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Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Training Log Archive: Duncan

In the 7 days ending Jul 15, 2012:

activity # timemileskm+m
  Orienteering5 4:11:29 24.75 39.84 1125
  Total5 4:11:29 24.75 39.84 1125

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Saturday Jul 14, 2012 #


JWOC Review

This was my first and last Junior World Champs and coming into it I didn't really have too many expectations.

My training beforehand had been rushed but I knew I was in my best shape for a couple of years. Orienteering wise I had packed in a lot of controls and had a mixed season with a few performances (British Middle Distance Champs, Jukola and Tallinn Middle) where I had briefly attained the sort of flow I'm capable of with my current skills. I just needed to reproduce these when it mattered.

I was disappointed with my Sprint result against the best in the world although against the British boys I compared a lot better than earlier in the season (from 16th up to 9th up to 4th Brit at JWOC). I definitely felt unfit in the latter part of the course, some of which my be attributed to the heat, but my navigation was a bit suspect on a fairly easy course. I would have liked to have done more sprint training leading up to the competition on the Bristol Urban Series maps - as I feel sprint performance is closely related to specific training - but my knee injury put a stop to that.

My Long performance was poor and I'm not sure what I can take from it. Again I seemed to struggle with fitness, especially under the sun in the open areas but managed to get some sort of pace for the last few kilometres. Navigationally I made a few mistakes but sort of was expecting there to be a few on a 12k course in a new type of terrain for me, although number 9 was a very schoolboy error. I never seemed to get into a race mindset.

The Middle distance races feel like a missed opportunity but they were very encouraging. There were periods of really great orienteering but they were mixed with bits of stupid orienteering giving just average if you look at the final results. Looking at the splits though I can see I could be competitive with the top guys in the world if I cut out the mistakes. When it was good it was really good and I got the same 'making-progress' feeling going I had at the races I mentioned earlier, probably even better. My pressure did get to me though and I started taking risks which didn't pay off.

I think what I've gained most from those middle race is the confidence to slow down even more to hold on to a podium position. Even with little sacrifices in running here and there I was still near the top and with a bit more patience to continue that throughout the full race I don't see why I can't be right up there. Thinking of it like a relay and imagining other runners falling off the pack as they make mistakes may be a useful way to keep the faith in running a controlled race.

I do have a feeling though that a fast-but-hesitant race strategy might put a limit on my orienteering speed. Maybe like a pre-2001 Thierry Gueorgiou. From running alongside some Estonian elites in Tallinn I can see I need to improve my map reading at speed so I don't need to hesitate so much and I would like to master this type of orienteering before I try to change my general technique. Thinking now I need to do more running training with a map, more orienteering training at race pace and more S&C work to make reading the map on the run an easy exercise.

Before I came was scared of having a good run but getting a bad result and leaving with a feeling that I couldn't mix it up with the guys at the top. In the end I got an average result with a bad run and so now I feel that with a good run I could get a top result. Result!


Now what.

Leading up to this season I know I've been wanting to have a little break from orienteering after JWOC.

I declined selection for August's Austria tour as I didn't want any more time (at least for now) with expectations from people (other than myself) about how hard I should run and where. I'm sure other sports have it a lot worse but I'd prefer to pick and choose which races (and which sports) to peak for, instead of being expected to perform from March-August in all the major orienteering races.

Orienteering is not my only sport and I fancy my chances in fellrunning and cyclocross as well. Until the OMM in October I want to have a bit of orienteering-free time. There are a few short summer show fell races I'd like to tick of before I go for an assault on the BOFRA series sometime in the future and I need to get some long runs in as training. A few bike races would spice things up too.

In 2014 it's the World University Orienteering Championships in the Czech Republic which coincides with my final year at Bristol (providing I pass my resits :-p) and seems like a good aim. I'm sure I'll learn more about what else I'm capable of in the meantime and we'll see what happens after that...

