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For us, wild running falls somewhere between, or perhaps even outside, the traditional disciplines, taking the best from each but not being constrained by rules and regulations. The essence of wild running is in the excitement, location and pure joy of running a route, and the interaction of runner and environment. Freedom, fantastic running terrain and the exploration of new and beautiful places are all key to a perfect wild running adventure. We’d also advocate getting out in all types of weather – it’s amazing how liberating running through the wind and rain can be!
To simply get out and enjoy running, some basic, well-fitting running kit that’s suitable for the terrain and conditions of the run is all you need. If you’re new to running this can take a while to get right but it’s worth the effort as it will make your runs much more enjoyable. The remote nature of many wild places means we’d always advise taking safety and navigational kit appropriate to the area you are visiting – and having the skills to use them properly.
A great wild run is all about the experience of the run itself. Essential ingredients are:
One of our very favourite runs is the Bakewell & Chatsworth route (run 53 in the book). We stayed with family in the Peak District whilst researching and writing the book so were incredibly fortunate to be able to get out and explore this area’s wealth of incredible running on a daily basis, with free childcare! This route has it all: tough climbs; rugged, open moorland; an incredible swooping descent through the majestic deerpark at Chatsworth; well-marked trails along the sparkling River Derwent… and a great pub too!
Running, and particularly running in wild places, gives us so much, aside from the obvious benefits of improved fitness. It takes you out of your daily routine and into a world of challenge and adventure. It’s a wonderful way of clearing and focusing the mind, and a great mood-enhancer. Running also gets you out exploring the local area, taking trails and paths you would otherwise not know existed, experiencing your surroundings through their interaction with your running body. It teaches you self-reliance and the skills to move over rough terrain with ease. Finally, for us, it gives us the chance to do all of these things together, when we can, sharing experiences and adventures. As soon as our children are old enough we hope they’ll want to come out running with us too!
Give it a go! One of the great things about running is that you can take it at your own pace and build up the distance and technicality of the run in your own time. It’s a fantastic sport to fit around other commitments and fitness gains are rapid. Our book has runs to suit every type of runner, graded from easy to challenging. Start at a level you’re comfortable with and build up gradually.
Being active as a family is incredibly important to us and we spend a lot of time exploring the local countryside with our toddler or going on camping trips to exciting new places. Writing the book certainly presented some challenges when it came to balancing work and family life, however fortunately both writing and running are fairly flexible pastimes and so we usually managed to fit them in around the family. This often necessitated some very early mornings, but seeing the book in its completed form makes it all worth it, and we hope our daughter will be proud of it too when she’s old enough to understand.