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Go Off-road

Dave Taylor.

Derbyshire Fell Running Guide Dave Taylor is an experienced, competitive fell runner having won both individual and team medals in British and English championships as a member of Dark Peak Fell Runners.

He's a qualified teacher with 12 years experience teaching sport and outdoor activities and has contributed to and featured in magazines such as Trail Running, Outdoor Fitness and Men's Running.

He tells us why fell-running is not just a sport for super-fit mountain goats in skimpy race vests and very short shorts.

Top recommendations for places where novices can fell run

In the Burbage Valley there are some lovely little trail runs that are not at all intimidating. Find a safe beginners area, so for example the top end of the Derwent Reservoirs.

It's fairly flat, beautiful scenery and will give you a great introduction into getting off the tarmac. The Whaley Bridge reservoirs and the Longshaw Estate up near Hathersage are also good options.

It's not hard core fell running but it'll give you a taste for being off-road. Alternatively, try open parkland like Jog Derbyshire's family-friendly, monthly Kedleston Trail Run.

What kit to wear

Start off with your shoes – that's the first thing. If you're going to run on reasonably flat trails in woods like Forestry Commission land or round reservoirs, then you can probably get away with your normal trainers.

But if you're going out off-road, especially if it's wet and muddy and a bit more undulating then it's a good idea to invest in a pair of trail shoes. Prices are pretty similar to normal running trainers so expect to pay around £75. They give you a bit more wet weather protection.

But you don't need to spend a lot of money. I run in cheap shorts and a running T shirt from Decathlon which only cost me a a fiver. You don't need super stuff.

Make sure you have the right footwear.

How to build up fitness to tackle the hills

Start by walking up them fast, getting used to that first. The best training for running up hills is running up hills! That said, don't be afraid to walk or think you've got to run the whole thing. Don't be over-ambitious.

Don't go and pick the biggest hill in the Peak District to start with. And don't be afraid to run a bit and walk a bit. Even the very top fell runners will walk certain very steep parts of courses.

What goes up must come down... running donwnhill

Again it's practice because technique is one aspect but you also need strength in your legs to help you with your technique. You need to be aware of your safety so don't go mad and start careering down slopes.

Just like going uphill start off by run/walking to develop that strength. Newbies to fell running tend to lean back and dig their heels in. That is safer but it is not as efficient because you are wearing you're the quad muscles in your thighs out and tiring your legs.

You need to first build up your leg strength so you can start to lean your bodyweight forwards as you run downhill. That takes as much working on as going uphill.

Successful navigation

First of all, go to an area you're reasonably familiar with. It depends on your level of confidence and what you know about map reading. Some people have no navigational knowledge whatsoever.

If that's the case, then stick in an area you know like the back of hand or get some training. I run regular courses.

It is definitely worthwhile finding out a bit about navigation because it opens up such a new physical area of running for you and a whole world of things you couldn't do before.

Fell running brings with it spectacular views.

Benefits of the great outdoors

The way I look at it, I'd rather listen to bird song and the sound of running streams than traffic and people. Even in wet, windy weather I'd rather be out on the fells. Air pollution is another issue. I can see smog and a haze hanging over the city from up high, so you're out of that.

Personally speaking I just love getting away from everything and just focussing on the wildlife, remoteness and tranquillity. There are also the physical benefits of running on undulating terrain.

It's not just same monotonous movement of running on a flat surface so it's less wearing on joints and using more muscle groups making off-road running a better work out.

Find out more...

For more details or to to book a course visit Dave's website Fell Running Guide or contact him on 07806 386949 or info@fellrunningguide.co.uk

Get involved

You can click on the relevant link to find your nearest JOG Derbyshire group or sign up.