Friday Jul 13, 2012 #

Orienteering race (JWOC Relay (2nd Team)) 33:30 [4] 6.3 mi (5:19 / mi) +200m 4:50 / mi

2nd Team, 3rd Leg.

Was a bit messed up before the race with Jonny's injury; going from 2nd to 1st to 2nd to 1st to 2nd team. I was definitely more comfortable with the lower pressure on the second team but probably would have got a race strategy sorted out for a first team run in time for the start.

Aidan and Tom had awesome runs finishing in 16th then 15th and ahead of the 1st team. My home relays haven't been great this year due to fitness but they are good fun so was thinking I'd do alright!

Set out a little behind a Dane and some-one else. Caught up quite quickly on the first controls in the woods. Crossed the field towards three taking a straight route, was a little uncertain in the middle part of the leg but relocated not too bad to find the control. 4 was a nice leg - good descent a bit of flat then a short tough climb at the end. Was a bit low and lost about 10s into the control.

With my mistakes I hadn't managed to get rid of the Dane and he lead me though 5 and towards 6. Got lucky with a short gaffle on #6 and entered #'7 with a couple of guys in front. The Polish guy was very strong and I manged to stay with him 'til nine. Lost a bit of distance on 11 due to running and then on 12 I saw the control but it seemed to far away to be ours so held back and ended up not catching a Hungarian and staying with a Latvian and maybe a Swiss though to 15.

Didn't follow well enough to 16 and finished in 13th 20s behind the Latvian after passing two on the leg (the Pole finished in 9th).

Wasn't taking the race massively seriously but wanted to make sure the team got a solid result. If I'd have been fitter maybe I'd have got us top 10 but who knows.

Orienteering (JWOC Beer Mile) 8:00 [4]

Thursday Jul 12, 2012 #

Orienteering race (JWOC Middle Final) 32:09 [4] 5.5 km (5:51 / km) +225m 4:51 / km

JWOC Middle Final


My fluky qualification meant I was fifth starter in the A-final block meaning my start was later in the day but the forest was 'cleared' of the earlier runners.

I didn't want to over-think it too much, just keep the same tactics as yesterday but slow the pace a little, so it being a brand new area with no map available probably helped. All we knew was that it would be a bit hillier than yesterday and a bit faster underfoot.

The drive up the pre-start was pretty cool winding up on a narrow road though the woods which were fairly open but very steep. It was a bit misty as well making it quite atmospheric which I thought added to the occasion!

People made a big fuss of the warm-up map being over a big hill but it wasn't too bad really and was a good chance to get used to running through the terrain. It was rocky underfoot with mud and leaves and with the poor light the contrast was really low between them so it could have been a little dangerous if you weren't careful.

Round the warm-up map I felt good and the orienteering was okay, again didn't want to read too much into it.

The run out from the start was downhill and winding so didn't really get much chance to read ahead until I forced myself to slow down near the start-kite. A left route below the top of the hill and above the fallen trees seemed the best with a little climb up and over to the control. Contouring was pretty tricky underfoot as was crossing the deep re-entrants. Coming over the hill before the control I knew I didn't want to be too high but banked on looking down to see it from above it worked fine so not knowing exactly where I was didn't matter (thinking back picking and chosing these places is very important).

2 I should have got on with a bit more as you didn't really need to know exactly the first part of the leg but maybe that was just my plan in action. Passed the ponds and paths okay and hit the ridge directly above the control which was good but shocked me a little as I could have easily missed it. Number three felt like a short leg but was actually quite long. I got pushed by the hill to much in the first part and my distance judgement was off in the last part - I kept stopping too early behind each knoll, not sure what else I could have done though in the situation, maybe looking for the contour behind the control but that probably wasn't too obvious either.

4 was short but I was happy to ignore the compass and stop when I was unsure. There were two fallen trees very close together on the map which to me looked like a thicket so when I couldn't see one in the terrain I was put off and did stop for a while to convince myself that the contours were right enough to carry on. I probably lost almost 10s and was a bit annoyed when I realised afterwards but I hit it okay in the end.

