Your guide to a wild running holiday - Women's Running

Your guide to a wild running holiday

Author: Tina Chantrey

Read Time:   |  June 22, 2022

We find out exactly what we need to prep, plan and pack for a wild running holiday

Running holidays are growing in popularity every year, and we can see why. Spending your evenings under the stars by a campfire, meandering trail runs during the day…it sounds pretty dreamy to us!

The best part? You don’t have to travel very far to enjoy a running holiday adventure. We have many adventurous trails and zen locations in the UK to fulfil your wanderlust.

So, we’re ready to grab our backpack and head off. What next? We get expert advice on what we need to prep, plan and pack for a wild running holiday.

How do I prepare for my first wild running holiday?

If you’ve never camped before, it’s worth starting small. Taking on an epic challenge with many miles or hills, while you’re carrying all your gear on your back, is something to work towards.

Investigate your options. You could choose wild camping next to a loch, backpacking to different locations, or having your boot full of provisions and turning up at a campsite. A self-supported camping holiday with endless day trips along the trails is achievable and affordable for anyone, regardless of running ability. Whether you get away on your own, head to a race and camp for the weekend, or take the family, the beauty of this type of holiday is that it is flexible.

“When first contemplating a trail running and camping adventure, it’s worth thinking about how comfortable you are with camping,” says Emily Scott (@adventure_scottie). Emily climbed Scotland’s 282 Munros – that’s mountains over 3,000ft – in one continuous, self-propelled solo journey in 2018. “If it’s going to be your first time, it’s probably worth sticking to a campsite. If you are comfortable with wild camping, but haven’t run with your camping gear before, consider planning a two-day trip to start with so you can ease yourself in gently with just one night’s camping to see how it goes.”

Popular-long distance trails, such as the West Highland Way, have options where you can do a self-guided trip with baggage transportation. This means you run between camp spots, but have your bags dropped off at the end of each day. This keeps weight in your backpack to a minimum and you can camp in style, without having to haul your tent around with you.

Where do I stay on a wild running holiday?

If you plan to run a lot every day, it’s important to factor in how much you are carrying. The more weight you carry, the less enjoyable the running will be – and also the greater risk of injury. “A trail run with B&B stops might be preferable to running and camping, or consider a very lightweight, minimal setup instead,” says Emily. “A bivvy bag rather than a tent will be much more space efficient and lighter, but make sure you check the weather forecast.”

Laura Jones (@explaura_) is the co-founder of Campfire Wild Adventures (@campfirewildadventures) and an Ellis Brigham ambassador.

She advises to start local. “There’s a chance you might forget something. Also, don’t underestimate how much slower you might be moving with all your kit. Then get more adventurous as you get used to it. Don’t rush. With everything you need on your back, you can take your time.”

When it comes to pitching your tent, choose your spot well. “An extra 10 minutes searching for that perfect spot is worth it. Remember that wild camping is not permitted everywhere – you may need the landowners’ permission.”

What should I take on a wild camping holiday?

The four main basic items you need are a tent, backpack, sleeping bag and sleep mat. It’s worth spending extra cash on your running and sleeping comfort. All of your essentials need to be lightweight, be able to be packed small. Then you will have some space for spare clothing such as waterproofs and cooking equipment.

Backpacks shouldn’t be too big. They need to be comfortable while running with a waist belt, so test them first. Bladder storage is ideal, as are lots of internal storage options. Make sure the pack is waterproof and if not, invest in dry bags, especially for spare kit.

Sleeping bags should be lightweight, pack down small and provide warmth down to 5 degrees minimum. Even in the summer the temperature can drop at night. Sleeping mats should be self-inflating. A bivvy bag option is ultra-lightweight for races, but consider whether your other kit will stay safe from the elements.

If you’re thinking of investing in a tent, try to find one that allows the inner and outer layer to be pitched at the same time. Ideally you want limited poles and a hydrostatic (water protection) rating of at least 5,000ml to protect you from the UK weather.

Then, of course, you need your trail running kit. You’ll need a great pair of trail running shoes, along with layers that you can take on or off depending on the weather – you could try a vest, a long-sleeved t-shirt and a lightweight waterproof jacket.

How do I stay safe on a wild running holiday?

If you’re going on trails that are new to you, make sure you stay safe while running. Downloading some apps can help you stay on track.

  • Avoid wrong turns that add unexpected miles using an app such as RunGo, which will give you turn-by-turn voice navigation.
  • The OS Maps app means you don’t have to worry about paper getting soggy in the rain.
  • The NeverAlone+ app is programmed to contact a phone number of your choice if you remain in one place for a set time, sending a pre-programmed SMS message along with your GPS location.

Remember that, in remote places, you may struggle to find phone service so out-and-back runs, or a loop can also provide peace of mind.

“If you’re going out into the mountains or into more remote places, you’ll need to make sure you’re equipped to deal with things not going quite to plan,” suggests Emily.

“Having waterproof outer shells, a warm layer and some spare socks in a dry bag will make a difference in bad weather, and having a map and compass are crucial in the mountains, if you know how to use them.”

Tina Chantrey

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