Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Friday, December 31, 2004

E is for Embarrassing Error


I made an error when I was training today. Take a look at the map below. It shows three controls on a control picking course I was running. I designed the course a year or so ago. The locations were unmarked -- no flags, no tapes.

Control 12 is on the spur (actually it is in the stream, but on the way to 12 I decided I'd run up the spur instead of the bottom of the stream). 13 is a reentrant and 14 is a tree in the open.

To 12 I rounded the big hill, staying right of the straight line. As I rounded the big hill I looked ahead and spotted the spur from a good 150 meters away. Nothing to it, just push up the hill.

Then comes the error.

When I got to 12, I looked at the map and read the leg from 13 to 14. Simple. Follow the hillside, cross a reentrant, pop up to the clearing and look for the tree.

Off I ran. Except I wasn't at 13. I was at 12.

So I'm cruising along the hillside and wondering, "shouldn't I be able to see the clearing ahead of me."

I came to the reentrant (the one that 13 is in), expecting it to look like the reentrant between 13 and 14. It didn't look right at all.

When things don't look right at all you can just keep going, or you can stop. I tend to stop.

I stopped. No way the reentrant I was in (the one that 13 is in) was the one I'd expected. What?!

I looked at the map again and saw what had happened. Dumb. At least I didn't waste much time (since I was standing at 13!).

I was absolutely alone in the forest. It was just practice. It wasn't a race. But I was embarrassed to have done something so stupid.

posted by Michael | 5:14 PM



Click the image for higher resolution

posted by Michael | 5:08 PM


Thursday, December 30, 2004

D is for Dalby


Kristian Dalby, that is. Dalby is on the Norwegian national team. He's on the "U25 group", which we'd probably call something like the "development team."

I came across Dalby's home page a few weeks ago. It doesn't look like the home page has had much action to date (only three news items spread over about two months). I hope that'll change as the O' season starts up.

Dalby wrote a few paragraphs about his training. I've translated some of what he wrote. I think my translation is ok, but keep in mind that my Norwegian is a bit rough:

I have a plain and simple training philosophy, you train what you want to be good at. I want to be a good orienteer. So I have to do as much orienteering as possible.

That is one reason I moved from my hometown of Halden to Kristiansand for the 2004 season. I think it is essential to be able to train orienteering year round, something I can do in Kristiansand. I could have done that in Halden, too, but I thought that it was important to get a new type of terrain to further develop my orienteering....

At the same time I'm trying to think long-term, and I think the most important thing is to gradually increase my goals and the amount of training I do. I believe it is essential to avoid the most dangerous mistakes in the build-up period of my career, namely long periods of illness or injuries. It worked well in my first year as a senior (2004) even though I increased my training volume by about 100 hours, from 530 hours/year to about 630. My plan for 2005 is to train about 670 hours.

posted by Michael | 8:19 PM


Wednesday, December 29, 2004

C is for Cheating


Orienteers cheat. Not all of us. But some do. Attackpoint has recently had a couple of lively discussions of doping and cheating (mostly following).

I think you could get rid of a lot of following, if you (i.e. as a federation and as organizers of races) put some effort in to it. Here is one way you could do it:

1. Look for following. Following is pretty easy to spot if you look at split times. You could develop a pretty good definition of "probable following" and use a computer to identify likely followers.
2. When you find it, warn the follower. When the organizers identify a "probable follower" (using analysis of split times), you'd give that person a warning.
3. Take some sort of positive action to make it harder for that person to follow in the future. Anyone who has been warned would be treated differently, give them a start time that makes it harder for them to follow.
4. Penalize them for repeat violations. If split times show them following again (within a given time period, maybe a year), penalize them. You could add time or whatever.

Something like this wouldn't eliminate cheating. But it'd make it a lot harder. It might be more trouble than it is worth...or it might not.

Of course you'd keep all of the other things in place to prevent following; like rules against following, start intervals, butterfly loops, etc.

As an aside, I think the way to prove that someone followed is much the same as the way you prove a lot of financial fraud. In many (maybe even most) financial frauds that result in proof of fraud, the proof is simple. The fraudster admits they committed the fraud. It isn't simple to get an admission. But auditors who specialize in fraud have a pretty powerful set of tools.

