It’s one thing kitting yourself out for a winter run, but a totally different prospect if you’re going to set out on a trail run. For the rundown on getting started, then read our article From Tarmac to Mud – First Steps in Trail Running for the basics. We didn’t really go into the details there of what kit you really need, so here’s a kitlist as well as Tryfan from Tryf’s Blog on his first Trail Run.
Of course, Mud and Routes being what it is, we don’t make things easy. That’s for the likes of Trail Magazine. If you’re going to do it, do it well and so instead of ‘just’ a trail run we went on a night jaunt around the Gwyrfai Common which is basically a heather covered bog and rather muddy.
1 – Shoes. On a dry path, or forestry track you can get away with your usual road shoes with care. However, if it’s muddy or wet they just won’t cut it and you’ll need a pair of proper trail shoes. I’ve gone the whole hog and run in Salomon Speedcross 3 shoes that are the grippiest footwear I’m yet to encounter. They even grip faultlessly on wet rock, something essential in Snowdonia as wet slate is about as dangerous a surface as you can find. Tryf tried out the More Mile Cheviot 2s.
2 – Socks. Obvious perhaps, but will your socks be comfortable when wet as your feet WILL get wet if you’re doing this trail running malarkey right. Many trail running shoes aren’t waterproof, and even if they are they won’t protect you from a shoeful of water when you find that puddle is deep enough to swallow half your leg. A good compromise are waterproof socks – I wore the Sealskinz (with a review to follow)
3 – Bottoms. This is up to you and the weather. I prefer a pair of ultralight windproof trousers with full length leggings underneath if it’s really cool. Shorts are also an option, or running tights. I might carry a pair of really lightweight over-trousers if it was a long enough trip and the weather extreme enough, but that would be an exception.
4 – Baselayer. I tend to go for a lightweight compression top in winter but that’s a personal choice. I can get away with this as my shell is warmer than your usual GoreTex.
5 – Shell – windproof or waterproof, depending on the weather. A shell can be more sweaty than it’s worth, but I usually run in a Paramo Qito Jacket during the winter and it performs wonderfully. I’ve also used a Montane Spektr (review to follow) on similar runs and didn’t find it to be too sweaty. If you’re working hard you won’t find a waterproof that’ll cope with all that sweat. If you do then you’re probably not running hard enough! If it’s not wet, then a lightweight wind-proof is the ideal choice.
7 – Navigation – You’ll need some navigational skills, or prior knowledge of the route. An ideal situation is to choose a route that you’ve already walked, which gives you a clear idea of how tough it’s going to be and how to find your way around. Harvey’s Mountain Maps are compact and take up hardly any space. A smartphone with an app such as Back Country Navigator installed is a great backup plan. I tend to use it almost exclusively these days as the paid for app costs the same as an OS map and allows you to view the maps when there’s no signal – e.g.every time you actually need to use it.
I’ve always got a GPS watch, but while they’re brilliant for logging your run they don’t have a facility to display the grid reference which is an oversight by Garmin as that could prove to be a lifesaver.
8 – Nutrition – If you’re starting out then you’re probably not going out for a long run. You might want to take a couple of gels, but unless you’re going out on a seriously long run then you don’t need anything. If you’re going on a seriously long run then you really don’t need me to tell you what to take on your run do you?
9 – Waist-pack – This holds all those extras, even the camera. If I run in a new area, then I’ve often got the camera and stop to take some photos. You could take a lightweight pack as well, but again this one’s a personal choice.
10 – Microspikes – If it’s real winter conditions, then you can still run in reasonable safety with some Kahtoola microspikes. I’d feel more secure with these on ice than on a muddy trail any day.
Finally – you just need the motivation to get out there. How did Tryfan cope? Follow this link to find out!