How to find a great running coach – dating-style!

After a busy weekend training in the Peak District with a great group of trail/fell/mountain running specialist coaches, I found myself asking ‘What makes a great running coach?’ Do runners out there who may be thinking of getting a coach know what to look for? After all, a running coach is a running coach, surely? Well, yes, on paper I guess that is true; all qualified coaches have ticked the same boxes and met the same standards. If you’ve seen the e-Harmony ‘This is Steve and his companion and they’re both vegetarians’ dating advert though, you’ll know that the ticking of boxes does not always result in a great match when it comes to love. The same can be said of the search for a running coach too!

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Looking around the room and across the fell-side this weekend, I saw eight very different coaches, eight coaches who could all help you to improve your uphill running or your endurance. So how do you know who to choose? Which coach will be best for you? Just like dating and the search for a partner, it’s important to find someone you ‘click’ with, someone you feel comfortable with, that’s for sure, but what other qualities and skills should you be looking for? Here are some suggestions to get you started, many of which apply to finding love too!

Someone who takes time to get to know you, and your running, really well is key, just as it is in any relationship. A coach who listens carefully and knows that you lack confidence running on steep downhills and have no childcare on a Thursday night will tailor your training accordingly, ensuring it suits you as a runner and works for your lifestyle.

A coach who includes and involves you in planning and decision-making is key; after all, it is you who has to implement the plan. You need to know and agree what you need to do and why. The more ownership you have of the plan, the more you are likely to actually stick to it!

Someone who is a role model will inspire you and make you want to work hard. If you want to run off-road, what better motivator can there be than knowing your coach shares a love of that type of running too? Knowing that your coach is out there battling the elements too can help you get out of the door on a vile day; asking yourself ‘what would my coach do or say in this situation?’ can be a great help when a decision needs to be made.

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Knowing what good running looks like, both technically and fitness-wise, is key; it’s the bread and butter of coaching. A coach who understands the body’s energy systems and can target training accordingly, or who can demonstrate correct ankle flexion and help you to achieve the same, will be key to you reaching your goals.

Someone who can give you precise feedback and tell you what you need to do to improve will be worth their weight in gold; after all, high quality feedback is at the heart of good coaching. Nervous about a coach who uses video as part of their feedback? Don’t be! Seeing yourself in action, coupled with feedback and actions from a specialist coach, can transform how you run.

A coach who can keep your interest is essential; after all, running should be fun! A coach with a repertoire of different sessions and strategies will keep you interested and engaged far more than just ‘going for a run’.

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Achieving a good balance between supporting you and challenging you is not easy, but a coach who knows you well can do just that. A great coach will move you just far enough out of your comfort zone that you are challenged but not overwhelmed.

A great coach will be constantly seeking to improve themselves too, both in their own running and in their learning and practice as a coach. They’ll have new ideas to try out and fresh ways of looking at things; in short, they don’t stagnate.

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Finding the perfect coach for you can be approached just like that search for a partner. Ask around; do your running friends know of anyone suitable? Have friends-of-friends used a coach? Do some research online; be specific – if you want someone to coach you for the 3 Peaks fell race, then search for a fell-running coach. See if you can have a taster session; just like a first date, it gives you a chance to get to know each other and see if you ‘click’. And, just as with dating, if you make the right choice, you may end up finding yourself a coach for life.

Mud and miles trail running and coaching www.mudandmiles.co.uk

Sherwood Pines ‘Wild Run’

Having run at Sherwood Pines on several occasions, both on my own and in events, I was interested to see that it had been chosen as the location for one of the Forestry Commission’s first waymarked ‘Wild Run’ routes. Needing an escape from post-referendum fever, I decided to go and try it out. Here are my thoughts…

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The first signs of the route, literally, were visible from the car park; they gave a brief overview of the route and an estimated time to run it. I’m not sure how useful a predicted time was, as people’s running speeds vary so greatly; the ‘approximately 5K’ information was more useful to me. I guess in these days of health and safety legislation it is required, but it was odd to be starting a trail run with a sign showing details of the nearest hospital; perhaps the route was going to be tougher than I thought, or the Gruffalos in the woods more vicious!

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A couple of hundred metres past the initial signs brought me to the actual start of the route, the broad path heading off invitingly into the forest. Flat and relatively smooth, it was a pretty easy start – both pretty and easy!

