# Same old same old

Same old, same old, doesn't make for change 

By Julia Moore

I was lucky enough to be invited with a few others on a September Saturday to join in some training organised by Renee. It was for some us members that were not in the junior category but had been hanging around for a while. Some had been stuck on a plateau for some time, stalling on progress despite continuing to do 'all of the right things'.
Renee set 3 exercises, the first was looking at detail, the second was to simplify and the third was to use our “knowledge”. It was like a weekend extreme cut down of London taxi drivers “knowledge' that takes years. We had two exercises, over two hours and then put it all in practice. Renee had high aspirations for all of us.

Being paired with one coach to one or two trainees in each group did the trick. All we had to do, was just turn up with our compass, legs, brain, and most importantly an openness to learn.

I was paired with Mike Beveridge as my coach, and for me it felt like being under the surveillance of a behavioural scientist. Mike was watching what I noticed (or didn't) and it involved a lot of self-reappraisal on what I am actually seeing. We started labelling things, describing your current situation etc. Most people think this doesn't help at all, but actually it gets emotions out of the way and uses a different part of the brain, just the factual one. Often my emotions, of what others are doing or my oxygen deprived running often gets in the way of just noticing what is there. Articulating the landscape distances yourself from your own head and the crazy messes it can make. Describing in detail where we were and what we could see, helped us to just use the map and landscape. It always sounds easy, but Renee's exercise, got the rational part of the brain using the map properly.

What I enjoyed in the next stage with Mike was the 'appraisal' stage. With this exercise Renee was coaching us to assess the way we are going to approach each leg by using simplification. This is where I could see what I would normally do - which is too often run fast without seeing the important stuff that would lead me to a control. Mike pointed out how I must find the places where it is best to run, and where it isn't. Some of you know this as the red/green traffic lights and thinking before running. Think about the best time to look at the map in detail – just away and out of a control. This is because you have already planned attack and exit beforehand – yeh right – must do it!. It was all about looking at things differently and drawing out alternative actions, so you can see what is best for your own situation, using the evidence you have on the map. For me it is about saving some energy and time for when I need it. This should sound like therapy for everyone about now...and what we all need.

At the end of the day, we used our 'knowledge'. This was about talking through each stage of the training and what had actually 'worked' for each control. It was about detailing what was there and finding the best alternative. Only one of my actions worked better than Mike's, on the whole Mike had a new way of looking at things, based on (yes, of course!) purely what was on the map. It is not what I actually 'felt' like I wanted to do, it was about really connecting those marks on paper to the landscape and getting into a cartographers mindset.

Afterwards and completely unrelated, Jenny shared an observation about how her daughter Lauren is studying in a group. They are all teaching, sharing knowledge, spending lots of time talking about their study with each other and filling in gaps for each other. It made me think that training for me, may just be pairing up more often to discuss, scrutinise, and be specific about the decisions made. So if I am heading your way with a map you will now know I need help to recognise what decisions I have just made and what I actually did - they are two very different things. And I think this is better to do this straight after any event as I forget. In the past, I have felt like I am stupid, or not knowing what to do, and therefore I do not use the map properly. I have not gone over what I have done in races detail to see if anything worked in a particular way or focussed on a particular ordeal to see if there was a way to perform better. I used de-briefing for big events or at work and for adventure races – and now I know I must apply it here to get any better.

So the take out? That social 'geek map' time has become a bit more important. Get out your map and I'll show you mine – I might have to get a lot more technical about it.

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