Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Friday, March 31, 2006  

this is an audio post - click to play

posted by Michael | 5:06 PM


Thursday, March 30, 2006

To Ohio


I'm on my way to Ohio tomorrow morning for the U.S. relay champs. It should be fun. I'll try to phone in some audio posts over the next few days.

posted by Michael | 9:25 PM




March 31, 2000.

That was the first day I logged my training at Attackpoint -- 37 minutes of orienteering.

Sandvik's training

From an article in the Halden Arbeiderblad, Tore Sandvik talks about his training (rough translation):

"My standard week this winter has been 20 hours of training. I do a lot of road running, skiing an strength. I've also done a lot of training on a bike. You need to think about alternative training [i.e. this winter when there has been more snow than normal]. I'm really looking forward to spring."

"That we haven't been able to run in the forest [because of the snow] is mostly a problem for O' technique. But, I'm not worried. I've got a lot of experience and it doesn't take long to find a good feeling for O' technique."

posted by Michael | 9:10 PM


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Orienteering art?


Aspleaf has been burning his O' gear and taking photographs. Is it art? Check it out for yourself orienteering shoes and a compass go up in flames.

If you can read Swedish, I can recommend a daily visit to Aspleaf's page.

New video

Jan Kocbach posted another video from a local sprint race in Norway. I think he's using a digital camera to shoot the video, editing it in Microsoft Moviemaker and posting it on a free video hosting site. With relatively little effort (and expense), he's putting together some really good reports. In the latest video, Kocbach integrates images of the map and pictures of orienteers so that you can easily match up the video with the map. Take a look and enjoy.

posted by Michael | 7:39 PM


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

My day


I had a normal day today. I got up, went to work, took a lunch break, jogged after work, ate dinner, read a bit, and soon I'll go to bed.

But imagine how much more interesting my day would have been if I did what my email spam was telling me!

I'd have started the day worried. Sure, I've worked up the nerve to ask Emerald out. But, I'm worried about concerns about my performance disrupting the thrill and momentum of spontaneous, passionate love. Fortunately, a "real doctor" using "real science" is there to help. Whew, that takes away the worry....

Next my day would get even better! I won the lottery in the Netherlands!!! $400,000 US dollars waiting for me.

And the good news just keeps getting better. A great philanthropist who died in the U.K. 2 years ago named me in his will. More money! This time it is 5.6 million British pounds. And all I need to do is get in touch with Chuba Taylor, who'll help me get the cash.

At this point it is pretty obvious that my actual day -- going to work, for example -- was a real waste of time. My lottery winning and inheritance exceed what I'd make in a lifetime of performance auditing.

But, then I'm hit with sadness (fortunately the real doctor has cured my of my worry, so I can take some sadness)...you see, another old friend has kicked the bucket. This time, it was an Australian petroleum engineer in Nigeria. So sad. But, I guess the $35,000,000 he left me will help.

I'm doing great at this point. But the spammers just don't get it. Now they want to offer me a $145,000 mortgage for a low monthly payment. Are they kidding? With all the cash I've got (and with no worries), why would I borrow money?

Macys.com is a bit more on top of things. They want me to buy at least $50 of beauty brands (whatever that means) and they'll pay the shipping. That sounds like a scam. Why would Macys.com pay the shipping? Yeah, it must be some sort of scam.

Back to reality...I didn't do what my spam was telling me. I went to work. I went jogging. I came home. Just the usual routine.

posted by Michael | 7:59 PM


Monday, March 27, 2006

Looking at a sprint map


I spent some time today looking at maps. Nothing unusual with that. But, what was unusual was that I recorded my decisions.

I looked at the Fairhill Sprint race. I didn't run the race, but I did run at Fairhill the next two days, so I've got some idea of what the terrain was like.

If you want to follow along, open the map (Randy's routes are shown) and listen to the recording.

posted by Michael | 7:21 PM


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Trying to make myself nervous


I get a bit nervous before some races. I don't get nervous before small races or training. But, I get a little nervous before A-meets.

I think I race best when I'm a little nervous.

I tried to make myself nervous when I trained this morning. It was just an experiment. I wondered if I could get that nervous feeling that I get before an A-meet even if it was just a training session.

