Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Stress and training.


I'd planned to do an easy jog and spend an easy 30 minutes on the bike trainer.

But, I'm not going to and I think I know why. I've felt a bit stressed all day. I don't feel stressed now, but I don't feel like exercising.

I was stressed because tomorrow I've got to stand in front of a group of about 50 government auditors and talk about, "Security of Public Health and Welfare -- Where does the auditor fit in (local perspective)?"

I'm not terrified of public speaking, but it isn't on the top of my list of fun things. I'm not so stressed that I'm shaking or feeling uneasy, but I'm stressed enough that I don't feel like training. So, I won't train.

posted by Michael | 6:37 PM


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Route choice results


Here are my times for the routes:

C 3:51
B 4:06
A 4:58
D 5:59

A few comments:

I tallied up everyone's guesses and the crowd (i.e. all of the voters taken together) got it nearly right. Overall, the crowd voted B, C, A, and D. But based on my tests, C is a bit quicker than B.

I'm fairly sure I ran C and B at comparable efforts (the avg. h.r. was a little higher on the B route).

Hammer and Kreso look to have guessed the times closest.

A lot of people picked B as the fastest. I think that is because it avoids a couple of lines of climb. But, the contour interval is just 3 meters and I suspect people are overestimating the value of avoiding the climb.

I wonder if I ran the first half of the D route too slowly. D is clearly the worse route (the distance from the start to where I left the paved road is about the same as the entire distance on the straight line). But, was it really that much slower? Maybe it was, or maybe I loafed a bit in the beginning.

I was glad to see so many people put in thier guesses, it made the training more interesting for me.

posted by Michael | 7:59 PM


Monday, November 28, 2005

Consistent times on the same route?


As I was going over the comments and estimates for leg times from yesterday's post, I began to wonder how consistent my times would be on the same route. In other words, if the best route took 3:51, how long would it take me if I ran it again...and again...and again? How much variation would there be for the same runner on the same leg.

It would be easy to test. But, I've never done the test.

I'll post my times for yesterday's post tomorrow or Wednesday. If you haven't put in your guesses, you've still got time.

Interesting Cross Country Skiing Interview

Fasterskier.com has an interview with U.S. skier Carl Swenson after his good world cup races in Finland. My favorite part of the interview:

Are you skiing better this early since you didn’t bike race this summer and fall and did ski specific training like rollerskiing instead?

- That might definitely be a part of it. Work hard at anything and it comes together at some point.

posted by Michael | 7:35 PM


Sunday, November 27, 2005

Testing routes at Shawnee Mission Park


I tested four routes on the leg below (click for higher resolution). This is a section of the forest that will be used for next Saturday's Kansas Orienteering Champs.

The forest at this part of Shawnee Mission Park is fairly nice. It is much better than most Kansas terrain. The trails are used by mountain bikers. For the most part the trails are very fast, easy running.

The leg is about 550 meters.

The contour interval is 3 meters.

Can you put the routes in order, fastest to slowest?

Can you put the routes in order, fastest to slowest? If you want to try, make your picks and post them using the comment feature. To make it tougher, for each leg make an estimate of how much time you think it took me.

To give you a start, I'll tell you that the fastest route took me 3:51.

I'll post the results in a few days.

And it isn't quite a hint, but you can see a bit of the forest and trails in a video I shot at the end of today's training. I loaded the short video (maybe 25 seconds) to putfile.com at:


posted by Michael | 4:44 PM


Saturday, November 26, 2005

Some numbers and a goal


The Norwegian team ran 3000 meters on the track at a training camp. Here are the top three times for women and men.

Anne Margrethe Hausken 9:55
Marianne Andersen 10:13
Elise Egseth 10:46

Oystein Kvaal Osterbo 9:09
Anders Skarholt 9:24
Carl Waaler Kaas 9:28

It is always interesting to see how fast the fast orienteers can run. The time trial was on a wet track in cool conditions. OPN reported that on a warmer day, they'd have run maybe 20-30 seconds faster.

