Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Recovering from a bad performance


Sometimes you have a bad race. It puts you in a negative frame of mind. You go into your next race feeling stressed and negative instead of relaxed and positive.

I came across this little bit of advice from a coach dealing with runners who are facing that situation:

Bad feelings can be contagious.... What should a coach do to turn a losing attitude around? This is a very important question! I think one has to strike the right balance between recognizing and learning from what has happened in the past and having a positive attitude for what can (or better yet will) happen in the future. In essence, the macro attitude we adopt for an entire season mirrors what we adopt during a single race following a mistake.

...What do you tell these [orienteers]? This depends on the individual, but I usually prefer to approach the subject logically. I can point to data that shows these women that such poor performances are rare and cannot be expected to recur. I'll show them that what they've been doing in practice, during technique sessions, is exactly what they'll need to do during a race. We'll do our best to simulate the race environment during training. I tell these women that the terrain we'll face for the rest of the year won't be as extreme as they've seen...and that they'll feel more at home during the races to come. I'll remind them of the good races they've had in the past.

That seems like a pretty sound approach.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:02 PM


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Nordberg's training


Anders Nordberg wrote up his evaluation of 2007's training. Here is a rough translation of a bit:

2007 was the 4th year in a row that I've trained more than 700 hours. Ten years ago I thought that such volumes were "sick", but with gradual increases over the years it has become possible. It is important that I've arranged my life around training a lot and that I've done a lot of easy training. Of course, it is also key that I've rarely been sick or injured.

Nordberg's key training stats:

543 workouts
760 hours of physical training
165 hours of O' technique training
6850 km of running
43 races

Marathon training on PBS

Nova took 13 untrained people and worked with them over a year to prepare for and run the Boston Marathon - interesting and inspiring viewing. Check out the Marathon Challenge web page.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:29 PM


Monday, October 29, 2007

Some notes on Marianne Andersen's training evaluation


I was going to spend a few minutes translating bits of Marianne Andersen's evaluation of her year. But the time I was going to devote to translating went, instead, to watching a new episode of Top Gear.

Instead of translating the text, I'll just post the graphics (which are interesting even without the text).

The first graph shows hours of training by month:

The pie chart shows the breakdown by type of training. The biggest slice is running. The reddish and yellowish parts are biking. The blue slice is skiing. The smallest slice is roller-skiing.

The obvious things to take from Andersen's training in 2007 are: she trains a lot and she does a lot of running.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:40 PM


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Pavement course


Eric did some interesting technique training this week. He did this course:

with the rule that he had to stay on pavement.

I first heard of this sort of training a few years ago when Gene set up a pavement only course at SMP. The rule that you had to stay on pavement made the route choice options tricky and made a familiar area feel completely new.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 4:42 PM


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Deep grass


Deep grass. If you're running the Orienteer Kansas event in December, you might think about preparing to run in deep grass. It is tough. It reminded me of running through a soft marsh.

I was testing the course this afternoon and spent more time than I'd have liked plodding through grass that was mostly a meter or so deep, but in places was over my head. It'd be nice if someone mowed the fields, but I'm not counting on it. It would also help if we get some cold weather and a bit of snow, but I'm not counting on it.

The map shows the deep grass fields as "rough open." I'm thinking it'd make sense to show the deep grass. The obvious symbol to use would be vertical green lines - slow run, good visibility. Another option is to invent a symbol. I'm not a big fan of mappers who invent symbols. But, I'll give that option some thought.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:58 PM


Friday, October 26, 2007

Ham Fighter quote


This quote showed up on Baseballmusings.com a few days ago:

"...the game...is the same all over the world. There's different styles and different ways of playing it," he said. "Really, what matters is the foundational relationships that you can build with your players and putting them in the best possible position to be successful."

The quote is from Trey Hillman, the manager of Nippon Ham Fighters who was just hired to become the manager of the Kansas City Royals. The context is, obviously, baseball not orienteering. But I think the idea of putting yourself in the best possible position to be successful is something that is worth thinking about in any sport (or almost anything else, for that matter).

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:36 PM


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Not to recommend


I wouldn't recommend this link, but I have to say the text made me curious enough to check it out. Here is what OPN reported:

Manshow på TV2 Sumo har i høst testet hvordan det er å utøve kjente og kjære idretter uten en tråd på kroppen. Naturlig nok har orientering blitt testet. nb! Linkene fører til videoer med nakne menn!