I could.

Or rather, I could get to a point where I felt a similar level of nervousness before a training session. That's probably a good thing to do, i.e. practice getting nervous before some training sessions.

posted by Michael | 8:49 PM


Saturday, March 25, 2006

videos of obscure Scandinavian sports


Jan Kobach posted some video of a local sprint cup race in Norway. A highlight of the video is when Kobach follows a competitor who runs through an out of bounds area.

You can also check out the new Fasterskier.com video pages to check out some ski racing.

posted by Michael | 6:48 PM


Friday, March 24, 2006

Talent and ice skating


Talent and ice staking? Actually, that's two separate topics.

Ice Skate Orienteering

Check out the results and photos from some ice-skate orienteering in the Czech Republic. I can't read a word of the page, but it looks like fun.


When I wrote about the Theory of Orienteering I threw around the term "talent." I did it without much thought. Though, "talent" is something I've thought about a lot.

Among other things, I wrote, "I think that natural talent is relatively unimportant in orienteering."

A couple of comments disagreed:

I think natural talent is very important in orienteering. Some people have a 'sense of direction' - others don't.


Talent counts for elite orienteering. Some skills can be trained and developed, but if the talent are not there, it doesn't work.

I'm not sure what I think about "talent." In fact, I'm not even sure I've figured out what it means.

A part of talent is some sort of genetic physical ability. Another part is some sort of mental ability. But, figuring out what is learned versus what is natural is probably impossible.

A couple of times a year, Mary and I have a discussion about map reading talent. I'm convinced that there isn't such a thing. I suppose that is too strong and too absolute. The truth is probably that there is some talent, but I'm not sure there is much. Most of what might be considered natural map reading ability is just a very well learned skill. I like to think of map reading as a language. Anyone can learn it, but if you learn it right, you won't have an accent. You'll think in map reading (just the way someone who is raised in France thinks in French).

Talent is an attribute many of us use to talk about other people. We figure that we don't have talent, we just put in the hard work. Other people have talent. "Think of how good I'd be if I were so talented."

I might have to spend some more time thinking about talent. I clearly don't really understand what I'm writing, let alone what I believe.

But, now I'm off to go get a burrito.

posted by Michael | 6:19 PM


Thursday, March 23, 2006



I think this will let you send me an email audio message.

posted by Michael | 9:20 PM


Nordberg's training in South Africa


Anders Nordberg wrote a summary of his just completed training trip to South Africa. Here is a rough translation of a bit:

Here is a little info about what I did for training the last 22 days:

42 workouts (3 days with one/day; 18 days with two/day; and one day with 3 workouts).
5 high intensity sessions, 4 moderate intensity.
10 workouts included strength, speed or spenst.
5 workouts on maps.
625 km of running.
60 hours of training.

I'd probably take me two months to do what Nordberg did in three weeks.

posted by Michael | 9:00 PM


Sprint terrain


I regularly run at a little nature park in a little town called Parkville. The park is adjacent to the Park University campus. I don't know if we could get permission to use the area for orienteering, but it would make great sprint terrain.

The park is mostly wooded (and mostly open woods), with a couple of trails. There are a few rock features and some farm ruins. Most of the area is hilly.

The Park University Campus is small. Like most college campuses it has a nice mix of sidewalks, streets and buildings. Like the park, the campus is hilly. The campus is built over some underground storage "caves" that might make for some interesting route choices (though it'd make for some tricky mapping challenges).

The USGS map gives you a sense of the area. The park is mostly under the text "Parkville" and the campus is labeled. I came across a PDF map showing a 5K running course on the campus (note that the course includes about 1 mile of underground terrain).

posted by Michael | 7:45 PM


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Train orienteering every day all around the year


Janne Weckman wrote about the development of orienteering over the last 10+ years.

Since 1994 and publishing of ?"Suunnistus ja Ajattelu"? by Pekka Nikulainen, development of orienteering technique has been really fast and is getting faster every year.

In his book Nikulainen brought also psychological aspect as one part of what you are doing in forest. I see that as a beginning of modern orienteering.

After that it is widely seen that you are able to train orienteering every day all around the year.