Number 5 was a good control. Me and Jonny went left which gave a nice route in between two hills.

I started to lose it on the way to 6. At first I thought it was a leg like 12 from yesterday with a path route way round to the left so headed north-east out of the control along the marsh to the path by the lake. I had only really read the first half of the leg though and saw that really the second half was fine on the straight line so changed my plans and nipped back into the woods via the small path network. Crossing the next block of wood I wanted to run to the left of the green but ran right into it while looking at my map. The green turned out to be fine until I hit the high fence at the far side. I saw it was broken in places but the gaps were too far back to be worth it so I started climbing it instead. Luckly it was pretty old and as I went up it it came down - score. Paused on the path to get on to the large hill leading towards the control, off the spur and very (too) hesitant across the flat between the knolls. Rounded the final hill okay just looking out for some likely looking boulders. Really should have looked at the whole leg before I set off on a radical round route choice and lost an easy 25s plus another 10 on the rest of the leg.

#7 was short on a compass but I was a little too the right. +5s.

If 6 was where I started to lose it 8 was where definitely lost it. The original mistake was on leaving the control where I didn't check my compass strongly enough and was significantly to the right of the line. I was aiming to be to the left of the small index-contour depression but actually passed below it and carried on in that same direction. I knew I didn't know where I was but kept going anyway trusting my mis-read compass and never knew where I was for the rest of the leg. I crossed the gully where I really should have double checked my position - whether or not the last part of the leg had gone well. I kept going and passed no. 11 although I didn't know it at the time and then just wiggled along and up the hill very 'headless chicken'-y hoping I would get lucky and find it without having to relocate. I gave up when I was somewhere between 8 and 9 and headed back to the path alongside the gully, I saw the highest wiggle in the path and headed back towards it up the re-entrant point at the control from below. Really poor. Same mistake as #13 the day before.+65s Definitly blown it this time. Motivation gone really.

Did nine on a bearing and hit it bang on if a little sooner than expected. Got a nice route to 10 just to the right of the top of the flat hill. Mis-read the exact location withing the circle and was heading right for it until I turned into the re-entrant to the left and had to cut back +7s.

11 was another shocker. Can't have exited the control very well and let my self get pushed around by the fallen trees. Went too high and thought I was too low so went even higher. Eventually assumed I was in fact too high and headed to the path and down - dropping about 150m :/ - and into the control. +95s

From there I just wanted to get to the finish without further attrition. To twelve I played it safe going a little high and funneled in the Norwegian who started 2 minutes behind me. I was feeling very tired and was totally happy with following him towards the finish. He was too strong though and gradually powered away from me. The forest was quite open and although I wasn't right behind him I could still see where he was going so didn't have to do that much navigation around the final loop which was a relief. Thankful to get the race over with once I'd finished. 38th +4.14.

JWOC individual races done and I 'saved' my best result 'til last. The early part of the race was very very good - exactly how I wanted to orienteer - fast but with hesitations. I was 5th at the second control but was still seventh at number 5, about a quater of the way in. After then though I began to stop hesitating and was just running fast (not orienteering fast). Number 8 was stupid not stopping even when I knew things weren't fitting and hoping it would all work out. 11 was a bit more ambiguous, I knew something wasn't quite right but was confident I was heading in the right direction - perhaps unwilling to admit I'd made another mistake. Similar feeling to the day before - that with out mistakes I could have been well up there.

Wednesday Jul 11, 2012 #

Orienteering race (JWOC Middle Qualifier C) 29:39 [4] 5.2 km (5:42 / km) +150m 4:59 / km



Had done lots of geeking with Tom the night before regarding tactics but would liked to have done more work in trying to memorize the map if I'd given myself more time. See the previous day's training. Jamie and Jonny had just saying how you had to push hard just to qualify so I treated it like all the rest of the week's races.

Did the warm up controls at race pace which was too fast as I was usually a little off in the circle so felt needed to slow down a little in the race.