In English, that'd be:

Manshow on TV2 Sumo has tested how it goes to perform different sports without any clothing. Of course, even orienteering has been tested. Note - the link goes to a video with naked men!

It is moderately amusing (but not something you want to watch at work). So, if you're interested, check it out.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:20 PM


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

3 Training Secrets


At the Chicago race I spent a few minutes talking with a well-respected older orienteer about training as you get older. He explained that there were 3 secrets to training as you get older:

1. Do speed work. Speed work is even more important as you get older.

2. Avoid getting sick and injured.

3. Hmmm...I can't remember. Either the well-respected older orienteer forgot, or I did. I guess that says something about the difficulty of training when you're getting older.

Iceland snapshot of the day

This snapshot is from a thermal area south of the Keflavik airport.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:41 PM


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

2 x Feet


It can be interesting to study splits and figure out how much faster you could have run a course. But it doesn't exactly give you the feeling of how much faster you could have run. Maybe you get a better feel for the difference when you run the course a second time. That's what Feet did at the Chicago sprint (see the course below)

He ran the 2.2 km sprint course in 10:26. Then after a bit of rest, re-ran it in 9:38. That's quite an improvement (especially given that he didn't make any big mistakes on his first run and the course doesn't feature difficult navigation). Feet wrote:

Saved 3-5 seconds on almost every leg, but lost 3 seconds at 8 (the leg after the hard control, but not actually that easy itself) and 1 second on the run-in (tired...). Not a fair comparandum to the above since I wasn't really navigating... but interesting to see the difference between pure running and navigating speeds.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:04 PM


Monday, October 22, 2007

Investing in maps


Eric left a comment a couple of days ago that is worth repeating (so, I will):

"A new, professionally draw maps costs several times more than the income a club can make at a competition, and that isn't sustainable."

Agreed, the first part of this comment is often true, but I'll ask the author and readers to check their math and history about the "isn't sustainable" part.

This comment has been repeated for decades, and it has never been realistic, and I believe there are harsher words that more accurately describe an old but continually disproven position.

In what other field or situation is a capital investment expected to be paid off after one event, or even one year?!.

I'll suggest a more representative time frame for the economic lifespan of an O map is on the order of 5-8 years, and I'll gladly accept depreciation input from business professionals. Granted, a large chunk of an O map's return comes from the debut national event, but that leaves the map available for many more years of service. With a large or special area, this includes the possibility of a second national event, and at the very least, many years worth of local events.

If a club, or other map producer, cannot create income from a map after the debut event, that seems like strong evidence that the map project should not be commenced. The remaining options are, find a more appropriate map project, or find more capable leaders.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:07 PM


Friday, October 19, 2007

Next update on Monday


I plan to update this page on Monday, post-Chicago A-meet.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 3:55 PM


Thursday, October 18, 2007



I'm running an A-meet in Chicago this weekend.

I'm in lousy shape and my technique is rusty. But, it should be fun.

I spent a few minutes looking at some maps from Chicago and thinking about the last few races I ran there. Chicago has a reputation for having thick vegetation. But my memories of the forests in Chicago aren't so bad. The terrain is fairly flat with a few short climbs, but nothing especially daunting.

It looks to me like the trickiest type of legs are going to be (a) legs that end in a bingo control (and the terrain and forest offer ample opportunities for bingo controls), and (b) route choice decisions that you have to make without having a good understanding of the runability of the forest. For example, you might face a long leg with options of going straight through a mix of various shades of green versus taking a trail route that avoids the green. Without being familiar with the specific way of mapping vegetation, that's the type of decision it is tricky to make.

Non-Iceland snapshot of the day

Mook at the relays:

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:06 PM


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Super detailed map


This map is worth a look. Notice how detailed it is (1:7,500 scale).

The map generated some interesting discussion about generalizing and mapping vegetation over at Alternativet. One of the more interesting comments was (roughly translated):

A new, professionally draw maps costs several times more than the income a club can make at a competition, and that isn't sustainable.

Iceland snapshots of the day

Yesterday I posted a photo of Svartifoss. The waterfall is created by a stream going over a layer of basalt columns. Driving around Iceland, we saw basalt columns in different places. It is a common feature of the landscape. It is also a feature of some Icelandic architecture. Check out the snaphots of Hallgrims Church in Reykjavik and a gravestone in the cemetery near the center of Reykjavik.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:02 PM


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Another little project I'll probably never get around to


I was reading a log on Attackpoint today and thought, "X comes across as really confident." I've also read logs where I thought, "Y person seems to be down on themselves all the time." For some logs that I read all the time, I've had the impression that their log seems to change over time (perhaps reflecting raising or lowering confidence?).

