An introduction to trail running

Or how I learned to love the mud.

This week I took up running again. I’m going to need a lot of encouragement to keep going and, more importantly, not to get myself injured in time for a very special summer holiday in a few month’s time. So help me out if you can with kind words and expressions of caution.

Cool down

To tell the truth it’s not the keeping going that I find hard – it’s the knowing when to stop. Looking back in last year’s running diary I can see where it went wrong. The entry marked foot pain gives it away. I lasted another fortnight – after that there was a whole year of blank pages.

This time, I’m telling myself, things are going to be different. I’m going to listen to my body. And stop when it hurts.

With all that in mind I set out this morning for my run. Instead of pounding the pavements of my local housing estate I thought about treading more softly, so I swung up towards this lane.

Country roads

There’s a certain point on that route where I could have carried on up the hill, but instead I took the flatter path that leads between fields of sheep and a dry stone wall. Last night’s heavy rain had turned the path into an oozing mess of earth held together by tufts of grass and soon I was splashing and sliding as I ran. But much to my surprise (when I’m hiking I try to avoid the mud) it was heaven to stride through.

As I returned along the same path I realised that I was the first person to run this way after the storm. Not quite an explorer on virgin soil, but there was something of that pride in my heart as I slipped and skidded, careful not to pitch up on the barbed wire at the edges of the field.

Back on the home straight in a lane just like the one above I saw at least a dozen dog walkers and hikers on their way out. Maybe they’d be walking in my footsteps or they’d choose another path. I didn’t mind either way – I’d was out early enough to make the first footsteps and enjoy the quiet, broken only by a muddy splash or two.

Then I was home, washing off the mud from my shoes and feet and looking forward to my next trail run.

Wish me luck – I think I might be hooked.



  1. Trail running is the best !! and definitely get you stronger at running.

    Your solution to remain injury free, might be avoiding pavement and enjoying the mudy or rocky trails instead ! Man that feeling of wilderness when alone by yourself on a virgin trail… I experiences this when running after a snow fall, amazing !

    A lot of fun anyways, no wonder you’re hooked… It hapened to me about 3years ago already and I still feel like a child everytime I’m out there.

    Happy trails !

  2. Congratulations, and welcome back! I wouldn’t be a runner if it wasn’t for trails. Running through traffic exhaust is my least favorite thing to do.

    Please take it easy and mindfully out there, though- no sliding off cliffs as Russ likes to do. Unless you promise to do it without getting hurt.


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