Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Dissecting Boris - Part 1


I spent some time today looking at Boris' training using my usual set of questions. If you don't know Boris, you can read his runner profile at WorldOfO.com and check out his training log at Attackpoint. A couple of key bits of info: Boris is 26 (just turned 26 if the WorldOfO profile is correct) and lives in Sweden. He moved from New York to Uppsala in late August 2005.

easiest to answer questions

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

Boris' training follows a pattern with higher volume in the winter, then reduced training volume when he races. The graph below shows his monthly training amounts beginning with September 2005, when Boris first started training in Sweden.

His monthly totals varied from a low of just over 20 hours to a high of over 50 hours. For the year, 2006, he trained 454 hours. In my book, that is a lot. It isn't out of line for an ambitious orienteer, but it is a lot of training. To put that total in some sort of context, compare it to a few of the North Americans who are training a good bit.

Hammer has trained 450-500 hours in 2 of the last 5 years.
Szurcher has never trained that much (though she's close this year).

So it is fair to say that Boris trains a lot. 454 hours is a very respectable total. Especially given that he doesn't have years of a lot of training. The graph below shows his annual totals beginning in 2001.

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

Boris does plenty of cross training. He skis. He bikes. He does strength training. He plays soccer. He has even played a little "innebandy." As far as I can tell, he doesn't compete in other sports. I think he may have raced skis in college.

While he does plenty of cross training, the bulk of his training is running and orienteering.

To me it looks like Boris' cross training is occassional breaks from running and orietneering, alternative activities when he's dealing with some sort of injury, and doing something different for fun.

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

Boris does a lot of technique practice and a lot of competitions. In 2006, he has 212 hours of orienteering. That is a lot.

Boris runs for OK Linne in Uppsala. For someone who wants to do a lot of orienteering, you can't beat it. The club trains regularly. Uppsala is surrounded by maps of nice (though flat) forests. The town itself is mapped.

Boris does a lot of club training sessions. He goes to training camps. He does training on his own. He even sets up training opportunities for visiting friends.

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

Yes and no.

Given the big increase in volume, Boris hasn't had many problems with getting sick or injured. On the other hand, he has had some injury problems that are troubling (and must be driving him a bit crazy). He's had both hamstring and ankle problems.

I first saw a note about his hamstring was in late September 2005. But, the problem (or maybe another problem) got to be a problem in May 2006.

I first saw a note about an ankle problem from one of the WOC races in Japan.

Neither of these injuries seems to be so severe it forces Boris to miss a bunch of training. But, both of these injuries seem to hanging on. In part, I suppose, because neither injury is so severe that it forces a long time away from running. When I look at his training, I don't see the injuries forcing Boris to miss a lot of time, but I imagine they force him to reduce the intensity of training (and certainly they'd cause me a bit of mental stress).

I'll stop for now.

I plan to write more about Boris' training in the next couple of days, moving on to the questions that are harder to answer (and hence easier to get wrong).

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:45 PM


Saturday, December 30, 2006

Music and running


In the last few days I've bumped into comments on logs at Attackpoint about running with Ipods. I'd never run with music, but I gave it a try today.

It was wierd. Not bad, but wierd.

I did a long, easy jog on trails for almost two hours. I wouldn't say time passed quicker with music than without, but it passed differently.

The relationship between how I was running and the specific tunes was interesting. The first few seconds of Lou Reed's Walk on the Wild Side immediately felt...hmmm, not exactly sure but it felt something. Then when a Ramone's tune starts up, you feel like you've got to move faster. At it seemed to fit perfectly when Getz-Gilberto's classic Girl From Ipanema came on right as I was ready to stop.

I suppose a series Ipod-runner would carefully match music to the training - different music for a long, easy run than for a short tempo run. That's too much work for me. I think I'll just stick with a random "shuffle" and I shuffle around the trails.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:52 PM


Friday, December 29, 2006

Top 10 in 2006 - Stuff to read


I've read a couple of books (or articles) this year that aren't about orienteering, but are about orienteering. Reading these helps me think about orienteering, even if the subject isn't orienteering.

Deliberate Practice

I read an article in the NY Times about deliberate practice and the implications on expertise. Check out what I wrote about the first article and then what I wrote about expertise. This stuff is very relevant to thinking about orienteering and about what makes a great orienteer.


More inspiration, from an unlikely source, can be found in The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America by Michael Ruhlman. Check out what I wrote about perfection and passion.