It got me to wondering about whether I'd learn anything if I took a systematic look at some logs and try to pay careful attention to the writing. Maybe something as simple as counting the different words would tell me something.

If I plugged a couple of people logs into an online "content analysis" web page would I find out anything interesting?

I'll put this on my list of "things to do when I'm really bored and don't have anything better to do."

Iceland snapshot of the day

Svartifoss in Skaftafell National Park

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:53 PM


Monday, October 15, 2007

The formula for success


I came across this at edge.org and thought it was interesting. Kahneman won the Nobel Prize in economics a few years ago.*

Khaneman doesn't define "talent" in his formula. But, I'm guessing he'd include some sort of "raw talent" and hard work (like deliberate practice).

*i.e. Sveriges Riksbank prize in economic sciences in memory of Alfed Nobel.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:37 PM


Sunday, October 14, 2007

JAM compares Norway and Netherlands training


Jonn Are Myhren wrote a bit about a Norwegian team training camp in the Czech Republic. He compared the Norwegian national team camp to his experiences as a self-funded camp (he has run for the Netherlands). Here is a rough translation of something he wrote about the difference:

The biggest difference was...to be able to relax better between the training sessions and to be able to concentrate on the training...

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:48 PM


Saturday, October 13, 2007

Today's training at Knob Noster


I spent some time today working on simplifying and seeing the structure of the terrain. When my orienteering is rusty - as it is now - I often make legs more difficult then they are because I don't see the overall structure of the terrain.

Today I was working on that. For some of the legs I spent a few seconds standing still and forcing myself to see the overall structure before I began running. Here is an example:

The control sits in a reentrant and there is a lot of contour detail you could read as you approach the control.

But if you see the bigger picture, the control is a lot easier.

The red lines on the map below are the rough contour shapes that outline the overall structure of the terrain around the control. By focusing on that structure, I was able to find the control without any trouble (my route is the blue line).

I hope that a bit of practice at seeing the terrain structure and simplifying controls will help sharpen my orienteering.

Mystery of the exploding shower door

I was sleeping soundly last night when I was awoken by a noise. It was loud and seemed to be quite near. I got out of bed and looked around. I didn't see anything, but I heard a crackling sound. It was coming from the bathroom.

I opened the door and saw small bits of glass all over the place. The glass was crackling. I have no idea how it happened, but one of the shower doors seems to have spontaneously exploded. Very strange and a bit scary.

A google search finds someone who had a similar experience (the photo looks a lot like the results of our shattered shower door).

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:12 PM


Friday, October 12, 2007

Rambling of a strange mind


Mary handed me a map this evening and asked, "do you think that route from 8 to 9 is too far out of the way?" I looked at the map and took a quick look at the route choice drawn in. After a little bit, I said, "I think I'd have gone straighter - not as far around for the safer attack."

A leg later in the course caught my eye and I looked at it. I thought, "hey, Mary's course had the same leg as I had, I remember running to that control and poking my eye on a branch."

It turns out the map Mary handed me wasn't a course she'd run, it was a course I'd run. Two strange things:

1. I looked at the route I'd actually taken from 8 to 9 and decided I wouldn't do that (even though, I did).

2. At just a quick glance I recognized another leg from the course and immediately recalled getting jabbed by a stick (it was a bad enough injury that I had to visit the emergency room to get the wound glued together).

I'm annoyed that I could spend some time studying a leg I ran and not realize I ran it. I'm surprised that just glancing at another leg would bring back such a strong memory.

The mind is strange. Or maybe it is just my mind that is strange.

Iceland snapshot of the day

Today's snapshot is a row of turf buildings at the base of a cliff. I don't remember where it was.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:06 PM


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ivarsson quote


Dare to stand still in the forest. Use the tactic that Kent Olsson and I use: stop as soon as you are unsure. You have to learn to orienteer at the speed you compete at. Set your speed based on the orienteering and not the other way around....

When I'm standing on the starting line, regardless of how my training has been going or if I've been injured, I think, "do my best." The past is forgotten.

