Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Monday, December 31, 2007

Re-dissecting Boris


It has been a year since I dissected Boris' training (see part I and part II), so I figured it was time for a follow-up.

I brewed a cup of good coffee, got a home made scone out of the oven, and sat down at the laptop with a browser pointed to Boris' log at Attackpoint.

I was curious to see what sort of changes Boris had made after another year of training and racing in Sweden.

What I found was that Boris' 2007 training was very similar to 2006. Here are some comparisons of 2006 and 2007:

Total training hours: 454 and 466
Orienteering hours: 212 and 218
Running hours: 147 and 181
Strength hours: 31 and 35

When I saw those similarities, I stopped. I didn't see any point in spending the time it'd take to read through a full year of training entries. So, I just ate my scone and drank my coffee.

I think one change Boris made to his training which doesn't clearly show up in the info above is that he's put a bit more emphasis on running faster.

I look at Boris' log a few times a week. So, I wasn't really surprised that he hadn't changed his training a whole lot. But, I guess I was surprised at how similar the training was over two years. I wonder (and if I get inspired, I can probably find out) how often people put in back-to-back training years that are so similar.

When I look at how people train, I don't usually look at how well they race. But, I couldn't help myself this time. Boris has two really good years of training behind him. I'd hope to see some decent improvement in results. I look at his log most days and I've seen his training and racing results appearing to improve. Certainly, he has fewer bad races (and the races he considers disasters know are better than the races he'd consider disasters a few years ago). But, I was looking for something a bit more systematic. So, I looked at his world ranking page.

The world ranking results show some clear improvement over the two years. Though I don't have a good understanding of the world rankings or of how other orienteers have changed over a two year period. Still, it looks to me like movement in the right direction.

That said, there is one glaring bad result in 2007 - the WOC middle distance qualifying race. 2006's glaring bad result was the JK middle distance race.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:32 AM


Saturday, December 29, 2007

An old night O' race


I was looking at some old maps today and came across this map:

The race was a mass start night event (one of the Wednesday night Stockholm night cup races in 1991). My main memory of the event is that there was a good foot of fresh snow on the ground. I have distinct memories of running in a short line of orienteers all following the footsteps of whoever had taken the lead. It was hard work and not especially fun. Not that's not right - night O' is always fun.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:46 PM


Friday, December 28, 2007

O' Fashion Continued...


Patrick's latest designs...


Jim Ryun Throwback:

Modified Status Quo:

Comments are open and appreciated.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:33 PM


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Great night for a run


It doesn't get much better than this - mid 20s; no wind; fresh, light snow on the ground; light snow falling; a forest empty except for deer and racoons; a fully charged headlamp; and legs feeling good.

That was tonight's training.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:36 PM


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

More on pressure and performance


I suppose the opposite of "bast nar det galler" is chocking. I came across the psychology of choking under pressure today. The context is golf...but as some people (not me) say, "golf and orienteering are the same sport."

Based on the research described...

These findings appear to support the idea that anxiety affects performance by causing people to think too much about their actions, not because it is distracting per se.

Sounds plausible.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:20 PM


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Performing under pressure


What portion of orienteers do you think perform better when the pressure is on? In other words, if it is a big race, what portion of orienteers do better than you'd expect?

Some people - lots, I'd think - have relatively bad races when they feel pressure (and they tend to feel pressure in big races). Some do about what you'd expect. There might be some that do their best when it really counts (Swede's talk about orienteers being "bast nar det galler").

I was reading a bit from the latest Hardball Times Baseball Annual when I came across this description of "clutch" hitters:

"It may be that the most outstanding hitters tend to be even more outstanding when the game or the season is on the line."

Keep an emphasis on "may." The issue is far from settled (and baseball has enough data and analysts that figuring out when and if players are "bast nar det galler" may be answerable).

