If you’ve ever been envious of runners who escape the traffic to enjoy the challenge and reward of running in the hills then you might want to try fell running. It’s not as intimidating as you might think.
Here are 5 simple tips to help you escape the streets and tackle the fells.
1. Get Some Kit
The good thing about running is that compared to many sports it is generally inexpensive. For fell running you’ll need a running shoe with a decent grip, especially in winter or after heavy rain. These will give you the confidence to tackle steep or muddy ground rather than slip sliding all over the place! Inov-8 and Salomon are popular brands specialising in off road shoes. Carry an extra layer or waterproof jacket depending on the weather, you might not need it whilst running but may do if you have to stop for any reason. Spare clothing is usually carried in a bumbag or small running rucksack.
2. Plan A Route
“Fell” is a northern term referring to a hill or high ground but fell running takes place on a wide variety of terrain and you don’t need to head straight for the remote mountains for your runs. Start in your nearest country park or follow popular hill walking routes that are easy to retrace. Become more adventurous and explore further as you get more confident. Being a confident map reader will allow you explore more remote areas without the fear of getting lost.
3. Join A Club
The best way to gain experience is to run with other like-minded people. Lots of fell running clubs welcome new runners and not all members of clubs are super fit athletes, in fact some actually pride themselves on being “plodders”! Fell running is not at all elitist and experienced runners are generally happy to pass on their knowledge to newcomers. The Fell Runners Association website is a good place to find your nearest club (www.fellrunner.org.uk)
4. Find a race
Not all fell races tackle steep, mountainous terrain. In summer there are often short races associated with local village fetes and some even start and finish at a country pub! The Fell Runners Association website lists all races stating distance, ascent, and how much experience is required. You don’t need to be a member of a running club to take part and don’t worry about coming last, you almost certainly won’t!
5. Take it slowly
Whilst racing can be fun and rewarding one of the best things about fell running is escaping from the rush. Sometimes it’s great just to stop and admire the view, to listen to the wind through the trees and birdsong on the breeze. Some fell runners never race or run fast, they just love being out in beautiful surroundings. So don’t feel that you have to run non-stop or fast all the time; take a camera and capture the view, take some food and sit down for a snack, take a map and stop to look at your surroundings and identify distant landmarks. Make the most of where you are and enjoy it!
About Dave Taylor
Dave Taylor is a qualified UK Athletics coach specialising in fell and mountain running. He offers guided runs, introduction to fell running and navigation skills courses.
For details visit www.fellrunningguide.co.uk
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