Run the Wild Times

Exploring places... not running races.

February 2015, Issue - No.4

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Welcome to Run the Wild's fourth newsletter! 
It's been a busy start to 2015 with lots of exciting running adventures starting in May. We hope you enjoy the articles in this this edition of Run the Wild Times...

The Team @ Run the Wild

11 ways to improve your running endurance

by Simon James - Founder


One way of emulating a tougher, longer run is to do an intense workout over a relatively short period of time. This is particularly helpful if you don't have much time on your hands as high intensity exercise can create similar fatigue levels to much longer, low level intensity exercise. I've often worn a heavy rucksack whilst on a cross trainer to replicate the muscle demands of climbing at high altitude, and if done properly, a high intensity, 45 minute workout can force your body into increasing your metabolism and boosting your respiratory rate.

The other great thing about a high intensity workout is the greater mental strength obtained; learning not to give up when things get tough. But remember, this only works if you really push yourself. Don't get tempted to rack up junk miles, that is, miles which don't have any real purpose as these will not help. Instead you must commit to stepping out of your comfort zone and pushing yourself as hard as you can.


Running uphill is hard, but they will make your muscles stronger and your body more efficient at dealing with lactic acid. I found the best method was to find a nearby hill (can be tricky in London) and then run up it as fast as you can, jogging back down for recovery. I found that repeating in 3 sets of 8 will show some gains. Or simply next time you are on the treadmill, rack up the gradient.

Another positive is that running up hill reduces the impact on your joints, although be careful coming downhill. This training really does work, and again not only makes you physically stronger but also increases your mental toughness.


We’ve all heard of celebrities that run 50 marathons in 50 days, but for most of us the thought of just running one is bordering on crazy. When I was training for the toughest endurance challenge I’ve faced, the Marathon Des Sables, I had to get my body used to running a marathon every day. The first time I ever ran 20 miles on a Saturday and then got up to do another 20 on the Sunday was brutal and I wasn't quick, but our bodies are very good at adjusting.

Whatever distance you are preparing for, the benefit of running back to back still applies to your training. Just make sure you fuel, rest and provide enough recovery for your muscles (such as massage) and give yourself some days off before you try another back to back.


If you spend all day on your feet rather than sitting down in an office, then not only will you be fitter but your stamina will increase significantly. Baristas have notoriously good stamina as they spend hours on their feet (they’re also able to make wicked coffee, great for those long night runs!).

But if you can’t change your career in the pursuit of greater endurance then try to just have a more active day at work. Stand more, walk on your lunch break and take the stairs. Small gains can take you great distances.


Your core muscles are absolutely vital to your ability to run effectively and efficiently and if you want to find out how good yours are then try going to a comedy club. Seriously; you’ll immediately discover those infamous deep core muscles if you start laughing. If you neglect your core, then you haven't really connected your legs to the rest of your body correctly.

If your legs can run for 50 miles and your core is weak well it’s going to be a tough day out there. Pilates is great for those transverse abdominis, as are exercises like planks and crunches. But for some good fun and a great workout, why not mix it up and put in some laughs too.


I’m always shocked when I meet runners who have only ever run on treadmills. The world outside is an amazing place and it’s just waiting for you to explore it. Running off-road certainly reduces the amount of joint impact but don’t think that makes it’s a softer option. You can make it as demanding as you like and certainly provide a full body workout.

Running on the trails provides a varied surface which not only works a wider range of muscle groups, but also forces you to concentrate on your stride pattern and your breathing. Breaking up your routine will not only make your running interesting it will also increases your overall endurance.


You need to ensure that your muscles stay in tip top condition and a great way is to make sure you stretch correctly. Two of my favourite stretches are the soleus stretch (lower part of your calf muscle) and the adductor stretch (the muscles on the inside of your legs which bring your legs towards each other).

For the soleus put the leg that you want to stretch immediately behind the other as though you were standing on a line. Then move the back foot slightly further forward so that the toes on your rear foot sit slightly on top of the shoe of the front foot. Then slowly bend both knees keeping your weight over your back foot as though you were going to sit down. You should feel a nice stretch in the lower part of your calf muscle.

