Run the Wild Times

Exploring places... not running races.

2016 Autumn Issue - No.11

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Welcome to Run the Wild's Autumn newsletter! 
We hope you had a great summer of trail running. At this time of year the evenings get colder and darker, paths get muddier and it's often difficult to keep motivated but the brave will be rewarded! The Autumn colours are truly inspirational and you're more likely to get the trails to yourself. In this issue we look at how to tackle mud and puddles on the trail, look at new running adventures to put in your calendar for 2017, update you on our exciting new affiliation with Runners Need as well as present the last installment of our series on map reading! We hope you enjoy our latest articles and look forward to seeing you on one of our running adventures!

The Team @ Run the Wild

Running Through Mud

Simon James

We’ve all been there, crashing along a trail and then rounding a bend, find a massive puddle in front of you. What do you do? Do you, like most people try to get on the edge of the footpath to avoid the muddy foot bath?! Or do you plough on through into the unknown depths? Here are a few tips on how to avoid getting mud on your face this Autumn.

What colour is it?
The colour and consistency of the soil and mud will tell us a lot about how slippery it could be when wet and also how likely puddles are going to be. Without getting your portable chemistry set out, let’s do a quick check of the most common encounters… 

  • White: If it’s white then we’re talking chalk, in my experience the worst soil type to be on if it’s wet. I have seen many a brave man or woman think they can outwit this slippery customer. As soon as the rain hits you’re looking at something with the consistency of wet soap. Not worth doing any sudden movements or turns, ideally you want to find the grass and avoid the white stuff like the plague, otherwise you will fall and it will hurt. Note, puddles in chalk often form in quite deep ruts as the water cannot escape.

  • Orange: Next worse one - clay. Same as above for chalk. You’ll also be pleased with how quickly your treads fill up with both these sorts of mud, rendering them completely useless. Mud on mud. So a top tip is to take a moment and either wash it off or wipe it off on the grass, getting some grip back. 

  • Yellow: If it’s yellow… then it’s probably quite sandy, the consistency of the track might be made of gravel as well and for either this shouldn’t be a problem in wet ground, charge on through. 

  • Black: Most likely peat. Doesn’t normally stick to your shoe like the white and orange mud but it will be a sign of very wet areas. This could be a long day out, best just stick to the path. 

  • Brown: Just your usual mud, get stuck in bearing in mind the other techniques talked about below.

  • Green: Grass. Grass is always the better option than chalk or clay but not always vs. other terrain. Most accidents occur when people are descending wet grass, unfortunately there are no "grass training courses" but the best technique is to keep your centre of mass low and knees bent.  

  • Purple: Not all grass is made equal. If you’ve ever run in the hills in the UK, such as Snowdonia, the Lakes or Scotland then you may have spotted areas of purple grass, commonly known as ‘purple moor grass’. Despite it's purple appeal it’s best avoided as it likes swampy ground. A good tip to avoid a dip.

Get a grip
Having sufficient tread on your trail shoe (if you can keep it from getting clogged up) as well as the right grip type for the terrain is going to make a big difference. From massive lugs, to old school spikes and everything inbetween, trail shoes have many different treads, they are also made of different softness of rubber, grip patterns and depth of grip. Know which ones have the best grip for your terrain.

Be brave
Most of the time its best to just plough straight on through, keeping your stride and gait unchanged. That way you won’t risk a slip on the edge of the path which could see you not only land puddle bound but worse with a twisted an ankle.

Hidden depths
Some puddles are worse than others, watch out for those ones at the side of roads which could see you knee deep or have an uneven bottom. Be aware of narrow tracks which mountain bikers and horses use which can deep uneven ruts.

Bog off
Just avoid bogs, areas of the Peak District are notorious. You can spend days getting out of those. If you do get stuck in them, spread your weight out as much as possible.

Tread lightly
Be like Jesus and try to walk on water. Well what I mean is don’t put too much faith in each footing, moving quickly to the next foot will reduce the time you’re sinking into the mud. You can also reduce the weight on one foot by doing a mini step, hopping quickly to the next foot, just remember you’ll land more heavily on the next step.

Keep warm
Leggings or better still a good coating of freshly dried mud will keep your legs warm so you can tackle all the mud and puddles on route with warm and reactive muscles.

Use your poles
As George Orwell once wrote... "4 legs are better than 2". Use the poles to dance along the path, jump the puddles with added security. Possibly even stop and use them as a depth gauge. Keep your hands out of the straps if you are at risk of falling, broken wrists are worse than muddy legs.

Which way is north?
Not that old chestnut again! Yes I like knowing where I am. It’s also true that paths that run east-west have more puddles on the southern aspect. Yes I am a nerd.

Goretex trail shoes?
Tricky one, depends on whether you are going to be consistently running through puddles, if so, don't bother with waterproof shoes as they are more likely to become waterlogged as the water struggles to get out.

Pick your moment
I remember hurtling along a particularly muddy, puddly stretch using the “Be brave” motto as above, when as I came to a corner in the trail, I spotted a family. Clearly out for a nice morning stroll in their wellies. Kindly, they all stepped back off the path allowing me to pass, I didn’t even need to slow down. Feeling in my element with mud splashed up the sides of my legs, the true symbol of a gnarly wild trail runner I approached the corner with speed. In reply to their kind gesture I managed to just about get out the “good” part of “good morning” as my legs went from under me and I hit the deck. Turning in mud, and at speed is unwise, it’s also embarrassing when people watch. Make sure the coast is clear before you clown around, unless of course you’re taking part in tough mudder… 

Written by Simon James, Run the Wild Founder

Get yourself buff this Autumn...!

Now available to purchase: morfs (neck tubes) for £7.95 (+P&P) as well as high quality hoodies with our logo and motif "Exploring places... not running races", for sale on our website. Click here for more info


New trail adventures for 2017...