A goal for next year

I've been thinking a bit about goals for the coming year. One goal -- which is a repeat from this year -- is to run the team trials and beat someone who is serious about making the WOC team. If my training goes ok and if the weather at the team trials isn't too hot, I would think that clean races will be enough to beat at least one serious WOC team contender.

posted by Michael | 7:01 PM


Friday, November 25, 2005

Need a new test loop


I should have a test loop, a course I'd run for time regularly as a way of monitoring my condition. I used to run a test loop at Shawnee Mission Park, but the trails have changed and that course is basically gone. I guess I could develop a new SMP test loop. Back in 2001 (the last time I felt like I was in really good shape) I regularly ran a time test -- I'd run for ten minutes and see how far I got.

Without a test loop I judge my fitness by feel. In particular, I look for a certain feeling when I reach the top of a hill during an O' race or training. When I'm fit, I feel tired at the top of a hill, but I don't have trouble pushing on. When I'm less fit, I reach the top and need to ease off a bit before I can run hard. When I'm very unfit, I can't even reach the top of a hill without having to walk.

I ran up a hill while training today and I know how I felt. I'll have to take that into account when I run the Trot next weekend at Bluff Woods.

Dog and quilt art

Maybe it is just my imagination, but Lexi (above) reminds me of the dog in the quilt (below).

posted by Michael | 7:11 PM


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Sport culture


I came across an interesting article about the Swedish cross country ski team in, of all places, Expressen.

The article is an interview with Thomas Alsgaard a Norwegian skier (retired from competition, I guess), who is working with the Swedish national team.

Here is a quick translation of a few bits of the article:

When Alsgaard comes home from a training camp he is bombarded by questions.

"The Norwegian skiers want to know everything: how are the Swedes training? Who is in form? Who did well at training? Have they come up with something new?"

In Sweden it is different.

"When I'm together with them [the Swedish team] I get almost no questions about the Norwegian team."


"A clear difference [between Norway and Sweden] is that we Norwegians are good at using eachother's knowledge....[In the Swedish team] they are individuals who work a lot on their own, with their own trainers, instead of working together with their teammates. I think the Swedes do what it takes, but they don't do any more. They don't ask themselves -- can I do even better?"

posted by Michael | 2:33 PM


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Best orienteer in North America


Who is the best orienteer in North America?

Not the best North American orienteer, but the best IN North America.

Give it some thought.

I'd say the best is Maarten Bostrom -- Finland's national team runner and Arizona State Champion.

Maybe it is old news, but it was news to me when I found out that Bostrom is living in Flagstaff, Arizona, running on the Northern Arizona University cross country team.

Bostrom is known as one of the fastest running orienteers. He's been ranked as high as 15th in the world rankings.

I wonder how long Bostrom will be around the U.S. and if he'll have the chance to attend some more events.

By the way, the map above is Kentucky Camp, outside of Tucson. Bostrom won his Arizona Championship on that map (but the course is an old race with Mook's routes).

posted by Michael | 7:42 PM


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

More on ankles and balance


I went back and looked at Off Balance.

That inspired me to google "Christer Johansson orienteering balance" where I found an article Johansson wrote (in English) titled "Elite Orienteering, Description and Physiology." The article includes more of Johansson's discussion of balance.

If you're interested, the complete article (as a word file) is here.

posted by Michael | 9:00 PM


Monday, November 21, 2005

Nice long leg


Just a quick post because I'll be sitting down to watch the Jayhawks on TV soon....

Check out the course from a recent IFK Goteborg night training. Here is the first part of the course and here is the second. They used a mass start.

The first leg is 3+ Km. How do you run the first leg?

Tobias Noborn, who won the race, had 21:50 to the first control. I don't know his route, but he wasn't the fastest on the leg. Fredrick Lowegren ran a roughly straight route, but he started with a wrong turn on a trail and also wasn't fastest on the leg. Henrick Eliasson had the best route to the first control. I'll post a note in the comments about his route (though I don't know exactly how he ran it).

posted by Michael | 6:53 PM


Sunday, November 20, 2005

Today's race at Weston Bend


1.5 km into today's course I caught up to Gene, who'd started before me. He asked me if I had any Gu. I didn't. It tells you something about how brutal the course is when someone needs Gu after 1.5 km.

You can see the toughest bit of the course below (click for higher resolution).

