NAVIGATION COURSEs FOR RUNNERS
Every detail of these courses have been carefully thought through to transform your mountain navigation skills, so you can run further, faster and safer. Non-waymarked hill races like Jura & Slioch, mountain marathons, and your own hill running all demand the same fast & light approach to navigation. I teach with custom made maps & the latest GPS technology, and give you opportunities to navigate on your own or in pairs.
What will I learn during this course?
We start off with the basics of navigation:
- Learning the language of the map - symbols & scales
- Choosing a suitable objective and planning your route
- How to keep the map "the right way round"
- Simpler decisions - which way at junctions, uphill / downhill
- Trickier decisions - cutting corners, heading away from paths
- How to get the most out of your compass
- How to handle cloud, mist, or darkness
- How to sort yourself out if you get lost
We then move on to skills which are specific to runners. The biggest difference to walking is that you use the map and compass "on the fly", multi-tasking your running and navigation. Everything is about planning and simplification. You'll learn to recognise when you are running too fast and about to make a big mistake. In particular we look at route choice in lots of detail, as this is a doubly important skill for hill running.
Finally there are competition and race skills. This will vary from course to course depending on your particular aspirations. It could be mountain marathons, hill races or adventure races. I have worked with Harvey Maps to produce custom mapping to replicate common race scenarios in the hills around Inverness. If you're entering Mountain Marathons in the more competitive running classes such as OMM A, B or Long / Medium Score this is perfect for you.
What equipment do I need?
This course is inevitably quite a tricky combination of some running with some standing still, so think very carefully about your clothing. I suggest the following:
- Off-road running shoes with a good deep tread
- Long running tights or shorts if the weather is really warm - but long trousers usually best
- Thermal wicking top(s)
- Waterproof jacket and trousers (lightweight running-specific waterproofs are ideal but not essential)
- Synthetic insulating top or fleece that you can easily take on and off
- Warm hat, neck tube and gloves
- You'll need a small pack or running vest that you can pack everthing into. Around 10-15 litres is ideal.
- Packed lunch & drink
- Small personal first aid kit
- Headtorch. Popular models include the Petzl Myo, Petzl Reactik, LED Lenser MH10, Black Diamond Storm, Black Diamond Icon, Alpkit Quark & Alpkit Prism.
- Waterproof map case, ideally an "Ortlieb" case. This is the only brand of waterproof case which works really well in all conditions. It'll last you a lifetime. I find the A5 size best for running with.
- Compass, ideally a Silva "Expedition 4" compass. This specific compass is the only model currently available in the UK which has measuring scales ("romers") for 1:25000, 1:40000 (Harvey Maps / BMC Mountain Maps) and 1:50000.
- A digital watch with a stopwatch function. If you've got a GPS running watch that will be great, but you can alsu just use a basic CAsio likie the F-91W which retails at just £9.99. This is the watch I use year-round for hillwalking and it's bombproof.
How fit and experienced do I need to be?
I have found two fitness guidelines which work well for this course. Firstly, that you should be able to complete a flat 5km run (such as your local Park Run) in around 30 minutes. Secondly, you should be able to complete a hilly 10km trail running route.
I emphasize that this is a course all about learning, and no one learns anything if they are on the brink of collapse. I'm not going to be beasting you up and down hill reps through rough heather! Whilst we will spend a lot of time running as a group, there will also be plenty of exercises where you go off solo or in pairs and adjust your pace accordingly.
If you're really concerned about your fitness level, you might consider the Beginners course which is aimed at both runners and hillwalkers - the basics are the same, but that course is all done at walking pace wearing walking clothes and equipment.
Where will the course take place?
You only need to get yourself to Inverness, which has easy transport links by air, rail and road (see my Travel page). The city is surrounded by hills which are perfect for learning to navigate. The actual hills we visit change from course to course, but we never need to drive for more than 30 minutes. It would be rare for my courses to include an ascent of a major summit - that's for you to go and do in your own time afterwards! We often start off with some exercises using orienteering maps in the local forests.
What are the timings for the course?
We meet at 0900 at Whin Park. You can either walk or drive there (there is plenty of free parking). We'll have a tea or coffee, get to know each other and set up the course. We'll then head out to the nearby forests and hill surrounding Inverness. No two courses are the same so the exact venue will depend on the group, the weather, and mountain conditions. We'll finish up at 1700.
If you're planning to stay in the Highlands after the course, I'll gladly spend some extra time at the end of the course helping you to plan the next stage of your adventure. We can look at the weather forecast and think about the hillwalks which will help you to build on what you've just learned.
Where does the course take place?
My courses are convenient because we access great mountain terrain but you only need to get to Inverness, which has easy transport links by air, rail and road (see my Travel page). We meet at Inverness Leisure which is in Bught Park, in the middle of town.
The actual hills we visit change from course to course, but we never need to drive for more than 30 minutes. It would be rare for my courses to include an ascent of a major summit - that's for you to go and do in your own time afterwards! The unique thing about my courses is that you only need to get to Inverness, which has easy transport links by air, rail and road (see my Travel page).
How much does this course cost?
This course costs £80.
You need to arrange your own travel, accommodation and food for the whole course.
You need to bring all your own clothing and kit - see separate question on equipment. I do provide all the maps, so no need to bring your own unless you want to.
A 10% discount is available for members of Mountaineering Scotland, Scottish Hill Running & the British Mountaineering Council.
I can part-fund a limited number of places each year for participants who are either unwaged or on low income. If you would like to attend one of my courses and feel that you fit one of these criteria, please email me directly before going through the booking process.