My second stretch focuses on the adductors and is great for watching TV. Sit down on the floor as though you were going to sit cross legged. Instead of crossing your legs try to put the soles of your feet together so that your knees are bent outwards. You can increase this stretch by gently pushing down and away on your knees. Make sure that you hold each stretch for at least 20 seconds and only do after you are warmed up or as part of your warm-down and stop if you feel any pain.


Put the running shoes down, running every day is not good for you. Your body needs rest. Hiking is a great way to explore the outdoors and also break up that intense schedule you’re working on from the points above. You’ll still build on your endurance as it also uses many of the same muscle groups as running, but with reduced impact. You might even learn something new, like how trees can be used as a compass (no, really they can).


Keep things as comfortable as you can for as long as possible. If you have comfortable running gear including comfy, effective trail shoes, a light running pack and tasty nutritious snacks, will not only help you work harder; you’ll want to stay out for longer too. Whatever the weather there is always a comfortable bit of kit that will keep the weather out and you training hard.


Adrenaline can go a long way, so keep things interesting by signing up to a zombie run, being chased by a dog (now you understand the relevance of the picture above!), preferably your own, or just running somewhere that gets the heart rate going (safely of course!). There is nothing like the intensity of a workout if it is engaged with a healthy injection of fear. There are also a number of training Apps that can make your training a bit more fun. My main point here is that similar to taking a hike or running on trails, it is vital to keep your runs interesting and varied.

11. REST

Finally, rest is so very important. This is where your body has a chance to repair all the damaged muscle fibres and get stronger. If you don’t do this you will get weaker. The more you train the more rest you will need. Tapering is such an important part ahead of an endurance event. Go in fresh and ready for the challenge both physically and mentally.

So let’s put this all together. Increasing your endurance requires some hard work and dedication but it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. You can make it into an amazing journey with the opportunity to run some stunning trails from local footpaths to the high mountain ranges of the Alps. Along the way you will learn how to fight on through the pain to achieve your goal. If you train smart, you’ll run harder, stronger, faster; pushing the very boundaries of what you thought possible. So get outside and have some adventures, learn new skills and make new friends, it’s all out there.

Written for Cotswold Outdoor by Simon James

Alps trips that cater for all abilities...

So whether you want to run 104 miles around the base of Mt Blanc or whether you've never run on footpaths before, we have plenty of trips for you to choose from. 2015 has seen an introduction of the Intermediate and Advanced Trips. We still have some availability on all our trips on selected dates so please check out the website and sign up to your next running adventure!

How do you train for an ultra?

by Chris Walker - Lead Runner UK

Ultrarunning as a sport has been around now for arguably 40 years or so and possibly for a lot longer, before the ancient Greeks and if we believe the theories put forth in “Born to Run”, well before anyone thought of ‘training’! 

Many questions are asked in ultramarathon runners forums about training for specific distances or events but many are from people looking to step up the distance to an ultra race at some point and are asking advice as to how to adapt their training to this new challenge. And here is were I think ultrarunning shows its true difference.  Because not many of the answers are perhaps what they expect. Rarely are there any specific distances talked of or heart rate zones suggested and barely a mention of periodization. No ‘normal’ answers then. Not a ‘normal’ sport.

In fact, getting into running ultras could be a way to avoid the kind of gruelling, pace based training that makes training for shorter distances so draining. I believe that the moment you head off road the less manageable training becomes. The changes in terrain and conditions off road mean we have to approach training differently. 

You can of course use heart rate monitors and GPS watches to help manage your efforts but I think the reason many runners go long is because they don’t like prescribed training, and ultra running as a sport allows us in on those terms and breaks free from some of the usual conformities.

I believe that training for and racing ultras is as much a matter of training your brain as well as your body. I won't speak for anyone else here but I don’t think I’m alone….. I don’t like training! I like running and I also like racing as fast as possible but training? No. Let me explain what I mean by training:

An interval session on a Thursday evening at the local track? Training.
A few hours running in the hills or mountains? NOT training.
A tempo run on a straight flat pavement between my town and the next? Training
Getting out for a quick run through the local woods in the late afternoon sunshine? NOT training.