Orienteering Specific

I'll make two recommendations for reading specifically about orienteering:

1. Presentations from the training camp in Hamilton in January 2006. The presentations have lots of good information and inspiration.

2. Orienteering Today. The publishers had all sorts of trouble getting the magazine out and getting it mailed. It can be frustrating to wait...and wait...and wait. But the magazine is so sweet that once you've got a copy in your hands, you forget all your troubles.


Baseball? What does baseball have to do with orienteering. Nothing, nothing at all. But, I'm currently reading two baseball books that I highly recommend.

Seth Mnookin's Feeding the Monster tracks the Boston Redsox through the sale of the team, a near miss, and their World Series win. The book is both a good story and a nice examination of how an organization works (and doesn't work).

The Hardball Times Annual 2007 is another favorite.

The annual is one of those baseball books that is largely a collection of statistics with a bunch of articles. The genre has been around and popular since the early Bill James' Abstracts came out around 1980. The problem with the genre is that either the analysis is crap or the writers get so caught up with the technical details (disecting the nuances of the statistics), that the stuff becomes unreadable and uninteresting. The writers start to look inward. They miss the forest for the trees. They forget that numbers and analysis are about posing and answering interesting questions - to let you learn something that will make watching a baseball game more interesting. The Hardball Times Annual doesn't make that mistake.

The Hardball Times Annual is written as if the game is what matters. They get it. The statistics aren't anything more than a tool for looking at the game. That's in the spirit of Bill James. That's what James did so well and why his Abstracts were so fun to read. I think that is why I like the Hardball Time Annual so much.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:58 PM


Thursday, December 28, 2006

Top 10 in 2006 - Stuff


Orienteering isn't much of an equipment sport, but I made a couple of purchases over the last year that I've been happy with.

I usually run with glasses to protect my eyes. A few years ago I went through a few months where it seemed like every time I ran I poked my eye. I decided to try wearing glasses. It worked well (though I run without them when it is raining heavily and when I run night O').

For the last year or so, I've been running in glasses from Tifosi Optics. I'm a satisfied customer. They are relatively cheap, but quite good quality (both the frame and the lenses).

More good stuff - Icebugs. I find them more comfortable than O' shoes and, for me, much better when I also wear an Active Ankle. I bought a pair in Sweden at the 5-Days. I've been using them all Fall.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:10 PM


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Helping Boris


Boris has been having some trouble reading maps like the one to the left while night orienteering. He wrote:

During the last few night-O's, I noticed that one of the things that lead me to lose a lot of time is not being able to quickly pinpoint where I am on the map when I glance down on it. Since in night-O, one can only afford very quick glances before running into a tree or a wild Swede, this means that I often look down at my map and get no information from it in that one glance - all I manage to do is find where I am, and by then it's time to look up again....

This sounds like a pretty interesting problem to think about: how can you get more information from a quick glance at the map?

My experience (and a bit of guessing) suggests there are three main things to do:

1. Improve your ability to quickly glance at a map and see the map. Armchair map study helps this. Peter believes that studying with short glances works best. I've tried both short glances and staring and found both approaches work.

2. Improve your ability to run wihtout running into tress or a "wild Swede." Being able to run in the forest without thinking about running in the forest makes map reading much easier. It takes a lot of work, but it makes everything easier.

3. Improve your ability to shift your focus from looking ahead to looking at the map in your hand (complicated by the fact that the bright light from a headlamp has a tendency to be hard on your eyes at night). As my eyes get older, the time it takes to change from focusing on distance to focusing on a map seems to get longer. I also have trouble seeing some of the fine details, but that is really a different issue. I suspect you can train your eyes to handle the focus shift quicker. I set up some exercises to practice this (basically, quickly shifting back and forth between focusing on something on the other side of the room to focusing on a page in my hand). But I didn't have the discipline to stick with the training for more than a few weeks. The training had some effect - I got much better at the exercise. I'm not sure if it would translate to map reading during a race, but I think it probably would.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:01 PM


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Top 10 in 2006 - Best Idea


What was the "best idea" of 2006? I'm not certain, but one idea that inspired me was to "Make a map in 2006."

My map project was a sprint map of the KU Campus that I worked on with Gene (Gene certainly did more of the work than I did). Making a sprint map turned out to be much more interesting than I'd expected. I developed an appreciation for the sprint map standards and even for sprint orienteering.

