Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Sunday, January 31, 2010

31 Day Challenge...is over!


I did an O' session today and finished the challenge - do an O' session every day in the month of January.

Some numbers. I did 18:30 of orienteering technique (out of a total of 31 hours of training). I found 313 controls. I ran on 15 different maps. 7 were sprint standard maps. One was an Open Orienteering Map (using the street-O setting). One was a map that showed pavement and buildings on the Kennesaw State University campus. I did 1 session on skis and 3 on a bike.

Gear. My headlamp was important. I did 13 night O' sessions. Neoprene socks proved useful. We had more snow than usual. Neoprene socks made running in the snow a lot easier...no, not easier, more comfortable.

Map feel. By "map feel" I mean comfort with having a map in my hand and using it to navigate. Lots of map sessions develop a very good map feel. The map feel from training every day is different from the map feel of training a similar amount of technique but in less frequent sessions. It reminds me of the difference between fieldchecking 5 days a week versus fieldchecking on the weekends.

Company. It really helped that Cristina was also doing the 31 day challenge. It provided some added motivation to check her log and see what she was up to.

Many short sessions. I did a lot of short technique sessions. An interesting question to ponder - is it better to train the same amount of technique as many short sessions or fewer longer sessions? It is probably specific to each individual. I've been pretty happy with lots of short sessions. Of course, the ideal is a mix.

. Having an arbitrary goal - like 31 days of O' technique - forces some creativity. You need to figure out when and where you're going to train. You need to figure out what you're going to do when you get to the map. You need to make sure you're focused. It is easier to make all of those decisions if you only train technique 1 or 2 times a week.

Peter made a similar observation about running at least 30 minutes a day for 45 days in a row:

I'm not sure why I got started on this silliness, but it actually has rarely been hard to get out the door, with the question each day (or more accurately each week, because I try to plan ahead a little) being how and where am I going to train rather then just am I going to train.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 4:14 PM


Saturday, January 30, 2010



Lots of things we do as orienteers require working together and some discipline. Think about organizing an event or work with a club to put together a good relay team. Lots of things we do require some discipline, but not much working together. Think about training or fieldchecking a map.

Could "checklists" help orineteers?

Atul Gawande makes a good case that checklists can help people when you need to work together and when you need discipline. You can find out about his book on Gawande.com.

I've used various checklists in my job. Some of them have worked well. Some haven't. In retrospect, I think I understand why some of them worked and some didn't. It had to do with how we designed the checklists. Some were designed with great care. Those tended to work.

In orienteering, I can only recall two checklists I've used.

I used to have a list of everything to pack before I went to a race. Compass - check. Neoprene socks - check. Contact lenses - check. It seems like a reasonable idea, but it was actually pretty useless. All it takes to make sure you don't forget something is to think about your routine for a race and then pack that stuff.

The other checklist I had was a list of things to do within the 30 minutes of finishing a race. I was having trouble recovering for the second day of a 2-day event. I'd wake up for the 2nd day feeling drained and sore. I decided it was because I wasn't taking care of some important stuff in the first 30 minutes after finishing the first day. I made up a little list. It had maybe 6 items, things like: drink some sport drink; deal with any bumps, bruises or cuts; get on warm, dry clothes; and so on. Really basic stuff. I actually used that checklist and, I think, it helped.

Gawande's book got me thinking a lot about checklists and inspired me to do some experiments with them. We'll see how that goes.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 11:14 AM


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pub O'


Pub Orienteering.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:27 PM


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Monkey Mountain - Today's Orienteering


I managed to avoid any booms induced by falling today! That's probably because I didn't fall until the last step on the course. I slipped on some mud at the finish line and took a hard fall, landing with my knee on concrete.

Monkey Mountain is a classic Kansas City orienteering area. I have memories of running on the original black and white map, hunting for markers that weren't in the right place. The current map is fine, but it is a bit old. The rough open areas have a lot of young trees and thorny brush.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 5:19 PM


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mindless running in Georgia


One of my "rules" is to take a few seconds to stand still and read the map after I fall down during a race. I violated that rule in Georgia. Check out my crazy 10th control (and the 11th is dismal, too). Just before I get to the control circle, you can see a red dot on my track. That's where I fell down.

