Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wine and Catching Features


"It's really hard to play Catching Features after drinking wine."

Well, yes, I guess it is.

High Tech O' Snapshot

Anders Tiltnes...Glowing red eyes, GPS on the wrist, dipstick on the finger, and Mila Nova on the head.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:06 PM


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Snapshot from Tio Mila web coverage


When you follow Tio Mila on the web, you've got to wear a headlamp:

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:08 PM


Monday, April 28, 2008

Quickroute from Letchworth


Here is my Quickroute track from the middle distance race at Letchworth.

The track is a bit rougher than usual. Maybe I wasn't getting good signals from the GPS. In general, the relative speeds look about right.

back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:12 PM


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Tero's technique


From a Swedish newspaper interview with Thierry Gueorgiou (quickly translated):

"I have the experience necessary to not be bothered [by contact with spectators, cameras in the forest, etc]. I've also done orienteering training with headphones and a radio to practice my ability to keep concentrated despite external distractions," he says.

How do you describe your strength as an orienteer?

"I trust my ability to correctly simplify the map," he says.

When I give Tero a map and ask him to sketch how he sees the map between two controls, I get back - in a few seconds - a sketch that would be a completely functional simplification of the challenges the leg has.

Of about 70 map symbols, he has picked out 5. What looked like a difficult orienteering leg now has the difficulty of a beginner's course. Through this approach, his course becomes easier than his competitor's, I think, and test my idea on the world champion, who laughs, "yes, that is right; that's the right way to describe my orienteering technique."

This ability to simplify the map is something Tero practices continually. And he doesn't need to go out in the forest to keep it.

"You can train anywhere. You're brain doesn't notice the difference between a picture of reality and a mental image," he says.

This method requires a lot of concentration. But staying focused for an entire race is, according to Tero, impossible. When competitors try to continually force themselves to have a deep and long-lasting concentration, the professional from Saint-Etiene looks for opportunities to rest.

"Everyone talks about having to be 100 percent focused from start to finish, but that doesn't work. The key is to know when you can relax. During my middle distance final in Ukraine there were several parts of the course when I was thinking about things other than orienteering," he says.

The idea of taking a rest from concentration is pretty interesting. When I'm orienteering, my mind wanders. But, it isn't usually on purpose. Tero is letting his mind wander where he wants. That makes a lot of sense and probably takes a lot of practice.

I only recall one other orienteer who has described taking concious breaks from concentration.

You hate to generalize from a small sample size - 2 in this case. But, those are 2 very, very good orienteers.

Another observation - that's a pretty sophisticated article about orienteering technique to show up in a regular daily newspaper. That, in and of itself, is cool. It got me wondering if the journalist - Mikael Nyberg - was an orienteer. A quick Google search finds his name in orienteering results for one of the Stockholm clubs. So, that probably explains it.

The entire article is here and is worth a read if you can manage the Swedish.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 2:47 PM


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Okansas Tio Mila Team


1. 12.7 km night: Sanna Wallenborg. Sanna is our start specialist. Sanna is, in fact, running the first leg for IF Thor's 2 women's team.

2. 12.3 night: Magnus Wallenborg. We need a fit night runner to take this longish leg - Magnus fits the bill. Magnus is running the 9th leg for IF Thor's 1 team this year. (Where none other than Ola Lind has The Long Night).

3. 6.9 night: Snorkel Meenehan. Snorkel hasn't done much orienteering recently. His physical conditioning is questionable (though he is talking about running a half marathon soon). Still, he's got a lot of O' experience...and he owns a headlamp...so he gets this short night leg.

4. 16.5 night: Boris Granovskiy. Boris has no real connection to OK. I wouldn't generally put someone like that on the Okansas team. But, Boris is an Attackpoint favorite and he's about to become the first American (I think) to run "The Long Night." That deserves some recognition. Boris is running for CSU's team.

5. 6.9 night: Patrick Nuss. Patrick's recent injury problems mean he gets a short leg. Still, I think he can pull a great run out the bag when the time comes.

6. 9.6 night: Michael E. I put myself on this long, but not too long, night leg. I'm not as fit as I'd like, but my orienteering has been working pretty well the last few races. It has been 17 years since I last ran Tio Mila. It seems like yesterday.

7. 9.6 night/dawn: Gene W. Gene's getting ready for a marathon in a week or 2. So, he's in good shape for a long, steady run.

8. 5.7 day: Peggy D. Peggy ran well as the start leg for the OK relay team last weekend. Like most of the team, she's not in the shape or her life, but she can fall back on experience.

9. 5.7 day: Mary J. Mary had a strong run last weekend at the relays and earned this short leg at Tio Mila.

