Three Ways to Improve Your Trail Running Navigation

Put off hitting the trails because you are not sure where you’re going? Follow these three tips from GRTW writer and self-confessed ultra running lover, Ruth Martin

Ruth out in her favourite place, on the trails

Embrace technology

There are now multiple GPS sports watches and devices on the market that allow you to create or upload routes to follow.

I’m notoriously bad at navigation and this used to put me off attempting ‘self-navigated’ running events until I started using a Suunto 9 watch.

It has a great navigation function that allows me to download GPX route files (national trails and routes usually have these types of files as well as races providing files pre-event). Once out on the trail, you can hit navigate and the watch will buzz if you stray even a few 100 metres from the downloaded route.

I can also create my own route in the Suunto app and sync it with my watch, giving me confidence to try new routes.

And if you’re worried about getting lost, I use Find My Friends App so other people can find you. My sister Hannah has rescued me loads of times, picking me up in a warm car with a hot coffee!

Ruth and sister Hannah before the Thames Meander Marathon

Map it Out

Good old-fashioned paper maps can be great for planning routes and providing useful visualisation. But they’re not practical to run with.

Try using apps like OutdoorGPS (GRTW chosen app of choice for planning their Run Wild Retreats) and Komoot.

As well as allowing you to plan routes, you can follow other people’s pre-planned and tested versions. Plus you can use them even when you don’t have GPS.

Be adventurous; you’re never truly lost

Girls Run the World founder, Rachael exploring on a rainy run packing adventure

Embrace the opportunity to get a little bit lost, and you’ll be amazed at what you can discover. More often that not, if you go off route, you’ll never be far from assistance, a way to find your way back or somewhere that offers a hot cup of tea.

Ready to take on the trails? Membership to our all-in-one coached athlete digital platform starting at just £5.19 per week, gives you access to all our our expertly created training plans and programmes, created to give you the best training experience and success at your trail running events.

Or join GRTW on the trails to learn trail technique, connect with other women and escape by joining us on one of our trail running retreats.