For something completely different...check out Kim Fagerudd's new web page

Check out Kim Fagerudd and Salla Sukki's web page (all in Swedish, but worth a look for the maps even if you can't read the language). They've had a page for a good year or so, but this is a new and improved version. Kim has started keeping his training log on the web page. It'll be fun to see how his training goes.

posted by Michael | 8:20 PM


Tuesday, December 28, 2004

B is for Better Training


Johan Nasman has won a JWOC title, won this season's PWT, finished 4th and 5th in this summer's WOC races, and was interviewed for yesterday's Norrkopings Tidnigar. Johan described his training:

I run a more intervals now [than I used to]; 20 seconds, rest 15 seconds; 45 seconds, rest 15 seconds; or 90 seconds, rest 30 seconds.

How long?

Between 50-70 minutes, depending on how I feel.

How many sessions a week?

I train 12 times a week; twice a day for three days and then I rest for a day, then I train twice a day for another three days. But, of course, I also do long distance sessions.

I've experimented a bit with the sort of intervals Nasman describes (run hard for a fairly short time, then take a short rest, and keep doing that for say 30 minutes). It felt a lot like a steady tempo run, expect it felt like I was able to work a little harder and maintain a higher pace when I was going hard. My only problem with this sort of session was that I found myself watching the clock. Watching the clock makes a run feel like a chore.

posted by Michael | 7:46 PM


Monday, December 27, 2004

A is for Alabama


The 2005 season begins with an A-meet in Alabama. (Check out meet info if you're interested in going to the races).

A bit of a map from Oak Mountain State Park, just outside of Birmingham, is below.

I have fond memories of orienteering in Alabama. Years ago (1984?), Peggy and I spent part of our spring break training in Alabama. I remember running practice courses in the morning, map hiking before lunch, map hiking after lunch and finishing the day with another practice course. We spent maybe 4 days in Birmingham before driving back to Kansas, with a stop in Carbondale for two days of orienteering.

That camp in Alabama improved my orienteering in two big ways. First, I got a much better handle on reading contours. The park is full of contours to read and the visibility is good enough that you can really see what is going on. Second, I learned to read the map while running. Again, the open forest made it a lot easier. I remember running courses, keeping track of every reentrant and never losing contact with the map. Up until that camp I didn't really have those techniques down.

Actually even after the camp I didn't have the techniques perfected, but I had a much better sense of contours and had experienced consistent map reading while running.

I'm looking forward to returning to Alabama in a couple of weeks. It'll be fun to see if the terrain is as I remembered it.

posted by Michael | 7:58 PM



Click on the image for higher resolution.

posted by Michael | 7:56 PM


Sunday, December 26, 2004

A look at Anders Tiltnes' training


I spent some time with my questions for looking at training and Anders Tiltnes' summary of his training for the 2003 season.

I don't know much about Tiltnes. I've looked at his home page a couple of times, mostly looking at maps. I know he is a junior (might be a first year senior this season?). I know he's run the JWOC. That's about it.

In answering the questions, I was looking at a summary for a year. Tiltnes' summary shows his weekly training (broken down by intensity), his O' technique training, and short comments about each week.

Tiltnes' training - easiest to answer

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

Tiltnes trained 412:40, including strength and "beveglighet" (which I think means flexibility). That works out to an average of about 7:45/week.

Tiltnes' year followed a very clear pattern. He built a base with higher volume, lower intensity and very little O' technique work. That went on for about 22 weeks. 15 of those 22 weeks included more than his average weekly volume. Tiltnes trained with less intensity during those 22 weeks -- only 4 of the 22 weeks have more than the average weekly amount of high intensity training (and 3 of those were in the last 5 weeks of the 22 week period).

After building a base, he does more technique, more high intensity and lower volume.

To my eye it looks like Tiltnes includes shorter weeks when he feels he's getting a bit worn (or when he gets sick). So you'll see patterns of weekly training like this: 7:50, 11:35 then 6:30.

Tiltnes does a lot of high intensity training. He averaged about 1:15 of high intensity training/week. That seems, to me, like a lot. He's young, which probably makes it easier to recover from those hard sessions.

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

Tiltnes does some skiing and cycling. He also does strength training. I think he competes at ski orienteering. But as far as I can tell his main sport is orienteering.

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

It looks to me like most of his technique training is races, training camps and some club training sessions. To me it doesn't look like he's doing huge amounts of technique training. He did 106:45 of technique (including races). That's a lot by North American standards. I'd guess it is more than most orienteers in Norway, but far from what some do.

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

I count 9 weeks where being sick affected Tiltnes. He started the year with sickness affecting two weeks. One week he notes he was sick, "too much to drink on new year's eve."

I see one or two mentions of a knee. But, it doesn't look like Tiltnes has any real injury problems (another advantage to being so young?).