When I first spent time in Sweden, the conventional wisdom seemed to be that you shouldn't train technique more than once a week. The thinking was that if you trained technique more than once a week, then you'd feel stale when it came time to race.

I bought into the idea, in particular because the best orienteer I knew welbelieveded it.

But, then a couple of years later I read an article by Anders Friberg (now Tistad, and known as Frippe). At the time, Frippe was the trainer for the club I was running for. He'd written an article questioning the conventional wisdom and pointing out that getting stale from too much technique training was something you could control. If you had the right approach and attitude, there was no reason to think you'd get stale.

I bought into that idea. And, I began to train a lot more technique. I didn't train everyday, but I trained on maps most days (sometimes very low map reading intensity). I made a jump in my orienteering.

It might be fun to, as an experiment, see how many days in a row I could do somtechniqueue training. It'd be a bit inconvenient, since I have to drive a ways to get to maps, but it might fun to see how practical (impractical?) it'd be.

Interesting use of video

Jan Kocbach made a video of the map from a training event. It is a cool idea.

posted by Michael | 8:18 PM


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Kansas Style Snopulsning


Snow -- that's probably the single most common theme in Scandinavian orienteering blogs this season. Scandinavian races have been cancelled. Scandinavian orienteers are traveling all over to get snow-free training conditions. If they can't get away, they are running in the snow, that is "snopulsning."

Snow fell last night in Kansas City and today, I did some Kansas-style snopulsning.

A new project

I guess I've taken on a new project. I apparently agreed to design a permanent orienteering course on a new map near my house. I don't remember doing it. But, I must have. So, now I've got to think about how to plan a permanent course.

My current plan is to design a beginner course of about 5 km and then scatter another 8-10 control locations around the map in spots that are a little more difficult to find. I thought I'd try to put together a one or two page explanation of how to complete the beginner course, something that could be handed out to people who want to try the course and who have no orienteering experience.

If I get really ambitious (which is not all that likely), I may try to make an audio guide to the course. The audio guide would be something you could download to an Ipod and then listen to as you do the course.

posted by Michael | 8:32 PM


Monday, March 20, 2006

Theory of orienteering


This quote about baseball, pretty much sums up my feeling about orienteering and ideas about how to train (i.e. a "theory of orienteering"):

My basic theory of baseball is that any theory of baseball will work if the talent is good enough. A "theory" or a clear idea of how you're going to win is extremely useful to a baseball team, because it organizes the work, clarifies the needs and goals of the team; it provides focus and direction among a dizzying array of options and alternatives.

The quote is from Bill James, my favorite baseball writer. He wrote it in his Baseball Abstract back in 1986 and is re-quoted in a new book by Scott Gray called "The Mind of Bill James."

Getting back to orienteering, what I think James' quote is getting at is the idea that you should have an idea about how and why you train. That idea, that "theory" or "philosophy," works as a short cut to help you decide what to do. And by following through on your ideas, you gain some confidence about your preparation and training. Far more important than the specifics of the idea is that you do the work to fit your idea.

James also stressed "talent," but I think this is where orienteering and baseball seperate. I think that natural talent is relatively unimportant in orienteering (especially in the U.S.). In baseball, having a theory but not the talent won't get a team very far. But in orienteering, I suspect that a theory and fulfilling the theory will go a long way.

posted by Michael | 7:07 PM


Sunday, March 19, 2006  

this is an audio post - click to play

posted by Michael | 12:19 PM


Saturday, March 18, 2006  

this is an audio post - click to play

posted by Michael | 7:51 PM


Friday, March 17, 2006  

I'll probably post audio updates this weekend while I'm away from my computer and orienteering. I'm expecting to spend a lot of time running in a cold rain. It should be fun.

Catching Features featured on TV

Read about it (and watch the TV coverage) at Hottjohansen.com.

Some maps to look at

Oystein Sorensen posted some maps from Denmark (look for links where it says "kart" at the end of the text).

