Wilderness Guide and Wild Running fanatic, Alex Kendall shares his Wild Running top 6 points to remember for those interested in giving it a go.
Running is a way of seeing the world and a way of having a great day out. Running whilst exploring hills, woodlands and rivers does NOT mean you have to run at a blistering pace for ten minutes before collapsing. Go at a steady pace, have a conversation, stop for a snack. You do not have to run all the time, and especially if you want to run in the hills you will quickly see that walking uphill is frequently more efficient, and will keep you going for longer.
One of the best things about running off-road and in the hills is that you can plan your own routes and navigate them yourselves. This of course means you will need to be able to use a map and compass, if only to check you’re on the right track. If this scares you, consider that when you get to the stage when you can run whilst navigating you’ll find map reading in general very easy!
See another article on Natural Navigation techniques.
Heading into the wild to do anything is a good excuse to get away from the constraints of modern life. So why do anything differently when running? You may be heading off on a route through a range of hills you’ve never been to before. Why not leave your watch behind? And don’t measure the distance, just pick a good-looking route and do it. Or at least wait until you’re back to find out how far you went. Sometimes runners can be too obsessed with times and distances, but running wild is about the experience. If you don’t like running for its own sake, don’t do it.
Sadly, running does not make you superhuman or able to deal with strong wind, cold, rain, hunger or injuries any better than walkers. So if you’re heading out for the day make sure you can still deal with all of these. I carry a small backpack with light-weight waterproofs, a jumper, food and a small first aid kit, mobile phone and water bottle. Find a pack that fits you well and practice running with it. Soon you’ll forget it’s even there.
The only bit of technique I will mention is that your ankles are likely to experience a far wider range of angles than in road running. So go into it slowly and let them get stronger and more flexible. Other than this, there is a wealth of information out there on how to run efficiently uphill and downhill, both in magazines and books. This is important not just to become better but to prevent injury. Here’s a great wee video for a taster:
Your feet, and probably your lower legs, will get wet. The great thing about off-road running shoes though is that they’re light, and most of the water will quickly be squeezed back out. Just enjoy it. Don’t bother jumping over that pond, there will be a bigger one round the corner.