Running | Winter Trail Running Guide

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It’s fun to be a trail runner in the winter months.

Running up in the hills in the snow, dashing round trails in the rain can be exhilarating but all too often mountain rescue and other emergency services are called out to assist people who just aren’t properly equipped to be out exploring the local hills and countryside.

Be you a newbie to trail running or perhaps you see yourself as a bit of a “pro”. Preparation is essential to keeping yourself safe and prevent unnecessary call outs and the use of stretched and limited emergency resources.

Mountain rescue are an invaluable resource, run by a team of volunteers.  Looking after yourself means that you can prevent an emergency and potentially life threatening situation before it occurs. 

Dress according to the weather and always carry layers.  If you fall over and sprain your ankle for example you are going to get cold fast and even the layers you have on are not going to keep you warm for long in winter conditions. Carry a waterproof jacket (with taped seams) and a foil blanket. Pack a warm hat and gloves.

ALWAYS wear a good pair of well fitted trail shoes. The good grip will help prevent you from slipping on varied surfaces and uneven terrain.

Running in shorts and t-shirt in the snow might look  “hardcore” but full length running tights are better advised… if your muscles are cold while you run you are at a higher risk of injury. Wrap up in warm breathable clothing designed for runners. There are great running tights for both men and women, so guys, don’t think that this advice is not for you!  

Remember how unpredictable the weather can be. Temperatures can fall very quickly, sudden downpours of rain or high wind and snow can be upon you in a matter of minutes… Be prepared – we live in the North of England!

Plan your route, take a map if you are unsure of the area and have a GPS device to help with navigation.

ALWAYS make sure someone knows where you are running.  A rough route and the time you expect you’ll be back is all they will need to know but this tiny piece of information can mean the difference between life and death in some circumstances. Then arrange to call that person when you finish your run as a check in.  If nobody knows where you are then that can mean a lot of ground to cover looking for you should something go wrong and a lot of lost time if know one realises you are missing in the first place.

Carry a fully charged phone, you should always be able to call emergency services even without signal. 

Where possible run with a group… “safety in numbers”.

Carry food and water, if you end up going off track and adding extra miles in you want to have enough fuel with you to recharge your batteries. Drained energy levels can mean you tire quickly and get yourself into trouble if you have a long way to go. An energy gel, cereal bar or some sweets can be a great pick me up to keep you going both mentally as well as physically. 

If you are out on a long run or running later in the day carry a head torch… Runs don’t always go to plan and you should be prepared if it were to get dark sooner than expected.

Carry a whistle to alert other trail users /emergency services to you should you run into trouble. 

If you are running somewhere that you don’t know at all and are not experienced at map reading why not hire an experienced guide or join the local running clubs whilst you are in the area.  Look on the Fell Runners Association website for local races or look up races that are fully marked and run them whilst you are away… It’s a great way to learn new routes and run safely.

If you are new to trail running  join a running group or run with an experienced running coach. They’ll be able to give you loads of valuable trail running advice from technique, to kit and you get to learn trail routes being led by experienced runners and with the safety of a group.  You can then go back and run these routes on your own as you become more confident!

Stay Safe, Happy Trail Running!