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As the route headed into the forest, it became apparent that it was very well signed, with small white and red arrows mounted on posts. There was a good balance between signing the way at path junctions, but not littering the wayside with too many. Finding my way was straightforward, although there were places where I hesitated for a moment. Following my instincts and having the confidence to keep going for a while until I saw another sign did help though! My fear of getting lost in the forest (and it does worry me!) was negated somewhat by the fact that the family cycle trail, which I know pretty well, was never far away, sometimes just a few feet through the trees.

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After the initial flatter, wider trail, the route headed into more varied terrain. Although I would describe it as undulating and not hilly, there was certainly plenty of interest from an up-and-down point of view. Longer, shallower drags were interspersed with flatter bits and what I’ll call ‘bumps’; little ridges to scale and ditches to jump, all those bits of trail that scream ‘play!’ Underfoot, the route was ever-changing too, with dry stony tracks, grass, woodchips and bare earth keeping my interest. For a mid-summer’s day, although some sections were quite dry underfoot, many were not; there were soft bits and muddy bits and boggy bits too, and I suspect that in winter ‘Wild Mudfest’ might become a more appropriate name than ‘Wild Run’.

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Towards the end of the route, it merges with the family cycle trail for a couple of hundred metres again before the ‘finish’ sign is in sight.

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Overall, this ‘Wild Run’ concept is a great idea; this is a beautiful route and one that I can’t wait to get my cross-country shoes muddy on in the winter. I want to play! I hope it will encourage those who are relatively new to trail running to have a go on a safe, way-marked route, without being too far from civilisation. Likewise, I think it offers great scope for more experienced off-road runners to hone their skills whilst having a lot of fun too. Although it has always been possible to run on the cycle routes at Sherwood Pines, many are narrow enough that at busy times it can feel unsafe; those mountain bikers can be quick! A run-only route (although I did see some tyre marks and horseshoe prints on it in places) is a great step forward.

This route is not perfect, though, my main concern being related to its proximity to the family cycle trail. At the start and end, and for a section in the middle, the two routes share the same path, and in numerous places the ‘Wild Run’ crosses the cycle path. On a quiet morning, that did not present much of a problem, but on a busy summer weekend, when families are out on the trail, I would certainly want my wits about me, that’s for sure.

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My only other concern is that this will be the only ‘Wild’ route marked out at Sherwood Pines! Given the size of the forest, and the reach of the cycling trails, I would hope that the Forestry Commission might have some longer routes up their sleeves; perhaps a 10K to start with? With off-road running on the up, I’m certain it would be well-used. Let’s wait and see…

 

Mud and miles trail running and coaching

www.mudandmiles.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mud and miles Monday musings 20.06.16

Have YOU entered our competition yet? Win a place on our ‘Introduction to trail running weekend‘ in the beautiful Lincolnshire Wolds. Closing date Sunday 26th June!

Our top trail tip of the week:

Are you worried that going over stiles and through gates will break your stride on your trail run? Yes, they will, but turn it into a positive! Treat climbing over a stile as an opportunity to stretch and opening and closing a gate as a moment to catch your breath. Your body will thank you for it!

What’s been happening at Mud and miles over the past week?

We had no guided runs this week; what with torrential rain and a number of local races, everyone was busy elsewhere!

Our Mums and miles group carried on their good work in Sconce Park, building up the time they can run for and experimenting with their stride length on uphills, downhills and flat sections.

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We’ll be starting another Mums and miles group in Newark in September, and spreading our wings to Lincoln too – watch this space for more information and dates!

From Thursday 7th July, 11.00 – 12.00, Mud and miles will be running a weekly improvers’ group in Sconce Park, Newark, aimed at people who can already run for at least 15 minutes. The structured, coached sessions will focus on improving runners’ speed, endurance and technique, and will be ideal for those who cannot attend evening running club sessions because of work or childcare commitments. Prices range from £5.00 for one session through to £40 for 10 sessions (plus a free 45 minute 1:1 consultation or training session). All details, including booking and payment information, can be found here.  Mud and miles will also be starting an improvers’ group in Lincoln from September – again, watch this space!

Our advice blog this week is all about guided running – have a read if you want to know more about what these group runs are for, or even better, come and try one of ours!

