Hitting the trails for a few hours is a brilliant way to destress and what better way to distance yourself from others than out in the open countryside?

Although races and going to the gym are off the cards for a while, getting fresh air and exercise is actively recommended as it will help keep you feeling mentally and physically well.

Alexandra Parren, Ultra Marathon Runner and Content Manager at Sundried gives five tips for runners who are practising social distancing and may be more used to hitting the roads than the trails.

Muddy runner

Preparation is key

When you head out for a road run, you can easily get away with chucking on shorts and a t-shirt, lacing up, and getting straight out there. However, trail running demands more preparation and you will need to make sure you have all the essentials for safety and comfort. Your top priority should be making sure everything with a battery is fully charged before you head out, this includes your running watch and mobile phone. It is advisable to take a spare pair of shoes and dry socks in case you end up wading through a bog or muddy areas, plus a towel to dry off your feet, gloves and hat to keep warm, and a waterproof jacket in case the weather turns. It’s also a good idea to take a first aid kit and head torch too, but this depends on how long you expect your run to last.

Check your route before setting off

Plan your route

Following the preparation theme, planning your route in advance will take out any stress of getting lost and will help you to know what to expect with regards to elevation and terrain. In spring, many trails are still muddy and boggy and you may have to step through some deep puddles. Some trails are more grassy and so less likely to be muddy and wet, so planning ahead will help you to devise the most suitable route for you.

Runner on phone to stay in touch

Let people know where you’re going

Solo running is a great way to clear your head and to get away from it all, but you still need to make sure you are safe. Letting your family and/or friends know your intentions will help you to stay safe and can allow them to check in on you to make sure everything is going to plan. Tell them where exactly you will be running (including the name of the trail and the start/finish points), what time you are starting, how long you expect to be, and what time you expect to be finished. Arrange with them to get in contact once you’re finished so they know you haven’t got lost or into trouble.

Look after wildlife and nature

Watch out for wildlife and respect your surroundings

Many trails in the UK are protected by bodies such as the National Trust and include areas of open access land as well as private farmland and nature reserves. Make sure you close any gates you open and stick to waymarked paths. Give wildlife and farm animals plenty of space, especially as when you are running, animals may see you as more of a threat.

Happy trail runner

Remember to enjoy yourself and the scenery!

Trail running is a world away from road running and takes on a different tempo. Try not to let your time or pace dictate your run, instead enjoy your surroundings and don’t forget to look around every once in a while to enjoy the views. Trail running is generally slower than road running as you need to be careful of tree roots, rocks, and constantly changing terrain. Enjoy the fresh air, the peace and quiet, and let the miles roll by.