Developing a plan for orienteering fitness can be a bit daunting.  No matter how high or low your natural talent altitude may take you, you are a candidate for improvement.  If you need a blueprint or guidelines to draw from, this page is one possibility.  Before you get started, here are a couple of recommendations:

  1. Find a partner(s).  Friends make friends exercise.  Go alone and risk finding excuses for yourself.  The power of the team is a real phenomenon you should embrace.
  2. If you’re starting a program, increase time and intensity slowly.  Follow the rule of no more than 10% increase per week.  Doing so will allow proper time for bone density, heart elasticity, and stabilizing muscles and tendons to adapt.  Adaptation takes time and reduces injury likelihood.  Be patient.
  3. Exercise everyday.  Everyday.  A rigid structure is great, but the simple NFL model of “Play 60” is a great metaphor.  This “child at play” model should be part of your lifestyle if at all possible.  Build to 60 minutes if needed over a month.
  4. Find ways to reliably do more than running.  Weights, cross training, and games in general should be treated as important for foundational development.  As you become more focused on a particular orienteering event, then adjust your focus towards (forest) running as you approach that event.
  5. Inertia from a workout can carry you forward in the fitness cycle for a few days.  However, taking approximately 3 days off afterwards will send you right back where you came from.  Avoid excessive time off unless you want to reset gains.
  6. Compete weekly.  Find ways to really compete.  Ideally, no less than once a week.  Competition makes you work harder than you otherwise would have.  These milestone events are super-necessary to slowly get better.  Follow Pete Carrols motto of “always compete”.  The truth is, you are always competing one way or another.  Might as well compete to win rather than roll-over and let someone else have an easy victory.  Stay hard!  Accept defeat, not lack of effort.
  7. Avoid injury from stupid behaviors.  However, when they do happen, continue to exercise using the remaining healthy systems.  Going stagnant and losing hard-earned fitness gains will wreck your psychic state.  Guard against that.  Your biggest opponent is yourself.  Never give that quitting inner voice a microphone to speak from.

Now…here is a plan to get you from the sidelines to the finish line on a 90 minute orienteering race.

Big Picture Concept:

Phase 1:  Making it daily

Phase 2: Building a foundation

Phase 3: Expanding the comfort zone

Phase 4: Getting Competition Fit

Phase 5: Fitness Peaking