Races:

We’ve had a few Mud and miles clients out racing this last week. Cheering them on at the Summer Solstice 10K was great fun – well done to all of you who took part!

Mud and miles ran at the inaugural White Peak Trail Run, a pretty 16 mile route through Derbyshire. You can read all about it here.

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What’s happening at mud and miles this coming week?

Tuesday 21st June – 10am – guided trail run – Whisby

Thursday 23rd June – Mums and miles, Newark continues

Bookings are also open for:

23rd to 25th September – Lincolnshire Wolds ‘Introduction to trail running’ weekend – special offer £80 if booked before 30th June

7th July onwards – Improvers’ group, Newark

Schools

Private / groups

Happy trail running!

Rachel

www.mudandmiles.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

White Peak trail run

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It’s not often that a trail race starts and finishes with a 350m run through a tunnel, a lit tunnel and one that apparently has a sound system that plays ‘train coming’ noises! So began the inaugural White Peak trail run, a new addition to Dark and White events schedule. There were two distances on offer, of roughly 6.5 miles and 16 miles. I opted for the latter, hoping for a decent training run for my forthcoming Peak District ultra.

Registration in Ashbourne was quick and easy, with all entrants being provided with an electronic ‘dibber’ and an A4 map of the route. This was my first time entering a run that did not have a mass start. Instead, there were starts every 10 minutes within a one-hour window, with runners individually dibbed for a personalised starting time. As I was there nice and early, I was ready for the first start, along with about 30 other athletes I’d guess. Although carrying all of the required kit in my race vest, I caused great amusement to the people parked next to me by getting out of the car in my shorts and vest. Yes, it was on the cool side but I knew that as soon as I was moving I’d be nice and warm and I was right.

Having dibbed my dibber, I set off through the tunnel on the gentle incline of the Tissington Trail; fortunately, the ‘train coming’ noises were turned off. Very quickly the runners spread out and I realised I’d be running this pretty much alone, as no-one I’d started with seemed to be of a similar pace. I got into my rhythm and made my way gently uphill to the first checkpoint, about 3 miles away, the smooth trail underfoot providing an easy introduction to the run.

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After another dib of my dibber and a short section on the road, the climb and descent into Dovedale began. Running on rough grass and narrow paths, the terrain was not steep but it did require me to keep a good eye where I was going as there were rabbit holes and other trip hazards. I still managed to enjoy the view though, especially that of Thorpe Cloud, a stunning little peak with a really pointed outline that almost looks out of place here. Once down into Dovedale, the route followed the main route up the riverside, with sections of smooth path and easy running, and others that were steeper and more rocky. It was along here that faster people who had started later than me started to come past, something I don’t normally experience in races.

The route exited Dovedale up a very steep climb indeed; this was hands on thighs territory. The view at the top was absolutely stunning though and I wish I had stopped to take a photo; there were white-as-white sheep against the lush green hillside, and the river burbling away in the valley steeply below. It was gorgeous. As I ran on the very narrow path along the ridge towards Shining Tor, the young cows in the field on the other side of the fence were having great fun. Each time they saw a runner coming, they’d run at great speed towards them until the fence brought their efforts to a halt; then they’d storm off towards someone else. You could almost see them laughing! Around the next corner, there was another surprise; a whole group of very vociferous Polish supporters halfway up the hill. There were a lot of Polish competitors (possibly some kind of running club championship going on?) but they cheered everyone with the same enthusiasm. Thanks guys!

After a quick downhill to the next checkpoint and another dib of the dibber, we were back onto the Tissington Trail for about 4 miles, this time heading slightly downhill. Nothing remarkable happened along here except that I noticed that my normally very comfortable shorts had started to chafe the inside of my thighs. There wasn’t anything I could do about it so I just kept my head down and ran on to the next checkpoint, back onto the short road section and onto the final quarter of the figure of 8 course. At that checkpoint another competitor had told me that it was ‘all downhill’ from here. Well, it was, with the exception of all the uphill parts and there were quite a few of those. There were freshly cut fields of hay to run over – and when I say freshly cut, I mean so freshly cut that at one point I had to dodge the farmer and his beast of a tractor / cutting device. There was woodland to run through and a steep grassy hill to climb. But by this point my mind was on only one thing; the pain in my thighs, which were now bleeding. Every step forward was painful, every climb over a stile hurt. I just could not find a way of running without pain. And worst of all, the more pain I was in, the slower I ran, meaning I was running for longer.I was counting the seconds until I could finish.