10. 17.5 day: Mook Everett. Like Mary and Peggy, Mook turned in a good race at last weekend's relay. He's become OK's anchor specialist. He'll be ready for the anchor at Tio Mila.

Reserve runners will be Fritz M. and Dave "Legs" L. Maybe being just outside of the team this year will inspire them to work hard next year.

A team needs some coaching help. This year's coaches will be:

Lisa C. Lisa's knowledge of the Swedish language and culture will be especially useful. We figure Tom will also tag along and make himself useful, too.

Aspleaf. Aspleaf's extensive knowledge of Tio Mila and of orienteering technique will make him a valuable coach. We plan to pay him a salary (a combination of beer and collectible North American soccer jerseys).

Peter G. Peter (who is, in fact, running the 8th leg for CSU this year) will be team driver. His job will be to rent a van and shuttle the team back and forth from the event site and Arlanda. We plan to use a compass lanyard to attach the van key to his wrist (which should cut down the time it takes him to find the keys).

Eddie B. Eddie is the team photographer (see above snapshot).

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:31 AM


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Page with lots of maps from Spain


I know next to nothing about orienteering in Spain. But, it seems like there are a fair number of orienteers and some interesting maps - check out this blog for lots of maps.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:53 PM


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Relay Champs snapshot


Mook - Orienteer Kansas' anchor runner - approaching a spectator control at the U.S. Relay Champs.

Black and white? Turns out I had unintentionally set my camera to "monochrome."

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:10 PM


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

That's right, "maladaptive changes in event-related brain networks"


Today's New York Times reported on some researchers who study what is going on in the brain when people make a mistake while playing a game. That caught my eye as something relevant to orienteering. Here is a bit of the NY Times story:

The idea, Dr. Eichele said, was to see if there were “brain activity patterns that would predict whether or not a response would be erroneous.”

As he and his colleagues report in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, no single “blip” or event signals an error. Rather, brain patterns start to change about 30 seconds before an error is committed.

“There are these linear gradients, gradual changes over time,” Dr. Eichele said.

The changes were seen in two brain networks. One, called the default mode region, is normally active when a person is relaxed and at rest. When a person is doing something, like playing the game, this region becomes deactivated. But in their experiments, the researchers found that in the time leading up to an error, the region became active again — the subject was heading toward a relaxed state.

Another network in the right frontal lobe gradually became less active, the researchers found. This is an area in the brain thought to be related to cognitive control, Dr. Eichele said, to keeping “on task.”

If I understand it, what they found is that soon before you make a mistake, you relax and don't concentrate. Not exactly earth shattering, but still interesting. (And, of course, I may very well be misunderstanding the research).

The researchers used something called "function MRI" to monitor people's brains as they played a simple game. Too bad they didn't make their subjects play Catching Features!

You can find the research article online, "Prediction of human errors by maladaptive changes in event-related brain networks."

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:36 PM


Monday, April 21, 2008

From a Janne Salmi interview


An email arrived in my in-box this weekend with links to Swedish language interviews with Minna Kauppi and Janne Salmi (Finnish TV). Thanks.

Both interviews are interesting, but I couple of things Salmi said caught my attention (he's the national team trainer, if I understand correctly). Salmi talks about the challenge in competing over a long season, with important races spread out over a long period of time. Later in the interview, he talks about Minna Kauppi's training. She hasn't had a very good off season. But, Salmi points out that the result may be that she is a little behind at the beginning of the season, but really ready for the most important races later in the season.

When you hear an interview like that, you always wonder (well, maybe not always), what Salmi would have said if Kauppi was coming off her best-ever off season of training. It'd probably be something like - Kauppi had her best ever off-season, so she'll be in great shape to last throughout the long, tough season.

I like that ability to pick out the positive and focus on it without it seeming silly or forced. I like when people are able to see a situation and recognize how it suits them.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:14 PM


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Next update on Monday?


I'm heading off to the U.S. relay champs this weekend. I'll probably update this page on Monday.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:36 PM


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

See few limits


Here is a good bit of advice - see few limits.

I came across this idea in a book by Paul Shirley about the difference between how basketball players are taught in Europe compared to the U.S.:

European players are trained from an early age to see few limits to their skill sets. In the United States, coaches are anxious to pigeon-hole players, if only to make their own jobs easier. It is much less time-consuming to teach a particular player half of the skills needed to play the game. Then the player can work on his abilities alone, becoming the cog his coach needs, without the coach expending excess energy.

Shirley is a local guy (from a small town a bit north of Lawrence). As a professional player, he spent time in Europe and the NBA. His book, Can I Keep My Jersey?, just came out in paperback. It is worth a look if you're a b-ball fan. It might even be worth a look if you're not. Shirley has an interesting view of life as a pro basketball player.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:14 PM


Monday, April 14, 2008

What can you learn from Quickroute?


