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NAV4Adventure Navigation for Runners with George Fisher

Written by George Fisher

Image for article Red, Amber, Green... a life lesson in navigation terms

We've all had those moments in life when you have to evaluate how best to proceed, do you stop, take stock, re-plan, reassess or do you just keep running blindly on hoping it will all work out? This could apply to me so many times in my life in relation to work, relationships, health and all those daily challenges that pop up as we bob along life's trails.

We don't trust our gut instinct enough, we've become a bit detached from listening to those warning voices in our heads. Is this because we expose ourselves daily to a multitude of experiences via all the different communication mediums in our lives so we become numb, I think so. The film I watched last night was full of violent scenes, there was swearing, people hurting each other, car chases and loads of emotionally disturbing concepts. It was 'just a TV Police Drama' but it had it all! So how do we make sure we avoid the pitfall of running headlong into trouble and not taking the time to stop and take stock, listening to our gut instinct.

gut instinct in British (ɡʌt ˈɪnstɪŋkt): an instinctive feeling,
as opposed to an opinion or idea based on facts

'For all the wonders of modern technology,
there is no substitute for the gut instinct of a skilled police officer'

NAV4 Adventure are a Lake District based company that specialise in taking people into the hills, teaching them the dark art of navigation and empowering them with the tools to hopefully travel safely in unfamiliar territory with nothing more than a compass, map and some good life skills. 

I was fortunate enough to get the chance to do a Navigation for Runners course here at Fishers.

Bernie and Kim met us in the shop at 10am, we gathered in Abraham's Cafe at the top of the shop, had a nice warm brew, introduced ourselves and set about talking about what we all hoped to learn for the day. We all had different skill levels and expectations of what we hoped to achieve. Everything from ex-Army to complete novice with plans for fell races, long distance walks and solo days in the hills, we were a mixed bunch.

NAV4Adventure George Fisher Navigation for Runners

We were all given a map and compass and were then shown some great over-sized puzzle pieces that helped to explain re-entrants, contours, ridges and spurs. 

NAV4Adventure George Fisher Navigation for Runners

After a quick loo stop (Fisher's has it's own Customer Toilets) and kit check to make sure we were warm enough and ready for a day in the hills. Joe had sent us all a very handy kit list to check before we arrived. However, if you have forgotten anything, best part is, you're in an Outdoor Shop that sells everything you need. That's quite dangerous too though, a last minute spontaneous beanie was purchased before we set off!

Joe's Kit List: You will need very warm 'running' / i.e. jogging clothing, as we will not be moving at your normal running speed, as some standing around is inevitable. So, definitely bring a full set of clothing, including waterproof jacket, long leg wear, and over trousers if you have them. (I haven't checked the forecast yet but it is so unpredictable at the moment) Hat, gloves, and spare warm over jacket in a rucksack, together with and drink and some snack food would be good too.
Off-road shoes are essential and wet feet very likely.

Once outside the shop we learnt the very first lesson vital to any navigation course, or indeed life! 'Where are we now?'

So we stood, examining our maps, orientating our compasses and making sure that we were where we thought we were, basic but essential because this sets you up for the rest of your day, get this wrong and you could be having a whole different adventure and this is where things can go wrong. If you end up heading in the wrong direction from the start, you can always retrace your steps back to the start BUT even this can be hard because you weren't where you thought you were in the first place! This is just like LIFE!!

NAV4Adventure George Fisher Navigation for Runners

Taking it in turns we headed off, moving at a steady pace, this is not a fast running day. The emphasis is on making decisions while on the move at a slightly faster pace than a walk. I repeat, this is a learning day, not a fast running day. As we headed up towards Walla Crag via Springs Road and the mast we constantly stopped, checked our location, and followed 3 basic steps... Orientate your Map, Locate Features, Set your Destination. We also changed over roles leading the group. We stayed together, chatted, talked about adventures, events and plans for the future. At key junctions we stopped, located ourselves, had some help if we needed it and waited for the group to be happy to move on.

NAV4Adventure George Fisher Navigation for Runners

We practiced pacing, talked about the difference between walking and running pace, uphill vs downhill pace and how moving over difficult terrain can be calculated. We discussed hydration, nutrition, temperature control and managing our energy levels in a running or race situation. We shared stories of how we got it wrong and right, always a great learning experience to hear others lessons, even if we do go on to make them ourselves, you feel connected and can draw on their experience to help solve your own.

Red, Amber, Green... what does that mean!

So all of us got something different out of the day, mine was Red, Amber, Green! For anyone that's an orienteer this will be common place and you'll be rolling your eyes saying 'didn't you know that?' - no no I didn't but I do now! Why don't they teach this stuff at school?! So the basic rules are, if your gut instinct is literally 'screaming at you' it means you need to STOP, also known as RED! This means you need to really check where you are, orientate your map, locate yourself, identify features and set your self new targets..possibly also changing your clothing, hydrating and eating as well.. such a metaphor for life! If your gut instinct is just a little uneasy you can just slow down and do some basic checks, can you see what you should be able to, do you feel ok? Green is when you're feeling like you could take on the World, everything looks and feels amazing and NOTHING CAN STOP YOU...whooooowooooooooo!

NAV4Adventure George Fisher Navigation for Runners

So with that valuable lesson under our belts we headed off into the featureless bog at the back of Walla to locate sheepfolds and collapsed walls. We were successful and even had time for a lunch stop in a group shelter. I can't rate a group shelter highly enough, it's the most basic piece of emergency kit to carry and it's amazing how it can completely revive you if you're feeling drained by the elements and just need to re-group. By this stage we had also split into 2 groups, with Kim taking one group and Bernie the other allowing an even better ratio of teacher to student. I was with Bernie and we had lunch in his group shelter... we also had the chance to ask him a LOT of questions! Bernie's knows a lot of stuff and was amazing to talk to, he will forever be known as 4-Buff-Bernie to me, why 4 Buffs, well to find out you'll have to join the next run and ask him yourself ;-)

NAV4Adventure George Fisher Navigation for Runners

After lunch we started to head back to the shop, again stopping and checking our location as we went, especially at significant junctions, all the way doing the Red, Amber, Green test. Once we hit the lake shore of Derwentwater we were able to follow the trail easily so we put our maps and compasses away and enjoyed a nice easy jog, with chatting, back to the shop. Once back we went straight up to the cafe, collected any gear we'd left behind, ordered tea and cake then sat together and discussed our day. We talked about what we had learnt, if we achieved our expectations and just generally felt good for spending a day out with like-minded others learning some great navigation/life skills and feeling better prepared for our next adventure, whether in running or just life!

George Fisher NAV4Adventure

Thanks to Joe, Stuart and the Team from NAV4 Adventure; Kim and Bernie, for running these great courses from Fishers.

The next one is this Sunday 7th April and is fully booked but keep an eye on the Fishers Events or Facebook Page for the next one 

George Fisher NAV4Adventure

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