WinSplits Pro for Iphone: Quick Review

Posted by Jan Kocbach, 01 Apr 2014@5:00


One of my favourite computer programs for race analysis is WinSplits Pro – a orienteering split time analysis program released back in 2007 by Mats Troeng, but it still does its job very well. Yesterday the iPhone version of the program, WinSplits Pro for iPhone, was released.

The programmer behind WinSplits Pro for iPhone is Ludvig Eriksson – and not Mats Troeng. Troeng does however support the development and has endorsed the use of the WinSplits name for the iPhone App.

Basic version and Pro version

As for the Windows version, there is a basic free version available with a reduced feature set along with the paid Pro version (the Pro version costs NOK 22,- which is about 3 Euro).

No graphical functionality

Although WinSplits for iPhone is very responsive and easy to use, it has (in its current version) a very limited functionality compared to its big brother – the Windows version:

  • Basically all you get is the possibility to easily download  and see the split times from all events which are available in WinSplits (including storing them offline on your phone). If you buy the Pro version, you can see mistake free times (including adjusting the error threshold) and choose which runners you want to compare the splits to.
  • There is no graphical functionality, no performance index, no hang index etc.

The following are the advantages with the Pro version in the current release:

  • The basic version lets you view only events from the last week – the Pro version lets you search in all events in the WinSplits database
  • See times without mistakes and adjust error threshold + choose which runners to compare
In use: Responsive but limited

The app works as expected, but all you can currently do is look at split times – including mistake free times for each split. Unfortunately one can only study one leg at a time, even with the smallest font size – thus having to always sweep to see the next leg. This makes it difficult to get a good overview. An option to show several splits at a time with a small font size would make it more user friendly. Also,  it would be nice with some sort of graphical overview where you could easily (by color) see on which legs mistakes were done  - and then be able to zoom in on them.


The current version of Winsplits for iPhone does not give a lot more than using the WinSplits website from your phone (this actually gives more data easily accessible in some respects). However, the easy access to split times from new events (especially for orienteers in Norway/Sweden were nearly all events are automatically available in Winsplits online) and the offline capability is enough to recommend downloading the free WinSplits version for iPhone and try it out.

I also hope a future update will contain several of the unique capabilities of WinSplits Pro for Windows. I guess the more people buy the Pro version – the more incentive will the developer have to add features.

Camolyze Review: HeadCam analysis software

Posted by Jan Kocbach, 29 Apr 2012@16:00


Camolyze is a dedicated tool for HeadCam analysis of orienteering races and training for Windows computers. While other tools available either require Internet access (3DRerun, Attackpoint HeadCam analysis tool) or hours of data crunching (RGMapvideo), Camolyze can be used on your local computer without internet connection – for example at a training camp.

This article demonstrates how you can use Camolyze for analyzing HeadCam videos synchronized with your GPS through a screencast.

Demo video – from A to Z

Below you see a demonstration video which shows how you get your training or event into Camolyze. The video goes through all steps required ; adjusting the route in QuickRoute, exporting map and route files, and opening video, map and route in Camolyze.


Camolyze is still rough around the edges with some bugs and some missing error messages, but after you have used it one time or two you should be able to prepare an analysis in around 5 minutes after transferring the video file to your computer.

Camolyze has the main features you need in order to do a good analysis of your race. Map and video is synchronized – and thus you can easily get to any position in the course to look at a specific mistake. There are also possibilities to tag certain parts of the course to easily find back to key places in your race/training.

Compared to the 3DRerun, Camolyze can be used offline and is therefore a clear winner if you are on a training camp without Internet connection. If you have an Internet connection – Camolyze and 3DRerun each have their advantages.


Do the following to install Camolyze (Note that Camolyze currently only works on Windows):

  • Download Camolyze from the Camolyze webpage, unzip the file in some directory, and run the exe-file.
  • You also need QuickRoute to utilize Camolyze.
  • To play GoPro videos, I had to install extra codecs on my Windows 7 PC. I installed the following:K-lite codec pack. Installation: Download and run the exe-file. Note that installing codecs like this might break other codecs, so be careful with what you do…
Known Bugs/Issues

I have not used Camolyze extensively, but have still noticed some bugs and/or issues:

  • If your computer does not have the video codecs required, the video will not play – but no error message is given. This can be quite confusing for new users.
  • If the correct fields are missing in the xml-file exported from QuickRoute, or if there is something wrong with your map image, you get no warning messages – it just doesn’t work.
  • The video offset is saved when saving a video, but it is not applied when loading. Thus you must re-apply the offset after loading a video.
  • It may take 15-20 seconds to open a new video/map – be patient!

If you have used Camolyze, please tell about your experiences in the comments below.

GPS Analysis for Orienteering: All the Basics!

Posted by Jan Kocbach, 13 Apr 2011@5:00

Step-by-step instructions for effective use of QuickRoute for analysis of trainings and competitions: GPS analysis has been a revolution for analysis of technique in orienteering. This article considers the basics for analysis of orienteering races or trainings: Software, Equipment, Step-by-step instructions for getting your route on the map, and tips regarding o-technical analysis. This article considers a single GPS track from a single runner – a later article will consider analysis of more than one GPS track/runner (which gives you a lot more input).

With the tools and equipment available today, GPS analysis of orienteering activities is quite simple – and a lot of orienteers do GPS analysis of their races and competitions. Still, based on all the requests I get about the topic, it looks like a simple set of step-by-step instructions along with equipment tips would be welcomed. This article takes you through the basics – it will be updated based on comments and questions.

Note! This article starts on a very basic level, to appeal to orienteers who have never tried GPS analysis yet. If you are already familiar with getting your route into QuickRoute, you may jump directly to the analysis section. You should nevertheless take a look at what is written about route adjustment, as that is an area where many don’t pay enough attention.

Equipment and software

- The best option for analysis of a single GPS track is definitely QuickRoute

For equipment there are a lot of options which all will give you excellent data for analysis. I have listed many options in the “Equipment” section below – my personal preference is one of the Garmin GPS watches (with pulse if possible, as this adds further to the analysis – the best option has a possibility to record every second). In the step-by-step instructions I will assume that you either have a Garmin GPS watch or that your GPS comes with software which allows you to export a GPX-file (GPX is a standard file format for GPS data).

For software, the best option for analysis of a single GPS track is definitely QuickRoute, in my opinion (you may also combine it with 3DRerun – see more info in the software overview below). Thus the step-by-step instructions below are based on using QuickRoute for the analysis. Note that you need a Windows PC to use Quickroute. Several other software options are listed in the software section at the bottom of this article.

Step-by-step instructions: Getting your Route on the Map

These step-by-step instructions take you through all you need to get started with GPS analysis of an orienteering activity.

  • Step 1: Record your GPS track on the orienteering course. For a Forerunner GPS watch, all you need is to start the stopwatch in order to start the GPS track – and stop the stopwatch in order to finish it. The GPS track will then be stored in the watch, ready to transfer to the computer when you get back home.  Tip: The GPS watch should lie on the ground – turned on in GPS mode – for at least 5 minutes ahead of your activity in order to get a good GPS fix. This will increase accuracy significantly. For the Forerunner 405/310XT it is best to start the stopwatch before you lie the watch on the ground to make sure you get a good GPS fix. If you use another GPS unit than a Forerunner watch, refer to the instruction manual regarding how to record a GPS track (you should still put it on the ground for 5 minutes, though).
  • Step 2: Download QuickRoute from here, and install the software (requires Windows). Tip: The development version has some new features, and might run more stable on some computers.
  • - Always scan the map with North up – or at least rotate before you load it in QuickRoute

