Part One: Why?
Trail running to the outsider could seem slightly mad. Running up and down hills on rough rocky paths? Seems slightly insane. Truth be told, all trail runners are a little bit mad, but the true majesty of running out in the hills must be experienced to be believed. It’s a subtle blend of exercise and self-indulgence that makes it possible to lose yourself in fantastical places. To understand why, allow curiosity to overcome you and dive in head first. You must at least be a little intrigued, else why would you be reading this?
Part Two: Where?
This really is a question of what’s accessible to you. We’re based in the Lake District here in the U.K. which is a UNESCO world heritage site and an area of outstanding natural beauty. But we aren’t all that lucky. If you live in a city, then there may be a park or rural area nearby that’ll suffice, though if you can get somewhere with mountains, then all the better. That’s where trail running is best experienced, if we’re honest, no matter how nice your local park, it seldom beats the mountains.
Part Three: Gear.
Trail running is perhaps a little more gear intensive than say road running, but still weighs in at a comparably cheap hobby. While you do need more than just a set of shoes, you don’t need that much more. We’ll start with the obvious.
Shoes: This is the big one and the one that you’ll need to get right to give it all your beans out on the trail. In order to get the right shoe for you, your best bet is to pop down to our shop(or your nearest trail running specialist) and have a chat. If you live miles away, then feel free to give us a call and we’d be able to talk you through our range online.
Waterproofs: You’ll need these if you ever planning on racing. Almost all major races will require you to carry full waterproof cover, as a matter of safety. Basically, there are two schools of thought on the matter. Many competitors opt to carry the lightest, smallest waterproofs possible, never intending to put them on unless caught in an emergency. The second school of thought is to buy the most breathable product possible, which means you can keep running hard without overheating as quickly as you would with a less breathable garment. The latter approach typically tends to be favored by competitors doing longer length or multi-day races, whereas the former is more an option for those doing shorter races.
Backpack/Belt/Race Vest: Now you have your waterproof tops/bottoms, you’re going to need a way of carrying it, not to mention water and snacks. There are three main load carrying solutions, each ranging from the very basic models to the super Gucci. The first is the old-fashioned, conventional backpack. Tried and tested, this is the classic way to carry stuff in the outdoors. While probably now the inferior choice, and oft quite unstable on your back, some people will swear by their trust Karrimore until the day they die, and that’s them. The second option is a popular choice for the shorter races, is the belt/bum bag approach. Neat, and allowing the competitor to access their stuff without stopping, this has been a staple for years. The last load carrying solution are called race vests. These could best be described as lightweight webbed vests, that are covered in pockets. A grand choice for anyone wanting to carry a bit more for ultras and mountain marathons.
Everything else: Base layers, short or long sleeve? Shorts, tights, tight shorts or three quarter length tights? Do you want a windproof? All these questions come down to personal preference. There is a vast selection available on the market and my honest best advice is to give them all a try on and see what fits you best.
Part Four: Who with?
If you’re a bit unsure about disappearing by yourself, and you’ve been unable to rope in an unsuspecting partner, best off finding a running club. These are full of like-minded nutjobs whom can take you out on your areas best runs, offer tips and advice, and encourage you to do better. Best thing is pretty much everywhere has a decent running club these days. All but the seriously elite clubs have a very wide range of ages and abilities, so don’t worry about being “the slow one”!