Last night I had started to think about what I would write about today. Thankfully I held off putting my ideas down onto paper straight away as it would have required a large re-write!
Running Tech – how much do you trust it?
So let me explain what happened.
I had decided I was going to go completely off-road in my run today. When you’re on roads, there’s a lot of obvious clues as to whether you’re going the right way e.g. street names. Although I consulted my maps, my navigation by map whilst running is still somewhat ‘work in progress’. So I thought I’d work out a route, have a tech back-up plan and then could write about how well it worked.
Or in today’s case, how well it didn’t work.
My approach was two-pronged. I installed an app on my watch called dwMap which could store a route and thus I could cross check that with my own navigation skills, which were the other part of the approach. I studied the route on Google Maps before digging out my local Ordinance Survey map and trying to find the trails on there. I manged but it wasn’t as clear as I hoped. Still at least they seemed to exist, which was a good start!
I input the route on the computer, downloaded it to my Garmin 630 (dwMap told me about how wonderfully compatible the watch was) and went to bed.
This is what the route looked like. Remember this, we’ll play compare and contrast later:
Off for my run. Tech, can you hear me?
I finished my last morning job up in Strines where I’ve started running recently. I realised I’d forgotten my running top, so in the end swapped my boots over for trail shoes and ran in my work kit. One might call it active advertising……
I fired up the IQ app on my Garmin and the route appeared.
Then the Garmin watch decided to reboot itself instead. Just what you want to see if that was to be the only guide you had. Thankfully I don’t trust anything tech enough to rely on it!
In a way, I wasn’t fussed as I had done my prep and had my map with me. I also knew the first part of the route was clearly marked and figured if things went less clear then I’d just do an out and back route instead of the loop. So I told the Garmin to just record the run and thought I’d take my mobile phone along too so I could view the ‘live’ map on there.
The first section of the route was a climb out of the valley and on to the top of the hill to Mellor Cross. As expected the footpaths were clear and it wasn’t long before I was stood beneath the cross. Or the rather large letter ‘T’ that it was today having lost the top section.
Fun and giggles with Google Maps
Just for fun and giggles I fired up Google Maps on the phone to confirm the location (there was no doubt). Except Google Maps didn’t have the first clue where I was. This despite full mobile signal. In fact it showed me somewhere I definitely knew I wasn’t. If my faith in tech hadn’t already drained out when I was at the car, it had done by now!
So instead I went for self-navigation. The footpath continued on ahead and I knew of a number of ‘checking points’ to find. It actually was straightforward in the most part. And entailed running through fields of snow.
After a couple of route queries I found myself on a decent road next to a trail. I wasn’t 100% sure which to go on and foolishly looked at Google Maps. The GPS had me floating aimlessly and miles away from the position I knew I was in. At least with the map in front of me I knew to go on the trail.
Common sense. Better with than without!
The stupid thing was I knew I needed to come past a static caravan park. The sign to which was sited directly in front of me! Oh well!!!
With the golf course on my left (not that you could tell as it was completely covered in the white stuff) I continued downhill, only having to slightly retrace my steps where the path split onto two levels. The stile onto the footpath I needed was on the lower level which would have involved me clambering down a wall which I didn’t fancy my chances with!
Crossing another snow-covered field led me to a steeper trail which joined the bridleway I needed to get me back to the car.
I stopped my watch as I got to the car and all was uploaded to Strava. I say all, but the first mile of the route was missing, with just a flat line during that first climb before it clearly woke up and started looking for satellites.
A lesson learned!
I really enjoyed the run today and it really highlighted how risky it would be to be completely reliant on tech. It’s good when it works, but completely useless when it doesn’t!