Time to go out for a run.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 1:30 PM


Monday, December 24, 2007

Norwegian O' map puzzles


OPN pointed me to some O' map computer puzzles from a Norwegian race.

Go to Hovedlopet 2007 and download the puzzle programs. There are three options:

"Last ned lett utgave"
"Last ned vanskelig utgave"
"Last ned krevende utgave"

Last ned = download. The three options are different levels of difficulty from lett=easy to krevende=challenging.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 5:32 PM


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Hills in Lund


I came across this little map of a hill in Lund:

The course is a cross country race hosted by Lunds OK - 4 laps is 10K with 560 meters of climb.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:17 PM


Friday, December 21, 2007

O' Fashion


Patrick is working to design a new Orienteer Kansas O' top. Here is the first design sketch:

Checking out the design reminds me of the WOC 2006 O' Fashion Fight and Mary's favorite reality show - Project Runway.

Thoughts on Patrick's design? Add them to the comments.

Jane Betros Tribute

Today's Kansas City Star included a nice tribute to Jane Betros.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:26 PM


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Nature or nurture?


Nature or nuture? I came across a news story about some research on race horses that quoted one of the authors:

By far the biggest factor was the horse's environment - the way they were trained, the choice of races entered and which jockeys were employed.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:41 PM


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Process versus outcome


Paraphrased from tonight's Bill Self radio show:

At this time of the year, it is better to do things right and have the other team score than to do things wrong and have them miss.

Process versus outcome! One of my favorite themes.

We're about 1/3rd of the way through the basketball season. I guess from Self's perspective, the last part of the season the equation will change and outcome will be more important. And presumably, he feels that focusing on process will ultimately put the team in a better position to have the best outcome in the last part of the season.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:16 PM


Monday, December 17, 2007

Snapshot from the start


No motivation to write, so I'll just post a snapshot.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:28 PM


Sunday, December 16, 2007



Chronobiologists study the effects of time on life processes. I read a review of a new book that looks at chronobiology and includes some interesting items that would seem to have some implications for orienteers:*

"Most of us are mentally sharpest some three hours after waking, when concentration and problem-solving abilities may be up to 30 percent better than at other times of day."


"To set a personal speed record, try scheduling your run or swim for early evening, when your perception of exertion is low and your muscles are at their most powerful."

So, orienteers are sort of stuck. From a chronobiological perspective, your peak problem-solving and physical abilities don't correspond. Oh well.

I also came across the online Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire. The questionnaire takes a few minutes. The test gives you a score on a scale of 18-86 (with low scores being more eveningness). I was rated a "moderate morning" person. That sounds about right.

I'd write a bit more, but if the online questionnaire is to be believed, the melatonin concentration of my saliva is heading towards 3 picograms per milliliter. I'd better get ready for that!

*The book is Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream: A Day in the Life of Your Body by Jennifer Ackerman, reviewed by Kyla Dunn in today's NY Times.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:00 PM


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Compass training


Eric posted a map from one of his workouts:

Eric runs this as compass intervals. He runs at threshold pace on the odd numbered legs. It seems like a good workout.

Back in the day, I did a lot of training by running on a compass bearing. I ran at a steady pace, but not as hard as Eric does. I also ran in hilly areas, often setting legs that took me diagonally across a hillside. When I started doing these workouts, I didn't really have a goal in mind. It was mostly just a way to find a different use for an area I'd trained in a lot (the basemap for Rockcrusher, for those of you familiar with Orienteer Kansas terrain). I thought the training was valuable because it taught me to keep looking far ahead and to run a straight line - very useful skills even if you don't use a compass.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:34 PM


Friday, December 14, 2007

More from the 1972 Skogssport


Age Hadler won individual WOCs in 1966 and 1972. Here are a couple of quotes (translated very quickly) from the 1972 Skogssport I wrote about yesterday:

What is the secret behind Hadler's success?