I wasn't inspired to write tonight, so I just did a rough translation of a bit of an interview with Johan Ivarsson in the book "Traning."

Iceland snapshot of the day

I took this snapshot along the main highway a bit west of Skaftefell.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:07 PM


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"He works out harder than anybody."


Baseball - not orienteering - but maybe there is something to learn from how Manny Ramirez trains...

Few people know about the extra hand-eye coordination exercises Ramirez has added to his routine since the middle of the 2004 season. Strength and conditioning coach Dave Page fires golf ball-like spheres at the slugger’s strike zone, where they are caught by Ramirez’ right hand, acting as a bat.

Later in the workout, which is done 30 minutes before every game, Page throws four rings at Ramirez. Each ring has a different colored ball attached to it, and Page calls out the color of the ball Manny has to grab out of mid-air.

“It’s comical how good he is at it,” Page said. “Other guys try it, but they don’t come close.”

Most people also don’t realize Ramirez is the only position player who routinely stretches and runs with the pitchers. And hardly anyone sees Manny in the weight room nine hours before the first pitch of night games, at home and on the road.

“He comes in at like 10 a.m. on night games and he’ll work out, go home, take a nap, and come back. Baseball is his life,” Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia [stats] said. “He gets portrayed as being kind of goofy, and he kind of jumps around, but he takes this game more serious than anybody. I think that gets overlooked.

“And the other thing is that he works out harder than anybody. There’s a reason why he is one of the best hitters of all time.”

The quote is from an article in the Boston Herald.

Another interesting quote:

“He never goes into an at-bat without a plan. Whether he’s looking for a pitch, or whether he’s looking for location, or whether he knows a pitcher isn’t going to come inside to him, he’s got a pretty good plan.”

Work hard. Have a plan. That's good advice.

Iceland snapshot of the day

Reykjavik reminded me a bit of Lawrence. You can imagine a bike strung up across Mass Street (maybe at Sunflower)...and you can see a bike strung across the main shopping street in Reykjavik.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:20 PM


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

What's going on in Czech Republic?


The Norwegian team is in the Czech Republic for a training camp to prepare for next year's World Champs. Here is what Goran Andersson had to say about it:

"We will have high intensity training every day through Friday. The most important thing is to get used to the Czech terrain and maps. It is also good to get to know the Czech culture and to see what it is like to be there."

The schedule: Tuesday afternoon is middle distance; Wednesday is relay training; Thursday is long distance; and the camp finishes with a running test and sprint training on Friday.

Look for Oystein Kvaal Osterbo to start posting maps soon...

Iceland snapshot of the day

A glowing greenhouse near the hotel in Hvita:

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:07 PM


Monday, October 08, 2007

Cranky old guy


I try, I really do, to avoid say, "things were better before." I don't want to be a cranky old guy.

I remember the first time I ever saw a map from a World Champs. It was in 1981 and the map showed the routes of Oyvin Thon and Annichen Kringstad at Thun, Switzerland. I still remember studying the legs and wondering how the terrain would look and how anyone could make their way around the course so fast. It was hard to imagine. I was impressed with any orienteer who could race their way around that course.

Today, I was looking at this weekend's sprint World Cup race today...

I don't want to be a cranky old guy but I just don't get a special feeling looking at that map.

Don't get me wrong. I'm impressed - amazed even - at the best orienteers in the world. But, I'm not impressed that someone could race their way around this weekend's course.

Don't be a cranky old guy....don't be a cranky old guy....don't be a cranky old guy...

Iceland snapshot of the day

Black sand beach and cliffs at a place called Dyrholaey:

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:09 PM


Sunday, October 07, 2007

Herm Edwards or Kent Olsson?


A football quote reminded me of Kent Olsson. The quote is from the Chiefs coach and is his advice to a rookie player who was performing below expectations at the beginning of training:

You’re trying way too hard. You’re a good player and that’s why we drafted you. You just need to relax and have some fun. Stop trying so hard.

Olsson talks about relaxing and not trying too hard. He says that nobody ever had a bad race because they "tried to easy" but that trying too hard leads to stress and mistakes.

Iceland snapshot of the day

There isn't much forest in Iceland. This snapshot is from a planted forest near Geysir.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:34 PM


Saturday, October 06, 2007

Not my day


I started a local O' race today. It was not my day.

Warming up felt ok.