Through the final campsite fields and back onto the Tissington Trail I must have looked pained as I had every single gate along the way (and there were quite a few!) opened for me by random people out on the trail, and ‘don’t worry, you’re nearly there’, from everyone too. Back through the tunnel and I could hear the Polish supporters cheering; I was there. I stood still for a few moments as it brought some relief, and then with a John Wayne walk headed back to registration to have my dibber dibs downloaded and collect my finishing certificate (not the silver one I had hoped for but hey, ho, these things happen). Although I needed the toilet I was too scared to go as I knew my shorts had stuck to one of the wounds and I couldn’t face pulling them off so I ate cake and chatted to other finishers instead, a much more enjoyable option. On getting home and bathing my wounds I discovered that my shorts had literally rubbed my thighs raw and I had lost a sizeable patch of skin. Not nice!

I’ll come back and do this event again – quite possibly with a different pair of shorts on though! It’s probably the most varied course I’ve seen in a trail race; there was literally a bit of everything. Best of all though, there was superb scenery and brilliant organisation, making for a really welcome addition to the trail running calendar.

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Guided running -why?

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‘Guided running’ is a relatively unused and unknown concept in many parts of the running world (and not to be confused with the concept of guide runners, who support those with a visual impairment). What’s guided about a run people ask? Surely you just go out and run?  Well, no, it’s not quite as simple as that; guided running has a lot of thought, intent and purpose behind it, and here I want to unpick what it means for me as a leader of such runs.

Let’s imagine you are a hill-walker. You’ve reached the top of a lot of the peaks in the Lakes, some several times in fact. You’ve been to Scotland too, tackling some of the easier Munros in summer. This has all been very rewarding, yet you feel that something is missing; you want more. The Cairngorms in winter are calling; they will be the next challenge on your list. But how do you turn this challenge into a reality? Do you pack a rucksack and head off into the snow and hope for the best? Surely it can’t be that hard to use an ice-axe, can it? No, of course you don’t (well, I hope you don’t and I think Mountain Rescue would be with me on that!) What you do is you look for a guide, someone who has done it before, someone with the skills, knowledge and experience to not only bring you back safely, but someone who makes sure you have a great time too. If you are lucky you may have a friend that fits this brief, a friend who is free when you are and willing to take you along, but if you don’t, then you find a guide, a mountain guide. You find a guide and pay him or her for their expertise and time; sorted!

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Now let’s talk about you, the runner (the chances are that if you are reading this, you already are, but if by some chance you have come across this post via Buzzfeed or Horse and Hound or something else, just imagine that you are); a road runner who quite fancies a run on the trails. Perhaps you have just moved to the area or are on holiday and you literally don’t know where to go. Perhaps your map-reading skills and navigation leave a lot to be desired; you can put the map the right way up and spot a church or two but not much more. Maybe you lack the confidence to venture out on your own; you may be concerned about getting lost on featureless ground, or nervous about your personal safety in the woods, something that worries many, especially women. And even if you are confident, can navigate your way around a route and have all the resources to cope in an emergency, you simply lack someone to run with (assuming that you want to, of course!) So, what can you do? You find a guided run of course and, just as if you were going to climb that Cairngorm mountain, you pay for someone’s time, skills, knowledge and expertise to take you out and show you the way.

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Google, if you ask it for ‘Guided runs in the UK’, returns a whole number of options across the country. You can be guided by experts in Sussex, the Scottish Highlands, the Peak District, the Cotswolds and many more, not forgetting of course Mud and miles guided runs here on the Nottinghamshire / Lincolnshire border. While prices may vary (and they do quite a bit, from £3 for an hour to over £25 for two), and the terrain may be different, essentially we all offer very similar; to show you, the runner, a new route; where to go (and what to avoid), and what to look out for; where the key turns, interesting sights and potential dangers are. Along the way, you’ll learn navigation skills, and, given that most guided run leaders are also running coaches, most likely some technical running skills too. Oh, and as an added bonus you might make some like-minded trail-running friends too! That’s a pretty good package I’d say!

