A Trail Running Experience During Lockdown
Words & Photos: Sam Green
Like many people, I’m really excited about lockdown restrictions starting to ease. I'm aware it's going to take a while, but there seems to be a little light at the end of the tunnel. With good things ahead I’ve been doing a little thinking about my running over the last couple of months.
When I realised that escaping to the mountains wasn't going to be an option for a while, I was getting ready to be pretty cooped up. My girlfriend was showing concerns about having me around 24/7 and had already prepared a very well reasoned argument as to why I can’t have a home gym and treadmill in our small 1 bed flat.
My only option was to make the most of the permitted one outdoor exercise a day. I love running and am always wanting to do more, and as many of my other outdoor activities were out of the picture, it meant I could dedicate much more time to it.
As a trail runner, the thought of pavement pounding around Manchester didn’t quite appeal. I decided the only way to stay sane was to use the local “trails” in the Manchester area. With bridleways, canal paths, and designated trails like the Trans Pennine Trail all to hand I embraced the term “trail running” loosely and set out.
It occurred to me that with food, water, and a positive attitude packed in my vest, running along a “trail” 20 meters from the M60 isn't so terrible. With a fair amount of exploring I managed some pretty great trail runs, and I imagine wherever you are based there is some sort of “trail running” possible... if you’re happy to use the term lightly of course!
Lockdown running has had a few positives and negatives. One of the hardest things I found was feeling social pressure around others. I was holding my breath whenever I passed someone else out for their daily exercise, sometimes to the point of feeling faint, which certainly spiced things up a little.
For me being located in Manchester meant that no matter how hard I tried, there wasn't much elevation gain, something that I’m going to notice a little more now as I’m allowed to travel to some hillier locations. As they say though, every cloud has a silver lining, no hills meant I could work on other things to do with my running; I pushed my speed and tested my ankles and foot placement by finding the trickiest terrain possible.
The main thing I gained from lockdown was time. I’ve managed to do much more thorough warm-ups and cool-downs which has allowed me to run more days consecutively, and still be able to hobble to the fridge for a beer in the evening!
Other than staying local and taking aim to avoid as many people as possible (easier said than done when the weather is gorgeous), I didn't need to change too much for lockdown running. I switched to using my Speedgoat 3 shoes (from Hoka One One); their immense grip was fantastic for the trails, coupled with their cushioning for the unavoidable pavement-pounding, a result of living in a city, made them the ideal shoe for me.
It was also imperative to add a hat to my running outfit: a couple of months of barbers being closed has left me with a mane of hair that should be contained when I’m out, for my safety, the safety of others, and of course, aerodynamics.
While it has been a really weird couple of months for everyone, it's important to try and maintain some positivity. Personally, I have enjoyed having fewer time constraints and consequently finding some amazing places to run so close to my home. Although I can now go a little further afield, I’m going to make sure I don't forget how much local “trail running” there is around me, and who knows, I might even come out of this a better runner.