Friday, 25 January 2008


I am trying to increase the volume of training that I am doing at the moment. Of course I am doing this very carefully and slowly adding a bit at a time. One way I decided to do this was by adding in some extra loops when I am running home from work. This run currently takes me just over 30 minutes so adding in a bit of extra distance will give me a reasonable length run.

So while I was at work I checked out my route on Google Maps and planned a nice loop that took me off the main road I normally follow and around the edge of a park. Hopefully this should be really nice in the summer when I can run through the park, but it is all dark and locked up by the time I go past there at the moment. With the route memorised I got changed and off I went.

When I got to the park I turned off my normal route and set off into new territory. Everything was going really well and it was nice to be off the main route that I normally take which can be quite busy in the evenings. I turned right at the end of the park into the correct road and headed along it at a good speed feeling fit and strong despite the swim and run from the morning. With the benefit of hindsight I now know this is where I went wrong. Turn right, then right straight away, then follow the road was the correct route. Turn right, then follow the road was wrong.

Of course I didn't know that at the time, so I just carried on plodding along the road. After a while, even with my sense of direction, I started to figure out that something wasn't quite right. I knew I wouldn't be right by the park for this bit but I should be back next to it by now. Keep going for a bit longer I thought then see if you can figure out where you are. Eventually I hit a main road where there just shouldn't have been one. I ran about 50m one way then decided to go a different way instead. If my internal compass was correct I should quickly be back on the main road that is my normal route home and then everything would be fine.

After running another km I still wasn't where I thought I should be so it was time for desperate measures. Now was the time to resort to sat-nav. I use a Garmin Forerunner while I am training which is great for pacing and distance information during the run. It is also good for reviewing where you have been, post-run. Navigation is not it's strong point though. It has no maps, or street plans, and can't plan a route for you. It can however store way-points and show you the direction and distance to these stored points. One of the way-points I have stored is the front door of my digs in London. So I switch to map mode and start zooming in to see where the end of my track is in relation to home. I zoom in, and zoom in, and zoom in. Until I realise that the end of my track, where I am now, is about 200m from the flat and I am heading straight for it, yet I don't recognise where I am at all.

Trusting to technology I carry on down the road and within 50m I start to recognise shops and buildings and I know where I am. The Garmin was right. My wonderful sense of direction had brought me straight where I wanted to be. Yes, I know I was actually trying to get back to the main road and I wasn't anywhere near where I thought I was but I believe my unerring sense of direction listened to my subconscious telling it where I really wanted to get to and it ignored my conscious mind that was trying to find the main road. The alternative is that I have a terrible sense of direction and that just can't be true since I am, after all, a man.

1 comment:

Karen said...

Hi Mike - Had the same kind of problem on my bike on Sunday! Lucky for me my garmin also saw me home. You can load courses on to the garmin - I've got memory map recently and and am trying to work out how to convert an MMO to an garmin course input - I know it can be done but just haven't got round to it yet! Hopefully that'll stop me getting lost in the countryside again!!