Tiltnes' training - possible to answer, but easy to get wrong

Does the orienteer have clear, known goals?

I think so, but I'm not sure what those goals are. If he's run JWOCs, I'd guess his goals is to make the Norwegian JWOC team and have good races. Running for a Scandinavian club probably makes Tio Mila and Jukola important goals.

Just guessing, I'd think he has long term ambitions to make the senior team and run a WOC.

Does the orienteer work with a coach?

I don't know. He runs for a club -- Tyrving -- known for its juniors. I'd guess they've got some help from the club. If he's got an individual coach, I don't know about it.

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

I've decided I don't like this question. I need to come up with something better. What I'm trying to get at with this question is the difference between people who train largely by feeling versus those who train more by detailed plans. Lasse Hogedal talked about orienteers who follow the Columbus model versus those who follow the Titanic model.

What about Tiltnes? I don't know. Looks like he has an idea what he wants to do, but I don't get a strong sense of the day-to-day thinking that goes on.

Tiltnes' training - hard to answer, probably wrong

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

If I read his home page I might get an idea. But all I've done is look at his training summary.

Actually, it is worth taking a look at an interview with Tiltnes (in English!) and drawing your own conclusions.

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

Looks like he's following a template.

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?

He lives in Norway. He's young and must have started relatively young.

In his training summary he lists "synfaring" a couple of times. I think "synfaring" is field checking (but my Norwegian is a bit rough).

Does anything seem striking or unusual?

Tiltnes has a summary on his training page that shows his progression in training over the four years from 2000-2003.

2000: 273 hours of training, 253 sessions, 55 races.
2001: 291 hours of training, 261 sessions, 50 races.
2002: about 350 hours of training.
2003: 410 hours, 296 sessions.

It looks like Tiltnes is taking a long-term approach. He's building his hours steadily but not doing anything really crazy (like trying to go straight from <300 hours/year to 500 or 600).

It looks like Tiltnes is careful with his training. He takes plenty of days off (23 of the weeks have no more than 5 sessions/week).

posted by Michael | 6:27 PM


Saturday, December 25, 2004

Some maps to enjoy


I spent an hour or so today sitting in front of the fireplace, sipping a cup of Peets coffee (holiday blend), and looking at Anders Tiltnes' training. I'd thought about writing something about Tiltnes' training, but that'll have to wait a day or two.

Instead, I'm just going to post a couple of links:

Check out routes from a race called Vardasen Downhill.

Also worth a look is Anders Tiltnes' collection of maps from 2002-2004.

posted by Michael | 1:25 PM


Friday, December 24, 2004  

A Christmas card...a snapshot I took on one of my most fun 2004 training sessions, a early morning easy ski back in February.

posted by Michael | 5:48 PM


Thursday, December 23, 2004

Is training fun?


Just for fun, I went through the current week of training for the top 25 at Attackpoint. I wanted to see how many people wrote that any session was "fun."

Take a guess. How many of 25 people who log their training at Attackpoint wrote that a training session this week was fun?

As I went through the logs, I came across a number of people who wrote nice things about a training session ("beautiful weather," for example). I suspect those people are having fun, even if they didn't write that they had "fun."

Looking at the logs I also came across some photos from Biggins' trip to go skiing in Yosemite. Though Biggins didn't say he had fun, I've got to guess that about six hours of skiing at Yosemite must have been a blast.

Turns out just 3 of the 25 logs I looked at included a session that was fun.

posted by Michael | 8:02 PM


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Quick link to South American maps


Not much time to write today, so I'll just give you a link to mapsurfer.com where Randy has posted his maps from the South American O' Champs. Cool!

posted by Michael | 7:57 PM


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

What does Johan have to say?


Here is a quick translation of a comment from Johan Modig:

I want to clarify a few things:

A big difference in my training now compared to earlier is the quality and effectiveness. When I was 20 to 25 years old I built up strong endurance and oxygen uptake. Today my training isn't primarily intended to try to improve those abilities.

I can build the effectiveness of my muscles and running efficiency through other methods, for example strength and spaenst-training [spaenst training involves things like quick jumps].

I've also been injury prone and so I will continue to do more alternative training.

That means that I can have high quality almost every day and that will make me better.

I'm convinced that you can be world champion following my philosophy, i.e. varied, highly effective training combined with a lot of recovery (rest, massage and stretching).

But my belief that this type of training will be enough has to do with having almost ten years of training with longer slower session.

