Pace Count Conversion Chart

Distance estimate / pace counting is an invaluable tool in orienteering, but as you have no doubt noticed, the on-the-fly arithmetic for converting map measurements to paces can be a bit of a chore, particularly when the map scale is not 1:10,000.  Anything that adds friction to the process raises the risk that you won’t use it at a critical juncture, so we want to make it as simple as possible.

Enter the pace count conversion chart.  If you know your walking and running pace count for 100m (easily measured on a 100m track), it is a simple matter to make an Excel spreadsheet that converts map millimeters (measured directly on the paper map with your compass scale) to paces for each possible map scale.  This produces a personalized chart you can print and carry with you in the map sleeve, or better yet, in a forearm “clue holder” where it’s readily available.  You can download the linked Excel document below to accomplish this.

To calibrate the charts for you, fill in the 3 highlighted cells at the top left:

·         Your walking pace count for 100 m

·         Your running pace count for 100 m (probably 20-30% less)

·         Your target amount of running as a number from 10 to 100 (how many paces out of each 100 you’re intending to run vs walk)

You then get a chart as output for each map scale (1:5,000/7,500/10,000/12,500/15,000).  The vast majority of the time you’ll use 1:7,500 or 1:10,000.

1.    Print your charts

2.    Cut them out separately

3.    Stack them front to back as follows:

a.    1:7,500 and 1:10,000 front to back (you’ll use this one almost all the time)

b.    1:5,000 and 1:15,000 front to back (occasional use for very small or very large maps)

c.    1:12,500 by itself (used once in a blue moon)

4.    Laminate the three, and place them in a forearm clue holder.

Note that you may have to play with the print scale to get the charts sized right for whatever clue holder you have. Stack ALL 3 charts in your clue holder in the priority order above, and leave them there all the time.  This way when you get to an event and get in the start corral, you can just flip the right scale to the top based on your map scale and you’re off to the races.

To use the chart while orienteering, first pick the chart for the scale of your map to carry with you and have handy.  Every time you want to estimate distance and pace,

1.    Measure the leg on the map with the metric scale on your compass and note the distance in millimeters.

2.    Look up that # of mm in column 1, and then read off your pace count in the subsequent columns. Either walking or running.



Pro tip for training:

The chart provided actually calculates 3 pace count columns for you:

·         Paces for walking

·         Paces for running

·         Paces for a training mix of the two

The Mix column can be a useful training aid.  It allows you to slowly dial up your level of physical exertion as you progress in your training, and the pace counting keeps you honest (ensures you’re running to the training expectation level).

Let’s say, for example, your target is 50% running, so for each 100-pace cycle you run 50 and then walk 50 to recover.  When you measure and read off a pace count from the Mix column, you do your usual 50-50 mix until you’re down under 100 paces to go.  For the last cycle, if the remaining count is 50 or less, you run all the way to finish the count.  If it’s more than 50, you run your 50 and then walk the balance to finish the count.


Example: If you read off 175 total paces as a distance, you would

·         Run 50 & walk 50 for a complete 100-pace cycle

·         Then run 50 and walk the remaining 25 to make up the total 175 count