Do Your Own Navigation

Susan Donnelly at a 100-mile race with yellow flagging

A few weeks ago, at the Three Days of Syllamo stage race, the guy a distance ahead of me on Sunday’s course ran straight into a section trail that didn’t look right. 

I stopped. Nothing definite - just a medium branch kind of blocking the trail and the sides a shade too overgrown.

I’d run this race before and knew the trails we usually used, but the course changed every year. We'd taken a sharp left up the rocks here before but that might not be right in today’s race.

And there wasn’t any yellow ribbon flagging to help. Flagging was only at turns.

I yelled at the guy, who turned around, and as I took the left turn to investigate, two other guys came up from behind.

I wasn’t sure, but it looked like the better of the two options so I decided to give it a try.

All three guys followed, no questions asked.

Five minutes later, still no yellow. We’d done this trail on Friday, so seeing footprints was unreliable. Maybe I’d missed something.

I stopped and waited for one of the guys to get within hearing distance and yelled, “Do you think this is the right way?

He yelled back without missing a step, “We assumed you knew the course!”

Blindly following someone else is a problem.

I get it. There are so many ways to doubt yourself in an ultra - pace, food, hydration, etc. - that it can be a relief to turn a task like navigation over to someone else and cruise along for a while.z

Besides, it seems smart to follow someone else who might know the course better than you. Except that it isn’t.

It’s bad race strategy and an equally bad life strategy.

Part of being the badass runner you’re meant to be is doing your own navigation. 

Part of being the badass human you’re meant to be is doing your own life navigation

In running and life, trusting someone else’s navigation above your own sends a big, hairy vote of “no confidence” to yourself and cements any self doubt.

Do it enough and it becomes a habit that keeps you dependent on others around you.  

Luckily, the fix is simple - do you own navigation.

Make your own choices. Avoiding convenient assumptions. Think beyond the obvious. And of course, stay out of autopilot mode!

Your navigation - in running and life - isn’t anyone else’s job, it’s yours. it’s too important to delegate and you can’t rely on others to make the right decisions for you anyway..

So pay attention to where you’re going and decide for yourself what’s right and what isn’t.

Because badass humans like you follow their own navigation.

Susan Donnelly’s signature

P.S. - My popular Pick My Brain sessions are back! These single, one-hour, 1:1 sessions are super easy to schedule and won't break the bank. All in one place - answers, how-to advice, help making a decision, trouble-shooting a problem, confidence boost before a race or a sounding board - get quick, focused help where you need it!