Another important reason for how I train today is that it is really how I WANT to train. It has been a long time since training has been so much fun. And I can say that despite having trained almost every day for the last ten years.

The discussion can continue another day...

I've got a couple of comments about Modig's comments.

I really appreciate that he took the time to write. Looking at how top orienteers train is fun. It helps me understand the sport. I think I can speak for others who look at this page regularly and say we all appreciate the chance to hear from one of the world's top orienteers.

I was struck by Modig's comment about having fun and training the way he wants to train. Sometimes in discussions about training, we forget how important it is to have fun.

posted by Michael | 7:55 PM


Monday, December 20, 2004

Scheduling conflict?


This summer the U.S. relay and night champs conflict with the world champs. I didn't know this until I read the discussion at Attackpoint.

Here is a bit of the post that started the discussion:

This sort of scheduling is counter to the goal of having the top athletes both competing at national championships and representing their countries at the World Orienteering Championships. I support this goal, so I would like to see more care taken by organizers to avoid such conflicts.

You can go to the discussion and read all about it if you are really interested in how this happened.

Here is a question that seems worth asking -- how many people attended both the world champs and the U.S. relay/night O' champs this year (when there was no conflict)?

Orienteering Maine hosted both the relay and night O' champs in late September this year.

Of the 8 men and women who ran the world champs for the U.S., only three of the 8 ran at the night and relay champs.

I guess avoiding this sort of scheduling conflict would be good, but it looks to me like much ado about nothing.

posted by Michael | 8:28 PM


Sunday, December 19, 2004

More on Modig's training


I spent some more time looking at Johan Modig's training from last winter. I sat in a comfortable chair with a cup of coffee in my hand and a list of questions on the table in front of me. I put the questions together last year, when I realized I could learn more about training if I was a bit more systematic in how I looked at people's training logs. You can see the questions under the heading "a new project." To see how I apply the questions, take a look at H is for Hammer.

Back to Modig.

I looked at 20 weeks of his training as he reported it on his web page. Obviously, looking at just his winter training isn't ideal. But it gives me a sense of his training.

Modig's training - easiest to answer

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

I'm only looking at Modig's winter training, so I don't get a complete picture. His average for those 20 weeks was only 8:21. That's not much for an elite level orienteer. For 8 of the 20 weeks, Modig put in over ten hours of training.

Modig's training volume was quite uneven. For the 20 weeks I looked at the unevenness was due to illness and injuries.

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

Modig did a lot of alternative training. He cycles (I'm guessing it is on trainer rather than a bike out on the roads). He swims. He runs in a pool. He does a bit of strength training with weights.

Modig seems to do some cross training every week. He does a lot when he's forced to avoid running because of injury problems.

Modig has competed in running events. I didn't see any in the 20 weeks I looked at, but his web page lists times for 5,000 meters and Lidingoloppet places. He seems to be a strong runner, with a 5,000 meter PR of 15:13.

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

Modig didn't do a load of technique training during the 20 weeks I looked at. By my count he had 32 technique sessions (including races) over 20 weeks. It looks like he does a club training/race once a week and the rest of his technique training is races or training camps.

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

Modig has had plenty of injury/illness problems. I wrote a bit about that yesterday. I also recall that he was injured last summer.

I don't know if Modig just got unlucky or if he's easily injured. I hope that he just had a run of bad luck.

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

Does the orienteer have clear, known goals?

Modig has clear goals. On his web page he writes, "the goal of my orienteering career is to become world champion."

Does the orienteer work with a coach?

I don't know if Modig has a coach. He certainly has access to coaching through the Swedish national team or his club. Even if he doesn't have a coach currently, I'd guess he had a coach at some point in his O' career.

The notes Modig writes on his web page make me think that even if he has a coach, Modig takes an active role in planning his training.

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

Modig's training looks thoughtful and planned in detail. But he's flexible (had to be when he struggled with injuries and illness). I don't think Modig goes out an just trains without a plan. I suspect that when he does intervals he watches the clock pretty closely.

Modig's training - hard to answer, probably wrong

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

A positive attitude comes across. In the 20 weeks I looked at he had lots of problems, but it didn't look like he got down on himself. He didn't whine when things weren't going well.

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

I think he's doing some experimenting, but not a lot. Last winter he did few long runs (only 4 of at least 120 minutes). He wrote (and I've roughly translated it), "I don't need a lot of volume training. My interval sessions have the same effect and are more efficient." This winter he's planning to do some more long runs.

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?

I think he's from an orienteering family. He probably began orienteering at a young age.

