I personally enjoy getting my healthy exercise through a sport like orienteering because it’s quite an efficient way to relax and take my mind away from work and stress. Orienteering is definitely something that can be for beginners or for those that are more experienced of being outdoors.
What I also love about orienteering is how I get to be outside and enjoy the nature and being in the forest. It is not very often I get the chance to enjoy the outdoors and exercise but orienteering gives me the best of both worlds.
I had an interest in doing orienteering for a while but it seemed daunting to do it on my own but luckily I had a friend who already did it, so I thought this was the best time to join. I eventually started building my confidence in using the compass and map appropriately, and I started doing it on my own. Nowadays I enjoy the company of my husband and our dog who is crazy about chasing the check points which makes it even more fun!
To date, I have been doing orienteering for about 2 years now, but I know there is still a lot for me to learn. I know it is important that I recognise landmarks and locating myself on a map when I’m out and about, but also important to check my safety when I’m reading the map and moving over stones and branches. I find it very exciting every time I do a new orienteering in a new area because each adventure is never the same, and I enjoy the need to solve new problems.
In addition to forest and being in the wild nature, I love how a map and compass (and the need to chase for the check point) are the two tools that engage my mind into all the action. When I’m out and about, I don’t have time to start thinking about the things that cause me stress or going through to-do lists in my mind because my mind is so focused in finding the check point and advancing to the next as quick and efficiently as possible. As you could imagine, focusing my mind to this and pacing to my next checkpoint sure does make the time fly by and I can easily run for 2 hours for the checkpoints without realizing how dirty I have got or sweating.
Like most sports, it is never boring and I find that each new adventure is just as challenging as the last. I will often find myself not speaking at all (or much) when I’m orienteering because I appreciate the time to take in all the nature and surroundings. I think other orienteering competitors around me like to do the same since I find they are just as quiet and clearly concentrating on their own performance, without giving off competitive vibes.
If orienteering is something you’re interested in, then I would recommend to train your overall balance, strengthen your legs, ankles and practise basic running on different surfaces. Orienteering isn’t all about being on straight concrete paths, but rather muddy and stoned pathways, which are more difficult to tread on.
I treasure the chance to do orienteering and it is a sport I’ll probably not get bored of, it balances my life of being able to relax and take my mind away from stress. If you get the opportunity to do something similar like orienteering (or a scavenger hunt), I would highly recommend it and do take on board some of my tips from my experience!
You can read more about Johanna's orienteering experiences and which wipes she recommends for this type of adventure, here.