Road running in towns and cities is hugely popular amongst road runners. You can accurately plan routes, the ground remains stable and consistent, and its most running clubs favourite environment for their weekly club run. A powerful alternative is to running in natural locations.
While roads in cities and towns boast many benefits for runners, it’s good to get into nature once every now and then.
Why go running in nature?
Thinking time: Cities and towns are -by their nature – busy, chaotic places. Loud public transport, people in every direction, advertisements in every direction trying to grab your attention.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and forget to think about your life.
Remember, all these things are human design; they are not natural and not what humans have evolved to innately deal with.
Running in a natural setting is the perfect time to get away and think. Think about what’s going on at work, your family relationships, an upcoming family holiday, a difficult life choice.
Mental health: Time and time again, research suggests that exposure to natural settings like rivers and woodland can improve mental health. Being outdoors makes you feel calm, relaxed and more positive.
If you’re extremely stressed, or at risk of becoming stressed, get outdoors and go running in nature. You won’t regret it.
Creativity: Research suggests being in nature inspires creativity. Whether you’re a writer, a manager, an artist, a stay at home mum, or you’re retired, we all require a degree of creativity.
It can be helpful to get away from our manmade, familiar, comfortable environments once in a while for a change of scene and influence.
Inspiration: Natural landscapes like the Rocky Mountains and snowy alps are all awe-inspiring natural elements explored in Mary Shelley’s iconic Frankenstein novel. The characters in the novel are blown away at the subliminal realms of nature which cannot be controlled and changes on its own accord.
Get outdoors into nature to get inspired. See something unbelievable. Experience the world in its natural state.
Exploration: Excitement arises when we explore new places for the first time. Remember feeling nervous but excited when travelling to a new place for the first time, maybe on business or on holiday.
Rolling down the rocky slope of a mountain, feeling the splash of salty seawater by the seaside, discovering dancing tree leaves in woodlands, are experiences which await runners who explore natural locations.
What are the best natural locations to go running?
Woods are an ideal environment for natural running. They feature a thin spread of trees with lots of space and exposure to sunlight. This means you can often see 100 metre stretches ahead of you and can make a quick assessment of your running route.
Woodland will often boast a beautiful selection of trees, bushes, plants, flowers, and wildlife (insects, bugs, birds, badgers, moles etc).
You probably have a woodland nearby in mind which you can run in. If you don’t, a quick search of ‘woodland nearby’ on Google will find some for you. It’s a truly stunning natural environment run in.
Give it a go.
Who doesn’t like going to the seaside? The seafront; the walkway or even the beach itself, provide excellent natural running locations with the stunning sea view for you enjoy on your run.
Whether it’s a quiet undisturbed day, there are mild waves or even if the waves are crashing over each other in tumultuous fashion. The sea view provides a pleasant and calming atmosphere for your run.
Make a day of it and invite friends and family members down. They’ll be grateful for the invite and it’ll be a great time to bond and develop relationships after you’ve gone for your run.
Rivers are particularly relaxing and pleasant. They are natural streams of water flowing towards the ocean or joining onto another larger river.
Rivers are peaceful and relaxing. Go for a run along the river to gather your thoughts. Run alongside a river as part of your weekly long run for a tranquil middle segment.
For the more seasoned trail runner looking for a challenge, mountains are the ideal solution.
Don’t let the word ‘mountain’ put you off. We’re not talking mount Everest or mount Snowdon here. Depending on the geography of your local area, mountains are steep natural hills in the countryside which can satisfy trail cravings.
Take your phone, tell someone where you’re going and bring a small first aid kit.
Safety first, runner second!
Being in the countryside means being away from an urban, busy and populated environment. Fields are prevalent in the British countryside. You don’t have to stray very far before you’re in the pleasant grips of green fields as far as the eye can see.
Not only do fields provide a spongy surface for low impact on your ankles and legs, they offer a challenge. They usually feature gradual or steep inclines, meaning you need to push when training on one.
Fields are typically used for agricultural purposes like farming and growing crops, so it might be worth researching the area beforehand to make sure you can run through them.