Was feeling good after the jog to the start and was cool with having another couple of guys starting at the same time.

Set off well to #1 letting the others go left, crossing the stream okay and aiming for the marsh on the far side of the open which was the last attackpoint I'd chosen before the control. The marsh turned out to be more like a pond and I got stuck in it for an easy 10s.
This was about 200m before the control and from there I knew it was very vague and I was attempting to aim-off along a subtle sloping ridge. I think I climbed too high from the marsh and hit the ridge to the right of the control and may have even seen it but the main thing I was thinking was that I knew I already didn't have a clue where I was and I'd messed up the very first control. In the rush I turned right and relocated higher up on the small elongated knoll and dropped down into the control. 3.51 +1.42 (though +1.18 on the second fastest).

I think I saw my 2 minute man on the way up the hill to 2 so he must have messed it by as well but he was too far ahead to catch or gain anyting from.

#2 was a good uphill leg where my straight/map-reading technique worked well with a 4th on the leg although it didn't feel special :)

Three was a bit poor and I drifted right out of the control (not sure why) and got stuck in the middle of another marsh. Going round was too far so I had to tip-toe along log across to the other side and was just a bit pissed of really with being unlucky a second time. Got back on track okay and found it okay.

#s 4 and 5 were good solid legs and I was with one of my fellow starters but it was a surprisingly quiet otherwise. 5 was at the top of the course so I knew most of the climb was over and I should be able to catch up some of my time.

I dropped down to 6 making sure I slowed at the brow of the hill to look and see the features ahead getting first on the leg. It started to get busier as I came down the hill and there were a group of people looking for controls near seven but I focused on my orienteering and got it fine.

To #8 I played it safe going right round the all the green but got on the wrong hill near the control along with a few other people. Should have adjusted my plan more for the green. +22s.

On the way to number 8 I seemed to get in a little group but didn't have a clue whether they were in the same course as me but wasn't too bothered. #9 looked pretty simple on a bearing just clipping the bottom of the rough open. From the open to the control I kept a bit high trying to avoid some rough stuff but went onto the larger hill behind so had to drop back behind me losing some time on the other guys: don't be scared of vegetation inside the circle.

Similar to 8 I wanted to avoid the veg to 10 so looped the long way round to the right, across the path, between the hills and then curved east then south into the control. I'd lost the pack a little so was a bit unsure as I came though the open and it took me a little while to confidently attack the control. On this leg I didn't follow my plan strictly enough - I found a simple route but didn't stop at the beggining of the leg to double check - if I had I would have spotted the indistinct path through the open saving about 35s.

Out of 10 I could see the little group again. I was very pleased but surprised that at a good pace I picked off the features on the way to stay on my bearing and dipped into the control perfectly. Jamie mentioned it was really rough out of the control but I don't seem to remember :) Fastest on leg.

Knew I didn't want to have to read too much late on in the course when I was getting tired so opted for the eastern path route to #12. It did feel a long way out especially at first, but the track was good once I'd figured out how they'd mapped the open. Was definitely starting to feel tired so took it a bit more as a rest than an opportunity to read ahead. Climbing up to the control was a bit tough but was the same as from other directions. Just at the control got in a group of people I'd not seen before so I think my route must have been good even though I wasn't pushing it.

#13 was into the really vague area me and Tom had talked about last night. He was definitely going to play it safe but I was confident the few features would be just obvious enough to pay off going straight. For the first part of the leg I was a bit reckless and worked my way though the pack instead of reading my map. It worked okay though and I got back in contact by the knoll-marsh-slope feature we had identified from the night before. I crossed the re-entrant fine and went along the top of the slope under the line. I crossed the stream though a bit too fast, and not sure at what height, and then the small re-entrant after the control before slowing down to look around. There did seem to be a lot of root stocks, albeit small ones, but non had my control. I saw the path below so turned back up and saw some people running across higher up so went after them. On my way though I saw the east-west track and knew I had overshot. I didn't look at my compass properly or double check exactly where I was so when I turned back I was too high and had to drop down to finally punch the control. +90s At this point, after my second big mistake, I was pretty sure any chance of qualificationhad gone.