I've decided it'd be fun to see if I can learn something from looking at Quickroute tracks from other orienteers. I started by looking at Tom's long race in Ohio. Here is the map with his tracks.

So, what should I be looking for?

The obvious thing is to see where Tom ran fastest. But, all that really shows me is that he goes fast on roads and trails, slower in the forest. Not much to learn there.

Maybe it'd be interesting to see how soon after each control Tom got back up to speed. I decided that "back up to speed" meant the first color change after leaving a control. For example, leaving the first control, it looks like the first color change happens about 25 meters after leaving the circle. But, leaving the second control, Tom's speed picks up well before he leave the control circle. A quick look at the map shows that leaving control 1, Tom is going up hill. Leaving control 2 he's going flat. Hmm...haven't really learned much...

If I look at the rest of the course, checking to see how long it takes for Tom to get back up to speed, a pattern begins to show up (which may be a pattern or may just be a pattern I'm imagining). Tom seems to get back to speed quickly in the orienteering right around the campground (leaving 12, 13, and 18). Does that tell me something? Maybe.

I think there is something to be learned by looking specifically at how soon someone gets back up to speed when leaving a control. It might be worth being a bit more systematic - like actually measuring the distance to first color change and writing down the measurement leg-by-leg.

That'll have to wait for another day.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:42 PM


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Alone in the forest; 1 of 100,000 on the street


Mary and I went to Perry today to run on some of the mountain bike trails. I printed out the Lidar contours and spent the run checking out the contours. The quality is really good. I also printed a small section of the map at 1-meter contours. That level of detail will prove useful for fieldchecking.

You can see that the area is small (the scale at the bottom shows 1 kilometer) and has a quite dense trail network. The forest is typical for this part of the country - rough in places and nice in a few places.

I spent a good 90 minutes exploring the area. I was alone the entire time. Didn't see a single person (well, I saw Mary back at the car).

It wasn't much later when I saw more - many, many more - people.

After the run, we went to Lawrence to watch the basketball parade. The newspaper reports a crowd of about 100,000. I don't know if that is right, but I know there were a lot of people in Lawrence this afternoon.

The photo shows the crowd assembled about 15 minutes before the parade began. I took the photo at 11th and Mass. In the distance you can almost see my office. The brown brick building at the end of the street (it looks like a reverse "E") is City Hall. My office is just out of sight to the right.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:31 PM


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Thinking technique


Anders Nordberg wrote about today's Czech long distance race. Here is a very rough translation of a bit of it:

On a long distance like this, I try to think about technique - both running and orienteering - from the start. To run with a relaxed body and at the same time seeing how the mapper was thinking is the perfect start.

I'm not a big fan of thinking about running while I'm orienteering. But, maybe it makes a difference if the way you're thinking is "run relaxed" rather than "keep the pace up." Of course, it also makes a difference is you're a great orienteer rather than a run-of-the-mill one.

In extreme conditions - very hot or at altitude - I've had some success when I devote a fair amount of energy to thinking about running. "Run easy, slow down, don't push." That said, I've had far more bad races than good when it is hot or the race is at altitude.

OKO posted maps from the race Nordberg wrote about - part 1 and part 2.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 5:39 PM


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Czech map


I went over to Worldofo.com hoping to find an inspiring story of O' map. The story about a WOC training camp in teh Czech Republic caught my eye and I followed the link to Oystein Kvaal Osterbo's page and saw this map:

Interesting, I guess. But not really inspiring.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:55 PM


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Snapshot from today's training


Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:58 PM


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

What's Wingstedt up to?


Here's a short (and rough) translation of part of an article from the Halden newspaper about Emil Wingstedt.

Halden's Swedish national team runner, with several international titles, thinks he can be an even better orienteer. He'd especially like to win the long or middle distance at an international championship. He hasn't done that before.

"I've won sprints and relays; this year I want to go for the longer distances," he said.

In his efforts to make all of the small improvements he has gone further than just physical and O' technique training. He has been involved in a project to train his eyes. Tests have show improvments.

"A group of us from Halden SK went through an introduction to the concept of 'train your eyes' at an optomitrist in town a couple of years ago. I stuck with it and the last year I've been doing the training. I think it will help me. In any case, the test results show that," said Wingstedt.

The eye training is interesting. A couple of years ago I did a bit of eye training. Basically, I did an exercise that forced me to quickly shift focus from near to far and back again. I stuck with it long enough to get much better at the exercise. But I lost interest before I noticed any "in the field" results.

