like 800 feet above sea level. But, I set the base level a few days ago and a storm moved in yesterday. I guess the decrease in air pressure tricked the watch in to thinking it was higher.

I had to buy an infared adapter to download the data from the watch to the PC. The adapter ran about $45 with shipping (more than I paid for the heart rate monitor!).

I think using the altitude feature will get me to run more hills. I'm not a strong hill runner (up or down). Part of the reason I'm not strong on hills is I don't run them enough.* If I start watching my climb on every run, I'll probably start running more hills. That'll help.

* Being heavy doesn't help either.

posted by Michael | 8:09 PM


Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Sick Norwegians


The Norwegian national team just completed a week long training camp in Spain. I'd been looking forward to reading some of the reports at some of the runners' web pages. The first couple of reports showed up today.

Turns out most of the team got sick. Here's part of Bjornar Valstad's report:

On Sunday, only five athletes continued training and were relatively well. The rest suffered with fever, muscle pain, vomiting and diarrhea.

That'd suck, but the terrain looks cool. Check out a control picking course and a chase start course in fine looking sand dune terrain.

I'm no doctor, but I'd have to guess the team was hit by a Norovirus.

The Lesson? Wash your hands.

posted by Michael | 5:25 PM


Tuesday, March 02, 2004

A motivation measure


One of the signs that my motivation is low is when I cut training sessions short. Some years ago I was biking with Snorkel at SMP. After a lap or maybe two, I pulled off the main road and said "let's call it a day." Snorkel looked at me and pointed out that I wasn't usually the one to say it was time to stop, especially after such a short session.

Cutting a session short was a sign of low motivation.

When my motivation is high, I tend to put in a bit more than planned. On Sunday, Snorkel and I did some O' practice at Landahl. I started with 40 minutes jogging around to put out some controls for a course Snorkel would run (meanwhile he set out some controls for me). Then we each ran a course. When we were hanging controls it felt almost muggy -- about 55 degrees and a warm humidity. But, as soon as we started the second 40 minutes, the rain came, the wind picked up and it felt cold. When I got back to the car, I was ready to do some more running.

Being ready to run a bit more is a sign of decent motivation.

I didn't run any more. Snorkel had already put on some warm, dry clothes and was sitting in the car. Instead of doing another loop, I changed and we left. I guess if I'd gone out for another 30-40 minutes on my own, it'd be a sign of high motivation.

Actually putting in a bit moe than planned (especially in cold, wet weather) is a sign of high motivation.

I was thinking about these measures of motivation after I read a quote from Lance Armstrong on www.cyclingnews.com. Here is what Lance said:

"Jose Miguel Echavarri (Indurain's former director) told me a story about Indurain, about the year he tried to win his sixth Tour," Armstrong remembered. "When [Indurain] told him he was going out for a six hour training ride, he actually only did four... Always a little less than planned. That's something I can't imagine. I remember a day last year in the Pyrenees when I was with Floyd and George. We rode more than six hours, in fantastic countryside and perfect weather. I was so happy to be living that moment. For me, training is still a real pleasure. It's tough, that's true, but it's fun."

posted by Michael | 8:53 PM


Monday, March 01, 2004

30 minutes a day


I'm going to spend 30 minutes a day studying O' maps between now and the first A-meet of the year (March 20-21 in St Louis). It is an experiment. Does studying O' maps help?

I did the same thing last September in preparing for the Great Lakes O' Fest.

When I did the experiment in September it seemed to work. But, one positive experience isn't enough to convince me that the map study helped. You can read what I wrote about part of my last experiment.

30 minutes a day is a lot of time to spend sitting and looking at an O' map. But, if it pays off, it'll be time well spent. It is, after all, a very painless way to practice.

One of the things I plan to do this time is to spend a good ten minutes each day looking at maps with routes from Bjornar Valstad.

When I first moved to Sweden, I borrowed the map books of a buy named Lennart Gustavsson. Lennart was a very good orienteer. He was on the Swedish "B" team and had a top ten finish at the Swedish champs. I spent hours looking at his maps and routes. At some point I realized I could look at a leg and tell you what route Lennart would take. By studying his maps, I'd picked up his style of orienteering. Maybe a side effect of my latest map study experiment will be getting a sense of Valstad's style.

posted by Michael | 8:37 PM


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