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Running Britain – The 4 Elements To Trail Running

8am and the sun’s rays are turning my tent into a stinking humid greenhouse of body odour. I haven’t washed my clothes in two weeks. I’m not sure what woke me up first, the stench of my own sweat or the fact that the lightest tent in the word is so light it’s practically transparent, thus letting in all the suns energy to slow-cook me from dawn. Also 8am I hear you say??? Isn’t that quite late to be running 35 miles a day. The answer is yes, but this is because I had to run till 11pm the night before to make up the mileage. I then need to good 8 hours sleep to recover so wake up at 8am and now I’ll probably have to run till 11pm again . . . and so it continues.


It’s now time to find the four key elements to help me do any sort of useful mileage. The one benefit of getting up late is there’s a good chance I’ll find a café open in the next town. I always plan to sleep a mile or two just before a town so that I can get there first thing for breakfast.  That’s element one – food.

I pack up my kit and in stuffing my sleeping bag into its sack, which is ALWAYS too small for it I get a second wave of fumes. It nearly knocks me backwards. I really do stink. Luckily my one luxury for this run was deodorant and I proceed to cover myself, just like the handsome chap on the advert does. Somehow I think I’m not making it look quite as sexy as it is in my mind. Cue 100’s of women running at me. I look up. A squirrel runs away up a tree. That pretty much sums it up.

Moments after I pack up I’m on the road hobbling towards town. My muscles are in excruciating pain. I really need to get a massage and some ice baths but being self-supported makes that rather difficult, if not impossible. Stretching is also something I don’t do enough of, much like flossing, but it is so important. That’s element two – muscle management.


After a pretty horrendous attempt at stretching using a tree stump I use the powers of the internet to find a café. No 3G. Typical. Damn it. I might have to revert to the age-old art of conversation and ask someone for directions.

100 metres down the road I pass a river and realise I am pretty dehydrated. You can lose up to 750ml of water just in your breath overnight so it’s important to get some liquids in you as soon as you wake up. Drinking from a river outside a town in suburbia-ville is normally not a good idea but I have a cool filter which gets rid of 99.99% of all bacteria so I can fill up from any muddy puddle. That’s element three – hydration.

After breakfast I slowly start to eat into my daily mileage, which for today is 39 miles. It takes me most of the morning to warm up and it seems only after a second breakfast, a strong coffee and 2 litres of water do I start to make any sort of progress.

The day flies by as I try and find as many trails as possible on my Ordnance Survey Maps App on my phone, something I now swear by to keep me off the deadly roads – I’ve been run over once before in life. I don’t want it to happen again. Because of my late start it is soon dark but that doesn’t bother me. I kind of like it. Just me and the trail. It’s simple.

By 10.30pm I’ve done my 39 miles - 30 minutes ahead of schedule. I do a little dance and then set up my tent. The ground isn’t perfectly flat so I waste my 30 minutes by digging into the soil to get a flat surface for a good nights sleep. That’s element four – Sleep.


By 11.30pm I’m in la-la land dreaming that I’m Forrest Gump.

To manage a good day running and pushing more than 30 miles I needed all four elements; food, water, sleep and muscle management to fall into place. This is easy if you are supported by a campervan but if you’re out on your own you’re lucky to get one of those each day. If I’m honest I totally underestimated the difference and difficulty being self-supported would be, outside of the fact I have to carry 10% of my body weight on my back all day. Every day was a struggle and staying motivated was pretty tough. Would I have done it any other way though? Hell no!!!! I bloody ran Britain properly.