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Discussion: A Question Regarding Calorie Consumption

in: Orienteering; General

Jun 24, 2019 10:22 PM # 
I have a question for the O cognoscenti.

What is a typical calorie burn rate for orienteering? It combines distance and speed from running with the element of elevation gain from hiking. However; it is far more strenuous than hiking, considering vegetation and obstacles and more of a sprint/slow mode of exercise as opposed to grinding out the miles.

In the past, I have used this as a basis for estimating calorie burn, based upon a research performed almost 20 years ago:

(the PDF still appears downloadable).

An online calculator is here:

So, is would use of this information (in a spreadsheet) provide an accurate representation of the calories expended while I lumber about the white woods and thick vegetation?

Thanks for any consideration.

Jun 25, 2019 12:00 AM # 
Wear a watch with GPS & HR monitor, and it should give you good enough burn rates. Do it a few times and you’ll have a usable average? O is so variable, tho.
Jun 25, 2019 8:33 AM # 
This: and this: could give an estimate.

It would seem that, just running in "heavy terrain" burns about 1.4 - 1.6 Kcal per km. This is a very loose estimate, and it is highly likely I have made a mistake.
Jun 25, 2019 10:46 AM # 
@Tobby maybe you mean 1.4 - 1.6 Kcal per kg per km?
Jun 25, 2019 11:26 AM # 
@Ken yes, I do. Thanks
Jun 26, 2019 9:12 PM # 
Thank you all - things to digest. I always feel that I am working much harder at O due to terrain. The HR Monitor is one thing I never considered, but being of a hirsute body, I could never get the electrodes to read well!
Jun 26, 2019 10:10 PM # 
Electrode gel can help.
Jun 26, 2019 11:48 PM # 
Or try an optical armband transmitter instead of the chest strap. Works great.
Jun 27, 2019 5:45 AM # 
Terje Mathisen:
My experience has always been that I can maintain a significantly higher average HR while orienteering than I can do on any other activity of similar duration. I.e. when I first tested this about 10 years ago I had a max heart rate of 185 and I did 45 min O races at 171-173 and over an hour at 170+, this corresponds to about 93% of max.

BTW, this is also the level measured by the Norwegian international team.

My hypothesis has been that while orienteering, due to using so many different muscle groups, plus the brain for navigation, we can vary the load enough to constantly recover even though the HR indicates above-threshold loads at all times.
Jun 28, 2019 1:48 AM # 
Why are you asking?
Are most Orienteering events are short enough that calorie burn rate is not of concern?
Jun 28, 2019 2:24 PM # 
I ask mostly out of curiosity and the fact that as a non-elite orienteer I usually feel more physically drained afterwards than I do after a similar duration/distance hike or walk (I really do not run)

I usually compete on green (5-6K) courses, and finish in 60-90 minutes with mild jogging where the terrain permits. So, if I hike or walk the 5-6 K, I figure a male of my mass (82 kg) will burn about 350-400 kcal. Elevation gain adds to that (maybe 20%), but the terrain thing (rocks, tough vegetation, climbing over logs, all of which I enjoy for the most part) is the unknown factor.

I also like to track my activity (offline spreadsheet) and calorie burn is something I like to keep steady throughout the year.

Hope this helps.
Jun 29, 2019 4:52 AM # 
Is there a difference in your energy exerting/ feeling of competiting green (5-6K) courses, with your finish time of 60-90 minutes (mild jogging where the terrain permits) compared to your hiking or walking 5-6 K?
I wonder how much mental exertion contributes to calorie burn?
Jun 29, 2019 10:46 AM # 
As an experiment, you could do something like crossword puzzles or sudoku while hiking. But there's still a difference between hiking on trails and moving through more uneven terrain.
Jun 29, 2019 12:48 PM # 
Yes, jjcote, I totally agree - I am trying to semi-quantify the difference between woods terrain and woods. Also for Brian, I am sure the mental part and the occasional jog also add some calories, with the latter probably more so. Maybe solving some ordinary differential equations may be similar to making the proper route choice. :-)

This discussion thread is closed.