As a guided run leader, I’m most satisfied if my clients finish the run feeling knowledgeable, skilled and confident enough to go back another day and do the run again on their own; that’s when I know I’ve succeeded. I’ve helped someone to climb their mountain, no matter how high it may be.

www.mudandmiles.co.uk

 

Mud and miles Monday musings 13.06.16

It’s competition time! Win a place on our ‘Introduction to trail running’ weekend in the Lincolnshire Wolds!

Simply sign up to our email list and tell us in no more than 20 words why you should win! Closing date Sunday 26th June 2016.

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Top trail tip of the week:

To find paths, tracks and trails in your local area and beyond, why not try the Ordnance Survey’s online map service? Print A4 maps of your choice in any scale – as many as you like! You can sign up for a free 7 day trial, and the annual subscription is great value for money at around £20 per year.

What’s been happening at Mud and miles over the past week?

Our Mums and miles beginners’ group got off to a great start in Sconce and Devon Park, with our new recruits working hard and learning lots. By the end of the 6 weeks, they’ll be running for at least 20 minutes, that’s for sure!

The beautiful rhododendron-filled Stapleford Woods was the venue for this week’s guided run and it was hot, even under the shade of the trees. Runners went away with a better understanding of the maze of trails and paths that make up the woods and the possibilities for doing all lengths of run there.

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Mud and miles was also out testing new trail shoes this week, the On Cloudventure which will be launched in the UK on 16th June. Here’s our review – many thanks to Lincolnshire Runner for organising.

Our advice blog this week is all about what to do when your get-up-and-go has got up and gone – it happens to all of us from time to time!

 

What’s happening at Mud and miles this coming week?

Tuesday 14th June – 10am – Guided trail run in the Vale of Belvoir (please ask for details of meeting place if you plan to come along)

Wednesday 15th June – 7pm – Guided trail run in the Vale of Belvoir (please ask for details of meeting place if you plan to come along)

Thursday 16th June – 10am – Mums and miles (Newark) continues

 

Bookings are also open for:

September 23rd to 25th – Lincolnshire Wolds ‘Introduction to trail running’ weekendspecial offer £80 before 30th June

Schools

Private / groups

 

www.mudandmiles.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

When your get up and go…

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…has got up and gone, what do you do?

We all have those days, even those of us making running our livelihood as well as a hobby. Days when, for whatever reason, and sometimes for no reason at all, we just don’t want to run. The pull of the duvet or the sofa is greater than the pull out of the door. Now and again it’s fine to accept that; if you really, really, really don’t feel like putting your running shoes on and heading onto the trails, you could be heading for burnout. A day, or even longer, doing something else entirely could do you the world of good and result in you coming back stronger and raring to go.

On the other hand, lack of motivation is often a more temporary occurrence. Perhaps you’ve got home late from work and the thought of your favourite TV programme is calling; maybe it’s dark and cold outside and you just can’t be bothered to wrap up. Your head and heart say ‘Run’ but that inner chimp is tempting you not to. What little things can you do to make sure that in the battle between you and your chimp, you win? Here are some strategies that help me – I hope they will help you too:

Have a goal that you really, REALLY want to achieve. It could be something as simple as being able to get back into your favourite jeans or beating your own parkrun time. For me, a having a more major goal, such as completing an iconic race, is the key. Whatever it is, it needs to be something you want so badly that you’ll get out of that door and run, no matter what your chimp says.

Make a change. If you normally go for a longer, slower run, try running short and fast; if you like to head out in the evening, try an early morning session. If running on hills is really not your thing, then give it a go. It doesn’t matter what you swap; just try it! As I write this, I’m thinking of a sunset run later instead of early evening; they say a change is as good as a rest and that applies just as much in running too.

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Make a date; a date and time to run with someone else that is. It could be a friend who you meet before work; you wouldn’t let your friend down, now would you? Going along to a running club or group session works too; just remember to put it in your diary just like you would any other appointment. If you can, tell someone you’re going; it’s often easier to go along than to explain why you didn’t!

Find yourself a nemesis. Unless your name is Usain Bolt, there is someone out there who runs just a bit faster than you. Not so fast that you have no hope of ever catching them, but someone who is just far enough ahead that catching and passing them is something you could realistically do. They might be in your running group or at your parkrun, or maybe they are just someone you see running along your street. It doesn’t matter that you might not know their name! If you get out there and train you are increasing your chance of catching them, especially if their chimp has persuaded them to stay at home on the sofa with a Chinese and that latest box-set. When you do catch and pass them, find a new nemesis to add to your list. Even better, have two or three on your list at the same time for double or triple motivation to train!