His running times and Lidingoloppet results suggest he either has or could compete as a runner.

Lived in Europe? Yep, that's where Sweden is.

Does anything seem striking or unusual?

Modig didn't do much running. He's planning to increase his alternative training this winter. How can you get away with so little running at this level? He must have some real talent.

Modig is fairly young. He was born in 1977.

posted by Michael | 7:25 PM


Saturday, December 18, 2004

More on Modig's training


I spent some time this morning drinking coffee and looking at Johan Modig's training from last winter (I linked to his training in yesterday's entry). I had ambitions of writing a bunch about his training. Not enough time today, maybe some other time.

Here are a couple of observations:

1. Modig is a really good orienteer. He finished 10th in the 2003 WOC long race. He's also won a junior world championship.

2. Last winter, Modig averaged 8:21/week (for the 20 weeks from early December through the middle of April). That'd be a lot for me, but for someone with ambitions of running the world champs for Sweden, that doesn't seem like much.

3. Modig missed a bunch of training last winter for injuries and illnesses. It looks like his training was affected by injuries or illnesses in 8 of the 20 weeks.

4. During the winter, Modig planned to go to two training camps with the national team. He skipped the first camp with a cold and an injured "ljumsken" (I'm not exactly sure what "ljumsken" is -- I think it is the upper part of the leg, maybe groin or hamstring?). He made the camp in April but had to take it easy because he was recovering from a cold.

Looking at his training begs the question -- if he'd stayed healthy, how much better would his training have been?

posted by Michael | 4:24 PM


Friday, December 17, 2004

Johan Modig's winter training


I like reading how orienteers train. And I can't think of anything to write tonight, so I'll translate a bit of something Johan Modig wrote about his winter training:

I started training for next year's season a few weeks ago.

So far I've be satisfied with one session a day, but now I'll begin to increase it a bit. My plan is to do 7-10 sessions/week during the base training period.

A change in my training is that the number of sessions of alternative training will increase. At the same time this will mean more quality sessions than prior years.

During the winter, my interval training will mostly be on a cycle or running in a pool. In terms of running, I won't be doing intervals, but some longer tempo sessions of 30-50 minutes.

Last year I did very few long distance sessions. This winter there will be some more.

For a little context I took a quick look at Modig's training from last winter season. Here are his weekly hours of training for the period beginning December 2003 and ending mid-April 2004 (hours and minutes per week):


If you can manage the Swedish, read Modig's winter training report from last year. It is interesting.

posted by Michael | 7:26 PM


Thursday, December 16, 2004

Oooooold man


"Jag tänker hänga på ett år till, jag ser det hela som en kul utmaning."

In English, that is:

"I plan to hang around for another year, I think of it as a fun challenge."

I'm quoting Hakan Eriksson from a newspaper article about the silver medalist from the sprint WOC. Eriksson is 43 years old.

The sports-talk-radio-view-of-the-world would certainly see Eriksson as sad. Lots of folks expect an athlete to go out on top. Don't hang around, retire with dignity. Michael Jordan shouldn't have made a comeback, for example. Personally, I like to see people hanging around as long as they're having fun, as long as they're enjoying the challenge. I'm pretty sure I believed that even when I was 20.

posted by Michael | 1:19 PM


Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Very easy running in the forest


Holger H-J wrote a bit about training on a Norwegian discussion page. I thought it was quite interesting and touched on something I was thinking about last weekend. Here is a rough translation of some of what he wrote:

One difference between orienteering and running is that we run in the terrain and up a lot of hills. It demands a different kind of strength. Runners have a different "rhythm" and run with the same stride all the time. Orienteers have a lower cadence, each step is different, the push off* and surface vary the whole time and balance/coordination is entirely different. Speed is also much slower for an orienteer. Do you really need to be able to run faster than 35 minutes/10 km to be nordic champ in Notodenn? [Notodden hosts the Nordic Open Champs this summer]


Runners would consider a lot of the training I (and many other orienteers) do "junk miles" because of the low speed. The heart is working relatively low (I often average under 110 h.r. on a long training session). But the training is in steep terrain on trails with lots of rocks and roots. These easy sessions give me specific strength training.

I used to feel that if you're going to run in the forest, you ought to run at a pace that you race at. But that was when I didn't do much running in the forest. When I lived on a map, I began to do my slow/easy runs in the forest, too. I began to do almost all of my running in the forest.

I can't manage to do all my runs in the forest these days. But, most of my runs (at least in the colder half of the year) are in terrain that is somewhat relevant. I try to run on trails or the woods, but minimize roads and the track.

