Update: the recent Bank Holiday weekend was a dream, just immersing myself in the outdoors, by the fields and by the sea. After a run in London around Hampstead Heath (could not recommend more for those wanting a feel of a 'trail' in London!) , I left for the country. Spending time ambling along the fields with my family, and jogging by the coast made for a fun and relaxing weekend.
I also received some new kit, and thought this was a good time to talk about running kit, for any people wondering of what you need to head outdoors off the road.
At this point, I should mention, it's taken me through a long journey to be in a position where I have more awareness of essential kit. I've learnt ALOT, often the hard way (queue many a runner friend's chuckle, reminiscing of stories such as heading out to Snowdon without a water bottle, a bit of the Bob Graham with poor grip old trainers...etc). And we never stop learning.
I now am fortunate enough to be supported for my running by Outside Shop and Salomon, and with the arrival of some excellent new running kit that I needed, I thought I would share with you some good basic running kit to equip yourself with for trail running.
The first thing to mention is waterproofs. Long distance runners really do need an effective waterproof jacket (!) as well as being one that is agile enough to run in. This particular one is a very light piece of clothing, especially for when the rains get heavy. It's a weird phenomenon when the weather is poor and yet you feel stuffy and hot in something that is not so breathable, so this is ideal. It packs away easily too, which, considering many off road races require ample water/windproof clothing, makes it one to keep in your running pack.
Running leggings is pretty basic kit, but I wanted to now try out the EXO 3/4 compression tights, as I am particularly keen to take care of my muscles, and I was impressed with the supportive technology the clothing advertises. I've worn them on a brief run as well as a walk, and they were really comfortable. I will let you know how I get on about these as I try them out on longer running routes.
Now, shoes. I distinctly remember the feeling of woe as the guys I was running with on that Bob Graham leg, scampered off merrily on the unpredictable rocky terrain in poor weather conditions with sturdy feet, which I gingerly watched every step; not focusing on the run itself. Since then, I've learnt and trusted what footwear works for me. As mentioned before in previous posts, I wear Speedcross 3's to train and race off road. Now, I have them in pink! If you are unsure about trainers and you want to run in the fields, fells, hills or mountains, these are my recommendation. I trained for and ran my ultra in this shoe last year, and I continue to wear these this year. It's a confidence thing, and I feel confident, as well as comfortable in Speedcross 3's.
Another thing I have learnt is that warm mid layers are good for colder days. I definitely would have benefitted from this, even in late Spring (see May bank holiday post in Wales + snow). This one is not only my favourite colour, but has technology built in to keep warm, is light weight, and has a hood. Brilliant on a country walk, I imagine also good for a day by the crag and very cold running days. Multi purpose and super comfy.
Yesterday I competed in the Duddon short fell race. It is a category A fell race, which essentially means: no marked path. You check in at check points on the route, and then just follow your nose (or the map, or the person in front...). Luckily the weather was pretty generous: sun and clouds, some wind - good running temperatures and thankfully no rain. It is a 900M ascent race - fairly gnarly within 14km unmarked terrain! You wonder what you have let yourself in for with a very steep start, however as the race progresses there is some great rugged scenery, and some brilliant, fairly technical, downhill descents. After arriving at the final official checkpoint, there is a considerable scramble to the finish - and here I lost valuable time in taking a rather long route around. Oh well, still, happy with my first woman finish.
First outing of my new pack too. The biggest plus for me is the fact it holds two 500 ml bottles really comfortably, meaning you have a litre of water to hand whenever you need it.
Really excited now for June, as heading out to Chamonix later this month. Bring on the summer!