Shoes: Trail running often includes running over loose uneven and undulating terrain, we would recommend that you choose dedicated Trail Running Shoes as these are designed to give you more grip and protection.
Summer Kit: Loose moisture wicking technical shirt and shorts are best as these are designed to wick the moisture away from your skin and allow it to evaporate as you run. A hat, sunglasses and moisture proof sunscreen may be required on sunny days.
Winter Kit: Again you should choose moisture wicking technical materials, however a thermal base layer might be considered in colder conditions. We also recommend that you carry a light foldable windproof jacket as added protection should the weather conditions suddenly change, or should you need to stop as a result of injury etc. As with any outdoor pursuit layers are the key make sure you are prepared for the extremes of the weather.
Night Runs: A good head torch for is an absolute must, it should be able to provide at least 200 lumens (lm), and have sufficient battery power to last the run (1hr+). Petzl are a well known brand of quality head torches, although they do come at a price, however there are a multitude of Chinese made head torches available on Amazon etc, that provide excellent light output at much lower cost. We would also ask that you incorporate clothing with hi viz reflective features so that you can be easily seen by other runners.
Proper hydration is very important as it can affect your performance and safety. Generally speaking there is no better way to hydrate than with water. Have a glass of water about an hour before you run, and keep yourself topped up during the run. It is recommended to consume 800 ml every hour during strenuous exercise, taken in little sips every now and then, don't wait until you become thirsty as this already means you are dehydrated. After the run ensure you continue your rehydration with more water.
On longer runs you may consider sports drinks to replenish the lost salts and sugars, however beware that many of the commercial brands are hard to stomach during a run and are loaded with sugar, I prefer to use SIS soluble hydration tablets in my water which are virtually calorie free, and provide the necessary electrolytes etc.
Carrying enough water is always difficult, on shorter runs a hand held bottle may be OK, but these are tiring and restrictive to use, a running belt with an incorporated water bottle works well for middle distance runs, but a running vest with bladder is often the choice for trail runners on long runs, especially as they offer added storage for additional clothing, gels and phones etc.
Before starting any physical exercise is is vital to warm up your muscles and cardio vascular system in readiness. We recommend that you take a slow jog for 10 minutes, incorporating "bum kicks", "high knees", "skips" and "side steps" into the jog, never stretch cold muscles pre run. We expect all runners to ensure they are ready warmed up for the run as we do not incorporate a warm up into our runs. See also our Self Care page.
A proper warm up of 10 minutes or more, plus stretching after the run is the best way to avoid injury. However if you have any sort of muscular injury it is best to rest it at least a week, preferably two once the pain has gone. If you run too soon, the injury may recur, setting you back weeks. Start back with short gentle runs, working your distance up gradually. Stop immediately if you notice any pain. The accepted treatment for muscular strains are R.I.C.E, Rest the injury, Ice the affected area (no more than 10 minutes at a time), Compress the injury with a compression dressing and Elevate the leg whenever possible.
Trail Running is generally a very safe sport as long as you are physically fit and not aware of ANY medical condition that might endanger your health, and that you are already familiar with running 5k or more. Junior runners must be 12 years of age or more, and accompanied by an adult if under 18.
Whilst running in Swinley Forest you will be faced with a variety of tracks and trails, some of which are semi prepared and some little more than "rabbit" trails. There will be stones underfoot which present a hazard for "turning" an ankle and plenty of roots to trip upon, however good running technique and vigilance will minimize these dangers.
The forest spreads over 11 square km with a variety of environments ranging from heavily forested areas, open heathland and plenty of hills in which to build your stamina! The right shoes, clothing and preparation is always vital to ensure you are fully prepared to deal with these conditions. We ask that ALL runners register on run together to ensure we have access to your emergency contact numbers, and that we are notified of any medical conditions that may be of consequence. As a recommendation it might be worth carrying a fully charged mobile phone in case you become separated from the group.
Finally please check the weather conditions below, to ensure you are fully prepared with the right clothing, protection and hydration.