  • Step 3: Scan your orienteering map from the competition, or even better get a jpg/gif export from OCAD of the course for maximum accuracy. You may also take a photo of the map, but this gives poorer accuracy. Tip: (1) Always scan the map with North up – or at least rotate before you load it in QuickRoute – a rotated map may in many cases make adjustment of route more difficult. (2) It is often advantageous to reduce the size of the map file to around 1-1.5 Mb for QuickRoute to work faster – you usually don’t need more than around 200 dpi for your analysis.
  • Step 4: Connect the GPS unit to the computer after installing the required drivers. If you have a Forerunner 405/410/310 XT/610/910XT, you don’t even need to connect the GPS to the computer – all you have to do is to insert the ANT USB key, and the GPS data is transferred automatically. It you have a Forerunner 305/205, you must connect your GPS to the computer, but you don’t need to transfer anything (that is done in QuickRoute). For other GPS units, you need to transfer the GPS route to the computer according to the manual for the GPS unit, and then export to a GPX-file or other compatible QuickRoute format.
  • Step 5: Start QuickRoute, and open the menu entry “File -> New” in order to start a new activity (see 1 in illustration below). Then locate your scanned map file on the disk (2 in the illustration). Depending on which GPS unit / watch you have used, there are now three different options (but all are easy). For a Garmin Forerunner 405/410/310 XT/610/910XT or other unit which uses the Garmin ANT agent, choose “Garmin ANT Agent” under “From GPS device” (3A in illustration), click OK (4A) and find the activity on the watch (5A).  For a Garmin Forerunner 205/305, choose “Forerunner 305″ in From GPS device” (3B in illustration), and click OK (4B), and then find the activity you want to analyze. For other GPS units, choose “From file:” and under “File Format” choose “GPX-file” (3C) – and locate the GPX-file on disk using the “Browse” button, and then click OK (4C).quickroute_instructions_a_s
  • Step 5: Opening the map with route. Now you should get up the map and the route – but the two don’t fit very well. Below is an example of what you could see after opening map and route. We will now adjust the route to the map.adj1
  • Step 6: Adjusting the route to the map. This is the crucial step – in which many don’t pay enough attention.  Remember that if your GPS track has good quality, and the map is fairly good, you should be able to get a quite good fix by adjusting only two(!) points. Thus try to get optimal results with adjustment of only two points before proceeding to analyse with more points. Point adjustment is done by clicking the mouse on a point on the route, and dragging this point to the correct point on the map (you will note that all of the route moves when you do this for the first point.(1) Find one point at the route where you are 100% sure that you were, for example a bend on a road/track or similar. In the example below the bend of a path is chosen (blue point). Tip: Use the “+” and “-” symbols on the toolbar to zoom in and out on the map to make adjustment easier. Note that when you use the “+” and “-” symbols, QuickRoute thinks that you have finished adjusting your map, and you have to go back in adjustment modus (click the adjustment mode symbol on the toolbar adjustmentmode )

    adjp1(2) Take a second point – preferable as far away from the first point as possible, and move this point until all of the route fits as well as possible (thus, don’t pay attention to point 2 only, but all of the route). Now you usually should get a quite good fit. See the current example below – adjusted with two points. Tips: (1) If it didn’t work well the first time, you can move the first point and try again (maybe you didn’t hit well with the first point – this was the case for my current example). (2) This may give non-optimal results if one of the points is at the start of your track, and you had a bad GPS fix at the start of your exercise. Try again with points later in the exercise in this case. (3) You can unselect one of your chosen points by clicking “shift” + the left mouse button – and choose two other points instead to see if this gives better results. (4) If you use split times on a Forerunner watch at the control points, these will show up in QuickRoute as red circles. These may make adjustment easier – but remember to still start with only two points to get optimal adjustment also between the control points due to algorithms used.


    (3)  If necessary, you may adjust more points to get good adjustment in certain parts of the course where you have problems, but be patient and try to get a good adjustment with only two points. This gives you better overall correspondence between map and GPS data. Furthermore, if you want to use 3DRerun for analysis (see further down for more info on this), you will consistently get bad results in 3DRerun if you use more than 2 calibration points in QuickRoute.

  • Step 7: Now your route and map is calibrated, and you are ready for analysis. Click the analysis mode symbol on the toolbar in order to go into analysis mode analysismode. You will now see your course with the track overlaid in different colors (see example below for part of the current course).analysismode2
    The standard analysis mode when QuickRoute starts is to show a color along your route according to your pace (in min/km) – where green is fast and red is slow.  Before you proceed with further analysis, you should adjust the pace settings in order to get colors on the track which give you the information you need (having a totally green track doesn’t tell you much, the same with total red – you should be able to identify the spots where you slow down / loose time and speed up), and also adjust track width, transparency and so on.  Pace is adjusted by changing the numbers marked with (2) and (4) in the illustration below (given as 5:08 and 14:07 in the example). Transparency is adjusted using (7), and line width and border thickness with (8) and (9), respectively. Optimal values depend on the map resolution and what kind of analysis you are performing. Note also that you can change from Pace analysis to Hear rate analysis or Direction deviation analysis using the menu marked with (1) in the illustration below (will be needed later on in the analysis).modes2

Now everything is ready for analysis. Analysis of orienteering activities in QuickRoute is covered below.

Typical orienteering analysis session

Before going into the analysis techniques in QuickRoute in detail, I will just repeat  a typical analysis session as described in the article about analysis of HeadCam videos – as a systematical approach is very important in order to really improve. Also, it is important to note that what you should optimize is YOUR optimal orienteering technique – which is a balance between your current orienteering technique and running speed. How fast can you run while still orienteering well enough to not make mistakes?

- Identify how to act in the future to avoid this type of time loss

A typical analysis session goes as follows

  1. Identify mistakes/time-losses by split times and/or GPS data.
  2. Identify the reasons for the time loss using a combination of GPS track, split times and other information available about the situation.
  3. After finding the reason for the time losses, identify how to act in the future to avoid this type of time loss. This should be defined in form of one or more tasks which can be trained on in a targeted way in future trainings/competitions – and then evaluated using a similar analysis in the future. This last step is actually the most important step in the analysis – don’t stop at step 2!!

In addition to finding time losses, you should also focus in similar manner on the parts of the route where you performed well. What was the reason for performing well – what should you do to repeat your good performance in the future.

Analysis of orienteering activities using QuickRoute

- Remember to write down your analysis to make sure you can learn from it

There are a lot of possibilities for analysis in QuickRoute. Not all of them will be covered in full detail in this article, but pointers will be given towards many of the options you have. Note that a basic split time analysis is very useful along with the GPS analysis – it is even better to be able to compare your GPS track with other GPS tracks (which is possible in e.g. 3DRerun, RunoWay, GPSseuranta, MapandCoach or Routegadget) which will be covered in a later article.

The reason for doing the analysis below is to be able to understand and identify the reason for all time losses. When you have understood the reason for the time losses, you can work on improving your orienteering technique to avoid these time losses in the future. Remember to write down your analysis to make sure you can learn from it!

A typical problem with orienteering analysis is that it is not easily measurable. For a track and field 800 meter runners it is easy to see when the training works (the time on the 800 meter goes down) – for an orienteer it is not that easy to see when o-technical training works. By doing proper GPS analysis of trainings and competitions – analyzing how the size and distribution of mistake varies with time, and also using the suggested measurables given below e.g. for time in/out of the control for control taking training and direction deviation for compass training, you can much better evaluate your training.

Tip: Use “split times”
Use “split times” along with the “split times table” in the right pane of QuickRoute in order to get more out of your analysis (see illustration below). You can either use your original split times from a Garmin watch, or make your own split times at arbitrary places along the course – wherever you need them for your analysis. Instructions:

  • Click the add split time symbol in the toolbar ( addsplit), and then click anywhere on your route to add a split (red circle) at this positions (use the shift key and the mouse button to remove a split point). You typically insert splits at control point locations, but based on which analysis you want to do (as discussed below), it may also be at other spots. If you have takes split times on your Garmin watch, they will automatically be set in QuickRoute.
  • You now get a table in the right pane of QuickRoute with information about each leg. You can choose which custom columns to show in the table by right clicking the table and choosing “select columns”. Lap time, average pace, time in/out of control circle, average heart rate and direction deviation are some examples of fields you can get in the split times table.
  • You can now click each leg in the table in order to highlight the leg in question, as seen in the example below for leg number 16. In the table you then get key parameters about your performance. This may be very helpful in your analysis.


