What's Your Navigation Setup?

Howdy, folks. I just started my ESS experience at the end of this summer ('23) and was curious about how folks ESS runners navigate their routes.

How do you prefer to:

  • Build routes
  • Navigate routes
  • Track them in a way that syncs with CS

It took me about 2-3 weeks to dial in which methods worked best with my existing hardware and personal preferences.

I like to:

  1. Print out the CS map of the area I need to cover—sometimes with nodes turned on, but not always

  2. Use Footpath to make the route (CS Route Building is a close second, but I was using Footpath way before I was using CS, so I just kinda prefer it)

  3. Export the GPX Route file to the Komoot app for audio turn-by-turn navigation prompts which are delivered into my Shokz bone-conducting open-ear headphones so I can keep my phone stowed most of the run

  4. I track the run via my Coros Pace 2 watch (probably the best $200 running watch available, in my opinion)

  5. That syncs with my Strava account which syncs with CS

With a 4-year-old $200 phone and $200 watch, I find that’s the cocktail that works best for me. But that’s just me. I’m interested to hear other people’s methods.


I’m digital-only & take my iPhone with me on my run. I used to hold it in a Spibelt, but lately I’ve been wearing shorts that include a phone slit on the inner lining (I don’t trust the zippered side-pockets; I have had too many phones shoot out the bottom of my shorts because I didn’t notice the pocket got worn down).

I use Route Builder to work out a route that’ll do a decent job completing streets while staying within/near my preferred distance. I don’t get too focused on the distance with detailed/exact placement of my path, I just clumsily tap out something that’s in the 4/5/6 mile range and accept that it’ll come out close (and likely over).

I don’t obsess over avoiding re-running streets or making sure I don’t double-back. It’s not worth the stress.

Usually, the process of building out the route makes me very familiar with the area. I take the general approach of trying to keep things simple - for example, if I’m taking a left turn into a small neighborhood with a number of streets, I’ll do my best to progress that neighborhood in a “left to right” flow (doing as much as possible with only left hand turns) so that I don’t have to think too much while running.
I’ll save the route, and I’ll have it open in the background on my phone in case I need to refer to it, but that’s super rare. I can generally get by with remembering a few land marks/street names. Maybe I miss a planned street, maybe I finish an extra one - either way I’m having fun exploring and getting a good workout in.

  1. Visualize the area I want to run with Lifemap. I’ll use Node Hunter if I’ve already run a large portion to identify cryptic areas I may have missed, but mostly just look for roads that aren’t purple yet.

  2. Build route with Route Builder

  3. Export GPX, upload to Garmin Connect Courses, sync to Garmin Fenix 6 Pro.

  4. Run with turn-by-turn navigation with the map loaded, but with my phone on me with the Route page loaded in case there is any confusion/bad conditions. (Map from CS/OSM is usually more accurate than even updated Garmin maps, which I believe are TopoActive depending on your region). For instance, today I ran between two urban areas separated by some farmland with a muddy single track. One turn I wanted to make the trail did exist, but was totally flooded out and I had to make a detour so it was helpful to check the map on my phone.

  5. Runs upload to Garmin Connect → Strava + Runkeeper. I use Strava for social, but I prefer to have Runkeeper as my CS sync partner because of the very useful and convenient ability to fix any GPS errors with their web-based editor. When I first started I used to go back and re-run places where the GPS failed, but in some areas (tunnels, dense urban areas, etc.) there is so much GPS interference that it makes your map look like spaghetti and totally random luck if you’ll hit a node you honest-to-god ran. So if I did it, I fix it!

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This is really similar to what I like to do, as opposed to folks who go to a neighborhood and methodically complete sectors that they’ll never need to return to. I might take 5-6 or more visits to complete a dense neighborhood, but each time I’ll notice something different and feel a bit more comfortable with the area and its visual cues. Plus, if I notice something that isn’t on the map I’ll update it on OSM after my first visit and then when I complete the area I have the full confidence I really explored it thoroughly.

