At the end of last year, I had a crisis in confidence. I didn’t feel valued by my running partners and after 10 months of broken promises and dreams and a serious bout of soul searching, I walked away from my roles of running blogger, coach and event coordinator and announced to the world that I was giving up running for a while.
So, when sportsshoes.com asked me to trial some trail kit, I was at first hesitant. I had regained some weight and I had lost a lot of confidence.
But then, I recalled two of my favourite days of 2015. They were two days trail running in the Highland Fling and Jedburgh Three Peaks Ultra Marathon Relays in Scotland. Running along the tree lined banks of Loch Lomond and over the hills in the Borders were as far removed from running in the crowded streets of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Newcastle as you could get and the thought of them had me lacing up my boots.
There are many reasons, why I have found myself drawn to trail running.
Trail running appeals to my inner child.
Running in winter is often accompanied by rain, sleet and snow (usually on the same day) and normally when running in my city streets , I try to avoid puddles. However , when out in the woods and parks, there is a magnetic force that pulls me towards puddles and mud.
The quality of a trail run is often judged on the quantity of mud accumulated on my shoes.
Trail running is good for both the heart and the mind.
Trail running also delivers a sensory smorgasbord of sights, sounds and smells, with recent research from Stanford University suggesting that spending time in green areas can reduce mental illness, improve our cognitive development and lower levels of rumination. While trail running, we momentarily forget all the negative stuff in our lives and simply enjoy the scenery and serenity around us.
Trail running has no rules.
You find a park or a trail and just run. Hell, you can even walk if need be and when the terrain moves from soft mud to hard rocks, you will be forced to scramble. Again, this is reminiscent of my childhood, complete with skint knees.
Quite often, I won’t even have a route or distance in mind. I’ll head out to my local park and go exploring. I’ll wade through streams, climb hills and lose myself spirituality and on occasion literally.
Trail running is better with friends.
Running through the woods alone might instil thoughts of an ill fated horror movie, so why not run with friends? There’s nothing like sharing the magical sight of a deer or celebrating the ascent of a hill with a fellow runner. You are also rarely running at pace and are more focused on not catching your feet on a tree root than catching your breath, so talking isn’t only possible, it’s actively encouraged.
Trail running takes you to new heights.
A part of me is always seeking new adventures and friends often say that I have my head in the clouds, so when I watched the Adventure Show this weekend (looking for all of my Jedburgh pals ), I was captivated by the feature on the Glen Coe Skyline Race.
I couldn’t hope to compete in the 55 km event traversing across the Glen Coe range of mountains, but the Vertical Kilometre called out to me.
A strength and stamina sapping 1,000 metre ascent over a 5K route that will make this the most trialling trail run ever. Especially for a self-confessed Shite Runner.But what a scintillating place to run.
It’s too soon to say that I am back, but I am on the right trail and I can’t wait to take on this Man v Fat v Mountain Challenge.
I’ll also be keeping tabs on the SportsShoes.com trail hub for inspiration and discount kit.