Now over to how to perform the analysis:

  • Analysis of time loss for direct control mistakes. Identify a mistake on the course either by looking at the GPS track or by comparing split times from the event with others. Below one (small) mistake from the example at the 13th control has been identified. To find out how much time you lost for your specific mistake/time loss, you can move the mouse pointer along the route – you should now see a red circle moving along with the mouse pointer. If you look at the bottom of the screen, you see an equal red ball dancing along a curve showing your pace as a function of time along the course. Below this curve, you see “Time (lap):” and your lap time. By moving the mouse pointer along your GPS track and noting the time at different points along the track, you can thus easily identify how much time you use (and loose) on a specific part of the track. (alternatively you can add split times at the start/end of the mistake using the add split time symbol as described above).

    This is a good method to understand exactly how much time you loose on direct mistakes – and a typical first step in an analysis session. After understanding how much time you lost, you need to understand why you did this mistake – and how to avoid this type of mistakes in the future. The GPS track along with your memory of the situation can often give you the answers you need (a headcam might give you even more information). Was the mistake based on a direction mistake? Did you run with too high speed / too little control towards the control? Did you forget to make a proper plan on the leg? Did you forget to have a proper secure attackpoint for the control? Did you use the most appropriate details in your orienteering? Did you simplify the leg enough? And so on.

  • - Make split times for different types of terrain in order to analyze your capabilities

  • Analysis of pace in different terrain types/characteristics. Using the GPS data, you can understand how your running speed varies in different terrain types / uphill / downhill, and use this to learn what is the best route choice for you.  The best way to perform this type of analysis, is to make “split times” for different types of terrain in order to analyze your capabilities, and make a “split time table” showing your pace in min/km for different terrain types. By making a similar table for different runners (you can do this in your club for a specific training), you can also find how your relative pace in different terrain types varies compared to other runners – and find your strengths and weaknesses. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses, you can use this in your strategy – and also use it in order to see where you need to improve.
  • Analysis of time loss for bad route choices. This one is a bit more tricky using only a single GPS track, but you should be able to identify some of the time losses by analysing the GPS track with pace data overlayed.
  • - One type of pace increases to look for is stops to read the map

  • Identifying smaller time losses using pace curve. The pace curve seen at the bottom of the screen is a very good tool to identify smaller time losses. You should go through regions where the pace is higher (red on the curve), and understand the reason for the pace being higher – especially in areas where you loose time based on your split time analysis. In many cases the pace is high due to uphills, bad runnability etc., but there is often some information to gain from identification of pace variations (there is a lot more to gain when comparing with other GPS tracks on the same course, though). One type of pace increases to look for is stops to read the map. Another type of pace increase is due to running through areas with poorer runnability. See also “identify time lost due to uncertainty” below.
  • Identify time lost due to uncertainty. Many time losses can be traced back to uncertainty, i.e. keeping a lower speed due to not having the situation under control, and thus (1) reading the map more often/retrospectively and (2) generally keeping a lower speed. Try to identify these time losses using the GPS data. You can train targeted on avoiding time lost due to uncertainty by reading the map more in advance, simplification, etc.
  • - GPS analysis is a good tool in order to analyse your control work

  • Analysis of time in and out of control. GPS analysis is a good tool in order to analyse your control work, i.e. the time you use in and out of the control.  In the “split time table” in the right pane you can set up a column to be the time into the control and another column to be the time out of the control (the size of the control circle can be chosen in the settings, default is 45 meters.  You now get a number which tells you how good you perform in the control area – a very important area in orienteering. You can now work targeted in competitions/trainings on improving this number (be a bit careful with evaluation though, as the time in/out of control varies with terrain, elevation etc.).
  • Identifying  time losses based on direction running efficiency. One way to identify smaller time losses is to see if your curve is straight in areas where you should run in a straight line/compass course – i.e. look at your direction deviation. If your route has many small S-curves here, you need to work on your straight running / compass running. You can evaluate direction deviation directly in QuickRoute by adding split times for controls using the add split time symbol in the toolbar, and choosing “Direction deviation” instead of pace to color the GPS track (see sample below). If you set e.g. 30 degrees direction deviation to be colored red as in the illustration below, you can easily identify the spots where your direction running between two controls was not good (see e.g. red areas in the example below on the way to the first control. You can also get the average direction deviation on each leg in the “split time table”. Thus you again get a number which tells you how good you perform in your training/competition,  which you can work targeted on improving.direction
  • - Did you push too hard giving you too high heart rate ahead of a mistake?

  • Heart rate analysis. If you have used a Garmin watch with heart rate information (some other watches also give you heart rate information along with your GPS track), you can analyse how your heart rate varied during the competition/training, and thus how your heart rate influenced on your o-technical performance.  You typically start this type of analysis by choosing “Heart rate” instead of pace to color the GPS track (see sample below). Now you can see how your heart rate varies during the race the same way as you did for the pace. Did you push too hard giving you too high heart rate ahead of a mistake? Did you open too hard and therefore not manage to keep up the heart rate during all of the race? Here is an example  where the GPS track is colored with heart rate:avheartrate2
    In the “split table” we have now set up the average heart rate for each split. You can also get a histogram to see your heart rate distribution during the race. This is interesting to compare from event to event.  See an example below:
  • Analysis of pace distribution. As for the heart rate histogram, you can also get a pace histogram. This is typically a curve which can be interesting to compare from race to race.
  • Analysis of special technical trainings. GPS analysis lends itself very well to several types of o-technical exercises. You saw one example with the compass training exercise above. Another exercise is the corridor training exercise – an exercise which has become very popular as more and more runners have access to a GPS unit. With a GPS watch you can fully evaluate your corridor training, by identifying how often you had to step outside the corridor. Evaluation makes it more motivating to improve – use this actively in your training! See below for an example of a corridor training with GPS evaluation. You find some further exercises here in the wiki.corr
  • Analysis of map reading duration. Analysis of map reading duration is coming to QuickRoute in a later version.

Equipment for GPS analysis in orienteering

There are a lot of different GPS units which you can use – and most of them give you at least adequate GPS data for analysis. However, there are a few points which you should note,

If you choose a logger, there is significant difference in accuracy based on how you wear it

  • GPS watches are more easy to use, but GPS watches are not allowed in World Ranking events. There you have to use equipment without display, sound signal and without any telecommunications module (i.e. you can not use a GPS tracker, only a logger).
  • You can get very cheap GPS loggers – down to 40 Euro or below. Note however that some of the smallest one have a smaller antennae, and therefore give poorer results.
  • If you choose a logger, there is significant difference in accuracy based on how you wear it. Keep it somewhere where you have as little body shadow as possible – your wrist is a good option.
  • There is significant difference in accuracy for some of the GPS units out there. I give some comments about accuracy in the table below. The Garmin watches are known to all have fairly good accuracy.
  • For best analysis results, use a GPS unit which logs your position every second (frequency of 1 Hz). This gives the best analysis, as it is possible to identify also small mistakes. Note that of the Garmin watches, only the Forerunner 305/205 and the new Forerunner 610 can log the position every second. The other Garmin GPS watches log your position with “smart recording”, which usually means every 3-6 seconds.
  • It may be advantageous to also include the heart rate in your analysis. In this case you should probably use one of the watches which combine GPS data with pulse data (there is also a unit from FRWD which has this combination).
  • In some cases you might also want to analyse your altitude variation. For this you need a GPS with built-in barometric altitude logging – or a separate altitude logging unit which logs altitude using barometric data. Altitude information from GPS data is generally not sufficiently accurate for analysis purposes in orienteering.
  • Data from all GPS units can be coupled to a HeadCam analysis – and also to mapreading analysis with the proper units.
  • You are going to use your GPS a lot – preferably for all high intensity orienteering technical training/competitions. Thus choose a GPS units which makes it possible to have a good “work flow”, i.e. an easy way to upload your GPS data to your computer, and get it ready for analysis in QuickRoute (or another piece of software of your choice).

Based on these considerations, I have set up a set of favourite GPS units for o-technical analysis. Shout in the comments if you don’t agree! The integration of reading from Garmin watches directly in QuickRoute does influence the choice of favourite equipment below. I have also added three different GPS loggers, as loggers are cheaper (possible to buy many for a club), and loggers are your only option for World Ranking events. There are A LOT of GPS logger out there, there might be better options than the one listed here (add a comment if you know about any better) – but the ones listed here are tested by myself or by other orienteers I know.