A serious American orienteer could probably gain a competitive advantage over most of us by doing the majority of their training in the forest.

*"Push off" is a real guess on my part. The Norwegian word is "frasparket."

posted by Michael | 7:31 PM


Tuesday, December 14, 2004

baseball and weather and orienteering injuries


I wonder if I could predict orienteering injuries?

Reading a couple of books got me thinking about predicting injuries. I just finished a book about a huge blizzard that hit the prairie in 1888, killing hundreds of people. The author describes the state of weather prediction at the time. I've also been reading a baseball book which includes an analysis of baseball injuries. The study, by a guy named Sig Mejdal, forecasts injuries for baseball players.

So putting weather forecasting and baseball injury forecasting together got me to thinking about orienteering injuries.

I'll start with an easy example -- what would you do to forecast injuries caused by a thorn in the foot.

What is the chance of getting a thorn in the foot? It must be pretty straightforward. If you run in forests with thorns long enough, you'll step on a thorn. You can't do anything about it. Eventually it'll happen.

Other injuries are a lot more complicated to forecast. Think about turning an ankle. If you train in the forest, you expose yourself to lots of opportunities to turn an ankle. But, if you train in the forest you also strengthen your ankles and develop a good forest-running-style, reducing the chance of turning an ankle. On balance, I suspect that training in the forest a lot pays off. The cost (the exposure risk) is low compared to the benefit.

Age is worth thinking about. Does age explain injury risk? What type of injuries are common for 25 year olds? What about 40 year olds?

Lots of stuff to think about, but dinner is ready, so I'll stop writing for today.

posted by Michael | 7:16 PM


Monday, December 13, 2004

Some thoughts on Lydiard


The running coach, Arthur Lydiard, died Sunday. Here's a news report from ESPN.

Lydiard coached Peter Snell. Peter is, as you may or may not know, an orienteer and a regular at the annual Texas Junior Orienteering Camp.

Thinking about Lydiard reminded me of a question that has been in my thoughts for a few weeks -- how much does coaching and management matter? How much of Peter Snell's success was due to Lydiard? How much of Lydiard's success was due to Peter?

In the orienteering context, these questions are analogous to: How much of Sweden's WOC success is due to Goran Andersson and Marita Skogum? How much of Karolina Hojsgaard's success is due to Skogum?

I talked about these sort of questions with Peter at TJOC a couple of years ago. I won't write what he said because it was just a private conversation. But, maybe a touch of Peter's thoughts on the matter show up in an interview published in tomorrow's New Zealand Herald. Here is a bit of interview with Peter:

"You spend a couple of years doing absolutely everything your coach tells you," Snell said yesterday. "But, at the same time you make your own observations. I did not really enjoy automatically doing what the coach told me to do. Some of what I said was reported back to Arthur.

"His response was basically ‘do what I tell you or move on’. I did what I was told.

"Basically, I was a high-achiever waiting for someone to find me. Arthur did."

You might also want to check out the lead story about Lydiard from the New Zealand Herald.

posted by Michael | 7:06 PM


Sunday, December 12, 2004

Some notes about Oystein Sorensen's training


Sorensen is a top junior in Norway. Kondis.no ran an interview with him that, if you can handle Norwegian, is worth a look. In the interview, Sorensen talks about his training. Here are a some of the highlights:

Sorensen has always done a lot of technique training. But he's feels he needs to be a stronger runner to reach the top.

Base building training -- 3 high intensity sessions a week (about 90 percent of maximum heart rate); also lots of long distance, sometimes on skis.

Summer training -- High quality. Lots of O' technique and some running intervals/distance training.

Trains 80 hours a month in the winter, less in the summer.

Total training last season 712 hours.

posted by Michael | 7:17 PM


Saturday, December 11, 2004

Corridor training today


I ran a corridor course this afternoon (map is below). This kind of course can make a familiar area feel different. I should probably do more of this sort of training when I'm on the maps around KC.

I made the corridor fairly wide. I was worried about how thick the forest might be and wanted to give myself a bit of room to skirt the worst stuff. As it turned out the roughest area was yellow on the map. The rough open area on the long leg to 7 was head high grass. It feels a bit like running through a marsh, it pulls energy out of your legs and is mentally tough.