2 Day Event

Chiltern Hills Challenge

1 Day Event

Discover Run the Wild

We felt it was time to put on some more UK events, so this February and March we will be hosting 2 events based in the beautiful Chilterns. With easy access by road and rail, as well as only 30 minutes from London it makes for a quick getaway trail running break. Our brand new Discover Run the Wild running adventure covers around 13 miles over rolling hills and through woodland, taking only a few hours. If you fancy a bit more of a challenge then check out the Chiltern Hills Challenge which covers around 36 miles over 2 days. Both are perfect if you are training for a spring marathon (particularly London) and come with the usual Run the Wild guiding service, tech t-shirt, logistics and our famous picnic stops!

Both events still have space so sign-up today!

Geographically Challenged? Part VI


Welcome to Part VI, the last article about map reading in this series about map reading. If you want to catch up on the last articles then check out the link to the old issues. We have covered most aspects from how to read a map, the ground, navigating using just natural clues, the moon and the sun, as well as using a compass,so you have no excuse to be lost anymore! This last article covers GPS devices, what they are, their advantages and also limitations and how best to use them.

There are many types of GPS (Global Positioning System) available on the market. They are gaining a lot of momentum particularly with trail runners in a wrist watch format.They can be a powerful tool and provide some level of certainty that can be comforting particularly if you are starting to feel lost. However, the ability to read a map and compass can never be superseded by a GPS.

What is a GPS device?
It's a handheld device, also found in smartphones and specialist watches made by Garmin and Suunto that picks up the signal of several satellites to establish it's position on the surface of the earth to an accuracy of just a few metres. A standard GPS will be able to record it's position over time so you can record the route you have followed, normally including altitude gain / loss as well as providing you with real time information on the GPS coordinates, given out as either latitude / longitude or grid references. Another really useful feature is 'waymarking' which can either be used to mark a point that you want to return to in the future (useful in recceing a route) or entering coordinates (or grid reference) of a place that you want to head to. Putting in a 'waypoint' and following the instructions on the GPS will take you to that point, only problem is it will take you straight there whether there is a ravine or raging river directly crossing your path, and not provide a useful route. Some GPS will also come with an internal compass and altimeter. It's usually amazingly accurate and powerful tool in the right hands, but you need to be familiar with how it works and also set it up correctly to make the right readings..  

The advantages of a GPS:

  • Precision - knowing exactly where you are is not only comforting it is also necessary during mountain rescue. If you are in a stressful situation a GPS is a good way to double check your position

  • Zero-visibility - if you don't know which way is up, let alone north, then the GPS can take you directly you to a marked point (waypoint) this is really useful during low cloud, blizzards etc, when there are no features to identify your position.

  • No second chances - say you need to descend a narrow spur from a ridge, either side being a fatal cliff drop, the GPS will confirm whether you are in the right position.

  • Proximity alarm - will tell you when you are getting near to your set destination, Imagine how different the 1996 disaster on Everest (as written about in 'Into thin Air') would have been if all the climbers had a GPS and waymarked their highcamp.

The disadvantages:

  • The batteries are used up rapidly

  • It does not provide you with a method of getting to your destination, just a straight line as the crow flies

  • It's easy to have a user error

  • They don't provide you with the big picture

There are pros and cons. There is no point in owning a GPS unless you know how to make it work. I have seen in quite a few trail races someone confidently shout it's a particular way, reading off a GPS and head off the wrong path. The same problem can exist for poor map reading. The GPS is most powerful when it is used in addition to our main-stay tool of reading a map and reading the ground, throw this in the mix and you're onto a winner, on its own it's almost useless. It certainly won't tell you how you should get from point A to B or indeed how long it will take via a viable route. I've certainly found them particularly useful in winter conditions. 

We hope you enjoyed our series on map reading - don't get lost out there!

New Gear Partner

Discounts with Runners Need


Coaching service by Neil Bryant

We are really excited to announce our new affiliation with Runners Need! If you sign up to a Run the Wild holiday then you will be entitled to a discount at nationwide stores (subject to usual T&Cs). Really handy for purchasing new trail shoes to cope with all the mud out there! Thank you Runners Need!

Neil lives in Chamonix and has accrued an impressive range of trail races, placing highly in each, from the Trans-Europe, Frostskade 500, Spine, UTMB to the Hardmoors 110. Neil Bryant's Coaching Service offers a bespoke, remote coaching service for all levels of trail running. Get in touch here...

Alps Trips

Intro to trail running, based in Chamonix

Run further in 2017!

Run the TMB this July 2017

"A perfect introduction to running in the Alps that left us all wanting to come back for more" Annie

"Best running experience ever with a passionate team looking after you." Scott

Gear Partners

Our trusted partners are Cotswold Outdoor, Runners Need, Merrell (shoes), Injinji (socks), Aarn (packs), Suprabeam (torches) and GU (nutrition). We have secured discounts with our partners so if you partake in a holiday with us you will also benefit. Kit is important and it's often a costly investment that is there to look after you.

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 Neil Bryant for specific trail running coaching, Reebok Sports Club who are on hand to provide any gym based training tips, and also PND Consulting for all things nutritional!

What makes us different?

When you join a Run the Wild trip you are looked after from beginning to end, you become part of Run the Wild. Your qualified guide is a member of the Run the Wild team and is supported throughout the trip by a Run the Wild logistic team including refreshments stops of local produce. We include dinner on the first night in all our adventures. There are no hidden charges. We are passionate about you having a running adventure of a lifetime, making friends and hitting the trails. Find out more here.

"Exploring places... not running races."


Keep in touch!

This newsletter is 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. If you'd like to submit an article for the newsletter please email us.

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