One thing I've been trying to do when I see other people is to place them on the map. If I tired to ignore them I would think about them anyway ("don't think of an elephant!") so I might as well turn it into a useful thought. If you think about where they are on the map and where they are going, then the focus is back on the map and the navigating and away from the fact that they are passing/catching you or vice-versa. This is based on a conversation I had with Emily Kemp last year and I've found it useful.
Good advice. I like that!
Yes, that is a great idea. I have also heard of looking at your compass to re-focus. My current trick is to stop and count to 10.
My issue is not which technique to use to re-focus. It is remembering/noticing/stopping to actual implement the technique. I have this awful habit of ignoring that voice in my head. In this case, I distinctly thought: 1) I thought I had to go up the hill when I hit the trail, but I guess not. 2) There are a lot more bends in the trail then I expected 3) I didn't think I had to go past 10 again to get to 11 4) That's weird, there's a road. Only a few seconds later did my brain finally send a message to my body that said: STOP it's a ROAD! You are not in the right place!
So, the question is, how do I get my mind to go: 1) I thought I had to go up the hill when I hit the trail. 2) Stop the body 3) Implement my re-focus technique.
Any ideas on how to train my mind?
Visualization? Do you already do that? I've had some luck with this (actually awesome results in a non-orienteering setting) and am trying to do more. Doing it well takes time because it's best if it's basically "real time".
In this specific case you would want to visualize yourself starting to make a mistake, recognizing it, and doing whatever it is you do to re-focus, and continuing on to spike the control. And you could do it with a variety of mistakes, like 180s, or going to the wrong control, or missing a trail junction, or just realizing your thumb has moved farther than you have. Your brain doesn't know the difference between mental practice sitting in a chair and mental practice while out orienteering... so they say!
I think it might be useful to get into the habit of having a running commentary in your brain about what could be going wrong. Leaving a control it might be--have I checked my compass--did I make sure it wasn't a 180--is there a land form I can follow--if I'm on the right line what should I see--is my compass still on the right place on the map--if I'm on a trail, what will I see on both sides of the trail that will tell me when to turn off it--if the vegetation reduces visibility what can I rely on--etc.
I've found the running commentary is much easier to follow if you actually articulate it. I talk to myself all the time while on course. Not loudly, of course, but audibly. If I know I have to pass three reentrants, I'll count them off "1, 2, 3". I'll crest a ridge and say, "this isn't quite what I expected." Saying that out loud jolts me into hitting the brakes and figuring it out before very bad things happen. Of course, sometimes I forget to do all this and make 5-minute mistakes.
Thanks for the ideas, folks. I can try visualization at home, and running commentary at local events. I'll experiment and let you know how it goes.
I'm actually a fan of the talking out loud approach. It really helps keep me focused and the saying it out loud definitely makes it harder to ignore when something doesn't add up. And when I'm having a good race, it helps me keep pushing until the very end as an extra added bonus!