It doesn't look so difficult. But, the forest is rough and the contours feel more like 10 meters than 5 meters. The map is a bit rough in this area, too.

My route to 3 looks like a mistake. But it isn't. I took a wandering route because I was trying to stick to the nicer forest and avoid some of the steeper climbs.

We had one longer leg. 8 to 9 was about 1.5 km. The leg gave you two major decisions -- left of the line on the road or right of the line on trails. You also faced some shorter decisions, like how to leave 8 and how much effort to spend avoiding green in the last 1/3rd of the leg.

posted by Michael | 5:32 PM


Saturday, November 19, 2005



I spent some time today looking at maps and day dreaming.

Check out Simone Niggli's routes from last weekend's race in Venice and take a look at this animation of the M55 course.

Orienteering in Venice really looks fun. It is on my list of "things to do before I die." Maybe I'll get over there next year.

Basketball notes

I watched the KU game last night and tracked the outcome of each possession for both Kansas and Idaho State. Why? Well, tracking something specific forces you to watch the game closely. You might notice things you wouldn't otherwise (for example, how much more successful this year's team seems to be compared to last year in certain types of possessions).

I also put the results into a spreadsheet that modeled each team's offense. I had KU "play" Idaho State 10,000 times. Kansas won 9502 of those games.

posted by Michael | 7:56 PM


Friday, November 18, 2005  

I'll be orienteering this weekend. George Bush will be hanging out in Mongolia. Oyuna will certainly have a chance to meet Bush. I think she's meeting with Laura Bush for some sort of discussion (not sure what they'll talk about). In the photo above Oyuna is riding in Terejl. Terejl is the place where there will be some orienteering next year.

posted by Michael | 6:30 PM


Thursday, November 17, 2005

More from Denmark


Marianne Andersen wrote a bit about a recent training camp in WOC-relevant terrain in Denmark.

One of the training sessions was a relay with two person teams -- one woman and one man. The women started with a mass start. The course began with two forked loops. After the women finished the first loop, they tagged off to their team mates but they also kept running. The women then did the second loop (which was forked with the first loop) and then finished with a third, unforked, course. Andersen didn't explain what the men did, but I'd guess they had a similar course (i.e. two forked loops followed by a non-forked loop).

The explanation might seem a bit complicated, but it is pretty easy to make sense of if you look at Andersen's maps.

Some Basketball Notes

The Jayhawks play their first regular season game tomorrow night. They've played two exhibition games and I've watched both of them. I've been tracking the results of each possession. Here is how the Jayhawks offense has done in those first two games:

0 points on 47.9 percent of the possessions
1 point on 4.1 percent of the possessions
2 points on 36.3 percent of the possessions
3 points on 10.3 percent of the possessions
4 points on 1.4 percent of the possessions

posted by Michael | 8:25 PM


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A question I can't answer


Would the top level of U.S. orienteering be better if we orienteered more often in complex, tricky terrain or in less complex, simpler terrain?

Harriman or Pawtuckaway are good examples of the complex terrain in the U.S. Check out a bit of Pawtuckaway if you're not familiar with it.

Fair Hill, site of last weekend's races, is an example of simpler terrain. Check out Randy's routes on the long red course.

These two types of terrains put different demands on an orienteer. So you'd expect that different types or orienteers would do better in each type of terrain.

One of my many untested (but perhaps not untestable) ideas is that top orienteering in the U.S. would improve if we had more races in Fair Hill-like terrain and fewer in Pawtuckaway-like terrain. My thinking is that Fair Hill-like terrain reduces the differences between more experienced orienteers and less experienced orienteers. Fair Hill-like terrain would, compared to Pawtuckaway, magnify the damage of small booms. The "competitive pressures" at Fair Hill reward running fast, making quick decisions, and minimizing the small booms.

Maybe those are the sort of competitive pressures that U.S. orienteering needs.

posted by Michael | 7:01 PM


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Bizarre O' Danger


I went for a run tonight, wearing my headlamp as I jogged around in the dark forest.

Early on I spotted a couple of glowing eyes looking at me. It was a fox. First time I've seen a fox at Parkville. A little later I saw several sets of eyes glowing back at me -- deer.