Of course, the best thing about making a map is that you're helping out the sport. Even though it is fun and helps your orienteering, map making might be the most unselfish thing you can do for the sport.


It doesn't get much better than "lime infused milk chocolate ganache, enrobed in milk chocolate and sprinkled with black peppe," from Garrion Confections.
Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:29 PM


Monday, December 25, 2006

Looking at some training logs


I spent some time yesterday looking at training logs on Attackpoint. I had two questions:

1. How many hours had people trained in 2006 (as of yesterday)?
2. How many hours of that was orienteering?

I looked mostly at the logs of people I check frequently. I didn't make a careful study, just poked around looking at those logs. You can see the spreadsheet (assuming I used Google spreadsheets correctly).

I noticed a few things that, to me, seemed interesting as I looked at the logs.

The two runners who had the most orienteering (BorisGR at 209 and Swampfox at 201) have almost opposite orienteering environments. Boris lives in Uppsala and trains with OK Linne. He's got lots of people to train with and lots of organized training to take advantage of. Swampfox lives in Laramie, Wyoming - far from a big organized club and lots of people to train with.

The orienteers with the lowest total O' hours are juniors.

My total (313 total/94 orienteering) fits in about the middle. I was surprised about that for the orienteering because I've done less orienteering training in the fall than I would normally do. Two reasons for that: I hurt my ankle and running in the terrain has been a bit uncomfortable; and I've been "holding back" a bit in anticipation of doing a good bit more in the first part of 2007.

Keep in mind that the logs I look at aren't necessarily representative of how people train - the group is made up of people who I checked frequently. It is a mix of people I know and people who train in ways that I find interesting.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 10:27 AM


Sunday, December 24, 2006

White Christmas


Not here in Kansas City, not this year...

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.


posted by Michael | 5:32 PM


Saturday, December 23, 2006

A few technique training ideas


If I were retired, I'd start most days the way I started today. I'd eat a bit of oatmeal for breakfast, brew some coffee, and sit in front of the computer for a few minutes looking at orienteering web pages.

This morning, I was looking at HOK Bloggen, a very nicely done Norwegian O' page. As best I can tell, the page is designed to provide information to help the club's runners get info about technique training session and get the most out of those sessions.

Lots of the technique training ideas are about "traffic light orienteering." The basic idea is that you run at green, yellow or red pace depending on the demands of the orienteering. Running on a trail in the middle of a leg is typically "green" while running in the last bit from a trail to the control is typically "red."

The map below shows an example with the colors drawn in.

This sort of training is pretty standards stuff. It works best in terrain with a lot of details that you can ignore for large parts of the leg. But, it works in more simple terrain, too.

In my home terrain, you can often go "green" for the entire leg, including taking the control. That can make the transition from home terrain to east coast terrain tricky for me. I often do some traffic light training where I force myself to plan some changes (green-red, green-yellow-green-red), and then make those changes even if the terrain doesn't really demand those changes. I try to build in the way of thinking and the discipline to change pace.

Getting back to HOK Bloggen, as I came across a couple of variations on traffic light training that I'd never tried before. Both of these sound like something worth, for example, using at a training camp:

1. Two runners go together, taking turns leading a leg. Every time the leader reaches a point where they'd change color, they have to say that they're entering a new color. The leader has to have a plan for the leg before they leave the control.

2. Make the map available to the runners before the training so they can draw in their routes (using colored pens to indicate which sections are green, yellow or red) before the training. After the training, compare the plan with how it went.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 10:00 AM


Friday, December 22, 2006

More Top 10 in 2006 - a surprising factoid


I was going to write about someting I learned in 2006. That morphed into something unexpected, which morphed into a the "Top Surprising Factoid" from 2006.

To stereotype - Orienteers tend to work in areas like engineering, science, computers, and so on. The stereotype seems to fit so well, that I'm surprised when I meet an orienteer who does something else.

The Top Surprising Factoid has to do with what a top orienteer does. Oliver Johnson was in the U.S. this fall and took the time to run an A-meet in New Jersey. He completely dominated the competition. I took a quick look at the results from one of the races. He won the middle distance race at 4:53/km. Second place was Mats Froberg at 5:45/km. Third was Eddie B. at 6:05/km.

It is good for U.S. orienteering to have really good orienteers come over and remind us how much faster people can orienteer.