At first glance, there are a lot of similarities between, for example, Hammer Bakker Nord in Denmark (with Sorensen's routes) and the terrain in Hamilton, Ontario (with Peter Gagarin's routes).

posted by Michael | 1:07 PM


Thursday, March 16, 2006

More mapping talk


I got an email about yesterday's post. The email pointed me to a summary of a mapping forum in Sweden last weekend where. If you can read Swedish, the summary of the forum is worth a look.

If you can't read Swedish, I'll quickly (and roughly) translate a bit that most directly relates to yesterday's post:

It is said that Swedish mappers' consistency with the mapping standards is a little inconsistent. But, we've seen that the Swedish mappers do a relatively good job compared to mappers from continental Europe. On the continent you'll see a lot of colorful maps with lots of green and yellow splotches over the whole map. The result is difficult to read and almost impossible to make sense of at competition speed.

To illustrate the IOF standards, Christer Carlsson put together a very interesting map walk. A few decimeters of snow in the forest didn't stop us from spending time in the terrain.

We began with an open area marked with tapes to show the size different vegetation areas have to be to be included on the map according to the standards....

At the map forums we don't usually have elite orienteers who share their views of orienteering maps. But this time we had the pleasure of having Michael Wehlin at the meeting. As many of us suspected, elite orienteers' knowledge of the mapping standards isn't always so good. It is time to encourage elite orienteers to study the standards behind each symbol on the map. That knowledge should help improve their speed in the terrain. Of course, everyone who orienteers should know the mapping standards.

Again, if you can read Swedish, there is a bit more about the mapping forum and it is worth a look.

posted by Michael | 7:44 PM


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Why is the new map so much more detailed?


John posed a question about yesterday's map comparison:

Why is the new map so much more detailed?

That got me thinking about developments in mapping over the period I've been orienteering, which is roughly the same period covered by the two maps compared yesterday. I think the comparison of maps from France is reasonably representative of the overall trends in O' maps -- towards more detail.

Some possible explanations for why maps have gotten more detailed:

1. Maybe basemaps and mapping technology have improved, making it easier to capture more detail.

2. Mapping style/fashion changed. In the 80s, I think the fashion was to minimize formlines and keep the maps easy to read on the run. But, sometime in the 90s, it seems like fieldcheckers stopped worrying about using lots of formlines. They became more concerned with a detailed picture of the terrain.

3. Larger scale maps became more acceptable, especially as sprint orienteering has become more popular. Large scales make it easier to include more detail.

4. Orienteering techniques have gotten better, making it easier for good orienteers to use all the detail. Back in the 1980s, I think it was more common for the top orienteers to just run rough compass and find themselves as they got near the control. That was a technique perfectly suited to generalized map. But, I think orienteers now are keeping better map contact. I think more top orienteers are doing more technique training now than 20 years ago. If you do more technique training, then you get better are reading the map and all of the details without slowing down.

5. Course setting has lead to more controls and shorter legs. Short legs aren't so interesting on maps without many details. So, as middle distance and sprint disciplines became popular, the maps adapted to the disciplines.

I'm sure I'm wrong about some of this. I'm sure other people have different, and better, ideas about why maps have become more detailed. Leave a comment if you've got some ideas.

posted by Michael | 7:37 PM


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Get smarter?


In the last couple of years I've done some experiments with armchair orienteering. Bascially, I've tested various ways of studying maps and various amounts of map study. I've tried to figure out what works for me. By "works" I mean what sort of map study seems to allow me to orienteer well without having done much in-the-forest technique training. I'm completely sold on the value of armchair orienteering.

Now, why might it work? I don't really know. But, I guess that studying a map can trick you brain into thinking your are actually orienteering. I understand that sports psychology-types think "visualization" is important and, obviously, looking at an O' map is a way to do that (and without having to listen to any relaxation tapes or go through any of the stuff like, "tense your muscles...now exhale and feel the muscle relax...").

Another thing that map study might do is exercise your brain. Which, I suppose, can't be a bad thing.

I was thinking of all this after reading a newspaper story about a BBC program (or I guess if it is BBC it'd be a "programme") called "Get Smarter in a Week." The Get Smarter in a Week web page has lots of little brain exercises, like: use your computer mouse with your wrong hand; take a shower with your eyes closed (?); memorize your shopping list; and navigate around your house blindfolded.