Reminding me of this strange O' injury report from the USOF clubnet...

Bob Ireland suffered an amazing and terrible accident at the Rochester Night O,
a ninety minute score O. He had punched 22 out of the 30 controls, with 25
minutes more to go, when a deer smashed into his face. In the moonlight, he had
seen two does cossing the path, and then this sudden impact.

Bob spent the whole night in emergency. He has a bruised rib, two slight
fractures around the right eye and his clavicle was broken in two places.
A face trauma doctor stitched up two deep lacerations on his face.

Someone even suggested steps to avoid this problem in the future.

We need to avoid holding future night-O events during the whitetail deer mating season.

I'm not sure of the risk of deer-orienteer night O' accidents. I suspect the risk of a deer-orienteer accident is much higher on the drive from home to the event than during the race.

posted by Michael | 7:04 PM


Monday, November 14, 2005

Some Denmark Notes from Modig


Johan Modig wrote a bit about WOC training in Denmark. You can read the original in Swedish. Here is a rough translation of a bit of it:

Overall, it is about orienteering at a very high speed. It isn't extremely hilly (as often in continental Europe) but instead there are shorter, steep hills with climbs of 40-70 meters. The ground is mostly easy to run through and the ground is firm, which means you can run almost all of the hills regardless of how steep they are.

For technique training it might be useful to remove some of the black features (cliffs and boulders), so that you don't use those symblos (one of the features of the terrain is Denmark is a lack of those features) and force yourself to use the WOC-relevant contours more. During this winter I'm definetly going to do more technique training than I've done in the last few years.

Long O' weekend

I'll probably write a bit about the weekend races in the next couple of days. Overall, I was very satisfied with how I ran. I did better both physically and technically than I'd expected. But, I wasn't running well and my technique is quite rusty. So, I exceeded my expectations, but my expectations were low and, I hope, not representative of where I'll be in the spring.

posted by Michael | 1:09 PM


Friday, November 11, 2005

Next update on Monday, November 13


The next time I plan to update this page is Monday, November 13.

posted by Michael | 12:33 PM


Plan for the weekend races


I'll run two races this weekend. Saturday is a regular event and Sunday is the U.S. Long Champs. I'm running M40 both days.

Here are a few things I'm going to plan to do:

1. Include a good 10-15 of warming up without an active ankle. Then put on the active ankle for the races. I've found that running with the active ankle has a tendency to slightly change my stride. That may be one reason I work hard and move slow when I'm wearing the active ankle. It may also be one reason I got blisters last weekend. But, it I begin a run without the active ankle, it feels like I run normally even after I put the thing on.

2. Be extra careful leaving each control. That might seem like a strange thing to emphasize. But, I tend to run a leg well when I read the map carefully leaving a control. I think what happens is that if you read the map out of a control you start the right process for finishing a leg. On the other hand, if you leave a control roughly -- just head in the general direction and run hard -- you'll (or I should say "I will") have difficulty switching back to the kind of navigating that works well (for me at least).

If I do those two things, I think I'll have reasonable runs (though I'm not likely to move very fast).

posted by Michael | 12:26 PM


Thursday, November 10, 2005

Learning from being injured


My ankle is still giving me some trouble. I'm racing this weekend and, because of the ankle injury, I've been thinking a lot about the event and about how to approach it.

In thinking about the event this weekend, I realized that I've had a routine that I usually follow during the three weeks before a big race. The routine is something I do without really thinking about it. But, being injured has kept me from following my routine and has made me realize I have a routine. So, I've learned something positive from being injured.

My three-week routine, or maybe I should call it a template, is a mix of physical and technical (and even some mental) preparations that I go through. I'm sure it doesn't guarantee a good result, but looking back over the last 4 years or so, following my template seems to improve my chances of doing well.

I've been very aware of a routine I follow in the hour before a race, but I'd never really recognized this 3-week routine before.

