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Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: Tough write up

in: Rosstopher; Rosstopher > 2013-05-11

May 13, 2013 5:27 AM # 
Thanks for sharing. Sometimes a little extra patience really pays off. You're good.
May 13, 2013 5:49 AM # 
Heard about your adventures from Andrew Childs and Sam at Sunday's Silva League. A tough position to be in, glad you made it in the end!
May 13, 2013 8:24 AM # 
Cat T:
sounds like a familiar story! i think it's just having the confidence to not feel like you need to push hard or have a "good" run, despite the adrenaline. easier said than done sometimes. we'll get there yet :-)
May 13, 2013 11:10 PM # 
Thanks guys. Patience is a virtue I don't have in spades, "and that's for sure" (imagine the voice of Per Forsberg, if you can.

Is there a good technique for releasing the pressure? I find that repeating a mantra of "don't go too hard" is ineffective :) While I was faffing around on the first control I was telling myself over and over not to panic (I guess somewhat oblivious to the fact that I was already in deep panic). My brain knows what it's not supposed to do just fine :)

That being said, it's nice to have a positive adrenaline boost when it's all under control. Being a little nervous before the start is a positive thing but it's just one end of the stress spectrum. And yep Cat, we will indeed get there :)
May 14, 2013 12:51 AM # 
"Self distancing" might be worth a try. when you're faffing around, stop and ask yourself something like, "what should he do?" See:

Mary came across this a few months ago and she thinks it works in orienteering as long as you remember to do it.
May 14, 2013 4:26 AM # 
What Cat said.

And yes, nerves are good.

And three, what is your plan? If you don't have a plan, slow down a little, look at the map, make a plan. Make it solid. So solid the control seems easy and you have confidence to run fast.
Otherwise, take it steady. It's not rocket science, and you've shown time and time again you can orienteer and orienteer well, so you really don't need to drop the speed often/much.

I was thinking yesterday, a bunch of orienteers (how many? I dunno) use sports psychologists. There's definitely some mental training that should be done, but what, I don't know. Spike's post is one example.
May 15, 2013 9:59 PM # 
I wonder if self distancing is best when the stress is manifested as anger as opposed to other ways. I wasn't angry at myself until about control 13, when I did start cursing a little bit. That being said, I had a similar experience of poor relocation in my leg at Tio Mila, and when I was talking about it afterwards with Sam, I was explaining how I should have relocated and thinking how it seemed so easy in retrospect to know what to do. self distancing is what happens with hindsight, perhaps.

I will run some open courses this weekend, I think, if I'm allowed to run after my elbow surgery on Friday (just to take out the screws, nothing serious) and those courses hopefully will be low stress events :) I can test whether I find that easier to deal with.
May 15, 2013 10:20 PM # 
One aspect that you really should consider is the jet lag of travel. I made European trips many times while working and always found a fuzziness for several days after arriving. Different people are affected differently but it can cause serious fuzz and mental errors.

Great seeing you and nice runs overall. Congrats on making the team. Look forward to watching from afar.
May 16, 2013 2:00 AM # 
One thing I noticed immediately was that the two mantras you said - "don't go too hard" and "don't panic" - are both negative. That's almost never as effective as a positive mantra. This isn't about happy fluffy warm thoughts, though those of course are nice. It's really hard for your brain to grasp the meaning of a negative statement, and your brain does a lot better when it can just follow instructions.

So, instead of "don't go too hard", you might want to think "go slowly" or "keep breathing at 3/3" or "keep HR below 140" or "take it easy" or whatever means slow to you. Instructions telling you what TO do, rather than what NOT to do.

If you break down the advice of "spike the first control" into a series of process goals, it gives you something to focus on, rather than focusing on the outcome goal. Focusing in outcome goals is completely useless, and usually causes you to miss them. If you keep telling yourself that you're going to win the race, maybe you'll run better because your brain believes you'll win the race, but more likely, you'll forget to do one of the basic processes that's necessary in order to win the race.

So, for every race, you want to have a process goal (or two - don't do too many, because your brain is pretty dumb when racing and won't remember), that you repeat to yourself over and over. Generally, this is some sort of training thing, like direction leaving control, look up, attackpoint, whatever. Something you can actively focus on.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't be nervous, but process goals give you a Thing to focus on and to direct your energy. Generally, if you set good process goals, and you achieve those process goals, you will have nailed your outcome goal, too. But you don't want to waste any time thinking about it.
May 16, 2013 3:29 PM # 
You may not have been angry at yourself, but were you frustrated? The big "aha" moment for me was identifying how frustrated I could get after a miss, and more importantly, understanding that frustration is a form of anger. The self-distancing is amazing: it's an immediate, physical change. The body relaxes and the mind calms down. And you're ready to relocate and move on.
May 16, 2013 3:37 PM # 
I agree totally with Alex.
My immediate reaction to your account was that your mantras shouldn´t be negative - and focus should be on step-by-step details along the way rather than the final result.
A tired brain due to jet lag may certainly have something to do with what happened but racing in Finland is in (almost) the same time zone...
May 16, 2013 4:04 PM # 
I bet Ross has had enough advice in this thread but I figure others might like the ideas people are bringing up. I know I do, AP is great!

I am totally with Alex. Teachers and conductors and parents know that telling someone/yourself not to do something is a pretty good way to make sure you do it. I'll channel Lakoff and say, "Don't think of an elephant!"*

I've heard of several of the Canadians using "walk to the first control" as a self command at the start of a race. (a Magnus idea?) Of course you don't end up walking, but telling yourself that you want to go really slowly and that's okay to do helps keep the adrenaline from pushing you wildly.

Another thing to try is to visualize what you will do in a bad situation. Our club talked about this before Tiomila -- visualize a successful run, but also think about what you will do if you a) go to the wrong forking! b) get lost and lose the pack on the first leg! or even c) break your headlamp! By thinking through all of the possible disasters and visualizing yourself overcoming them positively, hopefully you are better prepared when they actually happen. I think it's helped me.

*don't lie, you thought of an elephant

This discussion thread is closed.