I put my foot into a hole, straightened my left knee, and fell forward. When I got up, I started moving right away. I "forgot" where I'd been and just ran mindlessly for a bit, then looked around (without stopping) tried to match up some stream bends that I saw with the map, made a parallel error....and ran right off the map! I fell down again - right at the edge of the map - and AGAIN, I got up and kept on moving.

I need to figure out a good way of practicing falling down - a way that'll work without having to actually put my foot in a hole and hyperextend my knee.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 12:03 PM


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

31 Day Challenge update


So far, so good. I've done some orienteering training each day this year. I'm still on track for the 31 day challenge.

Last year, by January 19th, I'd missed one day and injured myself in a race. The injury pretty much wrecked the rest of the month.

The biggest difficulty this year has been the weather. We've had some cold weather and more snow than usual. Looking at my log, I see one session when it was 2 F (which is, let me see....-17 C...and it was windy, too). The snow and cold made it a bit more work to get out the door and into the forest.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:11 PM


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Head cam video from The Trot


Pete ran the Possum Trot with a "head cam" for the first half of the course. Check out the video. You'll catch a quick glimpse of Mook running toward the camera (in a white shirt) on his way to victory. I'm impressed by how well the camera works.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:08 PM


Monday, January 11, 2010

Big, really big, orienteering map


An orienteering map (sort of) of the entire world.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:56 PM


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Map disclaimers


I've always found map disclaimers amusing. Lots of maps have something like "possession of this map does not grant right to access." You'll see that disclaimer on maps of areas where the public has essentially unlimited access, like a public city park. The map doesn't give you access, but being a member of the public gives you right to access. Of course, you still don't have a right to organize an event, but you've got a right to access the land.

Today I came across a map with this disclaimer:

Pima Association of Governments makes no warranty on the results or opinions derived from these data....

I'm guessing it means that the data the orienteers used to make the map was provided by the P.A.G. and they've got a generic disclaimer - probably approved by the county attorney - that they require any user to reproduce. I like the language...."no warranty on results of opinions."

Here's a link to the map, by the way.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:21 PM


Friday, January 08, 2010

31 Day Challenge update


I've made it 8 days into the 31 day challenge. So far, so good.

I had one somewhat bogus session. We had basketball tickets for Wednesday night, leaving little time to train. I planned a "fast walk" session on the downtown sprint map. I was inspired by Aspleaf:

Dagens planerade attackpromenad hade två saker på katastrofagendan. Det var 10 grader kallt och banan hade hamnat ute i samhället av någon anledning. Promenad på asfalt. Promenad i helveteskyla. Promenad rätt in i psykbrytsväggen.

My walk would have been on asphalt except for the snow and ice. It was quite cold, too.

Compared to last year, I'm feeling physically better. In particular, my feet don't feel beat up like they did last year at this time. That's largely because of all the snow on the ground. Instead of pounding, I'm trudging through the snow. Seems to be easier on the feet.

Compared to last year, the weather is quite different. I checked out my log from last year and found, for example:

Warm weather - ran in shorts and felt perfectly comfortable.

60 and sunny - Loose Park was full of people.

Of course, last year's challenge ended up in defeat. I missed one day when I went to the planned training but didn't have any shoes to run in and then injured my ankle and had to take a number of days off (and when i started back up I took a hard fall and bruised my ribs).

I'm hoping - and expecting - that the rest of this year's 31 day challenge will go better.

Cristina has been doing the 31 day challenge, too. She seems to be on track (though she hasn't entered anything for today, yet).

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:42 PM


Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Basketball clip


It has nothing to do with orienteering, but this basketball clip is fun to watch...at least for a Kansas fan.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:45 PM


Sunday, January 03, 2010

Today's snowy orienteering


Plenty of snow on the ground for today's score orienteering event at Shawnee Mission Park. As I was getting ready, Nancy passed by on skis and I got a snapshot. The snow made the running difficult and slow, but lots of fun. By the end my legs were tired from the snow and it was really nice to get a break by running the road back to the finish.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:24 PM


Saturday, January 02, 2010

Day 2


Two days into the 31 day challenge. So far, so good. I'm psyched that Cristina seems to have taken up the challenge. The map is her ski-O session from today. You've got to use your imagination and make the most of what you can to keep the challenge alive.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:47 PM


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