Trail running continues to grow in popularity and there’s little wonder. Training, whilst having a micro-adventure and enjoying nature through all of your senses, creates a lovely cleansing, meditative effect. A run on the trails banishes all thoughts of the humdrum existence back behind the walls.
Yes, trail running is trickier than road running in a physical sense. You will run slower as the hills, obstacles, and uneven terrain you encounter will dictate a constant moderation of pace. Then you also factor in additional mental and physical effort to ensure progress remains safe and steadfast as you negotiate the route.
The beauty of trail running is the freedom to run as fast or slow as you like and to feel you are doing it without too much pressure. You no longer feel the need to compare yourself with others – there are far too many variables to make a valid like-for-like comparison in any case. The experience of nature has moved itself to the forefront and this does so much for your well-being. A win-win situation with rewards that last well beyond slipping off your trainers at the end.
But where to start? Just head out on a footpath near your home and walk a bit, look around. Go with a mate. Venture a little further each time. Then start jogging/running it. Then begin looking at your nearest country park – we have loads of reclaimed old colliery sites locally which, having been planted with trees over 30 years ago, are a delight to run around.
Then once you appreciate that extra flexing your ankles endure and the gait/posture changes required for steeper up and down sections have a think about even grander ventures. I’m privileged to live minutes from the Peak District and, despite having been in the area all my life, I’m still finding new adventures and experiences in this beautiful National Park. Most of our guided runs take place here and they prove an excellent adventure for folk. Many people turn up on their own and appreciate the chance to run with someone for a sense of reassurance – they won’t get lost, and there’s someone on hand if they experience difficulties. There’s also the sociable side, the adventure is shared, friendships are made and future plans are discussed. It’s amusing to see people quickly follow each other on Strava at the end so that they can keep in touch and swap photos.
What should people expect? Based on what people have said in the past I’ll use this as an opportunity to explain;
Guided runs are not races – there’s no Start / Finish arch or race-related signage, and there’s no marquee/registration tent. We gather at the agreed point, chat, warm up, and run.
Guided runs are not mass participation – we’ve had people think they are looking for hundreds of runners. Typically there’ll be 8 to 20 people on each run with the guides leading and tail running.
Guided runs are at a sociable pace – there’s nothing to stop people from doing the occasional fartlek-type burst of pace but in the main, we are jogging/running at the pace the group dictates. There will also be photo stops to capture those memories and the occasional walking moment when we negotiate trickier sections.
There’ll also be hints and tips passed on as we progress. These could be kit-related, posture or technique-related, and discussion about further trail adventures in the locality.
By the time we return to the starting point, we will have had an enjoyable, sociable run with many laughs and many side discussions. Often there’s a cheeky cafe or pub stop there too but go carefully, you don’t want to undo ALL of that good work.