Getting back to the Top Surprising Factoid. I chatted with Johnson at the meet and discovered what he does. Of all things he was in the U.S. to attend a conference where he was presenting a paper titled "“Kul’turnost’ or Kitsch? Varnishing Reality in the Art of Aleksandr Laktionov” He's not an engineer or scientist, he's an expert in post-war Soviet visual culture. To me that was both surprising and cool.

I'm sure there are plenty of other interesting, and unusual, professions among orienteers. But, post-war Soviet visual culture has to be among the more exotic.

By the way, the image is a painting by Laktionov.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:49 PM


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Finding my Asp number


I came across "Six Degrees of Thomas Asp" over at Alternativet today. It is an orienteering version of the better known "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon."

Thomas Asp is a well-known Swedish orienteer. He's run in a couple of World Champs. You're Asp number is the number of steps between you and Asp. Here is an example:

Sanna is a friend of mine from IF Thor (she's on the right in the last of the snapshots I posted yesterday). Sanna's Asp number is 3, here is the connection:

1. Sanna raced Sofi Thorsell in F21 long at Rosladhelg in May.
2. Sofi raced Andreas Eriksson at the Viking Memorial-The Hunt in February.
3. Andreas race Thomas Asp in M21 elite at Harnosand in June.

So, just three links connect Sanna and Asp.

My Asp number is 2. I ran Oringen 5-Days in the summer. Among others, I competed against Conny Forsberg in M40. Conny raced Asp in June.

So, anyone who has raced against me in the last year has an Asp number of no greater than 3.

I looked up the Asp numbers of a couple of other U.S. runners:

Sandra Zurcher (OK Tyr) = 2
Suzanne Armstron (OK Linne) = 2
Boris Granovskiy (OK Linne) = 2

You can check for yourself at Oxtract's Six Degrees of Thomas Asp database (which is based on results from Swedish club's in Swedish races in 2006).

As the title "Six Degrees" suggests, the largest Asp number in the database is 6. There are only 2 runners with a number as high as 6.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:48 PM


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

More Top 10 - My Favorite Snapshots


I'm not sure if these are my favorite snapshots from 2006, but they are among my favorites.

In the first snapshot, Eddie B. punches at the last control while John F. heads toward the finish line. The snapshot is from an early round of the 2006 sprint series final. The format for the sprint series final is a bit unusual (but fun). Groups of four runners start at the same time. Same course. No forking. The top two in each heat go forward.

The next of my favorites is from the Super Elite Sprint in Soderhamn, Sweden. The race was designed to be great for spectators - top runners, big screen video, announcer, places to watch the runners on the course. The crowd (mostly orienteers i n town for Oringen 5 Days) must have been a few thousand.

The runner in the snapshot is Oystein Kvaal Osterbo who has one of the better orienteering web pages that I've found.

Below is some post race analysis (what Ola and Magnus call "kepsa") after one of the races at Oringen 5-Days. I like this snapshot because, for me, looking at maps and talking about the course and how it went is such a big part of the sport. I also like
that it brings back nice memories of our week in the little town of Mo. When I look at a snapshot like this I can practically smell the coffee.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.


posted by Michael | 7:43 PM


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

More Top 10 in 2006 - Top web page


The web is full of great orienteering web pages. Think of Attackpoint, World Of O, Hott-Johansen, and Tero. But after some thought I've decided that my favorite for 2006 is...Aspleaf.

Here is a rough translation to give you an idea of what Aspleaf is up to:

Don't blink. Take 10 seconds to pick your route on the leg below. Of course, you don't have to limit yourself to my suggestions.

Got it? Good. You made the right choice. You should pick your route and stick to it. Analyzing if it is right or wrong can wait until after the race, with the help of split times.

Only those who analyze their races afterwards will be able to improve. I used to "tjata" [Eglinski note: I can't exactly come up with a good English translation for "tjata." A direct translation doesn't come to mind, but it involves talking about something over-and-over until it becomes annoying] until everyone around me was tired of it. Now, it is just the wife and kids who are within range; and they are, to say the least, tired of all my talking about maps and split times.

Thanks, Aspleaf, for making my daily visit interesting.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:55 PM


Monday, December 18, 2006

More Top 10 in 2006


My most popular creation in 2006? Probably the WOC 2006 Fashion Battle. The site is still up and running. Feel free to head over and vote.

The current top 5(not my picks):

Czech Republic

Oh, and if you're thinking of sending me an email complaining about the selection of photos or the fairness of the vote, don't bother. Don't take it too seriously!

And while we're on the topic of voting...