I really concentrate on the big tasks. All of my training is to give me the best results at the right time. I know from experience that I'll finish in the top if I have a race without mistakes. I might not run as fast as my competition but instead I avoid mistakes.

Interval training is something I don't do. Instead I do long distance runs, mostly on trails.

And courtesy of Aspleaf, some Christmas music....

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:36 PM


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Swedish view of orienteering in the U.S. in 1972


Alternativet posted a PDF of the Swedish O' magazine Skogssport from 1972. I took a quick look and was surprised to see an article about orienteering in the U.S.

The author is the "famous Swedish orienteering racer" Gunnar Ohlund. Gunnar and Goran Ohlund had been in the U.S. making maps. The article focuses on mapping at the Philmont scout ranch. Gunnar notes that, "by making orienteering maps and teaching scouts and leaders to orienteer, the sport could spread over the entire U.S."

The article also covers the always popular issues of bears (Gunnar and Goran saw plenty of them) and rattle snakes (they didn't see any).

It is cool to look at the old magazine.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:09 PM


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What does a PR feel like?


Here is how Eric described his PR at a trail race:

One my favorite training books is The Self-Coached Runner by Allan Lawrence and Mark Scheid. What I like about it so much is the way they augment the solid technical material with inspirational stuff like this (from Chapter 4):

For most of us, this stage [the separation of the effort and the perception of effort] will remain merely theoretical, and we will have to be content with relaxation and controlled release of energy. But, if you race enough and not too much, there will be a race or two in your career in which you will glimps something like the elite runner's dissociation, and you will be able to run faster than you have ever run over a given distance, and it will feel easy.

When it happens, remember as much of it as you can, because you will run that race in your mind's eye for the rest of your life.

Today was the day.

And here is how Boris described his 5km track PR:

Eventually, though, I got myself to start running, but none of that feeling of speed and lightness from interval sessions ever came. I struggled to breathe well, and my legs felt pretty heavy. After one lap, I thought I'd never finish, as I was in pain and already a second off the target pace. As the laps went along, I was still feeling bad, but nothing seemed to be getting worse. With a lap and a half to go, I realized I had a shot, and tried to pick it up. The last 200 meters was not a pretty sight, as I was wheezing and making all sorts of horrid noises, and running as fast as I could.

Eric was able to "run faster,...and it will feel easy"

Boris started off and felt like he'd "never finish...still feel bad...not a pretty sight...wheezing and making all sorts of horrid noises."

Both had good races, but Eric's sounds like a more pleasant experience.

I've had days that felt something like Eric's. I've felt like I was flying along, everything felt fast and easy. But at the end, my time wasn't good. When I've had good times, I've always felt a lot more like Boris. I've felt like I was working, working, working.

Maybe someday I'll have one of those days like Eric's. It'd be nice.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:18 PM


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Interesting training courses


Some interesting training from the HOK blog...

The maps above are examples of how each of three training courses work.

On the left, you've got a map that is redrawn to show only the features needed to simplify the leg.

In the middle, you've got a map that shows - with small blue rings - the key features.

On the right, you've got a regular map. The runner has to decide for themselves how to simplify the leg.

The HOK training session featured three different courses, one of each type of map.

It seems like a cool way to help orienteers learn and practice how to simplify their orienteering.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:58 PM


Monday, December 10, 2007

Do it now


About 10 years ago, I did a number of "ride alongs" with police officers. One of the phrases you heard over and over was "do it now." As in:

"Keep you hands visible and get out of the car. Do it now."

Well, I'm going to use that same phrase and tell you to point your web browser to Gueorgious's story part 2. Do it now.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:01 PM


Sunday, December 09, 2007

Interesting idea for orienteering PR


A Norwegian guy, Eskil Aasmul, has written a thriller, in part as a way to get some PR for orienteering. It is an interesting idea.

You can read Jan Kocbach's short interview with the author and a review of the book.

My Norwegian isn't great, but I've made my way through the first 50 pages or so without much trouble.