Blodslitet video

If you've read this far, you deserve a reward...how about an O' video? Blodslitet is a famous mass start long distance O' race in Norway. Check out Anders Tiltnes' video from Blodslitet.

posted by Michael | 8:00 PM


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Map of maps and some other notes


Map of maps

I created a map of O' maps a few days ago. Simon left a comment about allowing others to add to the map, not just post comments. So, as an experiment I've set it up so anyone can add a pin and some info (even photos). Just go to the map of O' maps (link above), click on the link to "login to add to this community", register and you can add maps.

Randy's mystery maps

Randy posted mystery maps over at mapsurfer.com. He wrote, "the bored can attempt to guess the where the races took place." Check out the maps. Any idea where Randy was orienteering?


My first orienteering event was in 1980. I think it may have been November 1980. Close enough to say that today is my 25th anniversary of orienteering.

Basketball season

The Jayhawks played their first exhibition game tonight. I felt a bit rusty, I haven't watched much basketball since last spring. The Jayhawks will be fun to watch this year. The team is young, but looks good. I find it more interesting to watch a young, inexperienced team than a vetran team. The uncertainty makes the games more exciting. The younger players improve more over the season.

posted by Michael | 9:29 PM


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Denmark training camps


Denmark training

Sandra has a very nice write up of a training camp in Denmark. It is worth a look. While you are there, you'll want to add the page to your bookmarks.

As I was looking at the maps from Denmark I decided it looked exactly like I'd remembered from my one O' trip to Denmark. A long time ago I ran a 3-day competition in Denmark (1984, I think) near Randers. It turns out Silkeborg, where the WOC is centererd, is only about 50 km from Randers. No wonder the terrain looks familiar.

More Denmark training

A bunch of national teams are just starting training camps in Denmark and it'll be intresting to read the reports that come from these camps. OPN has an interview with one of the Norwegian team leaders that includes a camp schedule that I found interesting.

The camp began today and runs through Sunday. Friday night they've got a "Festmiddag" scheduled. I also thought it was interesting that one of today's technique training sessions was being filmed. I wonder what they'll learn from the film.

Another night snapshot

For this snapshot I set the camera on night mode (the shutter stays open a long time) and set both the flash and self timer.

posted by Michael | 8:00 PM


Monday, November 07, 2005

Watching football...thinking route choice


It isn't often that watching football on TV makes me think about route choice....but it happened yesterday.

With five seconds left in the football game, Kansas City had the ball on the 1. Oakland had a 3 point lead.

The commentators described two options:

1. KC could try a field goal to tie the game and go to overtime, or

2. KC could try a quick pass, then try a field goal if the pass didn't work.

Those are the only two options the TV commentators talked about.

But there was a third option. An option the commentators didn't expect. Kansas City could run the ball. If they ran the 1 yard, they'd win the game. But, if they didn't gain the yard, time would run out and Oakland would win.

Kansas City ran the ball, scored a touchdown with no time left on the clock and won the game.

The commentators came on after the score and said, "what a great call." Well, that struck me as strange. If they really thought it was a great call, why hadn't they talked about it?

I think they didn't talk about it because they actually thought it was a bad decision, but a good result.

What does this have to do with orienteering?

I think the same confusion -- mixing up the decision with the result -- happens when course setters design legs and when orienteers analyze what they did.

I remember a conversation last spring with a course setter who designed some interesting courses. He asked me what route I took on one leg. I explained my route. I took trails to avoid some green. The course setter said my route wasn't the best because you could get through the green on that part of the map. The green turned out to be less thick on the leg in question than on earlier parts of the course.

The course setter thought going through the green was the best decision because it was fastest. But, he was mixing up the decision with the result. At that point in the course, the best decision was to go around the green even though it turned out that straight was faster. But, you could only know that afterwards; after you knew the result.

posted by Michael | 7:55 PM


Sunday, November 06, 2005  

The Moon and Venus (I think) above the neighbor's house.

posted by Michael | 7:55 PM


Tom's courses


Tom Hanley set the courses for yesterday's day race. Tom is one of my favorite local course setters.

Tom's courses don't look special when you look at the maps. Here are a couple of legs (click for larger images).