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Plan a reward for yourself, something healthy that won’t undo all of your good work of course! It could be £1 in a jar at the end of every run, saved towards those dream running shoes you have seen, or an hour in a hot bubble bath to warm up after that cold wintry run. It could be a can of ice-cold coke at the end of a very long run (OK, that’s not very healthy but it worked for me on a hot 22 mile run!) or a day out at the seaside with the family. What the reward is does not really matter, as long as it works for you.

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Set yourself a limit, a time limit. Tell yourself that you will go out but you are only allowed to run for 10 minutes and by then you must be back home. Do it and the chances are you’ll want to carry on. Some of my best runs have been on days when I nearly didn’t go out at all but allowed myself 10 minutes and then kept on going because I just did not want to stop.

Motivation is a strange thing; it ebbs and flows and sometimes we just don’t know why. But with a few tricks up our running top sleeves, it’s much easier to head out of the door when our chimp says ‘No!’

 

Trail trial – On Running Cloudventure

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On-Running’s first venture into trail shoe design comes in the form of the Cloudventure, with both men’s and women’s versions. Not on sale in the UK until 16th June, I was fortunate enough to be able to road test (or rather trail test!) a pair as part of a trial in association with the Lincolnshire Runner. On has designed this shoe to be a lightweight shoe for having fun and adventures off-road; would it fit the bill?

Picking up the shoe for the first time, aside from the hideous colour (which I’ll go into more later!), the first thing I noticed was just how light it felt compared to many other trail shoes. The open air-cushions on the sole caught my attention too, and I immediately wondered how they would fare on muddier ground; would the pockets fill with stones or soil? As the shoes are on the small size, I had to go a size up before I was ready to hit the trail. Although on the thin side, the laces were easy to adjust and tie, and I was able to get a good fit before setting off.

Running half a mile or so on road to get to the common, the Cloudventures felt OK, but only OK; there was the feeling of a lump under the ball of my right foot, although this later disappeared and I suspect was simply because the shoes were brand new; by the time I ran back down the road, it had gone.

It was on the grass and paths, though, that the Cloudventures came into their own. After about 4 miles on grassy paths, dry, muddy and sometimes rocky tracks, uphill, downhill and flat, I had almost forgotten the shoes were on my feet. The lightweight upper provided great ventilation on a hot summer’s evening, and would, I envisage, drain water very quickly from the shoe if conditions were wet. The heel cup, an area I often experience problems with, was blissfully comfortable; thanks to the good lacing system, my heels were well encased in the soft padding and felt no signs of movement at all. The air-pockets on the soles provided great cushioning underfoot on grass, mud and stonier sections, including both up- and downhill. Grip was good too, although everything was bone dry; I’d be interested to see how the shoes fared in wet mud or on slippery rocks in poorer conditions

So would I buy the Cloudventure? In a nutshell, yes! In the words of a well-known DIY manufacturer, it does exactly what is says on the tin. It’s lightweight, and in dry summer conditions it is a really fun shoe to wear on the trails, it’s bounce and grip providing a really comfortable run underfoot. There are only two downsides that I can see to the shoe, one being the colour! A very pale mint green is an odd choice for a trail shoe in my opinion, although even in dry conditions I don’t think it would stay that colour for long. As a female who just doesn’t do pastel colours, I’d have to have the black option that I understand will be available too. The other potential problem I can foresee, and this comes from living in an area where the soil is mostly clay, is the clogging up of the air-cushions. I suspect they might well fill with wet clay, which when compressed and then dried, would negate the effect of having the pockets in the first place, and make the shoes a challenge to clean. I’ll reserve judgment on that, though, until I’ve tried it.

Overall, the Cloudventure is a great shoe and one that I would definitely recommend for anyone who likes having fun on summer trails. Thank you On-Running and Lincolnshire Runner for the chance to try it!

Mud and miles trail running and coaching

Mud and miles Monday musings 06.06.16

Top trail tip of the week:

Keep cool when running in hot weather – choose a shady trail in a wood or forest to keep the direct sun off you, and don’t forget to take some water with you!

What’s been happening at Mud and miles over the past week?

