Tip #34 – Navigation – Judging walking speed

By 23rd November 2018 Resources, Tips

Judging Walking Speed

Know your speed. This cryptic remark has nothing to do with driving in built-up areas and getting speeding tickets. Rather, I’m referring to judging your walking speed as an aid to navigation. A key navigational skill is to know how far you have walked, and apart from the more ‘scientific’ techniques (such as accurate timing and pacing), it’s well worth having an intuitive feel for how fast one is walking.

One way of making ourselves more conscious of our approximate walking speed is to walk a set distance at a given speed and learn how this ‘feels’ to our body – stride, pace, energy expenditure, breathing, heart rate and so on. This exercise is always included in my introductory navigation courses, so some of you may recognise it.

To calibrate your own internal body ‘speedometer’, find a measured 100m such as an athletics track (or measure it out yourself using your pacing skills), and then do work out how long 100m would take you to cover if you were walking at 3km/h, 4km/h and 5km/h. You should get the following answers:

  • 100m @ 3km/h – 2 minutes
  • 100m @ 4km/h – 1 minute 30 seconds
  • 100m @ 5km/h – 1 minute 12 seconds

Then go and walk the 100m ensuring that you do it in as close to that time as possible. This will help you to understand what walking at those speeds feels like.

Try and peg this sensation to a walking speed that you are already familiar with. For example does this feel the same as when you walk purposefully to catch the train/bus/tube to work? Or does it feel the same as when you walk with an elderly relative, or a small child? This will help you recognise in future how fast you are walking in km/h and thus know approximately how far you have travelled in a given time.