Note to locals

I hung tapes at the control locations and plan to leave them up until at least January 16. If you'd like to run the course for practice, let me know and I can email you a map.

posted by Michael | 4:49 PM



Click for higher resolution.

posted by Michael | 4:47 PM


Friday, December 10, 2004  

Today's training was hilly. Here is the hilliest section I ran. I took it easy, but running that many hills is tough even if the pace is slow. Fun.

posted by Michael | 5:39 PM


Thursday, December 09, 2004

Kansas Champs report


Halftime in the KU basketball game and I've got to come up with a few words for the blog.

Instead of writing something original, I'm just going to point to a report from the Kansas Champs by Patrick.

posted by Michael | 8:56 PM


Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Some notes from The Trot


I ran with a group of orienteers for the first 14 or 15 controls at The Trot last weekend. Here are a few observations from that experience:

1. It seemed like there were big differences in abilities to read the map on the run. I bet most of us could gain some time by becoming better at reading on the run. Some people could gain a whole lot.

2. Running at an angle up or down a hillside is tough. It is easier to run perpendicular to the contours. I don't think it is physically tough to run at an angle, it is just that you have a tendency to go straight up or straight down even if you need to run at an angle.

3. It would have been useful to be able to throw in a quick burst of speed. I train to run a fairly steady pace. But running at a steady pace makes it hard to get away from a pack. Maybe I'll do something about that before next year's Trot.

4. Falling down hurts. As I get older it seems to hurt more. It also seems to take longer to recover. I spent some time on a bicycle trainer tonight and the shoulder I hurt at The Trot was still sore.

5. There are big differences in orienteers speed in the last 50 meters before a control. One reason is that people don't look ahead far enough. I recall a couple of controls where people ahead of me were slowing down to read the map when I (a good 25 meters behind them) could see the flag.

posted by Michael | 8:48 PM



Peggy, top female finisher at the Kansas Champs, and Nadim...discussing Nadim's bobble at the 8th control?

posted by Michael | 8:47 PM


Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Expecting thick woods


"Yikes, those woods look thick."

That might be what you think when you first look at the map of Camp Naish I posted a couple of days ago.

When Orienteer Kansas first mapped Naish, the forest was almost entirely white on the map. The forest wasn't open back then. The mapping was just done a bit differently.

When the map was mostly white, people came out of the woods complaining about how thick the forest was.

When the map is mostly green, people come out of the woods saying, "it wasn't so bad."

Here is what Peggy wrote:

...The woods weren't nearly as bad as I thought they'd be. Decades of remembering the unpleasantness of Kansas woods seemed mostly unwarranted....

...The woods were actually pretty good, in some places downright pleasant, though the loose limestone was a bit scary at times....

The difference is the expectation. Expect thick forest and it doesn't seem so bad. Expect forest "reminiscent of Silvermine" and the same forest seems thick.

posted by Michael | 7:48 PM


Monday, December 06, 2004

Mats Troeng's training


Here is a quick translation from the interview with Mats Troeng I mentioned a couple of days ago. My apologies for a bit rough translation.

What does a typical training week look like for Mats Troeng in December 2004?

Because the first half of December is when I'm finishing up my studies, I haven't had a detailed training plan. I'm doing what I can, and that can mean 10-12 hours of physical training a week with some running, skiing, overall strength and spinning. Most of it is low intensity but I also do a couple of faster sessions. I also do a bit of mental training. Some times there is too much focus on the amount of physical training. How often do you hear anyone talk about how much mental or orienteering technique training they are doing? That is where most of us have the most to learn.

posted by Michael | 7:41 PM


Sunday, December 05, 2004

Routes from the Possum Trot


I ran the Possum Trot today and had a decent race. Check out the results if you are really interested.

The map below show my routes (click on the image for higher resolution).

The Trot is a mass start race. To spread the field and give something extra to think about you are allowed to skip any two controls. I saved my skips until the very end when I skipped 22 and 23.

The course was relatively short at 12.8 km with no skips. But the forest is a bit thick, slowing the times (Mike Platt's ran a tick under 7:30/km). We started in cool, but dry weather. But by the time I'd reached 12 it had begun to rain. The rain made the rocks bit slippery.

The Trot is always fun, but this year's event was especially fun. The course and terrain were interesting from start to finish. A great event.

posted by Michael | 6:40 PM



posted by Michael | 6:37 PM


Saturday, December 04, 2004  

Mark Everett finished first at today's Kansas Orienteering Championships.

posted by Michael | 8:03 PM



About 20 seconds later, Mikell Platt reached the finish.

posted by Michael | 8:02 PM



And from Puerto Rico...whoops, I mean Texas,...the third finisher was Tom Carr.

posted by Michael | 8:01 PM


Friday, December 03, 2004

Train on the hills


If you can read Swedish, take a look at Alternativet's interview with Mats Troeng. Among other things he talks about the need to train on hills to get yourself ready for the world champs in Japan.