It's difficult to escape the numbers game when focussing on distances less than a marathon but in ultramarathon running it allows me to run more on feel and to enjoy my time outside. Not constantly looking at a watch for timings but running wild and using the technology to keep a log afterwards.

For many of us, the sort of technology that can be worn on your wrist is exactly what motivates us to get out of the house and on the trails. Apps like Strava can be an even greater motivator for improvement as we are encouraged to take sections and climb records from other local runners that God forbid we should ever meet on a run on the same hill!

Does a watch, a phone or a GPS make you faster, help you finish or even win?
If you follow a strict running plan does it mean greater success? 

Sometimes reducing the amount of training and increasing some recovery periods can really help your performance. There are many elements of training that can be mystery to us, both it's mix and intensity can vary between person and week to week in our own lives. I'm sure we've all had training runs where we have surprised ourselves with our speed or how easy a run felt for no reason we could think of. 

As a functional therapist and trainer I have noticed that these peaks can have a lot more to do with the brain and the mechanics behind the walking gait (yes I said walking) than what heart rate zone you were in. The further away we get from optimal movement the more difficult it becomes to perform optimally. Personally I'm a big fan of striving towards minimalism and I’ve always maintained as minimalist an approach as I can.

I love the idea of running in just shorts and barefoot trail shoes with the sun on my back.

But I’ll need my watch.

Oh and my phone for Strava.

And my race vest so I can carry water.

And my Ipod of course……..

Chris Walker is our UK Lead Runner and Qualified Functional Therapist and Physical Trainer

Gear evening with Cotswold Outdoor!

Come and meet the Run the Wild Team at Cotswold Outdoor in London
6.30pm for 7pm start, Wednesday 25 March 2015
Event Details
Come and find out all there is to know about the latest trail running kit available, presented by an unbiased team of Cotswold specialists.
The focus of the evening will be on Trail Shoes, Waterproof Jackets, Running Packs and GPS Devices. A short introduction will be made by Run the Wild. You will also be able to sample the latest energy drinks and foods. All ticket holders will be able to take advantage of some amazing special offers, available on the night only, as well as being entered into a prize draw.

Full details and how to sign up:

See you there!


Spaces still available for our Chiltern Hills Challenge

Lead Runner Challenge...

Follow Benno as he attempts to cross the North West Passage

Gear Partners

Run the Wild is affiliated with Cotswold Outdoors, GU (nutrition), Injinji (socks), Aarn (packs) and Suprabeam (torches). You'll also get plenty of gear advice on any one of our trips from packs to poles. If in doubt about what to buy before a trip please get in touch. We are partners with Reebok Sports Club who are on hand to provide any gym based training tips, and also PND Consulting for all things nutritional!

More on Benno...

January 2015 will be the start of an incredible journey as myself, 2 others and a couple of dogs set out to be the first team to traverse the 1900 miles of the frozen North West Passage, continuing three centuries of Canadian and British exploration in the region and setting a new record for the longest unsupported and unaided polar journey.

To do this we will be dragging sledges, weighing over 200kgs, containing all the necessary food and equipment to survive on the frozen Arctic ocean for four months in some of the harshest weather conditions on the planet.

The North West Passage (NWP), sought by many of the greatest explorers for over 300 years, is one of the most famous stretch of water in the world, linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The Passage was first sailed by Roald Amundsen in 1906 but the area had been almost completely mapped by many Royal Naval and Hudson Bay Company expeditions including those by Parry, Ross, Rae and Franklin. Sir John Franklin would lose his life in 1847 searching for the passage and in 2014 one of his ships was finally discovered after numerous rescue and later recovery expeditions.

The NORTH expedition aims to emulate these great feats and continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in the Arctic by completing the first ever man-powered journey across the locked sea ice and set the record for the longest ever polar journey.

Keep in touch!

This newsletter will be a regular feature but if you'd like to keep up to date please follow us on the usual channels as well as keeping an eye on the website. We also want to hear from you about your favourite trails. We will send out any interesting exerts in the next edition!

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