Orienteering Poll 2006

World of O' and Orienteering Today are sponsoring a poll where you can vote for the orienteering achievement of the year and the junior of the year.

Head on over to the 2006 poll and place your votes.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:33 PM


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Words of wisdom from Kart Bosse


A bit of Kart Bosse's latest (which he translated):

We have to change the subjects of the post-race follow-up discussions. Instead of telling each and everybody about our mistakes in the forests, we should emphazise the flow in our orienteering between this and that control, and talk about the perfect route choices we managed to find.

Yes, we have to improve the quality of the follow-up discussions so that the lottery orienteerers will be able to see that they have to change tactics to complete their courses.

He is getting at one of my favorite ideas - focus time and effort on understanding what went right rather than what went wrong.

Read the entire article on the Julkalendar.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.


posted by Michael | 3:13 PM


Saturday, December 16, 2006

Top 10 in 2006


This time of year people start coming out with top 10 lists. Top 10 movies. Top 10 news stories. Top 10 music videos.

I decided that Okansas needs its very own top 10 list. Except I can't come up with a single theme. And, I haven't put together a complete list. Look for top 10 items to show up over the next few weeks. Starting today.

North American O' Champs makes the top 10. If there was an award for event quality, Golden Horseshoe Orienteering's NAOC would win.

Here is a simple framework for thinking about the quality of an event:

1. Technical - maps, course setting, choice of terrain, start/finish functions, etc.
2. Information - entry forms, pre-event information, results, etc.
3. Atmosphere - event center, results posting, parking, etc.
4. Other - anything else that is important.

A short version of my evaluation:

1. Excellent maps; some of the best terrain that GHO has (as far as I can tell); course setting with lots of variety and clear "styles" for each of the three days; controls in the right place; and everything seemed to work fine.

2. I didn't actually pay attention to the information aspect of the event, so I can't really "grade" it. But, the post event info on GHO's web page gives you what you'd like to see from all races: results, splits, maps, and route gadget. GHO gets bonus points for having a link where you can provide feedback. Good idea.

3. GHO earns a lot of credit for having an announcer; food vendor and showers at the finish; and, of course, a chair for every competitor.

4. The race drew a strong field. As a competitor, you got a distinct impression that GHO was working hard to make this a standard-setting event.

I can't think of anything to criticize about the event.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:58 PM


Friday, December 15, 2006

Everest and night O'


I watched a bit of TV while riding my exercise bike tonight - Everest: Beyond the Limits. The show is a documentary/reality series about some climbers on Everest. I'd never seen it before, but it made for intresting viewing while I rode. (Info on the show is at discover.com/everest).

The climbers on the last bit before the top use oxygen and a guide tracks their progress from a tent 1500 meters lower on the mountain. Russell, the guide, can talk to the climbers on a radio and give them direction.

On tonight's show the climbers move too slowly. They won't have enough time or oxygen to reach the summit and make it back down. They are suffering. Russell tells them to turn around, but they don't listen. The climbers are worn out, cold, and thier thinking is fogged. They're driven by their goals. Russell is comfortable, warm and thinking logically.

Tonight's show ended before we found out how all of this is going to end. I think next week is the final episode.

I wondered if having Russell tracking and making decisions for the climbers changed their behavior. If they didn't have someone making decisions, would the climbers be more careful? Would they have turned themselves around? Maybe a climber trivializes the decisions and risks when they know they've got a guide at a lower altitude making deciions for them.

This all reminded me of last night's orienteering training. I ran without a compass. Running without a compass raised the stakes, a lapse in concentration was riskier because I didn't have a compass. Having a compass, even if it was just in my pocket, would be like having Russell talking to me on the radio.

Well, of course that isn't true. But, that's the sort of thought that runs through you're mind when you're pedalling on a trainer in front of the TV.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:51 PM


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Was that Pasi?


I ran "Pasi-style" at tonight's night O' practice at Shawnee Mission Park. Pasi-style = no compass.

The idea behind running without a compass was to force myself to concentrate. Last time I ran night O' I was very sloppy. I figured that if I ran without a compass I wouldn't let my mind wander. It worked (except for the last leg when I wandered off my line and then mis-relocated on a broad spur). It strikes me that night O' without a compass would be a good way to make a familiar area feel a bit new.

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posted by Michael | 9:11 PM


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Yest another sprint route choice


Another sprint route choice...a or b?

Not much of a choice is it?