Troeng talks about planning to include 1500 to 2000 meters of climb each week. You don't hear many people talking about their training in terms of climb/week. You hear people talking about mileage or hours or number of sessions, but climb/week isn't so common.

Troeng might need to get himself a watch with an altimeter function. I've found that having a convenient way to count the climb helps. If you measure climb, you start doing more and more climb. Reminder to self -- get new battery for watch.

Troeng lives in Uppsala. Uppsala is flat. Flatter than much of Kansas, in fact. But there is a narrow hill running through the town. It is some sort of glacial feature. Troeng's club has a hill loop (click on the map for a higher resolution). The loops starts where the red and blue lines meet on the north side of the map. You start by following the red line, then return on the blue line.

I've run on the map for Troeng's hilly loop. It is a neat little area; just a short jog from Magnus and Sanna's (and Moa's) home. I ran a short course with plenty of climb.

posted by Michael | 5:53 PM


Thursday, December 02, 2004

What about Norway?


I looked at Norway's WOC results the same way as I looked at Sweden's.

Norway won 8 medals: 3 gold, 1 silver and 4 bronze.

The list shows each medalist and how much time they were from not winning a medal. For example, Elisabeth Ingvaldsen took 3rd in the sprint race, but if she'd run 1.6 seconds slower she'd have finished 4th.


Ingvaldsen (bronze) 0:01.6*


Valstad (gold) 3:06.7
Hott-Johansen (bronze) 1:31.5
Staff (silver) 0:31.1


Staff (gold) 0:42.8
Nordberg (bronze) 0:02.2


women (bronze) 5:48.0
men (gold) 1:41.0

Add all of the times up and you get 13:24.5. Norway was 13 minutes from taking no medals.

I also figured out how much time Norway was from taking no gold medals -- 48.9 seconds.

The Swedish O' Federation describes themselves as "the world's best national team." But, you know it is pretty hard to say they are much better than Norway. Sure, Sweden had a couple of silver medals, but Norway had one more medal overall. Both nations had 3 gold medals. To me the real difference between the results of Sweden and Norway is that Sweden dominated the sprint while Norway dominated the long. Norway also took a medal in each discipline. Sweden took no middle distance medals.

Kind of interesting that Sweden entered into new contracts with their team coaches while Norway hired a new team coach.

*I should point out that I did all of these calculations in my head and didn't double check my math. I think I got the math right, but I wouldn't bet a lot of money on it.

posted by Michael | 7:23 PM


Wednesday, December 01, 2004

A look at the WOC results


I spent some time looking at the WOC results for the Swedish team.

Sweden had a very successful world champs (a fact that shows up in stories about the new contracts for the coaches). Sweden won seven medals: 3 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze.

I looked at the results to see how close Sweden was to a less-than-successful WOC. How much time separated Sweden from no medals? How much time separated Sweden from no gold medals?

The list shows how much slower each runner would have needed to be to miss a medal. For example, Karolina Hojsgaard won the sprint gold, but if she'd been 18.5 seconds slower she'd have finished 4th.


Karolina Hojsgaard (silver) 0:18.5
Niclas Jonasson (gold) 0:07.9
Hakan Eriksson (silver) 0:05.4
Johan Nasman (4th) 0:04.6


Mattias Karlsson (silver) 1:51.4
Karolina Hojsgaard (gold) 1:32.1


women (gold) 7:41
men (bronze) 1:36

Add all of those times up and you get 13:16.9. Sweden was just over 13 minutes from taking no medals. No medals would have been a real failure.

It wouldn't take much for Sweden to have no gold medals. In the sprint race, if Niclas Jonasson was 2.6 seconds slower and Hakan Eriksson 0.1 seconds slower, Sweden would have no sprint golds. If the women's relay team was just 3 seconds slower, Sweden would have had no relay golds. Karolina Hojsgaard, however, could have lost over a minute (1:01.2) before she'd have dropped to 2nd place. Add those times together and Sweden was just 1:06.8 from no gold medals.

Two things struck me as I looked at these results (nothing especially earth shattering...).

1. Karolina Hojsgaard really performed well. Without her on the team, Sweden probably wouldn't have had nearly as successful a WOC.

2. Sweden wasn't more than a few relatively small booms from a much less successful WOC.

posted by Michael | 7:18 PM


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