8 top tips to get you into wild running in 2014

Wild runners Jen and Sim Benson offer some advice on making the transition from hillwalking to hill-running

Illustration photo of 8 top tips to get you into wild running in 2014

IF YOU’RE LOOKING TO GET INTO WILD running, it’s worth making the effort to get your body ready to run. Walking is great exercise and provides a perfect base of fitness for running; however there are some key differences when taking up the pace. Here are our top tips on making the move from walking to running:

[1] CONSIDER YOUR KIT CHOICES

Running generates large amounts of heat, so it’s important to choose clothing that will keep you cool, however should you need to stop for any reason you may get cold rapidly. Layering clothing and packing a lightweight windproof gives you a good range of options.

Footwear should, as with walking, be well-fitting and appropriate for the terrain and conditions. Grip when moving fast on tight or technical terrain is a particularly important consideration.

Packs need to be more stable for running than walking as they will bounce around uncomfortably otherwise. It can take some time to get your kit and clothing choices right, but it’s worth the effort!

[2] RUN REGULARLY

It is important to run regularly to allow your body to become conditioned to the high repetitive forces exerted upon it during running and to maximise gains in fitness. Occasional hard runs interspersed by long gaps are more likely to leave you tired, sore and demotivated.

[3] BUILD UP GRADUALLY

It’s old advice but good. There’s no proven maximum amount that you should increase by each week, and progress will be highly individual, however take the time to increase the intensity and duration of your runs gradually to allow your body to adapt.

[4] FIND A TRAINING PLAN

Having a set number and type of runs to complete each week is great for keeping your training fresh and varied. Make sure you listen to your body though, as no training plan will suit everybody all the time.

[5] ENTER A RACE

Having a goal, such as race, on the horizon is great for motivation and helps get you out running even when the sofa seems like a much better option. There’s no need to commit to running the whole way – and many long-distance walking events also accept runners and vice versa.

[6] IMPROVE TECHNIQUE

Off-road running takes time and practice to perfect, and requires your body to work differently to road running. If you are new to running off-road, start with well-used trails and less technically challenging terrain and work up to the more demanding routes. This will make them all the more enjoyable when you get there. As with most activities, the more you do the better you will get, but there are some specific areas to work on that will help you improve more rapidly:

[7] BUILD STRENGTH

Incorporate strength and conditioning work into your routine. Stronger muscles will make you more efficient in your running and protect against injury.

[8] PRACTISE BALANCING

Good balance is key to running off-road successfully, yet it is something we rarely train ourselves to do. Incorporate balance work into your daily routine to increase body awareness and improve coordination.

Wild Running by Jen and Sim Benson is out now