Hit Those Trails!

Anne Akers

I don’t know why, but some runners are hesitant when it comes to hitting the trails. I’ve heard all sorts of excuses, including, ‘I’m scared I might fall,’, ‘I don’t want to get my shoes dirty’ and, from an irreverent friend, ‘If God had meant us to run on trails, He wouldn’t have invented tarmac.’


Personally if I never ran on a road again, I wouldn’t shed a tear.  So what’s the attraction of off-road? A starting point is to ask why you run in the first place.


For me, it’s about being out there with nature, away from the hustle and bustle of life. I enjoy the smells of the trees and flowers in the spring and summer, the damp leaves in the autumn. There’s the sounds of birds singing and the splashing of streams, or in winter the crunching snow and ice. I love to see the colours of the changing seasons and feel the ground change under my feet, stones, gravel, mud, grass, leaves ah, yes, and sometimes poo, that’s one of the hazards of leaving the road behind. A small price to pay.


I think that one of the reasons for reluctance to hit the trails is fear of the unknown. Roads are easy, you just set off and follow the white or yellow lines. Trails require a bit more forethought, maybe even map-reading skills, though trails through park and woods are usually well-marked. Here in Leeds, we have such a fantastic choice of trails to run, ranging from parks with well-marked paths such as Temple Newsam, Roundhay and Golden Acre to woodland at Otley Chevin, Meanwood and my own local favourite at Calverley. And of course a few of the local parkruns are on trails, Bramley, Temple Newsam, Skipton and Oakwell Just get those shoes on and have a go. Unless it’s really muddy, road shoes are fine, though once you get hooked on trails, a whole new world of different shoes opens up.


Here’s a couple of trail race series to try: the Country Trail Races and Urban Trail Runner. Or just get out and give it a go!



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