Table: My favourite GPS equipment  for analysis in Orienteering

Option 1:
Garmin Forerunner 305 (or the 205 which is identical and without a heart rate monitor) Update 19/04/2012! These are unfortunately no longer produced – you might get lucky and get a leftover!
Pros:One of the cheapest GPS watches, has 1 second recording, route can be directly read from QuickRoute. Accuracy similar to other Garmin watches. (see review)

<td><span>Garmin Forerunner 405/410/310 XT watches</span></td>
<td>Best tool</td>
<td><span>Garmin Forerunner 110/210 watches</span></td>
<td>Best tool</td>

Cons: Quite big and bulky, especially for a woman. No wireless ANT+ technology (see below), i.e. you have to physically connect the watch to the computer via USB. Old technology. Not to be used at WRE events as all watches.

Option 2:
Garmin Forerunner 310 XT watch – (or maybe 405/410)
Pros: The route is wirelessly transferred to computer when watch enters the room of the computer – can be directly opened in QuickRoute without connecting watch to computer/open other software. Watch is a bit bulky, but still quite compact and good to wear compared to the 305  (405/410 even more compact).  Accuracy similar to other Garmin watches, and the 310XT even has 1 second recording mode with a firmware update. See review of 405 and 410

Cons: The 310 XT might be a bit bulky. For the 405/410: The touch bezel is awkward to use, but this should be improved for the 410 + no 1 second recording mode. Not possible to turn off watch. Not to be used at WRE events as all watches.
Note! I would not recommend the 405/410 due to missing 1s recording mode.

Option 3:
Garmin Forerunner 610 / Garmin 910XT (Updated April 2012)
Pros: Two very good options – both with 1 second recording. The 610 is an all-day watch whereas the 910XT is a watch to be used only for exercise (20 hour battery life). The 910XT has a barometer for altitude logging – thus has a lot more accurate altitude data then the other options.
Cons:  Not to be used at WRE events as all watches. More expensive than the alternatives.
Option 4:
igotU GPS logger
Pros: Very small and light (21 grams) – you can keep it in a headband/Buff during your run. Very cheap (40 Euro or even cheaper). 1 second recording mode.  Allowed to be used at World Ranking Events. Possible to quickly transfer GPX-files to computer using MoTrack software (but still have to connect to USB to transfer) – also quick transfer if you have to administer many units. See review here.

Cons: Accuracy is significantly poorer than the Garmin watches (you get best accuracy  by fastening the GPS unit on your wrist like a watch or by carrying it on your head in a buff/headband, but still a bit from the Garmin watch accuracy). See accuracy comparison sample here. When you loose accuracy, you get track points which are far off, giving you strange spikes and problems with the analysis.  Transfer is not directly integrated in QuickRoute (but you can easily export GPX-files which can be imported in QuickRoute).

Option 5:
Globalsat BT 335 logger
Pros: Many of the same Pros as for the igotU logger, but it is a bit heavier and a bit more expensive. However, the accuracy is superior (see accuracy sample here) – accuracy is approximately as for the Garmin watches. See info about the BT-335 here.Cons: Transfer process to the computer is more awkward (you need to use Bluetooth, i.e. you need a computer with Bluetooth), in my experience with this unit it was not easy to set up transfer from many units.
Note! This might be an outgoing model, so there might be a new model with this high accuracy which I am not aware of (mine is several years old). It is  available here. There is also the DG 200 USB logger from Globalsat which is a bit bigger but should give similar results to the BT 335 and maybe easier transfer to computer.
Option 6:
Photomate 887 Lite
Pros: Very small and light (18 grams). Similar advantages as for the igotU GPS unit, but accuracy is said to be somewhat better (from personal communication, no data to show you for now). Seems to be available online for as low as $30-40.

Cons: Accuracy poorer than Garmin watches and BT 335. I have not personally checked workflow for transferring GPS data to computer, but as far as I have heard it should be possible to be up in QuickRoute in “minutes” using e.g. the BT747 software.
Note! There is also a Bluetooth version of this, but I think I’d prefer the USB version.

In addition to the watches/units in the table above, there are a lot of other options. Some of these are listed in the table below along with some short comments.

Table: Overview of other GPS units.

Garmin Forerunner 110/210 watches The Garmin 110/210 watches are the new “simpler” GPS watches from Garmin. Accuracy should be approximately the same as for the other Garmin watches. However, they do not use ANT+ technology for wireless transfer to the computer, and you can not use them directly in QuickRoute (to my knowledge). Instead you have to make a GPX-file using the bundled software (it comes in the new Garmin FIT-format), and import this GPX-file in QuickRoute. See review of Garmin Forerunner 210 and Forerunner 110. If orienteering is not your main use for the GPS watch, and you want to use your GPS watch as a day-to-day watch in addition, a Forerunner 110 or 210 might be your best option.
Polar GPS watches Polar has a separate GPS unit for their pulse watch. GPS performance and workflow is not as good as for Garmin, so I would rather recommend one of the Garmin GPS watches. I got feedback via email that Polar RS800CX works well, and that it easy to export GPX-files. I’d still recommend the Garmin watches which can be used directly from QuickRoute for the workflow, but if you like to use a Polar watch for the pulse functionality, it is probably a good option to buy the GPS unit for the watch as well.
Nike GPS watch Nike has a new GPS watch which looks nice on paper. However, I would not recommend this for orienteering use as you need to have an internet connection to transfer data from the watch to the computer – and the transfer is done via the Nike servers.
Timex GPS watch Timex has a GPS watch which I would not recommend over the Garmin watches – there is also no direct integration in QuickRoute. I have not tried this watch.
Suunto GPS watch Suunto has some GPS watches which should perform quite well. I have not tested any of these though, and there is no direct integration in QuickRoute.
Globalsat GPS watches Globalsat has several GPS watches. These are often cheaper than the Garmin’s, and said to work quite well. I’d rather take a Garmin though due to the direct import in QuickRoute.
Holux M 1200E logger Quite cheap at DealExtreme. Not the best accuracy, but decent relative accuracy (seems to be a bit better than igotU?)  See accuracy sample here. Could maybe recommend this one.
Qstarz BT-1300S logger Accuracy seems to be not the best. The older BT 1000 is a bit better (but bigger).
Mobile phone You can store your GPS track using an iPhone, Android phone, WM phone, Nokia phone etc. as well. There are a lot of different GPS logger applications for the different mobile platforms, and it is not difficult to find one which can export GPX-files. However, the phones usually gives you less accurate GPS tracks than the dedicated loggers, and the phones are also heavier. It is, however, possible to use a mobile phone as a first test before you buy a dedicated unit.

Software for GPS analysis in orienteering

Although QuickRoute is probably the best available option for orienteering analysis for a single GPS track, I list some of the alternative available software alternatives below along with some strengths/weaknesses for completeness. Note that most software alternatives listed here assume that you are on windows, except for the browser and/or java based.

Table: GPS Analysis for Orienteering: Software overview

QuickRoute Covered above. Best tool for analysis of a single GPS track (see QuickRoute webpage and QuickRoute source code)
3DRerun Still in closed beta, but you can get access by sending an email to Has some nice replay functionality, but its advantage is mostly for analysis of several runners or for HeadCam video analysis. (see 3DRerun website – password required)
GPSseuranta GPSSeuranta is the “state of the art” tool for GPS tracking within orienteering – being used in a lot of orienteering competitions. Recently GPSSeuranta has also started selling license for a special version of GPSSeuranta for post-race analysis by upload of GPX-files. For analysis of a single runners GPS-track, I would still recommend QuickRoute. See GPSseuranta website.
RouteGadget Nice replay functionality. Geared towards analysis of many runners from a competition. In theory possible to set up for analyzing a competition/training for one runner only, but quite complicated (see RouteGadget website)
RunOway Geared towards analysis of many runners from a competition. Used extensively in Sweden (see RunOway website)
Mapandcoach Should give you some possibilities to analyze GPS data – similarly to RunOway, but I have not had the chance to see it in action yet. Is going to work together with RunOway in 2011 (see Mapandcoach website)
SportTracks The software SportTracks has been used for analysis of GPS tracks for orienteering by some runners for comparison of several routes/runners.
OCAD Some have used OCAD for overlaying their GPS route on the map, but this is not a very effective tool compared to e.g. QuickRoute.
OTrack Similar tool to QuickRoute, but much less possibilities (see OTrack webpage)
OGPS Similar tool to QuickRoute, but much less possibilities (see OGPS webpage).
MoTrack Some of the properties of QuickRoute – geared towards comparing several routes. Not as userfriendly as QuickRoute. I’ve used it mostly to transfer data from igotU units (see MoTrack website here, Norwegian only)
Reources for GPS analysis of orienteering activities

Other resources related to GPS analysis of orienteering activities:

Improve your Orienteering Skills using a HeadCam: Part 3

Posted by Jan Kocbach, 30 Mar 2011@5:00

gopro-hdIn this third part of the series, we take a look at how to use a HeadCam to improve your general orienteering technique. This includes your map reading technique, where you look, how you focus and your orienteering flow. A lot of focus in this article is put on map reading technique – including discussions on combining HeadCam footage with other ways to record map reading characteristics (accelerometer).