Mario's Big 3

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:13 PM


Monday, April 07, 2008

More Lidar - University of Kansas Campus


Eddie has been playing around with the Lidar data that covers the University of Kansas campus. This is one of the images he created.

It is pretty easy to match up the orienteering map with the Lidar image from Eddie (look for the football stadium and the big hill).

Basketball fans might like to know that one of the big buildings at the front of Eddie's image is Phog Allen Fieldhouse....Home of the 2008 NCAA men's basketball national champions!!!!!

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:53 PM


Sunday, April 06, 2008

Regaining concentration


It happens to every orienteer. You're doing well. Concentrating on what you're doing. You boom a control. Then you start thinking. "I boomed that one, gotta make up for it," or maybe, "had a good run, dumb mistake, dumb, dumb, dumb." Next thing you know you start running too fast and reading too little. You make another mistake and lose more time.

That's sort of what happened to Kansas in last nights basketball game. The started the game playing amazing basketball and got to a lead of 40-12. At halftime the lead was 44-27. Kansas was like an orienteer concentrating perfectly and running fast.

Then something happened - like an orienteer booming a control. North Carolina outscored Kansas 27-6 to start the second half and cut the lead to 4 points.

"We made dumb plays," said the Kansas player Sasha Kaun. Like an orienteering trying to make up for lost time and booming another control.

Suddenly, after a time out, Kansas looked like everything was back under control and Kansas pulled away over the last 8 or 9 minutes of the game to win by 18. Like an orienteer who regained concentration and ran the rest of the course concentrating well and running fast.

When I was watching the game on TV I wondered what a coach would tell the team at that time out. So I poked around the web and found a quote from a Kansas player - Darnell Jackson - about what the coach said during that time out:

“Coach Self said, ‘Everybody take a deep breath; do it with me,’’’ Jackson said, indicating the players actually exhaled with Self in front of the bench. “We were fine after that.”

There is a lesson there.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 3:48 PM


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Today's Quickroute


Here is the Quickroute track from today's local meet at Fleming Park:

Not much to say about it. I slowed noticeably after the first few kilometers. You'll notice a lot of slow moving on any hill (going up or down). I lost a little time at 6 and 9 - in each case I was in the circle but took a little time to find the flag. The description for 9 was east side of boulder, but the flag was north of the boulder. These are big boulders, so that made a difference.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:31 PM


Friday, April 04, 2008

Creating new knowledge


"People take information and build knowledge. When you give them new information they will create new knowledge, absolutely and without question."

I wonder if having lots of races with Quickroute tracks will provide new information and create new knowledge.

Any guesses on who I'm quoting?

Favorite T-Shirt of the Day

I saw a T-shirt in downtown Lawrence today. "Kansas - birthplace of North Carolina Basketball."

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:16 PM


Thursday, April 03, 2008

More Lidar...


Oh yeah, that's "unsharp-masked filtered (high-pass) data. That is, the slowly varying elevation is removed and sharp features are enhanced...., so you can see buildings and trees in that one."

The image came to me in my email from an orienteer who downloaded some of the Kansas Lidar data and did some magic to the raw data.

I know very little about computers and much less about Lidar data. But, I think I might try to learn a bit more.

After a few more minutes poking around the internet to learn about Lidar, I discovered how easy it is to create a contour map at 1 meter interval. The example below is an area near Perry Lake (north of Lawrence). It shows a lot of contour detail in the major reentrants. I'm guessing (hoping) that is shows enough detail to easily fieldcheck the stream bed.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:50 PM


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Lowegren on Lidingo


From an article in the Lidingo newspaper (original Swedish version) a rough translation of a quote from Fredrik Lowegren - formerly on the national team and, I think, former world number 1 (WRE ranking) - one of the elite leaders for IFK Lidingo:

"We've gone out and said that we will support runners who want to develop to become world champions, in an environment that is inspiring and supporting development," said Fredrik Lowegren.

Lidingo's club goal is to finish well at, in particular, 10-Mila. They also want to support runners at all levels.

Fredrik Lowegren, who competed for Lidingo earlier, thinks that there is a completely different effort/focus in the club now. "There has been a strong tradition around relays in Lidingo and as someone who was focusing on individual goals I didn't get the support I needed. Today we're focusing more on developing individuals."

Lowegren's discussion of what I'd call the "orienteering environment" caught my eye. He describes the former environment as focusing on the relay tradition and notes how that might not fit with an individual reaching their potential. I don't know if he's right or wrong, but it is an interesting idea.

I spent a few years running for IFK Lidingo back in the late 80s/early 90s. I left Sweden just when Lowegren joined the club. He's certainly correct that Lidingo had a strong tradition and focus on the relays. For me, that was perfect.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:15 PM


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