Thinking that 14 and 15 were steady with no problems. Heading to sixteen I thought I should put in a strong finish and jumped down the bank quite quick. The run-in was a nice one but tbh I didn't push as hard as I could have and as +5s on Jonny.

At the finish I was pretty angry with myself. This was the one race I thought I could (and should) do best in and after a disappointing Sprint and awful Long was annoyed that I'd thrown it away by recklessly running too fast. I thought I'd easily lost about 3 1/2 minutes leaving loads of room for people to slip in in front of me.

Out of a field of 60 the top 20 qualified and when I left the finish field I was 6th out of 18 - so in the top third - I just hoped luck was on my side and the probabilities would work out in my favour despite better runners probably starting later.

The two major mistakes were from running too fast and the other big one (#10) from rushing on and not double checking my route. All should be cut out by having the confidence to take a little more time over things which I did get after see where a mistake-free run would have placed me.

When Jamie told me back at the accomodation I'd jointly qualified in 19th and that if I'd been two seconds slower I'd have been out I was very very relieved and glad to get a second chance to prove myself.

Knowing how much time I thought I'd lost I was surprised to see that if I cut out only the major mistakes I would have comfortably qualified in the top 10 and with a clean run would have been competing to win the heat.

Looking at the splits later I could see I'd got a couple of fastest splits with a couple of top tens and the rest good enough (apart from the mistakes) for a good result. Overnight I decided that aiming for a top 10 would be a realistic (and pretty cool) aim for the final and maybe even a podium with a perfect run. I didn't want to add any more things to think about come the race and only told myself to slow down a little.
11 PM


Downs map version 1 finished.

Tuesday Jul 10, 2012 #

Orienteering (Middle Training) 45:00 [3] 5.0 km (9:00 / km) +150m 7:50 / km

Zeleny Dvor.

Jogged up to the start and managed not to get lost by the tapes. Had planned one leg into a line into a control pick into a few race pace legs.

Didn't start well and was off to the right of the first control which was a bit frustrating. Found it then started the line. Find lines really good to learn features but probably even more so for forcing you to look at your map to stay on course. That went pretty well and wiggled down towards the complex landslide area where the controls were.

The map was really good and it was quite easy to pick out features when you read the map but because it was so runnable and visible you wasted a lot of time slowing down to look at it. On the short legs there almost wasn't much point even looking at it as you could just run on a compass and be confident that you would see the control. I found myself easily over shooting on the complex controls then undershooting on the legs though the simpler areas.

After our geeking in the evening I decided that most legs would be a combination of compass and map-reading but was a wary of being too inflexible which had caught me out in in the long training.

The general tactics; Short legs would just be a bearing. On the flat legs I decided to do the first half of the leg on the compass giving time to plan ahead for the more important end of the leg. For uphill legs shortening the distance is probably most important and you are going slower so you have more time to read the map and take a more complex straight line route. On the downhill legs though I knew I could make up good time so decided that I would get a full simplified route decided before I set off and then running at full speed.

Monday Jul 9, 2012 #

10 AM

Orienteering race (JWOC Long) 1:43:11 [4] 14.0 km (7:22 / km) +400m 6:27 / km

Not a good performance.


After Saturday's training I had learned a lot about the terrain and the tactics I wanted to use so was feeling pretty good my orienteering and the running felt good too.

At the pre-start though I wasn't really with it. Went to the loo a bit too much and started my warm up late so had to skip the practice controls. Also kept forgetting whether I started at 10.06 or 10.09 and Sarah had to get me go though on time. On the jog up to the start box I knew it was going to be a slow or a tough battle to keep any sort of pace up.

