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My First Trail Run

I’d been running regularly for a couple of years when I decided to enter a trail run for the first time. 

I’d completed a few road half marathons.  I know that a trail run would use more energy, so decided to go for a 10k.

I wanted a race that would be suitable for trail run beginners and decided on the Keswick Mountain Festival TERREX 10k.  The race information said that it was suitable for both beginner trail runners and more experienced runners.  I had a look at the route online and it didn’t look too scary.  I’d been to Keswick on holiday before and had walked along part of the route.  That gave me confidence that I’d be able to run at least part of it.

I didn’t have any trails locally to train on ahead of the race.  There were plenty of short but steep hills close to home, so I decided to include plenty of those in my training. I also ran along the canal tow path, which was muddy and lumpy in places and practised running this in my trail shoes.  I had to get used to looking at the ground immediately in front of me a bit more, so that I could watch out for tree roots and stones, rather than looking further ahead as I do when I run on the road.  I hoped that the combination of hills and muddy lumpy towpath would be enough to prepare me for the race. 

I knew that a trail run would take longer than a road 10k but didn’t really know how much longer. I decided that my goal was just to finish and not to give myself a target time.   

I was really nervous on race day and didn’t really know what to expect.  It was a fairly windy day and had been raining a lot in the days before the race, which didn’t help my nerves.

I got talking to another runner while waiting at the start line. It was her first time at the race as well and she was pretty nervous too.  A couple of other runners overheard and started chatting to us.  They’d completed the 10K quite a few times and told us that we’d be fine and that it was a really friendly race.  Their advice was to walk up the first hill, as most people do and only the really fast people run up it.  Just chatting to them helped to settle my nerves.

I decided to listen to their advice and walked up the first hill. There is 330m of ascent which is graded as ‘moderate’.   Everybody else around me was walking as well, and it seemed that the faster people who were able to run up it had long gone.  I’d always made a point of running up hills during road races, but if I’d done that on the trail run, it would really have sapped my energy.  I’m glad that I decided to walk for that bit.

It was pretty muddy in places, so practicing on the muddy bits of the tow path had been useful practice.  It had helped to build my confidence and also helped me to get used to my trail shoes.

I can normally manage a 10K with just a bit of water, but decided to take some fuel with me for the trail run in case I needed it.  I did resort to a couple of Jelly Babies after the first hill.  I don’t know if the benefit was physical or psychological, but the Jelly Babies definitely helped. 

It took about 30% longer to finish the trail run that it normally takes me to run a road 10k.  There were a couple of points where I could have run a bit faster, but slowed down a bit so that I could enjoy the views over Derwent Water.

I’m really glad that I entered the trail race.  It was good to get out of my comfort zone and to run something different from the road races I had been doing. It felt like a real achievement to complete the trail race.  I’m so pleased that I didn’t put pressure on myself with a target finish time.  Realistically, I’m never going to finish near the front, so why not slow down a bit and allow myself to enjoy the race experience.

Author: Sorrel Grantham

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