Improve you orienteering technique with Helena Jansson

Our series with technique training continue. This week Helena Jansson shares some tips that can improve your skills.

I truly love orienteering, I’ve been doing it for so long- and I still find it tricky, hard and challenging! There is always something new, something I need to develop and learn to beacome a better orienteerer.

The terrain that awaits you at O-Ringen in Sälen might feel like home to some people, but for many of us this will be a bit outside of our comfort zone. I believe that you need to be focused and careful all five days. During O-Ringen you will visit a lot of controls and it takes a lot of concentration to nail each one of them.

There has been quite long periods where I haven’t been able to run that much, just one or two times a week, beacuse of injuries. I’ve tried to do a lot of technique training, and that’s when I discovered the amazing world of “walking orienteering”. Many of you frowns contemptuously and shakes your head- but it is much harder to execute an orienteering course well walking than in your usual speed. It’s a technical challenge to walk orienteering and I really recommend it. When I say walk orienteering I don’t mean a casual strolling with birds singing, fresh air and the scents of spring as the primary focus- no, I mean fully focused on the orienteering technique needed to optimize the exercise you can get from the course you have at hand.

Why is walking orienteering so great then?

  1. When you are in a new terrain the key to succes is to take your time to understand the terrain and map, to understand how it comes together, to translate the reality to the map and the other way around in an efficient way. To decrease the speed and really try to understand every little detail on the map is a very good way to learn new terrain.
  2. Using another tempo than you usually do places different demands on your skills as an orienteerer. Everyone understands that it is hard to do perfect orienteering when you run fast, but the same is also true when the speed is lower than usual.
  3. It requires more concentration and focus when you walk. You don’t advance that fast, you have more time in the forest and it is very easy to drift away in your thoughts. That’s why it is a very good way of practising your long time focus abilities.
  4. While walking you get another understanding of how much you actually can optimize an orienteering race. Partly in the reading of the map but mostly in routing and micro routing. It becomes more obvious that you loose time on detours and it is easy to understand the importance of your abilities to keep direction.
  5. If you, like me, have a body that can’t take a whole lot of running, walking orieteering is then a perfect way to increase the number orienteering hours. Which sometimes actually can be crucial for you to become a better orienteer.

So my advice to you is; decrease the speed! Dare to challange yourself as hard as you can to optimize your orienteering, your focus and your choosing of routes. I promise that you will discover things about yourself and your orienteering that you didn’t know before.

/Helena Jansson

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