That routebuilding strategy results in large loops that are mostly linear unless I run a few dead end roads, but I really try to avoid too many serpentine and hairpin elements because I don’t love what that does to my pace, and I am also training for races while I check off streets :sweat_smile:

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I track with my Forerunner 935.

I make a route in Route Builder, export it and then import it to an app on my phone. The app is GPX viewer
It shows the route in red and live track in green, so i can see if i missed anything.

The phone is a Nokia XR20. It’s IP68 and can take a beating.

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I should probably do that. My runs between skyscrapers in Downtown Tulsa make my GPS look like an EKG machine.

I love a good tough Android (this is an Android, right?). I have 2020 Moto G Stylus that I picked up new for about $200. So far, it’s been a trooper. Even if it bites the dust, it will have been a good ride.

Very similar to @kevincharlespels :

  1. Create route with routebuilder, export
  2. Import to Garmin, send to watch
  3. Follow breadcrumb trail (fr245, so no fancy maps for me :sweat_smile:)
  4. Run uploads to Garmin → Runkeeper (cosmetic check) → CS

I like to clear areas methodically, there aren’t that many streets that are worth revisiting in my experience #nevergoback :smile:.

I take my phone along for runs, but I very rarely have to check the map (sometimes poor GPS on the watch makes it necessary).

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It’s Android. Love the Nokia phones, always have.
Only downside to the XR20 is that it’s too tough, so i won’t have an excuse to upgrade to the XR21 :grinning:

Check out this durability test

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I’m very simple. I use the route builder here to build a route and then simply memorize it. Usually I run between 4-6 miles so it’s not too hard to remember all the turns. Running in the suburbs causes my routes to have a lot of cul-de-sacs, which makes things easier. Although sometimes I can forget if a street is a long cul-de-sac or a through street, so dead end or no outlet signs help a lot. I think I’ve made around 5 mistakes in 2.5 years, none of which were too catastrophic.


I just study my LifeMap, pickup an area somewhere adjacent to my already completed part of the city, and make a rough plan.Take my car and drive there (I have to drive at least 30 min to reach new streets by now). Activate Node Hunter on my Iphone and start running, picking up nodes as I go, running anything from 5 to 20 km. Afterwards I might find I missed a node or two, then I have to make a detour to include those in my next run in that area

for me , there are many similar things laready mentioned.

  • Use routebuilder on the adjacent part of the last runs. So i work methodically to not have to go back. I need to go very far by car already to find any new road.

  • Copy the route gpx to garmin connect and send it to my fenix 6. Maps on my watch are so cool!

  • Most of the time I also upload the run to rungo app. And beforehand I analyse in the desktop version if all turns are correct. the app give audio turn by turn navigation

  • Running with the mobile on, rungo on, and the garmin watch on.

  • Afterwards upload to garmin connect, download tcx and upload to mapmyfitness. Only citystrides runs go there, so i have a clean lifemap.

Addon edit: Those beginning days were so different! planning in strava and running every route with mobile in hand all the time. I am so used to run with the android in my hand nowadays :blush:

I’m getting a bit frustrated as this becomes the case for me, mostly because I don’t have a car and even if I did I don’t like to drive. I have been using a combination of urban trains and city bikeshare to bridge the distance gap to new streets, but the latter is waning in utility because I’m done with the city so only use it to go to the limits heh.

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I don’t mind driving, but it gets expensive now with the gas price, and now as I’m running the south part of Stockholm, and living on the north side I have to pay the ”congestion tax” to pass through Stockholm center. There is no other way around, only water…

Rowboat? Ice skates? Wingsuit?

:rofl: Well, I could take the metro and bus, but it would just be too time-consuming… My wife already thinks I spend too much time running, so I try to at least minimize transport time​:wink:

I am waiting for our family to get a hybrid or e-car. Then i don’t mind the time to drive anymore.

I like to take the subway if possible, I see the streets when running anyway, this way I also get to know the public transport network. I also like the added flexibility of having different start/stop points.

I draw the line at subway + bus though, the “commute” shouldn’t take longer than the run :sweat_smile:

so you exercise to make longer runs then!