I am definitely no expert when it comes to orienteering, having only started on the fun-loving side of 40, but I have learnt a few things over the past three to four years that may help some of you in the same situation. It is such a great sport but it can be frustrating at times when you have a bad run especially when you’re used to having most things in your life under control (well, maybe apart from the kids!).
Here are my top three not-so-expert tips:
- Distraction is your number one enemy. Out on a course is no place to make friends and as soon as you allow yourself to become distracted, then it is pretty much game over. I was googling “Orienteering tips” the morning of the Wellington Nationals (yup, always up for self-
improvement) and I came across the best website ever here. Study it like the bible because it not only incorporates essential navigational tips but
delves into the psychological aspects of orienteering as well. Because your brain doesn’t think too well when there’s not much oxygen going into it.
- Celebrate small wins. Hallelujah for Winsplits which can make everyone feel like a winner. Orienteering is a lot like golf – just because you hit a few great shots doesn’t mean you have a great round. With each control a statistically individual event, it is easy to feel like a rock star one minute and then like hiding under a rock the next. Getting in the top three for one or more splits makes me SO, SO, happy! As does managing to relocate and find that hidden control and finish the course even if it did take 40 minutes. So, pat yourself on the back for those small and not insignificant achievements.
- Find your orienteering why. Orienteering is a sport that reveres eliteness which can be a bit daunting if you are about 100 rungs on the ladder below that. I love orienteering because I LOVE rock formations, getting outside, exercising, and going to remote places normally not accessible to the public. I particularly loved the beer and the German cake at Swiss O week! So, just like you tell your kids, it isn’t all about winning.
Find your own why and then you will be a happy orienteer forever!
by Carmen Fookes | North West Orienteering Club
Feature photo: by Pip Poole | Carmen Fookes at Gstaad at Swiss O in Aug 2019