The article series “Improve your Orienteering Skills using a HeadCam” consists of the following 6 parts:

Part 3: Improve general orienteering technique

Mapreading frequency has been the thing I have looked most at (Olav Lundanes)

Improving the general orienteering technique using a HeadCam is a lot more tricky than looking at specific mistakes/time losses like we discussed in part 1. It is also a very time consuming process to do it systematically. The one doing the analysis should be rather skilled in understanding of orienteering technique – typically a coach or somebody who has worked with orienteering for many years. The setup is very similar to part 1 – see the table below for details.

Table: Overview of HeadCam analysis for improving general orienteering technique.

HeadCam mounting Either on the head, on the chest, or on the head of somebody running behind – depending on which part of the technique you are focusing on in the analysis.
Target level Elite runners on relatively high level to get the maximum out of it. For lower level, the analysis described in part 1 is more appropriate.
Who performs the analysis Most often the runner with help from coach/discussion partner. If the coach is to do the analysis, the runner must be tightly involved.
Required equipment A HeadCam is required (different HeadCams will be considered in the last part of this series). A GPS watch/GPS unit will make the analysis a lot easier/faster – and is required if a coach is going to participate in the analysis and give feedback. Special mounting arrangement if chest mounting is to be used. It is very advantageous to combine the HeadCam-video with an automatic map reading detection device/procedure in order to do the analysis more effectively and compare technique with other runners (more about that below).
Software A software tool which plays the HeadCam video synchronized with the GPS-data will make the analysis a lot easier/faster to perform (see part 1). It should also be possible to jump easily back and forth in the footage.
Typical analysis sessions

Most of the time I stand in front of the computer with the map in my hand and try to see how I moved the head and what my map reading frequency was (Thierry Gueorgiou)

This is a complex topic, so there is probably more than one answer (please add a comment below if you have some tips on the topic). However, I would say that typical analysis sessions can be divided into three different types:

  • Map reading technique. This is the type of analysis which is focused on by most elite runners when you ask them about the use of HeadCam for o-technical analysis. Typical aspects which are highlighted by the runners here are map reading frequency, map reading duration and map reading type – but as you will see in the discussions below this is only part of the story. Note however that HeadCam might not be the optimal tool for this analysis – more about that below.
  • Direction of view. Optimization of where you look and how you move your head. Do you look far enough ahead? Does it change when you get tired?
  • Orienteering flow. Combination of the two above – also including the way you move through the terrain.

Each of these type of sessions is considered separately below. There is some overlap between these types of analysis sessions, but I have divided into three types to be able to make a more structured discussion.

Map reading technique: Basics

To set the stage for the discussions, here are some thoughts about map reading and map reading technique:

  • Most (if not all) runners need to slow down in order to read the map due to (1) the need to keep the map steady and (2) the need to see the ground/terrain.
  • Relative speed reduction during map reading is usually bigger in terrain with bad runnability compared to terrain with good runnability. This is especially the case for terrain in which you need to look a lot at the ground while running. Relative speed reduction during map reading is lowest on roads/paths.
  • Speed reduction for short map reading events (1-3 seconds) is typically lower than for longer map reading events – especially in terrain with bad runnability – because you don’t need to slow down to see the ground/terrain for these shorter map reading events (you can make a mental picture of the ground for the next few meters and run on auto-pilot).
  • Not looking enough at the map (either too short map reading duration or too low map reading frequency) will lead to mistakes, or at least time losses due to a transition from short map reading events (confirmation type) to longer map reading events (retrospective – more about this below).

Thus it is evident that the sum of the total map reading time should be kept as short as possible, while on the other hand still reading the map enough to avoid time losses due to mistakes. Also, it might look like short map reading events are generally better than longer map reading events. For example, you would probably find that 5 x 2 seconds map reading slows you down less than 1 x 10 seconds map reading – at least in terrain with bad runnability. However the amount of information you get out from the 5 x 2 seconds compared to the 1 x 10 seconds is a different matter – this is were different types of map reading come into play. Thus it is dangerous to generalize and simply say that high map reading frequency/short map reading duration is good and long map reading duration is bad – it all depends on type of map reading. A proper combination of long and short map reading events is probably optimal (more about that below).

I notice that I read the map about 1-2 seconds when I’m prospective in my orienteering and longer when I run retrospectively – often 5-10 sec (Baptiste Rollier)

In the following a number of different map reading events are defined for the purpose of the following discussion. These map reading events are categorized by duration. Map reading events which are typically long are

  • Making a mental picture of the terrain
  • Refining the mental picture of the terrain (takes shorter time than making the original mental picture of the terrain)
  • Retrospective map reading, i.e. find out where you have run / where you are
  • Route choice/planning (comparing options for a leg/part of leg)

Map reading events which are typically shorter are

  • Checking a detail you just see in the terrain with the map
  • Checking direction (not actually a pure map reading event, but defined as one here)
  • Checking map for coming features to look for in the terrain based on your (a) already made mental picture of the terrain and (b) already planned route (can be defined as very quick update of mental picture of terrain)

These map reading events are somewhat similar to the ones described in a paper on map reading technique by Martin Lerjen, although there are some differences as it suits the focus of this article better in my opinion.

Map reading technique: Equipment

The use of headcam has been pointed out by many elite runners and coaches I have interviewed as being the chosen way to analyze your map reading technique. However, using a HeadCam video to analyze map reading characteristics is very time consuming. To make a full analysis, you have to look through the video and mark map reading events and map reading lengths on the map – as done in the example in part 2 of this article series (see map sample to the right).

A very good supplement for analyzing map reading technique, is using an accelerometer attached to your map reading arm/hand. It is a lot less time consuming (you can analyze your map reading after every training/event and make statistical analysis without spending much extra time) and it gives very interesting possibilities for comparing map reading characteristics between different runners. A combination of the use of HeadCam video and accelerometer is probably the best way to analyze your map reading technique.

Below an example of a recorded map reading using an accelerometer is shown for a specific leg. As you can see, you here get a lot of information directly from the unit, without having to look at the HeadCam video. The accelerometer applied here is another one than the one used in this earlier article at, but any accelerometer with data logging ability will do (there are quite a few on the market). I have also tested with an iPhone/iPad /Android phone, and except for it being awkward carrying it below the map and it affects your compass, it gives you the data you need when using appropriate applications.


Map reading technique: Analysis

With the basics about map reading and the equipment set, we are ready for analysis and training approaches. A very important point for the analyzing of map reading technique is that the runner has to be an integral part of the analysis, as it is often not possible to categorize the map reading events based on the HeadCam video or the accelerometer data. The duration of a map reading event in itself does not tell which type of map reading event it is. This information must come from the runner him/herself.

Typical analysis techniques for analysis of map reading characteristics are given in the table below. I consider this a work in progress – so please add your comments below.

Table: Typical focus points for analysis of map reading technique and characteristics.

