Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Monday, January 21, 2013

MTBO Project update


The theme for last week in the 2013 MTBO Project was "steal without apology ."  My stealing was to read the new ski O handbook and lift a training idea.    I'm not sure I'd really call that stealing, but it was close enough to meet the theme for the week.

I set up a "batong" (see page 58 of the ski O' handbook).  Basically, a batong training combines riding around in a figure 8 with studying a map.  Each time you come to an intersection, you turn left/right or go straight while imagining that you're following a route on a map that you're looking at.

I set up my course in a parking lot near my house and found a MTBO sprint map from a race in the Czech Republic.  I rode around the course making turns "simulating" the turns I'd make doing the course. I rode at night, so I had a lamp to read the map and a lamp on my bike.  It felt like a useful exercise, particularly given that I don't have access to a lot of MTBO terrain nearby.  Given that I was just rolling around a parking lot, it felt surprisingly interesting.  Certainly if you have to kill some time biking around a small area, a batong training is a great way to make it interesting.

To make it better, I need to find a better place to set up the route.  Rougher ground would make the training more interesting.

This week's theme is " buy a notebook."  But it isn't really about buying something. It is about keeping lots of notes about ideas.  Coyle wrote:

What matters is that you write stuff down and reflect on it.  Results from today.  Ideas for tomorrow.  Goals for next week.  A notebook works like a map: It creates clarity.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 4:58 PM


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Looking at maps


Part of the first two weeks of my 2013 project involved some map study.  Easy and fun.  A great feature of orienteering as a sport is that you can practice without actually getting up off the sofa.  Small amounts of concentrated map study - say 2 x 10 minutes a day - take very little effort.  It also fits in with some of the principles from Coyle's book.

Coyle writes about how chess players use databases of matches to study other players and study different situations.  That's exactly what orienteers can do easily, espcially with so many maps easy to find on the internet.

Here's a quote about a study of expertise and chess players:
Stronger players also tended to own more chess books (and read them) than weaker players.  As an individual activity, reading chess books was the most important predictor of chess skill.  
Is reading chess books analogous to studying maps?

When I was more serious about orienteering I typically spent at least 2 x 10 minutes each day looking at maps.  My record was roughly two years without missing a day.  These days I'm much less systematic in map study.

Back to my project...last week I studied MTBO maps.  It feels a bit different from looking at a regular orienteering map.  I end up thinking more about what it would feel like to ride a trail - thinking about the roughness of the surface and the hilliness in a different way than when I'm running in the woods.  That's largely a reflection of my weak MTB skills.  A rough trail slows me down, but it also causes stress.  I'm slow running or biking through really rocky terrain.  But when I'm running I'm just slow.  When I'm biking I'm stressed about crashing.

Looking ahead to next week, Coyle's third "tip" is to "steal without apology"

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 11:01 AM


Saturday, January 05, 2013

2013 MTBO Project


In 2013 I'm going to be a better MTB orienteer.  That shouldn't be too difficult because I'm not a good mountain bike rider and I've done very little MTB orienteering (a local event a few years ago and a few training sessions on my own last fall).

To give some structure to my 2013 MTBO Project, I'm using the ideas from Daniel Coyle's book The Little Book of Talent.  Coyle has 52 "tips" - one a week.  That's a perfect structure for a year long project.  Coyle has written several books about performance.  He wrote about Lance Armstrong.  He wrote Tyler Hamilton's book about Armstrong's doping.  He wrote The Talent Code.  As he was working on his books, Coyle kept notes:

Whenever I spotted a nugget of advice or a  potentially useful method, I jotted it in my notedbook and marked the page with an electric-pink Post-it.

The Little Book of Talent is a collection of those ideas for improving skill.

My idea is to take a chapter a week and test out an idea from each chapter and use it to improve my MTB orienteering.  Most of the ideas are things I've already used when I was working to be a better orienteer.

This week I've been watching, intently, some videos of expert mountain bikers.  Trying to learn about their technique and, coincidentally, getting a bit of inspiration.

Next week, I'll move on to the 2nd tip - spend 15 minutes a day "engraving the skill on your brain."

By the end of the year, I'll be a better MTB orienteer.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:31 AM


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