Navigation coaching

If there is one thing that stumps adventure racers – old and new – it’s navigation. A key ingredient of adventure racing, it’s the most  crucial discipline and the one most neglected in training.

Navigation too is needed by trail runners. As a trail runner wrote in an email “I am trying to find someone to run a course on GPS and map navigation – aimed at trail runners who do events where they have to navigate for themselves. We were in the Berg this past weekend and had a few mishaps with runners not able to locate beacons”.


Please assemble from friends (minimum 6 people) and contact Lisa directly to propose dates that you are all available. She will build the course around your availability. She is available over the December holidays.

Navigation Coaching

For adventure racing, orienteering and trail running

NOTE: These sessions are incorporated in the one-day course.

  • Session 1: Map orientation, map familiarity (colours and symbols), thumbing-and-folding, pacing
  • Session 2: Map orientation, scale and proportion, Lisa’s ‘purple circles’ (intro)
  • Session 3: Map orientation, ‘purple circles’ (self) and route choice (intro)
  • Session 4: What do you see and compass use (orientation and direction of travel)
  • Session 5: Course running (all invited) (incl. route tracking feedback)
  • Session 6: Understanding contour lines
  • Session 7: (indoor, theory session) Understanding topographical maps (true vs magnetic, colours and symbols, prepping maps) – for adventure racers
  • Session 8: The great outdoors – putting it all together


Payment in advance of session by EFT. No refunds. All materials (take-home maps, compasses (to borrow), activity sheets) provided unless specified. Each session is followed up with an email to remind you of what you have learned. Other experienced coaches may be pulled in to assist – depending on numbers of participants per session.

Attendance at orienteering events is not compulsory but they are (very) highly recommended.

Sessions 1 to 8 have been created to be progressive, building on what you have learned.

I look forward to helping you to become an efficient and capable navigator.


About Lisa de Speville

Lisa has been orienteering, adventure racing and trail running for almost 15 years. She has navigated in adventure racing since she started the sport (1999) and her favourite orienteering variation is the time-limited, point-score rogaining events (she has done two international 24-hour events – Estonia and Ireland). Lisa organises short, urban events based on this format – Metrogaine Jo’burg.

Lisa has been teaching map and navigation skills to adventure racers since 2002 and in this time she has trained over 800 adults and teenagers. She heads up the South Africa Orienteering Federation’s school sport development programme, writing coaching material for schools. Between October 2012 and September 2013 Lisa completed her British Orienteering Federation Level 2 coaching qualification. She doesn’t go anywhere without a map.

Feedback from participants on Lisa’s most recent courses (April, May and November 2013)

A note from Jess on Session #1:

Thanks so much for yesterday! 🙂 learnt a lot and its amazing what a difference the simpler things that you can do can make (things I didn’t know before).

An email from Kim:

I have dabbled a little in orienteering, but you have made a whole lot of stuff a lot clearer for me. I especially enjoyed the compass work (after I figured out how to use a compass, thanks for this!) & I enjoyed the tasks you made us do, the ‘purple circle’ tasks were very beneficial too.

Another task I REALLY enjoyed was when we had to memorise the maps & go off in search of our cones. This was so much fun & showed us just how much we ‘assume’ along the way. Funny how I ‘knew exactly’ where the next cone was only to be totally surprised when I got there! You explained everything very well & were super patient with all of us.

The Kloofendal orienteering was the toughest for me, but I managed to find all the checkpoints on my own, except the last one where myself & Mike teamed up but still could not find it!

I probably found the compass work to be the most beneficial to me, purely because this was something I have never attempted before. – KIM

And feedback from Trudey:

I have been on another training course in the past and I must be honest did not feel I learnt much – was not really ‘user friendly’ – if I can call it that.

I honestly learnt a lot on your course – what truly worked for me was the following:

· Keeping your finger on your position at all times when travelling

· PURPLE CIRCLES RULE!! Thanks for that.

· Contour lines ie: saddle vs gully etc – now I can identify them

· Advantage of going to the highest point to getter a ‘clearer picture’

· The whole compass thing – total understanding & wow, what a difference

I really enjoyed every week of training with you – you not only made it informative but fun too.

From Matthew:

Just a quick note to say that I thought your course was superb. You are a born teacher.

I didn’t get to chat to you on Saturday because I had to leave quite quickly. But I actually found the activity rather difficult – I think my biggest problem was I had no idea how to use the compass (that’s what happens when you miss sessions!).

All in all I can see the key is experience!

A note from Wim:

Thank you for a most enjoyable course. After five weeks I feel that I really have learnt a lot but still need a lot of practice to become anywhere near competent. When I started, I didn’t know how much I didn’t know and I thought I knew a lot, as I had done a bit of mapping and compass reading in my boy-scout days (about 53-years ago).

As far as I’m concerned, I enjoyed every week and every activity because you have such a lovely way of sharing your enthusiasm of the sport. I really messed up where we had to memorise the map and go to the next control. It seemed so simple and so didn’t take any notice of any landmarks or surroundings. I thought I would be able to run straight to the point. Lesson learnt.

I don’t think there is any other course available that can teach so much and be so enjoyable.