What makes Tom's courses interesting and fun is that he makes good use of the terrain he's got to work with, hangs the markers failry, and takes care to keep you from having to go into really awful (e.g. thick and thorny) terrain. If you haven't orienteered in the terrain around Kansas City, you might not appreciate how much Tom's course setting can mean. But, if you've run in this sort of terrain a lot, you learn to appreciate his approach.

posted by Michael | 7:32 PM


Saturday, November 05, 2005

Good news for the ankle injury


I did two O' courses today and the ankle feels pretty good (how it feels tomorrow might be different). I did the first course by jogging about 2/3rds and walking about 1/3rd. The night O' was nearly all jogging.

The ankle wasn't nearly as much trouble as the blister I picked up. I think the blister was due to the active ankle changing how the shoe fits. I ran the first course in O' shoes but went with VJ Sarva Grips for the night. The VJs felt more comfortable.

I'll post some maps tomorrow.

posted by Michael | 9:06 PM


Friday, November 04, 2005

Tomorrow's races


I'm ready to test out my ankle. I turned it three weeks ago tomorrow. I'll test it with, if things go ok, two races tomorrow. PTOC is hosting two events, a day event followed a few hours later by a night race.

I was thinking about ankle injuries when I was riding my bike trainer in the basement tonight. I've got a TV in the basement (which helps pass the time on the trainer) and was watching ESPN. I saw a report about Shaq turning his ankle. They showed the replay. Shaq came down and twisted his ankle. Ouch. The headlines say Shaq is going to be out 2-4 weeks. If Shaq can be back in 2-4 weeks, I ought to be able to be back in 3.

In the three weeks since I hurt my ankle, I've done a bit of cycling and leg strength exercises, but I've only run 6 times (four of those runs were easy jogging of between 10 and 15 minutes). Yesterday I ran continuously for 40 minutes and felt pretty good.

The plan for tomorrow is to mix jogging/walking on each leg of the day course. I'll begin by walking any rough terrain. If everything goes ok, I'll think about jogging the night course. Of course, I'll be wearing an active ankle and, if things don't go well, I'm prepared to quit the course.

posted by Michael | 8:10 PM


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Night run


At the end of tonight's run, I put my camera on a bench, set the selftimer, and ran by the camera. I like the result.

Added some new maps

I also spent a few minutes tonight adding some more maps to my omaps site, including one map in Sweden. I also see that someone has looked at the page and added a comment. One of the features of the communitywalk page is that visitors can add comments.

posted by Michael | 9:17 PM


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A New Toy


I built a little toy, a way to collect information about different orienteering maps.

You can take a look at my omaps web page. Click on one of the little pointers and get some information about a specific orienteering map.

For each map (so far I've only put four on the page), you can get a few notes based on my experiences on the map, directions to the map, and an image or two of a part of the map. You can even add comments about each map.

I'll probably add a few more maps over the next few days. The "basemap" includes the whole world, so I might even add some maps from other countries.

I think it is pretty slick.

I can imagine building a bigger database of maps. It would, for example, be pretty simple to put out a map and ask clubs all over the country to locate and provide information about their maps. That'd be interesting and might even be useful.


Well, it was working an hour ago. It looks like the host site is down. Check it again later. Sorry about that.

Update 2

It is back up (as of Thursday morning CST).

posted by Michael | 8:40 PM


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Skjeset's training and a couple of notes


Lars Skjeset wrote a bit about how his training year has gone. Here is a rough translation of a bit:

...I ended up with 785 hours of physical training, with 140 of it O' technique...

For the coming season I won't make any big changes, but I want to try to train more O' technique.

If you can manage the language (Norwegian) poke around Skjeset's home page for lots of intersting details of his training.

Welcome visitors from Israel

I looked at the site statistics today and saw some visits from a web forum in Isreal. I can't read the discussion, but it is always fun to see some new visits.

New Orienteering North America

When I got home, Orienteering North America was waiting for me. This issue includes coverage of the World Champs in Japan. So, you know what will be on the cover -- a shot of Sandy Hott Johansen putting in one of the best ever North American results in a World Championship. Nope. Stephen Koehler taking the bronze medal in M10 at the U.S. Champs. I've met Stephen (shadowed him around a course in Wyoming and was impressed by his orienteering)...and the photos is nice...but, come on, how could Sandy not make the cover?

posted by Michael | 7:01 PM


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