O Log - False Dilemma

[10-Nov-03] 

    Sometimes you are fortunate enough to see ways to improve. Not alot, perhaps 30-60 seconds a race once in awhile, but we take what we can get. Perhaps I've been subjecting myself to false dilemma.

    In philosophy and logic, false dilemma is simply the idea of being presented with some choices, and (falsely) assuming they are the only choices, hemming and hawing over which one to choose. For example, the gamemaster may say -- your choices are to go left, right, or straight. Victims of false dilemma will consider these three possibilities, no matter how evil they all seem, eventually taking the lesser of evils, without ever saying -- what about going back the way I came? Might not be the best thing to do, but at least let me think about it. I imagine that in businessspeak, people may call this "thinking outside the box".

    So, I'm presented with the following route choice problem in yesterday's race --

    (Apparently) I've trained myself to think of the straightish route, and the around on linear features route. But both of these choices seemed so evil that I thought about it some more, and found the compromise of linear feature for a while, then straightish, which may have been the best route. My considered routes in blue, actual route in red --

    Even if it wasn't the best route, it seems like a breakthru to think of more than the straight route and the around on linear route. The false dilemma is that I only have tended to consider those two choices. I feel sorta stupid, for chrissakes I've been doing this for five years now. Like what is the big deal with seeing something like this, but (it seems) its something I've been bad at. Had I chosen the road run, I would have corrected the route to go over the hill on the fly, at the arrow, where it is clearly better (for someone like me, a weak flat road runner, yet relatively strong hill runner), but that would not have helped had I chosen the (presumably) slower straightish route. The around the hill linear feature run seems less bad when considered in the whole leg, as opposed to as considered from the arrow. That is why it was viable in my mind for a while. There is something valuable here in deconstructing the leg and analyzing it part by part.

    This illustrates a flaw with my technique, which is basically to consider straight, then look for a trail run around alternative. I realise I have programmed myself to look for just these two alternatives, and not a mix and match approach, or look for more than two choices. I've been forcing false dilemma on myself. (I didn't see the right trail run until now; I don't think its better, but it would have been nice to be aware of it. The problem is that it is a fourth choice).

    It cost me 6-12 seconds to think about this at the time. It is not clear whether or not I made a profit on this investment. I generally do not dawdle at controls, and don't intend to start doing so. OTOH, it will be important to train myself to find a way to scan for all the possible routes. How on earth do elites do this? My guess is that it is done by reading ahead, a glaring weakness in my game, as I'm happy just to find controls. I guess its time to grow up and learn to read ahead while still maintaining contact.

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