Comparing Maps

Thierry Gueorgiou posted a comparison of two maps of the same area. Comparing the two maps is intersting:

Check out the 1982 map
Now look at the 2006 map

My M40 eyes sure like the old map. But, that's old history and the new map would probably be a more fun to use as long as I had a magnifier. I'm glad to say that I'm not yet old and cranky enough to claim that the 1982 map is better and that things were better before.

posted by Michael | 8:03 PM


Monday, March 13, 2006

Sprint training


Anders Nordberg is in South Africa doing some training, he wrote about some sprint training he did (if you can read Norwegian, check it out).

Nordberg's training was to run the course twice. The first time he picked what he thought were the best routes. The second time he tried different routes. He ran two sprint course, a qualifying course of about 1.5 km, then a final course of about 2 km.

Nordberg had a total of seven legs where there were route choice options he tested...and he only picked the fastest route once.

Here is the map:

Looking at maps like this make me think I ought to get outside and draw a few sprint maps around Kansas City and Lawrence. A note at the bottom of the map indicates that the basemap is by a GPS. I wonder if they worked from blank paper with the GPS. If so, making some sprint maps around KC and Lawrence would be a lot easier because we've got good aerial photos and decent contours available.

Lots of visitors today

I checked my site stats today and saw a lot of visitors; more than double the normal of about 150 visits. Turns out a link from OPN's front page drew a lot of interest. Cool.

posted by Michael | 7:32 PM


Sunday, March 12, 2006

Perfect (or lucky?) timing


I began running at 11:45 this morning. If I'd started 15 minutes later, I'd have been caught in some big hail.

Hailstones like that make an impressive sound when they smack a road or car. Imagine what it'd feel like if it crashed into you. Not nice.

Mary and I made it back to the car and stopped at the Taco Bell in Desoto just when the hail hit. Stones like these were falling all around. One car in the lot lost the back windshield.

Some of the hail stones were nearly tennis ball size. Solid ice tennis balls falling from the sky. Amazing.

As Homer Simpson might say, "hailstones...mmmm."

posted by Michael | 6:42 PM


Saturday, March 11, 2006

Park O'


Today's training was a slow, easy park orienteering workout. I carried a GPS. The picture shows my track on an aerial photo of the park.

To force myself to pay attention to the orienteering (which can be hard on a map of an area so simple...especially given that I fieldchecked and drew the map) I set a course with lots of controls and lots of direction changes.

posted by Michael | 4:42 PM


Some Jayhawk Basketball Notes


Warning: not a lick of orienteering in this post. If you're not interested in Kansas basketball, don't bother reading any more.

I watch most Kansas basketball games on TV. Usually, I also keep track of something as I watch. I might track each offensive possession. I might track shot defense. "Scoring" a game like this forces you to watch carefully and you might learn something that you wouldn't if you just sat and watched. I've got various scoresheets scattered around the house. I should put them in spreadsheets so I can actually compile some data. I haven't done that yet. So I won't be quoting my data as I write up some thoughts about this year's Jayhawks.

This year's team has a big strength compared to last year's team. Last year's team had two players who were difficult to replace: Simien and Miles. If either of them got hurt, in foul trouble, or effectively removed by the other team, Kansas was in trouble. As last season went on, I noticed that opponents who pressured Miles in backcourt and slowed him down had a lot of success. They forced Kansas to play a half court game, which was much less efficient.

This year's team doesn't have any single players who are essential. That is a real strength. Of course it isn't good if a defense shuts down Rush or if Kaun gets in foul trouble or any player gets taken out. But, that sort of thing isn't going to put Kansas in real trouble.

This year's team lost a few very close games. Last year's team won a bunch of very close games. If you listen to sports talk radio, you'll hear people saying things like, "they've won a lot of close games, they know how to win." Well, I'm pretty sure that good teams don't win a lot of close games. Good teams don't play a lot of close games. They win easily.

This year's team began the conference season with two losses in three games. Since then, they've played 14 games. The margins of victory for the 13 wins: 42, 10, 10, 10, 34, 1, 21, 21, 13, 15, 33, 15, and 14. That's a good sign.

