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THE PATH LESS TRODDEN

SPEND A FEW MONTHS EXPLORING YOUR LOCAL TRAILS AND YOU COULD LEARN SOME VALUABLE RUNNING LESSONS, SAYS ELIZABETH HUFTON

Like many timid runners, my first efforts consisted of little loops. I’d run on footpaths around my local park, or circuits around local housing estates. As I began running further, while I knew soft ground would be better for my body, I still wouldn’t venture off road – it seemed too hard to find stable paths to plot routes on, and I had visions of being lost in a terrifying wilderness, despite living in one of the country’s tamest areas. When I moved to a small Wiltshire town in 2015, though, I decided to make a concerted effort to stay off the pavements. This was partly because the pavements in said town are about 18 inches wide and generally take me up very steep gradients. But also because the town has a very inviting canal towpath leading out into a stunning valley, with networks of lovely trails and bridleways. I’m not about to run a Skyrace any time soon, but my willingness to explore new routes off-road has expanded over the past few years – and here’s what it’s taught me about trail running.

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About Women’s Running

Ready to take your running off-road? Then make sure you pick up a copy of the October issue of Women’s Running – our trail special. If you’re a complete beginner, you’ll find advice for taking those first steps on the trails and, for the more experienced off-road enthusiasts, tips from the pros – find out how to “ascend like a mountain goat and descend like a demon”. With expert guides to finding the right trail shoes for you, exclusive reviews of the latest off-road shoes and top-to-toe kit suggestions for every off-road eventuality, we’ve also got your off-road wardrobe sorted. And if you’re struggling for inspiration to take your running off road, look no further than our interview with cover star Susie Chan, whose passion for trail running has taken her from the desert to the jungle. Prefer to stick to the roads? No problem. Try our sharp sessions for 10K runners – or, if you’re taking on the longer distance, don’t miss our complete race-day guide for serious marathon runners, packed with all the advice you’ll need on making your race day seamless.
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