To the first control I played it pretty safe coming a bit off line to go round the green and get an early confidence attackpoint ticked off. Dropped down , around and across the depression alright. #2 (75m+ climb) should have been my sort of leg on a good day. Was a little unsteady coming out of the control and turning up the hill but once I got on it I was fine and thought I attacked it alright, a little miss at the end as I couldn't see over the brow of the hill to the depressions behind and was a little left. Had caught my 2 minute man but was 82nd on that leg.

Before 4 I was happy to spend good time at the drinks point planning the epic leg. Was keen on the idea of a following a path through the green so went for a southern route and liked the idea of the less committing navigation over the first half.
Exited onto the first ridge okay but let myself slide less steeply down the hill than I needed to so hit the track further south than my originally planned. Hadn't really realised though and thought I was still on my route although the track wasn't as sloping as it should have been :/ Went up, down and over the depression okay thinking I was still okay even though the ride wasn't like I though and the mini re-entrant wasn't there. Eventually realised something was properly wrong when I hit the long depression with #20 in and had to climb back up the five-way path junction to get back on my planned route. Was feeling a bit annoyed and then almost got on the wrong path before I checked my compass
Along the path weaving towards the control should have been fast but I just couldn't push it and I should have been reading ahead but didn't have the energy/focus. Stupidly started leaving the path too early and had to back track. When I left it for the second time I saw the Czech 6mins behind had cut the corner and caught me so put some effort so I could follow him which I managed to do to the control. The 2 minute american had took a different route and we saw him at #5 there but he didn't try to follow.

I just knew that making an effort to follow was my only chance to get a slightly good result so was happy to push as hard as was needed until I broke. Managed to stay in contact through to 7 and along the way had swept up an Australian. We lost on the way out of 7 but saw him back in the open and followed to 8.

8>16 were in the phi-loop where I was expecting to be on my own. Took my own route to 9 thinking the other two were on the alternative gaffle but probably should have stayed to see where they went first. Messed 9 up really bad and curved off line dropping too early into the northern depression. Exited towards the control but was focusing on the terrain too much and not my compass and got pulled in by the 'gravity' of the depression and ended up looping round in a semi-circle and back into the same one but on the opposite side, looking at the same bush I had just come from! Absolutely appalling orienteering. Eventually made it and was third last on the leg /159.

The next few were alright but spent a long time at the drinks point each time as the open with the sun was baking. I had picked an early start to try and avoid this but it back fired and the middle starters got some nice cloud but that was out of my control. A couple more 'wrong depression' mistakes on 12 and 17.

#18 was my favourite leg and executed pretty perfectly finding a nice route though the green and popping out in the white forest exactly where I wanted to. 19 was short and simple.

Once I'd got back out of the sun I felt really good and had loads of energy left to push to the finish which was good and bad.

20 was another leg which should have been an good top-25 along then down a fast ridge. Exited on line between the depressions but was very scared of making the stupid mistake of ending up on the ridge to the west
so was super hesitant and stopped dead three times for a good while each time which probably would have added up to the lost time on the bad route! Once I got going I was alright but should perhaps have got on with it and been more confident.

Next two were downhill so got some good times and finished nothing special.

99th +33.25. I had 5 top-25 splits out of 24 legs with two of then when I was following and another two on downhill legs.

Not a JWOC standard run at all. Never felt like I was racing until number 19 the rest of it was just 'getting round'.

Should have planned my pre race chill/warm up better. I had picked an early start to give me maximum rest for the middle races so maybe I was being a bit defeatist about it already. Hadn't really done too many long long runs beforehand and the British Longs aren't really long enough.

Orienteering wise my tiredness (predictably) meant I didn't look at the map enough which for the most part I actually got away with as I was going so slow but I didn't get away with not looking at my compass which lead to too many stupid mistakes. Disappointed with my poor relocation on the way to 4 which I didn't pick up on for about 500m even though I knew in the back of my mind things weren't fitting quite enough - should think more closely about how I would map an area and fit that image with the map in my hand.

Did get some extra rest for the middle

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