Get Into Trail Running
24th February 2020 by Emma Mathias
What made you get into trail running?
Ali: It just sort of happened, living here and walking a lot meant I was getting fitter and I just started running little bits of walks I was doing as it was easy and fun and it blossomed from there.
Dave: A passion nature and for the hills and mountains of the UK. I just wanted to be out in them as much as possible, exploring new hills, new routes and being out in nature. I also love to push myself as far as I physically can, both mentally and physically, and running in the hills is the best way to do this.
Andy: It’s good for adventuring with a busy lifestyle. You can have quite a high level of adventure with little time commitment.
What kit do you need to get started?
Ali: A good pair of running shoes with a decent grip and good support were the first and best thing I bought. Apart from that, any old leggings/shorts/t shirts will do until you see if you like it and want to invest in better gear.
Dave: A decent pair of shoes should be your first stop. Don’t just look for a bargain, get a decent pair from the get-go. Your feet are going to be carrying you over all sorts of terrain for long periods of time so treat them right. Get a pair of shoes that are suited to the type of running you intend to do, for example if you’re running on the fells get a pair of fell shoes with deeper lugs and vice versa. Wrong shoes ruin runs.
Andy: A pair of trainers with an ‘appropriate’ sole. You can build up kit from there once you work out what motivates you and what environment you are most likely to run in.
What do you carry in your pack?
Ali: A thermal blanket (just in case), some water and food, a waterproof jacket, map and compass and an On windshirt (brilliant piece of kit!).
Dave: Depends on the length and nature. Most of the time nothing at all, but for longer runs or bigger runs on the fell then I’ll carry at minimum: water, food, gloves, waterproofs, a hat and my phone. If the weather is looking bad then I’ll stick a survival bag and an extra layer in there.
Andy: Your kit list should depend on your skill level and your plan for the day. Consider variables such as weather, how fast you are moving, how remote you will be (how long will it take a rescue team to find you if something goes wrong) and how far you are going? Will you be back before dark?
How do you plan a route?
Ali: I generally look for circular runs involving some hills that have relatively nice terrain to run over (I.e. not boggy areas where possible!).
Dave: Firstly, find an area you want to run. If you’re not that confident then plan it locally to a town or main road. Plan a dynamic route that can be changed along the way, leaving it open to be lengthened or shortened depending on how you feel. Study a map so you know where you’re going, especially if you’re running somewhere new. The most important thing is to have fun so plan a route with some spicy views, interesting ground and, of course, some big hills thrown in. Maybe a pub or two.
Andy: To be honest I just see what I feel like doing on the day. If it’s a more significant day out I might consider how to adapt the route to make it easier or harder for myself.
How do you train for trail running?
Ali: Start small and work your way up, both in distance and terrain as you get fitter and more comfortable with running.
Dave: Trails are not flat, so work some hills in to your running. Hill fitness is pretty key, especially in places like the Lake District. Practice on technical ground to improve your coordination and footwork and learn to run downhill! It’s a skill that’s usually overlooked or forgotten, but you’d be surprised how hard descents can be, especially if it’s over technical or steep ground. Getting down a hill and running down a hill are two different things entirely.
Andy: Be aware of your personal goals. It could be a competition, or it could just be running for enjoyment with mates. Train specifically for these goals. Taking an interest in how successful athletes have trained for similar goals can be a good way to get started.
Where’s your favourite place to run?
Ali: So far, a lovely circle up and over High Street has been my favourite, really nice running underfoot and fantastic views.
Dave: The Ullswater valley and the eastern and far eastern fells. If you find the right place, these fells can be completely secluded and you often have the trails to yourself. The Ullswater way is a trail runners paradise, and there are countless trails up and down the valley to give you some stoke. There’s something for everyone. Hard pack trail, single track, woodlands, grassy hills with swooping descents, alpine ridges, plateaus and enough hills to keep you busy for a long time. The opportunities here are endless. But then again I am biased.
Andy: Forest tracks and roads don’t do it for me. It has to be in the mountains!