If anyone hasn't seen this
very nice video on Reddit
showing what your eyes do when crossing rough terrain, have a look.
Cool. Would be really interesting to compare that to an orienteer running in terrain.
Oh that is what one's eyes should do! I wish I'd known that some 45 years ago when I was running across a rough open field at an Ontario orienteering race and about to head in to the woods. As I approached the woods I caught up to and passed two Ontario Nordic young beautiful ladies named Annie and Eva, one Finnish, one Norwegian. They were gorgeous and probably still are. So as I got past my eyes just had to turn around to see them from the front. That is when the eyes did not see the barbed wire fence which caught my thighs and helped direct my body 'ass over tea kettle' over the fence.
Fortunately time has made sure that will never happen to me again. I now move so slowly that I could not possibly catch up to any young Nordic beauties.
I'm positive that doing the same experiment on an experienced orienteer would show much wider range of eye movement, taking in details far and near all the time, and depending a lot more on memory for the actual foot placements.
As a kid I loved playing in creek beds, jumping from stone to stone and (hopefully!) not slide into the water and get wet, and I still practice running across boulder fields since it is very nice to do so when you get a good rhythm going, with little vertical movement.
When I grew up in an orienteering family I naturally assumed that everyone was used to hiking and running in the forest, something I learned was false when I visited the US in 1981 on a rock climbing trip and saw a bunch of tourists from the Gunks hotel being taught how to cross the huge boulders below one of the climbing areas. (This was underneath Foops, one of my first 5.11 climbs, a very reachy roof problem where my 171 cm was no advantage.)
I had seem photos of Foops in climbing magazines so we invested a few hours on that one.
I did maybe 100 climbs over a two week period, climbing all day, every day.
I remember "Crack of Bizarre Delights" in the same area as technically a lot more interesting but of similar difficulty. At this time I had just done my first grade 8 (5.12 something) climb in Trondheim, this was also the first grade 8 in that part of Norway.
@terje From my experience on uneven trails as in the video I tend to look much further out and use peripheral vision for the area of the next 2-3 steps. If it gets really tricky then I'll look directly in front to find a way for the next couple steps. I would guess most experienced orienteers will have less active step finding scanning than the subjects in this experiment
@Nikolay: I believe your are right and that this is the approach used by all experienced orienteers.
I have done a number of experiments over several years now where I try to guess exactly where I will end up placing my foot (and which foot!) near any given small obstacle 6-12 m in front of me. This is obviously too far for a conscious detailed plan for every step up to that point, but amazingly often my "intuitive guess" turns out to be correct, which means that this planning does happen but mostly below any level which I'm aware of.
Maybe somebody should reach out to the researcher and see if they want to re-do the experiment on orienteers. Maybe different ages or different times since when you started running in the forest.
Ie: the following subjects:
A 12 yr old who has been running in the forest as soon as they could.
A 12 yr old who started orienteering at 10 years old
A 20 year old who has been training for 10+ years
A 20 year old who has been training for 2 years.
A 40 year old who has been training since before age 12.
A 40 year old who has been training for 10+ years
A 40 year old who has been training for 2 years.
A 60 year old who has been training since before age 12.
A 60 year old who has been training for 20+ years
A 60 year old who has been training for 2 years.
I was a very good downhill runner years ago, and while everything has slowed up, the most significant loss of speed occurred when I started having to wear glasses for orienteerring. Even for trail running without glasses, the loss of visual acuity slowed me way down. I used to just "know" where my feet should go, but of course it was the result of the micro glances ahead. Now. at age 70, I have to pretty much stare at where my feet are going to keep from falling. Keeps me from looking around for flags that may be nearby.
As an orienteer, I find the flow in trail runs interesting - on uphills, I am the old, slow, overloaded lorry chugging up the grade, getting passed by young, fit 20-somethings. On the downgrades, they are picking every step carefully, as I go flying by, uttering a constant "passing left, on your left ..." And I know for sure that those who started O' much younger than me run with abandon through terrain where I am the hesitant one.