I'm aware of three other orienteering fiction books. One is a Hardy Boy's book about orienteering. It shows up on Amazon, and I'm absolutely sure I read it. But nothing - not a thing - about the story stuck with me. Another is Wilf Holloway's murder mystery. I have a vague recollection that I started it, but didn't finish. A third is a Swedish book that follows some kids (maybe 12-14 years old) in an orienteering competition. It was written for a 12 year old audience - and I read it when I was probably 25 - so it didn't do much for me. I can't remember the name of the book or the author. That's a bit embarrassing because I've met the author. He was a member of Lunds OK. I met him when I was running for Lund for a season back in the late 1980s.

Here is a short description of the Hardy Boy's book:

The Hardys travel to Idaho to learn the wilderness sport of orienteering, but Frank, Joe, and their instructor, Rob Niles, run into some treacherous terrain, and their courage and resourcefulness are stretched to the limit.

Idaho?! I wonder if they had trouble with the map?

ck to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:02 PM


Saturday, December 08, 2007

2-3 hours a day of map study


The latest Orienteering Today includes an article on how the top Chinese orienteers train. This part caught my eye:

So how do they train orienteering technique in the rather boring surroundings? "We spend 2-3 hours every evening studying maps and route choices....Catching Features is also an important part of the training.

2-3 hours a day of studying maps is a lot of time looking at maps. Over the last few years, I've experimented a bit with map studying, but I don't think I ever hit 2 hours, let alone 3, in a given day. I'm impressed.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:54 PM


Friday, December 07, 2007

snapshot and maps


Mikell moving fast at the end of last Saturday's race:

And a great collection of maps for the upcoming WOC in the Czech Republic.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:12 PM


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Some sad news


An email arrived today with some sad news - Jane Betros passed away yesterday.

Jane was one of the people most responsible for orienteering being around in this part of the U.S. Jane was involved in the early years of the Possum Trot O' Club, which began in the mid 1970s. I remember her most as a mapper, course setter, newsletter editor and club historian.

I think it is fair to say that if you orienteer in Kansas, you owe a debt of gratitude to Jane's work.

My condolences to her family.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:33 PM


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Snapshots from Saturday's race at Woodridge


Mikell on his way to the first control.

Fritz on his way from the last control.

Patrick crossing the finish line - first place.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:10 PM


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

It is possible to will confidence


Standing at the starting line of the World Champs,

I felt powerful butterflies just prior..., especially when I reminded myself that it was live, and anything that went wrong stayed wrong. But it is possible to will confidence. My consistent performing...had kept me sharp; it would have been difficult to blow it...

Or maybe it is Steve Martin before his first appearance on Saturday Night Live.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:58 PM


Monday, December 03, 2007

2 wild and crazy guys


...I learned a lesson; It was easy to be great. Every[one]...has a night when everything is clicking. These nights are accidental and statistical: Like lucky cards in poker, you can count on them occurring over time. What was hard was to be good, consistently good, night after night, no matter what the abominable circumstances...

That's another quote from Steve Martin. It struck me as interesting, if not directly analogous to orienteering. After all, it isn't easy to be great as an orienteer. But, it is worth recognizing that it is easy to have some races at a high level than to be consistently at that level. It is also a lot harder to have those best races exactly when you want them.

There is some parallel to a quote from Thierry Gueorgiou:

It is not on a great day you win the WOC, it is on an average day.

I guess Steve and Thierry are just two wild and crazy guys.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:30 PM


Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Trot 2007


Here is the map from today's Possum Trot (the 11th annual):

The Trot's format varies a bit from year to year. It is always a mass start. This year we could skip any two controls.

I skipped 15 and 18. I haven't seen the full skip analysis, but 22, 25, and 33 seem to have been popular skips.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:04 PM


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Today's middle distance course


Here is the middle distance course from today's Orienteer Kansas event.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 5:38 PM


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