A tougher question is - how time would it cost you to take b rather than a?

The straight line distance from 8-9 is about 50 meters (though, obviously, you can't run the straight line).

When Mary set this course, I'm don't think she thought there was any route choice on this leg. I think the purpose of these legs was to force a little tempo change and to give the runners a chance to experience some of the "canopy" symbol on the map.

The snapshot below (by Gene) shows a runner on the way from 7 to 8.

At least one runner missed the entrance and ran to the construction area before turning around and going into the "canopy."

The snapshot below (also by Gene) shows a runner leaving 8 while another punches at the control.

Did you think about how much time it'd cost to take b rather than a? My best estimate is that it cost about 30 seconds. I didn't test these routes. It never occurred to me that anyone would do anything other than route a. But, I think Tom didn't see the a option and instead took b. His splits suggest he lost about 30 seconds.

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posted by Michael | 7:21 PM


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Quick note on a busy night


I'm a bit busy tonight and don't have much time to write. Instead, I'll point you to Aspleaf's "Long before CatchingFeatures."

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

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posted by Michael | 9:24 PM


Monday, December 11, 2006

Another sprint route choice


Here is another sprint O' route choice test I ran a few weeks ago. Same questions as yesterday:

Which route is fastest?

How much slower are the other routes?

When I looked at these three options, I picked b as the fastest, followed by a and c. When I timed the routes, I ran all three within 2 seconds. I was fastest, by just 2 seconds, on a. My times for b and c were equal. For such a rough test a difference of 2 seconds isn't enough to conclude that a was best. I figure that all three routes are equal. A good case can be made that a is risky, because the little gap just about at the "a" might have turned out to be impassible.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

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posted by Michael | 6:51 PM


Sunday, December 10, 2006

A sprint leg and a training idea


Take a look at the sprint leg from last weekend's KU campus race. The leg is a bit over 150 meters long.

I've sketched in three routes.

An easy question: which route is fastest?

Now a trickier question: how much slower are the other routes?

One of my favorite training sessions is to pick several routes for a given leg; predict the time differences; test the routes; and compare my estimates of the time differences to my tests of the time differences.

The idea is to train my brain to make trade-offs. In the leg above, it might be worth giving up a few seconds to take a leg that is a bit simpler, but gives you a smoother route, leaving time to look ahead at the next few legs. But, to make that sort of decision, you need to be able to not just pick out the fastest route, but have a reasonable sense of how much slower other options are.

Another reason I like this sort of training is you can make good use of strange legs. You can set a leg that has only one obvious route and then test a couple of routes that are clearly slower and that you wouldn't even consider during a race. It is a good way to make use of maps that you're familiar with.

For the record, the fastest route is b. Route a was nearly 15 seconds slower (I'd estimated it would be more like 10 seconds slower). I never tested c, but I'd expect it to be similar to a.

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posted by Michael | 5:26 PM


Saturday, December 09, 2006

Smooth through the forest


I had an interesting experience during today's training. I suddenly began moving very smoothly through the terrain. It felt great.

Today's training was to re-run Mary's hilly/forest training course. The course is at Wyandotte and covers just 5.6 km, but is quite hilly (360 meters of climb) and most of the course is through forested terrain. For the most part, the forest is not as thick as most KC terrain. I shadowed Gene as he ran the course.

Near the end, I was running along a hillside and suddenly it felt like my running form changed a bit and I instantly picked up the pace without picking up the effort. It felt great. It may have been an illusion. I probably haven't yet done enough running in the forest for my technique to have improved. But, I like to think it was a glimpse of things to come.

If I can get in a good amount of running in the terrain over the next few months, I should be running quite a bit better come the spring A-meet season.


posted by Michael | 7:52 PM


Friday, December 08, 2006

More underground Orienteering


Just a quick note tonight...here is another underground O' map. This one is from Estonia. I don't know the details of it.

You can see some pictures and read about the area at the Kohtla Kaevanduspark Museum web page.

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posted by Michael | 8:22 PM


Thursday, December 07, 2006



There's nothing like night O' for exposing sloppy orienteering.

Tonight I ran a short night O' course for the first time this season. Some weaknesses were exposed:

1. On the way to the second control I stumbled and fell. Weakness exposed = not running smoothly through the terrain. Solution = train in the forest.

2. On the way to the third control I drifted left. Weakness exposed = inability to hold a straight line. Solution = technique training, focused on holding a straight line (especially at night where there aren't as many clues to keep you on line).