This year's team is "young." They start three freshmen and two sophomores. I don't know if that is good or bad.

When Roy Williams was the coach, I think it'd be fair to describe the defensive philosophy as to prevent teams from getting shots and to steal passes by getting in the spaces between players. Under Bill Self, I think the philosophy is to prevent teams from making shots and to make steals when players under tight defensive pressure (often a double team) make bad passes. Both approaches have been successful. Williams teams look nicer playing defense. But, pretty isn't what matters.

Last year's team was very efficient playing in transition. If they ran up the court and took a shot in the first couple of passes, they had a good points/possession rate. But, if you could get them into a half court game, they became much less efficient. That seems to be true of all teams. But, this year's team looks relatively efficient in the half court game. That's a big strength. If a team losses a lot of efficiency in the half court game, an opponent designs a defense to force a half court game. But, you can't do that against this year's team. Or you can, but it isn't as effective.

I could keep writing, but today's game is coming on TV in a few minutes.

posted by Michael | 2:50 PM


Friday, March 10, 2006

Flaky idea about learning to read maps


When I was a little kid, I spent a lot of time in art museums. When I was 5, we lived in Florence, Italy. My Dad took me to museums to look at paintings.

Looking at a painting is a lot like looking at a map. A painting is a two dimensional surface. A lot of what painters do is depict three dimensions on a two dimensional surface. That's the same as an orienteering map.

My flaky idea is that spending a lot of time looking at paintings helps you understand maps. That translation of three dimensions to two dimensions becomes easier. It becomes second nature.

Since my Dad's specialty was the Italian renaissance, we spent a lot of time looking at paintings like the ones I've included. Note that the artists (Leonardo and Filippo Lippi) are working on showing three dimensional depth on flat surfaces...just like a contour map. Both of these paintings are in Florence.

posted by Michael | 8:34 PM


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Sprint technique


On the discussion page at Attackpoint, Rick posed a question:

Sprint certainly places a premium on getting into and out of controls quickly. Yet, there seems to be even less time on legs for 'looking ahead'. Advice and warnings?

An interesting question. A couple of thoughts:

I suspect that getting in and out of controls quickly is a symptom of good orienteering, not a cause. In other words, good orienteers have such good overall technique that they get in and out of controls quickly without any particular effort.

If that is true, putting much time and effort into becoming quick in and out of controls might be better spent developing good overall technique.

Janne Weckman wrote about the Hannu Pulli technique with a nice example from a sprint course.

Weckman's example looks very relevant for someone looking forward to the sprint race at the WOC selection races.

Just a test

This link:

View 360° picture cloud

kitchen by picturecloud.com

should take you to a photo that pans around a part of my kitchen. It is just an experiment.

posted by Michael | 8:32 PM


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

More news from Hamilton


The GHO club in Hamilton just put together an "athlete support" program. As far as I know, this is a first for North America. You can read about it at GHO4GOLD.

The basics are pretty simple. The club will pay runners a bit if they meet certain criteria, like making the WOC team or finishing well at the Ontario Champs. In exchange, the runners agree to a few conditions, like wearing the club gear and participating in club events.

One of the clubs I ran for in Sweden had a very similar system. I have a little bit of experience with this sort of thing. So, here are a few comments:

As a runner, I felt like the biggest benefit was that it made expectations clear. I knew what races the club was focused on. I knew what mattered. And I knew that everyone else knew, too. I felt like the club was paying attention to my goals and plans. A condition of the GHO4GOLD program is that you put your goals in writing, make a plan, and give it to the club. We had basically the same condition in Sweden.

I don't think the program made a significant difference in my training. I don't think the possibility of getting a little cash was enough to change my motivation. On the other hand, getting a little cash for a good performance was nice.

If there was much competition between clubs to recruit runners, I'd think a program like GHO4GOLD would send a clear signal to potential runners about the club's direction. Are there more than one club in Hamilton? I don't think so. But, imagine there were. Then imagine a young, ambitious runner decided to go to college in Hamilton. The GHO4GOLD program might get them to pick the GHO club (or if they didn't want to treat O' as a serious sport, it might get them to pick an alternative). In Sweden, that sort of signal was probably quite useful.