I had a short climb on the way to the first control and something felt wrong. I was struggling to breath. I walked a bit and felt a bit better, then started up again and had breathing trouble again. I did a mix or running - walking - trying to catch my breath - walking - runnning for about 40 minutes. Then I stopped.

I think the problem was exposure to Ragweed pollen. I hate Ragweed.

Iceland snapshot of the day

The coast near Hotel Hellnar:

It was nearly dark when I took the photo. I braced the camera on a wall and had the shutter open for 30 seconds. That's why the water looks so strange.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:45 PM


Friday, October 05, 2007

Some words from Heli


An email arrived with a translation of a bit of the Finnish TV interview with Heli Jukkola. Keep in mind that Heli spoke Finnish, which was translated to Swedish, which I'm translating (quickly) to English. Certainly Heli's comments lose something in that chain of translation.

How do you prepare yourself before a competition and what is the most important thing you think about before a competition?

All kinds of things go through your head before a race.

But there must be some limits?

Yes. And that is was the preparation is about. In the last month before a race I think about everything that might happen during the competition. Then as I get closer to the competition I narrow the field months - thinking about fewer and more important things. And just before the performance, I try to think only of how I'm going to complete the race and NOT AT ALL about my goals; or how my preparation and training has gone; or if I'm in good form or not. I think ONLY about the peformance - the type of the competition and how I will orienteer.

I might be missing something in the translation, but it sounds like Heli is talking about focusing on process rather than outcome.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:06 PM


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Swiss experiment and Minna/Heli video


From the bulletin for this weekend's World Cup race in Switzerland...

The organizers are committed to ensure Following-free results and therefore will keep a special eye on the observation of IOF rule 26.2 ("In an individual interval start race, competitors shall navigate and run through the terrain independently"). The organizers disclose hereby how they interpret (measure) the breach of above-mentioned rule: If an athlete punches 3 consecutive controls on his/her course all within 10 seconds behind the same competitor, this athlete is suspected of committing Following and may be disqualified.

I'm not sure whether this is a good idea or not. But, I'm glad to see an experiment in trying to reduce following. (You can read all about the event at the official site).

Minna/Heli Video

I got an email today with a link to Finnish television's sports program featuring an inteview with Minna Kauppi and Heli Jukkola. Most of it is in Swedish. Even if you can't understand it, it is kind of fun to see.

I think the video link will only last a week or so. So, go here and click on the video link.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:45 PM


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Pre-logging training


Mary logged 10 minutes of physical therapy exercises tonight before she actually did the exercise. That seemed wrong to me. I don't think I'd ever log training that I hadn't yet done. It just seems wrong to log training and then do it.

Mary pointed out that logging your training first might force you to do what you planned.

I wonder - how many people log training that they either haven't yet done or never actually do? I wonder - how many people do more training than they log?

Another old map

Aspleaf posted some more old O' maps. This one is from 1966. Maybe someone who (a) lives in Uppsala and (b) reads this blog will go out an run with this map...

Iceland snapshot of the day

Mary at the foot of Skogafoss.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:36 PM


Monday, October 01, 2007

Breaking control circles


Breaking control circles that obscure detail - that's a topic I came across at Attackpoint today. There wasn't much discussion, but a couple of examples came up from last weekend's New Hampshire meet (as an aside...that's sweet terrain).

Control 2, approached from the north.

Control 9, approached from the southwest.

I guess you can make a case that the control circles obscured some of the detail. But, it seems like both controls could be simplified so that you wouldn't need the detail if you've got a good picture of the entire control circle and the big features just outside of the rings.

Which brings me to an aside...One of indicators that I'm out of orienteering form is when I look at a control and see just the control feature. The converse is that one of the indicators that I'm orienteering well is that I have a vivid and broad picture of the terrain.

An example makes it clearer. If I was running to control 9 and thought to myself, "I'm looking for a rootstock" them I'm not orienteering well. If I were orienteering well, then I'd have thought, "I'm looking for a spot with a distinct vegetation boundary/marsh just outside of the ring to the east (and bending behind the control), with a north/south running open area leading from south of the circle to just left of the spot I'm looking for (with a distinct vegetation boundary and a few rootstocks), and the control sits at a place where the contours bend and get close to each other just north and west of the spot I'm looking for." When I'm orienteering well, the two types of thoughts consume about the same amount of mental energy. But one of those thoughts gives me a much clearer picture of what I'm looking for.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:12 PM


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