Identify reason for specific time losses Already considered in part 2. Did the athlete look at the map often enough – or was the mapreading frequency too low ahead of the time loss? Did the athlete look at the map long enough to perform the task at hand? In many cases the mapreading frequency and/or characteristics (see below) is one of the factors behind a loss of time/mistake.
Analyze number of “unnecessary” long map reading events Generally one should try to reduce the number of “unnecessary” long duration map reading events, as these are the ones which slow you down the most. Try to convert as many of these into map reading events which are shorter. These long map reading events which you want to get rid off are often of the retrospective type, i.e. map reading events of the type “where have I run”. You can reduce the number of retrospective map reading events by planning in advance (good mental picture of the terrain and having a plan for the leg) and check often with short duration map reading events (checking map for details/direction or checking map for coming features).
Analyze relation between map reading and runnability As discussed above, relative speed reduction during map reading is usually bigger in terrain with bad runnability compared to terrain with good runnability. Using a combination of HeadCam footage and accelerometer data you can analyze if your technique is optimal in this respect (it is in an orienteers instinct to read the map where the runnability is best, but there is still often room for optimization if the runner targets this specifically). Would it be better to read the map 30 meters earlier/later and memorize for a longer period of time instead? This is tightly related to micro-routechoices and flow. Systematic analysis over time – and exercising with this focus – can help you improve this part of your map reading characteristics better than “the intuitive way”.
Analyze change in map reading characteristics through a competition/high intensity training (tiredness) Typically map reading characteristics can change during a competition due to tiredness. This is especially problematic if it leads to mistakes. This can be evaluated using a combination of HeadCam and accelerometer data, by compare map reading statistics and characteristics at the start of a competition with corresponding figures towards the end of a competition. Especially look at places with mistakes, but also look at general characteristics. Thierry Gueorgiou about his HeadCam experiences: - The first things I learnt was that my map reading frequency decreased during the race, which is obviously a sign of tiredness for me as I am use to keep it quite high.
Compare different runners Probably the most interesting way to analyze map reading characteristics is to compare the techniques of different runners in a team (elite level). For this to be feasible, accelerometer based data of map reading technique is required, as it takes a lot of time to analyze HeadCam footage. GPS tracks with map reading data overlayed can be compared, and characteristics discussed between runners/coaches in order to understand the strong and weak points in each runners map reading technique. Note that optimal map reading typically varies between individuals, but this is a way to understand weak and strong points. This analysis must of course be followed by targeted training to change the map reading in the desired direction if non-optimal map reading characteristics is identified.

Analysis is one thing – learning from the analysis is another matter. As always in o-technical training it is beneficial if the runner has a specific task for the training – i.e. to improve a special problem which has been identified earlier. In order to learn something from the map reading analysis, I have suggested a set of exercises in the table below in order to be able to evaluate the performance using HeadCam video and/or accelerometer data – and improve through repeated exercises and evaluation. These are not necessarily the best exercises – and most are not tested – but rather some exercises which it should be possible to use to train specific parts of the map reading. Please add a comment if you have other suggestions.

Table: Suggested exercises for map reading analysis.

Exercise: Optimize map reading with respect to runnability Run a high intensity orienteering training/competition in which you focus specifically on optimizing map reading with respect to runnability as discussed above. Evaluate based on the techniques discussed above. The exercise should be repeated several times – and analyze if there is improvement over time. It is not necessary to use HeadCam/accelerometer each time the exercise is done, but evaluation with HeadCam/accelerometer should be done from time to time. One variant of this exercise is to not run at 100% speed the first times you do the exercise, in order to have more time to focus on the optimizing of your map reading.
Exercise: Simplification The use of the combination HeadCam/accelerometer lends itself well to evaluating a runners ability to use simplification in their orienteering – there are not many other tools which are readily available for this. The idea is that when you manage to make a (good) simplified mental picture of the terrain, you can move through the terrain with shorter map reading events than if you have not made a good simplified mental picture of the terrain. However, this will (in most cases) come at the expense of using more time for the initial map reading event for which you make the mental picture of the terrain. The HeadCam/accelerometer combo lends itself very well to evaluate simplification. Note however that for the evaluation to be effective, you should (1) do subsequent trainings in similar terrain and/or (2) compare yourself with other runners on the same course. This evaluation is not the easiest thing to do, but it should be a possible a way to evaluate simplification (I have not seen many other ways to evaluate simplification exercises in orienteering).
Exercise: Running speed for map reading Most orienteers do some sort of training on minimizing the decrease in running speed due to map reading. However, as it is not easy to evaluate this decrease in running speed, one does not always take this as far as one can. Using the accelerometer approach it is possible to compare running speed with map reading with running speed without map reading directly (using simple statistics). This possibility for evaluation makes this an interesting exercise. Note that such exercise should be done in terrain with approximately equal runnability in all of the terrain – because if the runnability varies an orienteer will instinctively read the map at the places where the runnability is the best…
Exercise: Shorten map reading duration for short map reading events If you haven’t tried to shorten the duration of your short map reading events, i.e. the check/confirm type of map reading events, there might be room for shortening it by targeted training on this feature. Reducing average map reading time for these short map reading events from 3 to 2 seconds, while still getting out the same information will be very beneficial. Targeted training on reducing map reading duration for a given amount of information withdrawal is thus something which should give possibilities for improvements. The good thing about the accelerometer setup is that you can easily get statistics regarding average map reading duration, and thus it is possible to directly evaluate if you manage to improve your map reading time for the short duration map reading events. Shortening these should increase your overall time loss due to map reading.
Exercise: Direction running technique Use of map (and compass) reading characteristics is a good way to analyze your direction running (compass course) technique – especially by comparing to others – as this is a very specific task for which it should be possible to identify an optimal technique.
Exercise: Make mental image of terrain and map memory (including simplification) An excellent capacity to build the whole picture of the leg you are running, i.e. high speed translation of the map to a mental (3D) image of the terrain in your head, is an integral part of a good map reading technique. If you don’t get the information from the map quickly enough (due to lack of practice or experience), you will (1) end up using a lot more time for your long map reading events to make a mental image of the terrain and (2) have to update it more often using semi-long map reading events (which might even need to be long map reading events). Also, if you don’t manage to simplify the terrain well enough, you will probably have to update your mental image more often. Also, doing the simplification fast is an important property. Thus you should focus on different exercises geared towards making a mental image of the terrain, simplification and map memory. A few exercises: Catching Features (probably the best exercise!), Map understanding exercises, Draw simplification map, Map memory and Map memory Duo. The HeadCam/accelerometer comes into play in the evaluation of your progress. The evaluation process must go over quite long time.
Optimal map reading technique

Is there such a thing as an optimal map reading technique? Here are two excerpts written by Johan Ivarsson and Bjørnar Valstad (according to the Okansas blog) – both regarding a WOC 1999 training camp:

  • - At a training camp with the Norwegian team before the 1999 WOC, they did a simple study of the number of times each runner looked at a map on a leg. The best men in the world that year — Petter Thoresen and Bjørnar Valstad — read the map more than 20 times on a 400 meter leg. Hanne Staff, who has been the best woman the last few years, read the map 15 times, while the worst of the women in the test read the map just 5 times (written by Johan Ivarsson, taken from Okansas)
  • - An unofficial study at a national team camp in 1999 showed that those who felt they boomed the least were also those who have the highest map reading frequency. This is logical. Orienteers who read the map frequently have a better chance of making corrections before they lose time. (written by Bjørnar Valstad, according to Okansas)

I [use the HeadCam to] look at the number of map readings and the type of map reading. Mistakes always start from lack of map reading or inefficient map reading (Philippe Adamski)

Thus one might make the simple conclusion that the important thing is to have a high map reading frequency. However, as discussed above, it is probably a lot more complicated than that. Here is another cite from the Okansas blog highlighting one example of high map reading frequency not being the straight way to perfection:

  • - Trying to look at [the map] every 5 seconds caused me to look at it quickly each time, but not really get any information from it. I also felt like I wasn’t spending enough time with my head up, looking around the woods. (comment by “Samantha”, according to Okansas)

Looking at the map without getting any information from it is a direct time loss. It is therefore of course important that you optimize your map reading in such a way that each map reading event gives you some additional information which is vital for your orienteering. So the question is – how to only look at the map (or compass) when you need it? The key to that is surely to be “ahead” in your orienteering at all times – because then you will know which information you need – and you will also know when you need to look at the map. Then most of your map reading event will be of the check/confirm type – i.e. map reading events which are short. This again means that you can have a high map reading frequency if the terrain demands it (if not, there is no reason to have a high map reading frequency). In addition you need longer map reading events to get a good mental picture of the terrain.

