Let's Start Well

training Alasdair

Alasdair Good results come from good performances, and good performances come from being focused and in the moment. When you are in the moment you do everything you have practised. There are many ways you can work on this: building up your fitness, improving your orienteering techniques, refining your mental routines to cope well in pressure situations, and so on. Let's just take an example of something you may have given little thought to: your race day routine.

If you want to improve your chance of a good result, it's not just how you will find the controls out on the course, it also involves how you will prepare for the race and feel that you are ready to start well. Developing this as a routine makes it happen more easily.


  • Have a think about what works well for you before a race. Do you need lots of time to change and prepare yourself? Do you like to eat or go to the bathroom at a certain time? How do you check you have everything you need?
  • Once you know what works for you try to replicate this before races and training to get yourself used to it.


  • The point of a warm up is to get you ready to race. This means that you have to find something that works best for YOU, and that you trust. It has to get you in the right physical and mental state for YOU before you start.
  • Once you have a warm-up routine that you like, repeating it before races and training will get you in the best place to race.

Start Lane

  • What do you like to think about in the start lane? What gets your thoughts in the right place so that you are prepared to orienteer well?
  • Like having a warm up routine, having a routine of what you think about in the start lane can help you get to be ready to orienteer.

You can practice these routines by recreating the race conditions (start times, call-ups, etc.) in training exercises, or by using orienteering competitions that are less important to you. This way when a more important race comes along you will be doing all the things that you have practiced and you are good at.

A note from On The Red Line editorial:

Following on from Alasdair's article, you could:

  1. Put a note on your calendar by your next race to a) manage your start routine and b) review how that went afterwards
  2. Reinforce the reading by watching a 10 minute video showing the concentration at the start of a race of a previous European Championships.

Concentration - International athletes starting

As a side benefit, it includes close-ups of many of the best-known names in international orienteering, names you will no doubt see in On The Red Line as the competition season unfolds.

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