The Southwell trail was our guided run location, a disused railway track extending from Southwell to Bilsthorpe. It’s an easy run underfoot and the surroundings were very green indeed, perfect for welcoming our first young person on a guided run.  Young Harry did incredibly well, completing around 4 ½ miles for his first proper run. Well done Harry!

Mud and miles has also been out exploring new running territory. Bradgate Park, just to the north of Leicester, looks more like a mini Peak District than a park, and has miles of running options. There are wide stony tracks, narrow deer paths and everything in between, and it’s all pretty up and down, so great for training for those hillier events. As it’s so near to the M1, it would make a great stop-off for anyone travelling north and wanting a run break. Look out for possible Mud and miles sessions there in the future!

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Sadly our Mini Mud and miles half-term sessions for children did not take place due to lack of interest. We will, however, still be planning to run summer holiday sessions – more details and dates to come.

Our advice blog this week is all about hills and why you should learn to love them. We all shy away from hills at times but they are key to becoming a better runner.

 

What’s happening at mud and miles this coming week?

Tuesday 7th JuneGuided trail run in Stapleford Woods – meet at 10am in the main car park

Thursday 9th JuneMums and miles beginners’ programme 10am in Sconce and Devon Park – still a few places left

 

Bookings are also open for:

23rd to 25th September – Lincolnshire Wolds introduction to trail running weekendspecial offer £80 if booked before 30th June

Schools

Private / groups

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Hills and why we should learn to love them

Hill n, a natural elevation of the earth’s surface, a small mountain; cause of fear, pain and excess sweating in many a runner; often loathed and avoided at all costs

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If I had a pound for every time I’ve been asked “But how hilly is it?” whilst talking about a run or race, I’d be a rich woman by now. It’s a favourite topic of conversation amongst runners, whether on trails or the road. Race organisers sometimes play on this, with ‘It’s only a hill, get over it!’ signs on road race routes, and Iron Maiden’s ‘Run to the hills’ blasting out over PA systems to get the pre-race vibe going. But whereas fell-runners (mostly) love them (after all, hills are what their sport is all about), the rest of us don’t always feel quite the same about the ups and downs we encounter. Over the years, I have learned to love hills, and whether a beginner or a seasoned runner, here is why I think you should embrace them too…

Hills can be fun, honest! If you can run up hills then you can enjoy running in some of the most stunning parts of the country. The best views can usually be found from the top of a hill and, once you have taken a moment to savour them, the joy of running down the other side often awaits.

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Unless you live in the depths of the Lincolnshire fens or the Somerset levels, hills of some kind or another are pretty hard to avoid; it’s best to get used to them sooner rather than later as you will have to run up them at some point. If you do live in the flattest parts of our country, then seek out whatever slopes you can instead, be it bridges or sand dunes or steps; all can be used to replicate hills. Then you won’t feel you are missing out!

Running uphill is great for developing muscle strength and power. Your leg muscles not only have to drive your body forwards, they have to lift the body higher up the slope too. In short, the more uphill running you do, the stronger your legs will become.

Alongside your leg muscles needing to work harder to propel yourself uphill, your energy systems have to work harder too. As your body becomes conditioned to doing so, the fitter it becomes. Not only will you see the benefits of this in your future runs uphill, you’ll see improvements in the rest of your running too.

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Hills can be used as great in-run recovery time – yes, even the uphills! The longer the run, the more likely you are to see people walking uphill. The slower pace allows your body’s energy systems to regroup (in other words you can get your breath back!) and the change in muscle groups used gives some respite to your legs. Taking walk breaks on the uphills can pay dividends later on in a run.

Running hills, especially uphill, is great for improving your overall running technique. It’s hard to run uphill with poor technique, so, again, the more you do it, the more this will transfer into all of your running.

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You can use any hill near you as an easy measure of your improvement as a runner. Simply identify a starting point and finish, and time yourself to the top, or see how far you can run up before needing to walk. Seeing the figures improve over time is a great confidence booster.

If you train on hills regularly, and improve your fitness on them, you’ll start to pass everyone who still shies away; that will do even more for your confidence! If, like me, you have a nemesis or two, people you often see on training runs or in local races, just the thought of being able to pass them on a hill is a fantastic motivator in itself.

Love them or loathe them, there will always be hills; use them to your advantage and let them help you become a faster, stronger, more efficient runner all round.

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