Arguably one of the coolest things about running is the fact you can do it anywhere. When your well-trodden familiar routes start to get boring, there is never a shortage of new avenues to explore and on foot, the world becomes your oyster. If you're a city runner at home on the tarmac, hitting the trails can widen your run horizons beyond your wildest dreams. Not sure where to start? Read our six trail running tips and head for the hills with a spring in your step!
Plot your route
Heading out for a run away from the hustle and bustle of city life means less pollution, less traffic and less distractions. However turning your back on civilisation will also increase your chances of getting gloriously lost. Arguably this is actually one of the bonuses of off-road running, but if it's your first time, err on the side of caution until you find your feet.
Before you head out exploring, map your run and familiarise yourself with the area. If you plan to run alone tell someone where you’re going and how long you plan to be out for, just to be safe. Try not to veer off too far into the great unknown until you get to grips with your surroundings.
One of the best aspects of running on the trails is the chance to leave your watch at home and shake off the shackles of time and pace. Going slow will allow you to take in the views, breathe in the country air and embrace the great outdoors.
If you’re in a particularly beautiful part of the world, remember it's not a race so don't be afraid to stop for a short while, sit down and soak up your surroundings. If you struggle to travel slower than the speed of light, read the benefits of slow running and learn to ease your foot off the pedal.
Watch your step
Be prepared to cover technical terrain on your run, from overgrown grass to uneven rocks and protruding tree roots. As the landscape varies try to get used to looking at least five feet ahead when you run so you can see where the ground changes, spotting any obstacles up ahead. The last thing you want from your newfound freedom is to fall over and get hurt.
If you feel unsteady on your feet, pump your arms to keep momentum going and don't be afraid to stop and walk if the ground is particularly uneven.
Pack the right kit
You don’t need to re-vamp your running wardrobe just for the trails, but certain key pieces of kit will make your off-road life easier. Trail shoes aren’t essential unless you’re running a good 1/3 of your runs off-road, but running shoes with extra grip will be a benefit.
Long socks are also useful for protecting your legs against low brambles and bushes. It's also worth investing in a good running rucksack to carry water, snacks and an extra layer. Don't forget to check the weather and pack a sunhat and cream if it's hot or a light rain jacket.
Once you get home from your mud-fest, don't forget to clean your running shoes!
Escaping the daily grind will give you a glorious sense of freedom, but it also means being away from the conveniences of modern life - the corner shop included. If you’re hitting the trails in a remote area remember to pack food and drink to fuel your run.
Trail running is surprisingly thirsty work so even if you don't plan on being out for long, pack post-run snacks and drink. You never know when runger will strike!
Take it easy
As fun as trail running can be, it demands more energy than road running. This is a huge bonus if you're trying to get into shape, as exploring Mother Nature burns off 10 per cent more calories per run!
But you will also use muscles that you may have otherwise been neglecting, so start slowly and prepare for a full body workout. From technical trails to steep hills, don't be ashamed to walk the steep climbs, take it easy when you need to and keep hydrated.
Keen to unleash your sense of adventure even further? Take at look at 5 of the best adventure holidays in the UK this summer.