This is a guest post by Jen and Sim Benson, authors of the Wild Running guidebook.
There are many different running disciplines, from road and track to trail, fell, and cross-country, each with its own set of rules. In writing Wild Running, we hoped to capture all the best bits from each discipline, finding the best running terrain in the most beautiful places without being restrictive. In short, Wild Running is about getting out and having the most fun it’s possible to have at a run.
Why run wild?
The essence of wild running is in the excitement, location and pure joy of running a route, rather than the surface it is run upon. Freedom, fantastic running terrain and the exploration of new and beautiful places are all key to a perfect wild running adventure. Wild running takes you away from everyday life, providing the freedom to discover and explore fantastic new places. The experience of running in remote areas teaches us self-reliance, makes us fitter and stronger and encourages us to become better at finding our way. A wild running adventure can be as gentle or as testing as you choose to make it, and it can be different every time, but the key ingredients – an adventure somewhere amazing, with great running underfoot – are always there.
Dual running is a new sport for the UK, but is well established in the Nordic countries, with routes in Norway’s fjords, where it’s an efficient way to get between isolated villages .
In its simplest form, it combines the pace and exploration of trail running with the companionship of bringing another person along.
Your dual running team needs two members. The first, known as the ‘blaster’ provides the power, with leg strength and stamina critical. Most blasters are also runners as well, as this is an excellent way to build up to the high level of fitness required for dual running.
The second member, the ‘master’ is carried by the blaster. They provide the navigation (and motivation!). Generally lighter than the blaster, they need good upper-body strength and navigation skills.
It’s unusual to have a dual running team where the members reverse roles, although Swedish champions Aleksek Persson and Öden Albrecktsson did this after Persson sustained an Achilles tendon injury.
According to several authorities, trail running takes place on softer, more cushioned terrain like grass and mud. It’s defined as ‘heading off the beaten track’ on routes that aren’t marked nor in some cases even actual paths at all. Some interchange ‘trail’ and ‘fell’ running, but the two concepts are quite different, with the latter acknowledged as far more ‘rugged, rocky and extreme’.
Is trail running, therefore, as simple as running on any surface that isn’t solid? Not exactly. It’s about leaving the hustle and bustle of leaving everyday life behind; it’s about feeling the breeze on your face, negotiating tree roots and being alert for overgrown branches. It’s about spotting wildlife (I actually encountered a deer on one of my recent runs) and enjoying nature. Essentially, it’s more fun than running on the road.
When out walking, running or cycling, many people like to immerse themselves in music. Whether as a source of entertainment, a way of distracting themselves from the aches and pains or a combination of the two, music is a popular choice. For some, however, music is too much of a distraction, putting them at unnecessary risks or taking away from the rare solitude that long distance sports can offer.
For those in the latter camp, walking, running or cycling is as much about the inward contemplation as it is the activity itself. The long distance runner, for example, is well known as a solitary figure. So as the miles fall away and minutes turn to hours, what do the silent types actually think of?
Many people consider marathons to be the pinnacle of long distance running. They view the 26.2-mile distance as the uppermost limit for their ability, and once it has been completed, the challenge has been surmounted and that’s the end of that. The end result is often either preparing for another shot next year to try and improve the time, or vowing to never attempt such a distance ever again – depending on how it went on the day.
Outside of this group, though, are hardy souls who take on something a bit meatier. For these individuals, 26 miles is little more than the first step on a route that can take them five or more times beyond that distance. After all, what’s a long distance race unless it takes days to complete, or is the kind of length a car couldn’t even go without needing a re-fuel? These individuals are The Ultrarunners. So if marathons don’t hold the same appeal any more, or you’re finding them to not be the challenge they once seemed, it might be time to consider an ultra.
Today’s guest blog was written by John Warren of Wimborne Orienteers, about the sport that combines navigation skills with cross country running or walking.
We are all good at navigating. You know your way to work, you know where the sugar is in the local supermarket or if you are at school you know where your classroom is.
It’s a matter of knowing what to look for, which way to go and how far it is. These are the skills needed for the sport of Orienteering, ‘Competitive navigation on foot in unknown terrain using a map and compass’.
For many runners, the cold, grey, miserable winter weather is enough of a disincentive to warrant scaling back their training programme. The shorter days can often leave those weighing up an evening-time run with the prospect of doing so in the pitch blackness. Whilst not such an issue for city-dwellers, it becomes a safety concern for those in more rural locations.
Despite how unappealing it may seem at times, exercising in the cold, wintery weather can have huge benefits and even help runners on their way to posting a new PB. So, for those who are enthused into running by those late-season events (such as the Great North and Great South runs), the weather should certainly not be a disincentive.