I think a program like GHO4GOLD sends a signal to runners that they should take the sport, and training and performing seriously. It might affect the "orienteering environment" by making it feel more like a competitive sport than an outdoor recreation. Though based on my limited exposure to the Hamilton O' scene, I think GHO has done a good job of creating that environment even without the GHO4GOLD program.

Next moves? In Sweden, we had two other ways the club spent money that are related to the GHO4GOLD program. We had a system that rewarded you for attending training sessions. You'd earn "flit" points. A training at the clubhouse might be worth one point. A night O' outside of Stockholm was worth more (maybe 3 points). The club kept track of your points and you could cash them in for O' gear or travel to events. It didn't come to a whole lot of money, but it was worth a couple of pairs of O' shoes a year for me. Another way the club spent money was to pay the salary of a trainer. The trainer worked with each individual and organized training throughout the year.

I'm guessing the "flit" points program didn't cost much, but paying a trainer must have been a good bit of money. It'll be a few years before it'd make sense for a North American club to hire a trainer.

Jayhawk fans around the world

The Kansas men's basketball team won (actually tied with Texas) the Big-12 basketball championship. That should make Kansas fans around the world -- like this one in Ulan Bator, Mongolia -- happy.

posted by Michael | 7:50 PM


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

How to get sick


At the training camp in Hamilton, the Hott Johansens both talked about avoiding getting sick. Their advice -- wash your hands and don't share water bottles. Sandy said that the Norwegian team really pays a lot of attention to these basic steps to stay healthy.

I took a week long course in epidemiology a few years ago and learned about infectious illness. The idea is really simple; expose someone who is susceptible to illness to the bug and they might get sick. It boils down to three things:

1. Exposure to the bug.
2. Susceptibility to the bug.
3. The bad luck to get sick when your both susceptible and exposed.

What the Hott Johansens were talking about was mostly exposure.

You'll also hear a lot of people talking about how training affects susceptibility. Being worn out from training supposedly weakens your immune system, raising your susceptibility. Though in the long run, being fit might help your immune system.

I don't worry much about susceptibility. I don't think that being run down from training is really a big problem.

Instead, I worry about exposure.

Unfortunately, I screwed up. A number of co-workers were sick last week and I guess I got exposed. I made a point of staying a bit away from co-workers and washed my hands a few extra times. But, I guess it wasn't enough. Early Saturday evening, I noticed that my throat was a bit scratchy. Though I don't believe that being run down makes much of a difference, I've got to wonder if my long run on Saturday was just enough to push me over the edge. If I hadn't run so long (I did just over 4 hours), would my system have been able to fight off the bug? I don't think so, but I don't have any real reason for that, it is just a feel.

posted by Michael | 7:58 PM


Monday, March 06, 2006

Sorensen's O' technique


Oystein Sorensen wrote a bit about his orienteering technique. I don't have the energy to translate it, but I'll give you an idea of how he ran the leg below. If you can manage the Norwegian, check out what Sorensen wrote.

The leg is from a club training. As you look at the leg, keep in mind that the marshes in this part of Norway aren't easy to run in.

Sorensen's technique is to simplify the leg. The map below shows the main features he's using to simplify. First comes the ride along the hillside, then the edges of the marsh, and finally the low cliff near the control. He's keeping his head up and looking ahead.

The last bit of map shows the speed. Notice that he slows down for the last bit to the control.

posted by Michael | 6:22 PM


Sunday, March 05, 2006

Academy Awards


Millions of people will be sitting in front of the TV tonight watching the Academy Awards. Mary will be one of those millions. I won't.

Maybe next year they'll have an Orienteering film category with short films like "Sprint Race in Florida" (my latest Truffaut-inspired effort). The short film shows leg 2 to 3 from the sprint race last weekend. As you can see from the map bit below, it was a simple leg. All you had to do was start out in the right direction and look for the vegetation boundary where the control sat. The film will give you an idea of how open the forest was.

posted by Michael | 5:50 PM


Saturday, March 04, 2006

Feeling tough


I read some training reports today. Boris did 1:41 of orienteering in the snow. Aspleaf spent about 90 minutes orienteering in the snow. Good, tough workouts.