A runners ability to make mental images of the terrain will vary significantly – and there are also personal preferences. However, as I know you as a reader want it, I stick my head out and try to define a set of “optimal” map reading characteristics here:

  • Use long map reading events in order to make a good mental picture of the terrain at appropriate intervals. Spend enough time for these map reading event to make this a simplified image of the terrain in your head. Depending on runnability and capabilities, this long map reading event might be divided into several shorter map reading events which each are part of the “puzzle”. You typically have few of these long map reading events.
  • Use semi-long map reading events to update this mental picture of the terrain. Either to better remember the mental picture or extend it to a larger area. There are typically more of these than the long ones.
  • Use short map reading events – typically with high frequency if the terrain requires it – in order to check/confirm your mental picture, add small details to your mental picture (i.e. stones). This could also include compass check events. These would typically be the map reading events used most often.
  • In order to be able to keep a majority of your map reading events short, you need to be ahead in your orienteering, so that most of your map reading events can be of the check/confirm type.

Note that this is just one suggested set of “optimal” map reading characteristics. It might not suit all runners, and there might be alternative approaches which are equally good or better. For example, an other approach could be to make an extremely detailed mental image of the terrain with the long and semi-long map reading events (this is difficult, but some my manage to train it), and thus making many of the short map reading events unnecessary. However, it you look at the top elite runners today, most of them have a technique which involves a relatively high map reading frequency.

Head movement – direction of view – focus of view

After some time [into the race], I was looking far shorter ahead, and just focused on objects in front of me. It was quite easy to see that on the [HeadCam] video (Gueorgiou)

In addition to map reading technique, another important part of the orienteering technique which may be analyzed and trained using a HeadCam is your head movement and where you look/focus in the terrain. As for analyzing map reading technique, the runner must be part of the analysis of the HeadCam video. The analysis is easier if the runner can help categorizing the focus of view, i.e. why the runner looks in a specific direction during the course. It is a tough job to characterize “each look” the same way as each map reading event is characterized, but using that type of approach in the analysis will make it easier to understand how the technique can be improved.

Characterizing the time you spend to look around in the terrain makes it possible to understand if you use enough time for all the required tasks. In particular, it is interesting to compare this characterization with specific mistakes.

I don’t try to give an optimal technique here, instead I list the trouble you get if you don’t have time to  look at all the things you need:

  • If you don’t search actively for specific features in the terrain, you will not be able to spot them early enough. Thus it will probably lead to time losses.
  • If you only actively search for specific features close to where you are, and not far ahead, you loose potential time gains due to reduced need for map reading/lower risk/higher running speed.
  • If you don’t look far ahead for steady direction, your ability to run straight is decreased.
  • If you don’t compare terrain with mental image of terrain, it will be more difficult to spot mistakes.
  • Finally, good micro route choices are one of the deciding factors deciding between gold and silver on elite level. You need to make sure you have some time left to spot the good micro route choices…

In the table below I have tried to categorize different reason for looking in specific directions, in order to make it possible to characterize what you see on the HeadCam footage.

Active focus/search for specific features How is the interplay between which direction the runner looks and the mental picture of the terrain, i.e. does the runner actively look for features which are important for the controlling the position on the map (or more accurately, the position in the mental image of the terrain). A skilled orienteer who is well ahead in the orienteering (i.e. has a mental picture of the terrain) will look for specific features (or event the control point) in order to confirm the position. Remember also to think about simplification in this regard.
Look for specific features far ahead This is actually a part of “active focus on specific features” above, but important enough to deserve its own mention in this table. Spotting features far ahead may reduce risk significantly, and also lead to reduced need for map reading and increased running speed. Ideally the runner should look for specific features far ahead based on the mental image of the terrain. This makes it easier to spot specific details. Additionally, good knowledge of the terrain type makes it possible to know which details are visible and distinct from far away – making spotting specific features far ahead even easier.
Look far ahead for steady direction Looking far ahead is important in order to keep a steady direction. Does the runner look far enough ahead – and often enough – during direction running?
General comparison of terrain with mental image of terrain Looking in all directions in order to compare the mental image of the terrain with the actual terrain is an important strategy in order to reduce time loss due to mistakes, i.e. understanding the mistake as soon as possible due to spotting features which are not part of the mental image of the terrain (or alternatively not spotting features which should be there). A map reading “check” event is then needed to check/update.
Micro route choices Looking actively for good micro route choices is an important part in moving fluently through the terrain. Does the runner look specifically for good micro route choices, or is all the available time used for map reading, looking for specific features and looking at the ground in order to run fast.

As for map reading characteristics, exercises and evaluation are important tools in order to improve. My best advice in this regard is to choose one or two of these tasks as focus areas, and focus on them on a high intensity training where you run with a HeadCam. After the training, you evaluate the HeadCam footage while comparing the footage with your memory of why you looked where. As always, there is probably most to learn in the areas for which you had time losses. Using the setup with 3DRerun or Attackpoint in part 1 you can easily analyze the areas of interest.

Orienteering flow

I have looked a lot at the way I behave in the forest [when studying the HeadCam footage] (Olav Lundanes)

The final part of this article is the “orienteering flow” – what all orienteers want to achieve. To analyze orienteering flow can best be characterized as a mental exercise – i.e. replaying the HeadCam video along with your mental replay of the run/competition/training. This is the optimum timing, composition and application of all the techniques/tools you have got. Analyzing the orienteering flow is looking at the small details – and see the purpose behind everything you do in the context of your orienteering technique and your abilities. It is the optimization of the interplay between map reading, where your mental focus is, where you look in the terrain, and how you move through the terrain.

Outlook: Part 4 – Use HeadCam as an aid in visualization/mental training

In part 4 we look at how a HeadCam can be used as an aid in visualization and/or mental training. The last section in this part – orienteering flow – was a step on the way towards part 4. Part 4 is a lot shorter than this part, but still has some interesting aspects…

Thanks to Martin Lerjen and Thierry Guergiou for inspirational discussions via e-mail. Thanks also to several elite orienteers and coaches for interviews on the topic HeadCam and o-technical training. Full interviews with these elite orienteers/coaches will be published in part 5 of this article series

Improve your Orienteering Skills using a HeadCam: Part 2

Posted by Jan Kocbach, 21 Jan 2011@5:00

In this second part of the series, we take a look at how to use a HeadCam to analyze mistakes and time losses for a given training. This is the most obvious way to use a HeadCam in your o-technical training – and also the type of analysis for which it is easiest to get results if you have the appropriate tools.

The article series “Improve your Orienteering Skills using a HeadCam” consists of the following 6 parts:

  • Part 1: Introduction and presentation of tools for analysing HeadCam footage along with GPS data
  • Part 2: Analysis 1 – Analyze mistakes/time losses from a given training/competition
  • Part 3: Analysis 2 – Improve general orienteering technique (map reading technique, where you look, where your focus is, and the orienteering flow)
  • Part 4: Analysis 3 – Use the HeadCam as an aid in visualization and/or mental training
  • Part 5: Interviews with top runners/trainers about their use of HeadCam in o-technical training
  • Part 6: Brief review of equipment

For this second part of the series, it is very advantageous to have a setup where you can play the HeadCam-video in sync with the map position, and easily change the map/video position to other spots on the course. A few such software solutions are considered in part 1.

Part 2: Analyze mistakes/time losses from a given training

It is quite amazing to see that you keep just some part of the race in mind and forget the others (Gueorgiou)

The most obvious use for a HeadCam for o-technical analysis is to use it to understand the reason for specific mistakes and/or time-losses on an orienteering course. The analysis method is very similar to a regular analysis session with traditional tools like split times and GPS data – the HeadCam footage is just an extra tool in order to help remembering what really happened, and better be able to study the details. As the procedure is so close to a regular analysis session, a complete analysis session is described in this article – including the “basic stuff”. If you want to skip the basic analysis stuff and only read about the HeadCam specific stuff, you can focus on the green tables below.