3. On the way to the fifth control I needed to drop down three contour lines to a trail, but after I'd dropped down just one line I came to a trail (unmapped) and ran on it, thinking I'd already dropped far enough. Weakness exposed = inability to accurately judge climb/fall. Solution = more technique work.

I only ran 30 minutes of night O', but it exposed three big weaknesses. Night O' is like that. In the day you can get away with sloppiness that night punishes.


posted by Michael | 9:09 PM


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Promoting football and promoting orienteering


I came across an article on the relationship between the Madden video game and marketing NFL football. Here are a couple of quotes from the article published in the Washington Post:

Kids' "use of technology is different than a generation ago," said Lisa Baird, the NFL's senior vice president for marketing. "They are programmed differently than we are. They are wired differently than we are. We are getting increasingly smarter about the way kids act."

"There's no question it's the video game that's bringing in teenagers," said Marc Ganis, the president of Sportscorp Ltd., a sports consulting firm based in Chicago. "It's educating young fans on the NFL terminologies and making them more sophisticated about the plays on the field.

"But it's also bringing more fans into this very arcane, jargon-driven environment. If you watch the game on TV nowadays, the announcers -- especially the color men -- are using these very technical football terms. They expect the fans to understand it."

Think about CatchingFeatures and think about how orienteering could use it to promote the sport.

When I last talked to a newspaper reporter who was writing an article about the sport, I told him all about CatchingFeatures. My hope was that he'd check it out, learn something about the sport, and maybe point some potential orienteers to the game. I've no idea if it worked, but he included a link to CatchingFeatures in his article.

I don't know enough about computer games to know how feasible it would be to do some of this stuff, but here are a couple of ideas:

1. Create a little demo version of CatchingFeatures that would include one map of a local area. A club could then give away the demo program as a promotional tool. For Orienteer Kansas, we could translate the OCAD map of the KU Campus into CatchingFeatures and then give the demo away to KU students who might be interested in orienteering. It'd give them a chance to learn about the sport in a way they might find comfortable (i.e. a computer game) and in an environment they could relate to (i.e. a copy of the university).

2. Create a very simple demo version of CatchingFeatures that could run on a web page. It would probably have to be a very simplified version with a small map, but wouldn't that be a cool way to show the sport to people?

I'm sure there are lots of other interesting ways orienteers could use CatchingFeatures to promote the sport. There are probably even ways orienteers are using CatchingFeatures to promote the sport.

To me it seems that some creative use of CatchingFeatures is a much more realistic way of promoting orienteering than trying to make the sport look cool on TV. TV has the advantage of a chance to bring more money into the sport, but it just doesn't seem like a very realistic possibility. CatchingFeatures might be a more realistic way to promote orienteering. It'd also be a lot cheaper for USOF to put some money into further developing CatchingFeatures than into trying to get TV coverage or orienteering.

posted by Michael | 7:13 PM


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

My skips


At The Trot, I skipped controls 2 and 25 (maps are below). Let me try to explain my thinking.

First loop - skip 2

Before the race I spent a few minutes thinking about a skip strategy. I thought about past Trots (where I hadn't made very good decisions) and decided to make decisions quickly and not "over think" the choice. I'd just trust my instinct.

I took the road (left of the straight line) to 1. That gave me time to glance at the map and space to run without having to worry about the crowds or icy trails (though the road was very icy). I glanced at the map and saw 2 as a skip option right away. Tom was also running the same route as I was and he was looking for skips. We exchanged a few words, both of us mentioning 2 as a possible skip.

I took another more careful look at the map and decided that getting up to 2 and then from 2 to 3 looked tough. Two was my skip. I'd settled on that by the time I'd gone about half way to 1.

The pack, with Mikell at the lead, left 1 and started toward 3. I saw that and it reinforced my decision to skip 2. If the pack had gone to 2, I think I'd have stuck with my plan. But, I can't be sure.

Second loop - skip 25

I looked at the map as I drank a Gatorade at the map change and then on the road to 14. I looked at several options: 19, 20, 22, 23, 24 and 25.

I don't remember my exact thinking, but I settled on 25 as a good skip and then took a more careful look at the legs I'd avoid (24 to 25 and 25 to 26). Those two legs looked rough - hilly and lots of forest.