Me, I did 4:15 of orienteering in an ice cold rain. I feel very tough.

posted by Michael | 5:56 PM


Friday, March 03, 2006

Ya-Ya's blanket...naked without a gun...and orienteering


Eric drew a remarkable connection between, of all things, orienteering and his daughter's security blanket. I read lots of stuff about orienteering. Much of it is standards stuff. Sometimes it is very interesting. But, I don't often come across something as amusing and insightful as Eric's latest.

Check out Eric's March 2 entry over at Carolsteam.org.

I remember hearing (or maybe reading?) something from Kent Olsson about recognizing the feeling of uncertainty you get just before you make a mistake. Olsson talked about recognizing it and doing something about it. That might mean stopping and pinpointing your location before continuing, or it might mean reminding yourself to pay attention to what your doing and read the map. Ignoring that feeling often means making a big mistake and losing your concentration.

What Olsson is talking about it involves paying attention to your thought process while you're thinking. That's really a remarkable skill. I don't think it is something you can do easily (at least I can't), but I think it is something you can train yourself to do.

The skill is very similar to recognizing when your concentration wanders. If you don't have that skill, when your mind wanders it just wanders. If you've got that skill, when your mind wanders you notice it and then make a decision -- "fine, I don't need to concentrate on what I'm doing" or "hey, pay attention, read the map."

Enough writing for now, I've got to go pack my bags for tomorrow's race.

GSP track from Florida

I loaded my GPS track from one of the races in Florida (M40). The colors indicate speed (with red is slowest > orange > yellow > green > blue > indigo > violet is fastest). I suppose I should load the route on the O' map...maybe tomorrow.

The color shows my mistakes and the time I stopped to remove my shoe and get a thorn out of my foot.

posted by Michael | 7:14 PM


Thursday, March 02, 2006

No excuses


At her training camp presentation in January, Sandy Hott Johansen's last slide was, "No Fear, No Limits, No Excuses."

I was reminded of this when I was reading something Malcolm Gladwell wrote about why people (in particular athletes) don't work hard when it is in their best interest to do so. Here is what Gladwell wrote:

This is actually a question I'm obsessed with: Why don't people work hard when it's in their best interest to do so? Why does Eddy Curry come to camp every year overweight?

The (short) answer is that it's really risky to work hard, because then if you fail you can no longer say that you failed because you didn't work hard. It's a form of self-protection. I swear that's why Mickelson has that almost absurdly calm demeanor. If he loses, he can always say: Well, I could have practiced more, and maybe next year I will and I'll win then. When Tiger loses, what does he tell himself? He worked as hard as he possibly could. He prepared like no one else in the game and he still lost. That has to be devastating, and dealing with that kind of conclusion takes a very special and rare kind of resilience.

You can read the rest of the interview at ESPN.com.

posted by Michael | 7:39 PM


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

February training


January's training went well, time to look at February.

For each February since 2001, I'll list the total hours and hours of O':

2006 31:34/6:28
2005 24:59/5:29
2004 23:47/3:07
2003 23:33/6:08
2002 23:00/8:00
2001 27:48/10:15

This February looks like quite a good month compared to past years. Except for 2001, I tend to get about 24 hours of training per February. This year I got 31.5 hours in February (which is a bit like getting an extra week of training). That's got to be good.

As I was looking back over my past training, I noticed that I tend to travel in February. I went skiing in Yellowstone in 2004 and 2005. I went to the Olympics in 2002.

The only weak spot for this February would seem to be the amount of orienteering. But, that was actually planned. I tried two experiments this year. One involved participating in a couple of trail races. Had I not done those races, I would probably have done another 2-4 hours of O' technique. Another experiment involved some armchair map study. Without going into details, I tested a tried and true approach that has worked well in the past and seemed to work well this time.

There was a stretch this year where I trained quite easily. In one 9 day period, I had 6 days with nothing more than 30 minutes/day riding the bike trainer; one day off; and one day of just 40 minutes of running (the other day was a 3.5+ hour trail race). I think that period gave my legs (and mind) a bunch of rest.

On to March!

posted by Michael | 9:11 PM


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