HeadCam analysis advantages

Some advantages compared to a regular analysis session of mistakes and time losses:

  • The runner can see if he really did what he thought he did ahead of a mistake/time loss
  • Specific details can be studied in much more detail in order to find the reason for the mistake (e.g. mapreading frequency/characteristics, compass use, where the athlete focuses, etc.)
  • The biggest advantage is for the coach, who gets a lot of extra information in order to understand the mistakes and time losses of the athlete compared to just looking at the GPS track/splits and talking to the athlete

Table: Overview of HeadCam analysis of specific time-losses.

HeadCam mounting Either on the runner or somebody running behind.
Target level All levels from youth until world class elite. However, for world class elite runners the other types of analysis described in the next parts of this article series are more useful.
Who performs the analysis Either the coach or the runner, although the runner must be available for discussion.
Required equipment A HeadCam is required (different HeadCams will be considered in the last part of this series). A GPS watch/GPS unit will make the analysis a lot easier/faster – and is required if a coach is going to participate in the analysis and give feedback.
Software A software tool which plays the HeadCam video synchronized with the GPS-data will make the analysis a lot easier/faster to perform (see part 1). It should also be possible to jump easily back and forth in the footage. It is also possible to do analysis without such a tool, but it is more time consuming, and you will probably not do it regularly.
Tips In addition to looking at the specific errors, it may also be instructive to look at the spots where a GPS analysis shows that there has been time loss compared to other runners due to micro route choices. In this case, it is very interesting to compare the headcam video of different runners to understand why one runner performed better than the other (for national team level runners).
Typical analysis session

This last step is actually the most important step in the analysis – don’t stop at step 3!!

A typical analysis session goes as follows

  1. Identify mistakes/time-losses by split times and/or GPS data.
  2. Position video and GPS to a position ahead of a mistake (you might have to go quite far back from the place where the time loss occured to find the real reason for the mistake/time loss).
  3. Replay the action several times, and identify the reasons for the time loss using a combination of video, GPS track and other information available about the situation. The HeadCam video may or may not help you identify the time loss – in many cases the traditional methods would have given the same answers – in other cases the HeadCam video will give you a better answer.
  4. After finding the reason for the time losses, identify how to act in the future to avoid this type of time loss. This should be defined in form of one or more tasks which can be trained on in a targeted way in future trainings/competitions – and then evaluated using a similar HeadCam analysis in the future. This last step is actually the most important step in the analysis – don’t stop at step 3!!

This is actually exactly the same as a regular analysis session, except you have more information due to  the video footage which lets you make an improved analysis. The following table lists specific things to observe and look for when performing a HeadCam video analysis:

Table: Things to look for in the analysis in order to identify the reason for time losses.

Mapreading frequency Did the athlete look at the map often enough – or was the mapreading frequency too low ahead of the time loss? In many cases the mapreading frequency and/or characteristics (see below) is one of the factors behind a loss of time/mistake. Note, however, that using an automatic map reading detection setup would give you easier accessible information than the HeadCam video for this type of analysis.
Mapreading characteristics Did the athlete look at the map long enough to perform the task at hand? I.e., mapreading to prepare a long stretch takes longer time than mapreading to check the direction. Mapreading characteristics are difficult to analyze based on video only – here the athlete has to remember as well. One important question in this regard is if the mapreading was ahead of the current position or behind the current position?  The discussion paper by Martin Lerjen on “Map reading characteristics” contains useful discussions about mapreading characteristics.
Compass/direction Did the athlete orient the map when looking at it? Did the athlete check the direction/compass at critical stages / often enough? Was the athlete accurate enough when checking the direction?
Look ahead Did the athlete keep up his head and look ahead for features?
Targeted search for features Did the athlete look for specific features (targeted head movement) based on his/her being ahead in the map reading? I.e. did the athlete know what to look for, and turn the head/glance towards the expected position of these features, or was the athlete behind in the map reading and just observed what was coming and searching for it at the map afterwards? See also discussions about visionary headstart in the discussion paper by Martin Lerjen – visionary headstart being defined as “what happens when you have a vision of the terrain to come, including specific technically significant features”.
Other reasons Other reasons which mostly could be analyzed just as well with a regular analysis. For these reasons the HeadCam video will usually not give you much extra information. Some of these are bad routechoice, no good attackpoint, bad speed adjustment, did not check control description, disturbed by other runners, bad concentration, no plan for the leg, bad distance judgement, errors on the map, control in wrong position, lost map contact, etc.

You get direct answers when you are training for a specific task (Kenneth Buch)

A typical analysis of a mistake/time loss gives a combination of these reasons (and maybe also other reasons) for the mistake/time loss. However – especially for athletes below the absolute top level – it may be possible to identify one main reason for the mistake/time loss.

The results of such an analysis of specific mistakes/time losses in a training or race should typically be just the same as for a regular analysis session with “old-fashioned” tools:

  • A list of reasons for mistakes during the race/training
  • An analysis of what the athlete has to focus on in order to avoid making this types of mistakes in the future, including a list of specific tasks to focus on in future trainings/competitions
  • A plan for how to evaluate any improvements over time

To illustrate a typical analysis session, we take a brief look at an example from the WOC 2010 Middle Qualification course (part of a leg). This particular part of the leg  was identified based on the GPS track. The analysis was done in 3DRerun by comparing the HeadCam video with the GPS-track – a video of the analysis session is shown below including highlighting some of the things identified in the analysis (sorry for bad video quality, this is just an illustration of the method made using a screen-shot program).

To the right a map of part of the area around the mistake is shown, where map reading positions observed from the video are marked using blue circles and numbers from 1 to 4.

Here is a short analysis of what happens (play the video to see this in action):

  • In the part with good runnability (towards the point marked 1 on the map sample) there are quite a few map reading events. The runner looks well ahead, and controls the heading with the compass.
  • Between point number 1 and point number 2, there is 30 seconds of running without any map reading. Note also that when leaving point number one, no accurate compass heading was taken. The reason for this period with less map reading is worse runnability (keeping up map reading frequency/accuracy in areas with poor runnabilty – or alternatively stopping to read the map – has been identified as a problem with this runner earlier as well).
  • At point 2 there is a very short map reading event – too short to check compass or to check the map in detail. Reason is still the runnability. - I did not want to loose time by stopping and therefore continued, said the runner when going through the video.
  • After point 2, the runner had planned to continue straight, but did a 60-70 degrees turn to the right. Again there is 30 seconds without mapreading, this time with a wrong heading (60-70 degrees off compared to plan).
  • At point 3, the runner finds out that something is very wrong, and reads the map several times. One can note that the runner is not very accurate when aligning the map to north.
  • At point 4, the runner finally takes the time to align the map properly to north and read the terrain properly.

Note! You can also take a look at this particular case in 3DRerun with video and GPS track in sync if you have access to the closed beta of 3DRerun (see part 1 of this article series for how to participate in the beta-testing).

I always try to watch the video quickly after the training, because if you need to make improvements it has to be already on the next training (Gueorgiou)

Results of analysis and tasks given

Based on this analysis, it looks like the main reason for the mistake is that the runner did not take the time to read the map enough in the terrain with bad runnability. You could, however, also say that the runner was not enough ahead with the orienteering in the area with good runnability – by reading ahead it might not have been necessary to read the map much in the part with bad runnability. Thus, based on this analysis, the runner got two different tasks ; (1) When in rough terrain, read the map when necessary even if that means slowing down considerably and (2) Work on moving your focus further ahead, especially when approaching rough terrain.

Evaluation of these tasks should be done both in regular analysis of trainings/competitions, and using HeadCam video in future trainings. Note that these are only two of several identified tasks required to improve the orienteering – and not all tasks are focused on in every training/competition (typically a few tasks for each training).

Outlook: Part 3 – Improve general orienteering technique

In part 3 we look beyond the analysis of a specific mistake/time-loss, and instead take a look at how to analyze and improve the general orienteering technique. Important aspects in this regard is optimizing map reading technique, where your focus is, and the orienteering flow. This type of analysis is typically geared more towards the elite orienteer.