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Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: DOMA

in: Cristina; Cristina > 2012-02-22

Feb 22, 2012 7:09 PM # 
So at first glance, my brain does some interpolation before I've read all of the words properly, and what registers is "DOMA is all up to date the queers..."
Feb 22, 2012 8:35 PM # 
I totally understand. Given that most of my online activity is either reading about politics (with a hefty dose of queer-focused politics) or reading about orienteering, I frequently find my brain doing funny stuff when DOMA appears in a sentence.
Feb 22, 2012 9:00 PM # 
So I looked at the courses you've put up over the last year or so, and first off, you don't suck at orienteering. It may not feel like it right now, but you've executed plenty of good controls in that time. Consistently, maybe not, but you can do it. Second off, from my perspective, there are some pretty clear trends in your problem controls, which is a good thing, because it means that by addressing a few specific skills, you start to clean things up. So here's what I see....

Controls go wrong for you in two places - entering the control circle or leaving the control circle. In the majority of your major mistakes, you pretty much get to the control circle, but then miss the control by a 20m and end up wandering around. In the other cases, you leave the previous control in a bad direction, never really realize this, and end up 40 - 200m from the control circle.

To me, that brings to mind a couple of key skills to work on.

1) Focus on attack points! Now obviously this means having one, and having a good one that you know you can find. Something worth thinking about here as well is how your route choice affects your attack point. Sometimes a slightly worse route for a definitely better attack point can be worth it. But the other big thing here is how you actually use that attack point. If you're Simone Niggli, you can probably run within 50m of your attackpoint, correct off it, and spike the control without slowing down. But for the rest of us, we probably need to be more deliberate. So focus on what you do once you get to the attack point as well. When you get there,slow down, maybe even stop. Take a second to think about how you are going to move from the attack point to the control. Set yourself up in the right direction with your compass. Then you go for the control.
A great training for practicing this is to take a course and mark all of your attack points as control locations before you go out. Focus on running hard to each attack point, then slowly down and navigating precisely those last hundred meters or so to the control.

2) Take a minute to go through the same kind of routine when you leave a control. Don't leave the control until you have checked your compass and set yourself off in the right direction. Don't leave without a clear plan. Definitely don't leave until you've defined your collecting features (say them aloud to yourself, mark them on the map with a pen, point them all out with your finger, or something). Know how you expect the contours to behave (up hill, down hill, steep, flat, reentrants, etc). Because a lot of the time when you manage to run the distance of a control on a bad bearing, there are a lot of things on the route that could have ticked you off to the fact that you weren't running where you'd hoped to go. But if you haven't already decided what you expect to see, it's a lot harder to notice those warning signs.

3) Practice visualizing your routes. And I mean literally looking at the map, then imagining how the forest will look as you run past. Sometimes when you are missing controls at such close range it's because things aren't matching up with your mental picture, or you don't have a mental picture at all, so you don't really know what to expect. In training, you can take minute after each control, stop, look at the map, close your eyes, and visualize running the route and hitting the control. Then run it. See how things compare. Adjust your mental imaging. This is something you can practice from the comforts of your armchair as well, if you can't get out in the woods - just looking through courses and thinking about what you would expect to see out in the woods while running them.

Wow, that was long! Anyway, just my two cents on what I see from your quickroutes. Good luck with the training - you'll get there! Think positive, have fun, and enjoy the great weather in Portugal for the rest of us!
Feb 22, 2012 11:57 PM # 
Thanks, that's some good analysis! I should probably add "verbalize AP" to my "visualize line, run line, precision compass from AP" training tomorrow morning. (Same area as this morning, apparently.)
Feb 23, 2012 9:22 AM # 
If there is fast and easy from zero to hero overnight fix, it might be this: Focus on this one simple thing, putting your thump on the map at your current location and keeping it really really tightly there, and not letting it move until you look at map again and have reached your intermediate target and are sure you are there. Then put put it there and again focus on not moving your thumb.

Looks like you can keep direction and run at right direction just fine (maybe should be a bit more careful when you leave control/attackpoint). I think the problem is you too easily locate yourself to a place where you cannot possibly be, like you for sure knew you where but after 50 meters you believe you are 100-200 meters left or right or ahead. Most likely don't realize that because the most important reference point, your previous known location about 30 seconds ago, is not visible and distinct enough when you look at the map.

You use thumb compass, right? It might help if you cut some plastic away from your compass, so you'd be able to put your thumb right map without having any plastic in between. This is common problem with thumb compass users, the model with plastic under thumb. I have seen this focusing on thumb magically fixing complex sounding O technique problems overnight. I wouldn't be surprised if it helps you too.
Feb 23, 2012 11:00 AM # 
If there is fast and easy from zero to hero overnight fix

Do you have an overnight fix for running speed too? I could use one...
Feb 23, 2012 5:23 PM # 
With regards to Hannah's first suggestion, the mental image that helps me is to be sure I "use" the AP instead of just "waving at" the AP. Yes, verbalizing it might also help.

Expanding on #1, I need to focus on 'reading the control circle'. In my home ridge-reentrant terrain of the Midwest, I rarely need to 'read' the control circle. I pay for this bad habit in the moraine terrain of WI and the boulder terrain of the northeast - that is, anyplace more technical. Eg, I need (but often forget) to tell myself, "control is small boulder in side reentrant just above small rock face". This map perspective and verbalization takes little time but serves to give me a feel for the control circle instead of focusing solely on the point feature. And I need more practice doing it!
Sep 23, 2019 1:21 PM # 
Riley, though you may never see this response to this old discussion, that was a great and generous response. I think I’ll find it useful in helping to correct my many errors. Thanks to the rest of you too!

This discussion thread is closed.