I ran a lot of the second loop in a little pack with Jerritt, Randy and Dave. It was an interesting group because all three had clear strengths and weaknesses. Randy was navigating well and moving through the forest well. But, you could see his looked a bit worn (and I knew he hadn't been training well recently). Dave looked fine, but he was running slower than usual. From past experience, I knew Dave could make some mistakes, but he's a reasonably steady orienteer. Jerritt was the least known, to me. He was clearly the strongest. But, every time he got in the lead, he'd slow down as he looked at the map and made decisions.

I wasn't sure what to make of my quick analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the pack. I figured Randy would drop off the pace first. He did. I also figured that my best chance to beat Dave and Jerritt was to get away from them - to force them to orienteer on their own.

I didn't notice Dave and Jerritt had disappeared (they both skipped 23) until I was on my way to 24. But when I realized I was alone, I figured I had my best chance. I thought skipping 25 might be a better decision and I was sure that my best chance was to have Dave and Jerritt orienteering on their own.

I ate a gel on the way out of 24 and figured I'd try to push the pace on the road to 26. I worked hard, but didn't really move very fast. The road to 26 was a good choice, but it was also cold and windy. Still, I was motivated, concentrated and feeling good about my chances.

As I dropped down the hillside toward 26, I spotted the top of the reentrant, but not the control. Then, just to my left I spotted Dave and Jerritt. I hadn't gotten a gap.

I was a little disappointed, but figured I still had a chance to pick up a little in the last few controls.

And then it all fell apart.

Leaving 26, my right hamstring cramped. I had to walk most of the leg. I then couldn't run full speed until after control 29. By that time, Dave and Jerritt were long gone. I lost something like 2:30 to them over the last kilometer or so.

Lots of visitors to Okansas

I looked at the site stats and saw over 700 visits today. That's a lot more than normal. Most of the visits seem to have come from OPN, the Norwegian O' news page, and a Swiss O' discussion.

The Swiss O' discussion page is all in German (a language I don't understand), but I saw an earlier post with a link to a Youtube video. Thinking I might have come across the latest from Chopper Reid, I clicked. It turned out to be an introduction to orienteering video, made by a young kid. Worth a look.

posted by Michael | 8:42 PM


Monday, December 04, 2006

Yesterday's race - which control to skip?


The Trot follows an unusual format: mass start with two loops and you skip one control on each loop. Getting to skip a control forces you to think a bit differently than under a regular race. Some people like it, some don't. In any case, it is fun for a change.

Here are the two loops. Which controls would you skip?

I entered my routes into Randy's routegadget for the first loop and the second loop. You can go there ann see my routes, including my skips (2 and 25).

posted by Michael | 9:00 PM


2 minutes of video from Saturday's race


A couple of minutes of video from Saturday's race on the KU Campus. I shot a few runners at the first and 17th controls and at the finish.

posted by Michael | 7:17 AM


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Today's Possum Trot


I've posted a couple of clips of the map from today's Possum Trot.

The course was tougher than it looks because of the weather conditions. We ran the race in cold weather (17 F at the start), but the toughest part wasn't the cold but the ice. The roads and trails were icy. The fields and forest were slick enough to make running a little bit harder than normal.

The terrain is a bit unusual for this part of the country. Most of the orienteering problems involved making decisions about going straight or running the open ridge tops. My general approach was to run the open ridges and deal with the ice and cold wind.

I'd rank this year's Trot as the best ever (this was the tenth edition). The course, maps and organization were excellent. We had a good turnout (48 starters, I think) and PTOC did a great job with all the little extras that make for a special event.

Congrats to the winners: Mikell Platt and Anna Shafer-Skelton.

I'd write more, but after a busy weekend of organizing and running, I'm a bit tired.

Check out Julkalendarn 2006

Worth a look each day is Kart Bosse's Julkalendar (in English).

posted by Michael | 6:44 PM


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Today's race on the KU Campus


Mary set the course for today's race on the KU Campus. Darius Konotopetz won in 24:36. The course was a little slower than you might expect because parts of the course were icy.

posted by Michael | 5:11 PM


Friday, December 01, 2006

Straight shooting Norwegians


The Norwegian team has been to a training camp in Denmark where they worked on running straight. Check out the maps below (lifted from OPN).

Here is how the trainer described the camp (rough translation):

The main goal with all the training at this camp was to focus on running straight. Run straight ahead, keep a line and keep your head up and look ahead as far as you can, said Jarle Ausland.

The maps show some of the exercises. As you might expect me to say, "it looks fun."

posted by Michael | 6:03 PM


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