I dont understand how to trail run!

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17/07/2012 at 13:07

I dont understand the countryside! Today I thought I would do a nice 40 odd minutes on footpaths in the countryside (yes I am a city girl). Studied the OS map, had my iPhone... But 2 hours later I managed to find my car again (after having to flag down a horse rider!) , covered in dirt and nettle stings!

Yes it was kind of great. But how do I get to know WHERE to run? Footpaths that are boggy fields or impenetrable jungles... let alone my sense of direction letting me down!!!

I love being out in nature and want ot do it more but I cant keep spending half the day being lost. 

Any tips?!

17/07/2012 at 13:13

Exploring and trial and error has been my experience!

I have no sense of direction so i've been known to get lost in a car park  I look for routes recommended by others and always look for 'memorable' things about where i'm running in case I get lost (e.g. buildings/signs etc). Passing dog walkers are a great source of knowledge about boggy routes and which trails to avoid.

17/07/2012 at 13:21

I have a similar problem Amy.  I use the gmap pedometer and click on the OSM option.  It shows up where you can run off road.  What I've done with this, is to start off with a simple route and to then slowly tinker with it.  As an example, I'll run out on the road (simple- can't get lost) and come back via the trail.  There are a few possible turn offs, but I print out a map and just get it out any time I come to a juntion.

Next time, I might add a bit more of off road on the way up... but my main aim is to slowly learn the area, bit by bit.  When I feel adventurous, I try a new bit, when I just want to run without hassle, I just stick to a known route.

A good way to play safe is to follow plenty of canal paths (just keep alongside it) or national trails (well signposted).  I've never learned (yet) to read a map properly, so my method is a bit slow.  In a year, I've probably only learned 20% of the routes in my area.  All because I just want to run and not read maps 

It's worth sticking to it though; running trails is wonderful.  It feels so alive and 'right'.  

 

17/07/2012 at 13:23
Out for 2 hours, covered in dirt and nettle stings? Sounds like a fairly normal off road run to me.

Try taking a compass, plenty of fluid, some kendall mint cake.
17/07/2012 at 13:27
Sussex Runner (NLR) wrote (see)
Out for 2 hours, covered in dirt and nettle stings? Sounds like a fairly normal off road run to me.

Try taking a compass, plenty of fluid, some kendall mint cake.

Fair point, but when you want to go for a 40 minute run, 2 hours is pretty rough.  

17/07/2012 at 13:38

If I'm not 100% sure where I'm going I do an "out and back" rather than a circuit, so when I've done half the distance I just turn round and go back the way I came.

I also use a Garmin Foretrax which has a (fairly crude) display of where you've been, makes it easier to find your way back.

17/07/2012 at 15:28

out and back is good advice if you don't know the area.

also try walking it first, so you can concentrate on where you are going.use the same areas again and again (i use all my regular dog walks over heathland). get familiar with your routes.

if you don't have a garmin, phone apps are good for tracking, runkeeper, my tracks, endomondo etc.

17/07/2012 at 15:46

Do a bit of research and find things like railway walks and bike rides which I think are on a National Bike Ride register.  They tend to be better signposted and more often used, so at least it shouldn't be 2 hours before you see somebody else

17/07/2012 at 16:47

You just need a good map, although it obviously helps if you know the locality. I never run on roads if I can help it and it's not a proper run if you don't get a few scratches, stung and your feet wet - not difficult at present!

17/07/2012 at 17:42

The normal process of trail running is to take an OS map with you and expect to take some extra time establishing potential routes. You look for the footpaths and road crossings etc. When you have done this you will find you can dispense with the map for that particular route.

17/07/2012 at 18:13

If I'm going somwehere new, I tend to try cycle paths, as they tend to be a bit easier navigationally, and less likely to descend into impassible morass. Old railway paths, tow paths, river walks & coastal paths are also navigationally eaier to follow without a map.

Otherwise I do like to try and walk a route before I run it. Some are OK , others are OK in particular season. Word of advice, running across a freshly ploughed field in the rain is a major no-no - not unless you're after a novel form of resistance training!

17/07/2012 at 18:21

My tips ... use Bing and print off an OS page - at the higher scale. Those free airport clear bags make good waterproof bags for the map. 'Main' paths - like cycle tracks, old railways, canals, national trails are easy to follow and likely to be clear. Bridlepaths next and the little dotted paths could be good, could be neck high in brambles & nettles.
Ask people you meet - most I meet are more than happy to share directions, advice on which bits to avoid etc. 
If you have a fixed time limit, turn round and retrace your steps, otherwise enjoy the fun and challenge that the run could be quick, or could be a lot longer.
After a few runs in an area, you soon get used to the trails

17/07/2012 at 18:29

I have terrible navigational instincts. However, going out on my mountain bike I have started to get better. A map is a must if you want to be safe and you are in a new area. However most of the time I use the everytrail and viewranger apps on my iphone. They show trails and your location. However you really should have a map as backup in case your phone blows up.

17/07/2012 at 19:47

Thanks so much everyone. Yes I think a real paper map maybe next time - but how to carry it on a minimalist getup? Its hard to find trails online - but I shall look for bike trails, good advice.

17/07/2012 at 20:21

Mud, rain, dirt, getting stung, scratched,wet, sunburnt for 4+ hours...yep sounds like a good trail off road run...pretty muchhow my run was last saturday-good fun!

18/07/2012 at 07:32
Southdownsman wrote (see)

You just need a good map, although it obviously helps if you know the locality. I never run on roads if I can help it and it's not a proper run if you don't get a few scratches, stung and your feet wet - not difficult at present!

sorry SDM,hadnt read your post properly- wasnt meaning to repeat yours!

18/07/2012 at 20:24
Maybe enter an organised trail run to ensure you stick to a pre determined route and a set distance?
18/07/2012 at 23:52

If you are running anywhere for the first time there is the risk of getting lost. This is more so if you are running off road. You need to throw in poorly marked and managed paths along with muddy puddles, stinging nettle and brambles, cows and sheep, impossibly steep ascents or descents, styles, gates and holes in hedges and all manner of other things that I can't remember.

Once you know an area well you'll find that you can just head off on an unknown path knowing approximately where you will come out.

There are plenty of online sites that tell you where the longer paths are.

Try the long distance walking assoc.

for maps there's always bike hike.

you can print out your own os map and fold it and shove it in a pocket or similar.

I don't actually like bridle paths. You know that they are going to be muddy and rutted and almost impossible to run on around here. - impermeable soil.

18/07/2012 at 23:53
Southdownsman wrote (see)

You just need a good map, although it obviously helps if you know the locality. I never run on roads if I can help it and it's not a proper run if you don't get a few scratches, stung and your feet wet - not difficult at present!

My other half says it's not a proper run if I don't come back bleeding.

19/07/2012 at 00:07

Out and back's a good idea. I would start on a short run of a few miles or even laps of an even shorter route, and gradually extend it the more you can work out where you're going. I'm not sure if I understand how to run in the city, or at least feel as fulfilled doing it,  but the more you're out in the countryside I bet the local roads and paths will fix together in your mind and you'll have as good a selection of routes to choose from as you would with a network of streets.

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