Running without GPS

I’ve been in a bit of a running rut lately. 

Every Sunday, I start my fitness week by completing a 5k circular route from my flat, round a park and back, and despite me still finding 5k to be a challenge it’s starting to get really boring. I’ve even been skipping runs in favour of an extra rest day… I know, I’m ashamed!

So you’ll no doubt share the surprise I felt when yesterday, completely by accident, on my first run in more than two weeks, I pretty much ran 10k. I say “pretty much”, because I did stop to walk up a few steep hills and twice to ask for directions… I should explain!

My usual Saturday morning yoga class was cancelled, so I decided to switch up my running day (as I’ve said before, what’s life without a little exercise whimsy?) I was also keen to take my new fitness tracker for a test run, and have a nose around an area Mr Rinroad and I have been daydreaming about moving to. So, I donned my trainers, left my phone (and my music) at home and decided to try just running wherever I fancied without GPS.

Let me tell you now, if you ever get stuck in a running rut, running without GPS is such a great way to switch things up again.

Not only did I double my usual mileage (mostly because I had no idea where I was going!) I stumbled across a whole range of nearby running routes I didn’t even know existed! The best one? A network of picturesque woodland trails through a local nature reserve that I had no idea was there (I’ve lived in the area for more than four years, and it’s literally just streets away).

And then there’s the freedom that comes with running without a route plan or a mileage constraint – so exhilarating! I’m convinced that if I’d set out to run 10k on a pre-planned route I would never have got more than halfway. Obviously while I was running I knew I’d gone further than usual, but I was so curious to see what was around the next corner, I just had to keep going. And then of course, it became something of a navigational challenge – how well did I really know my local area? Could I find my way home without needing to reference a map?

On that last question, it turns out I couldn’t – but that brings me nicely on to some of the pitfalls I discovered can accompany running without GPS!

I ended up meeting Mr Rinroad on the way back home, who was on the verge of calling out a search party for me (I’m  a pretty slow runner, so I’d been gone for more than an hour!) I also narrowly escaped a soaking having set off in bright sunshine and returned in ominous grey cloud cover. I had to stop to ask for directions twice (the second time I also had to stop myself asking the poor lady whose gardening I’d just interrupted if I could pop in for a glass of water!) And I had to break into an uncomfortable sprint pretty much every time I passed a park where there were dogs off their leads (why do dogs always feel the need to chase me when I’m running?!)

So, if you’re looking for tips on running without GPS, here are my top five:

  1. Do  take a bottle of water with you – you have no idea how long you’ll be out for and you don’t want to risk becoming dehydrated.
  2. Don’t do what I did and leave your mobile phone at home – switch it off while you’re running if you don’t want to use GPS, but use it to let someone know where you are… you’ll be grateful you have it handy if you get so lost you need someone to come and pick you up!
  3. Do plan ahead a little – give the weather forecast a check before you head out so you know if a running jacket’s needed.
  4. Don’t focus on distance or mileage – just focus on taking in the views, exploring your local area and enjoying getting some exercise in the great outdoors.
  5. Do walk if you have to – I’m all for pushing yourself as hard as you can on a run, but if you’re feeling tired or your muscle aches turn from soreness to pain, just take a break… believe me, you don’t want to injure yourself!

Obviously, it goes without saying that I’m not a running expert (my tips are purely anecdotal!) so if you’re not sure about running without GPS, I’d definitely have a word with a professional before you head out. Otherwise, happy running – and definitely let me know what you discover!

Posted in: Rinroad fitness