Taking it Further..

So - you've attended a couple of events, enjoyed them, and now want to improve your performance? Ideas to consider include:

Join your local club: it helps you get to know people who can be asked for advice (including the club coaches) and enables you to participate in training sessions with the club or in adjacent East Anglian regions.

Look at specialised kit: when you start taking short-cuts off paths you'll need some light-weight gaiters and a compass which is stable when you're running, then you might find it more convenient to have you own dibber, and so on. The main suppliers of orienteering kit are:

Ultrasport

Compass Point

SPORTident

Speed up your map reading: learn the symbols used, both for maps and for pictorial control descriptions, so that you don't have to stop to work them out during an event. There are various websites which offer online quizzes: one of them is to be found here.

Look at ways of obtaining some feedback on your performance during each event. It may be as simple as discussing your route choices with others at the end of your course (the SuffOC Helpdesk people and/or coaches will be pleased to offer advice), or you may find someone who will act as a mentor to enable you to progress from "beginner" to "improver" and beyond. Comparing your split times with others on the same course, e.g. by using the Splitsbrowser graphs (links on the Results pages), helps you see where you took a less-than-ideal route, and, if you wear a GPS running watch, you can use the track to identify your exact route. The track file will need to be uploaded onto an orienteering map; the Routegadget website enables you to do this, or you can use software such as QuickRoute to place your route onto a scanned copy of your own event map on your PC. The results can be quite entertaining, but hopefully the "I can't believe I did that" moments will decrease as you become more experienced.

Practise the compass skills you need for the more technically-demanding courses. There are a number of permanent orienteering courses set up in country parks and in visitor areas of forests: the local ones are listed here. The maps available for purchase or download will give examples of possible routes and guidelines for times of year when it might be best not to disturb the undergrowth, e.g. during the bird breeding season.

Improve your fitness level: training with a running club and/or taking part in one of the local 5K parkruns can be enjoyable methods to improve your stamina and speed. The main Suffolk running clubs are listed here and details of the parkrun events can be found here.

Read as much as you can: Orienteering by Carol McNeill (Crowood Sports Guides, 2010) ISBN: 978-1847972064 is a popular, comprehensive guide to the sport.