I cancelled my gym membership a while ago, and I haven’t looked back. Ever since my brother and I took a spontaneous trip to Snowdonia and climbed a mountain, I thought I’d like to continue getting my exercise by getting to the top of something, be it a tree, hill or higher. People have been running around parks forever, but you don’t often see runners in the woods.
There are many bonuses to woodland exercise. Here are just a few:
- You don’t have to share your space with sweaty people.
- You don’t have to put up with trance remixes of pop songs.
- You don’t have to pay a membership fee.
- You can listen to birds and trees and leave your headphones at home.
- You can jump over, duck under and dodge all sorts of natural obstacles.
- You’re forced to tackle hills, which I never did on a treadmill, willingly!
- You can look out for animals as you go.
So tonight I thought I’d document a woodland workout for my tenth day of this wild month. I stuck on my trainers and headed for my favourite, permanently empty, local woodland. These woods are wild and unkempt. Some of the paths are blocked by fallen trees and some are completely overgrown. The paths that you can follow lead steeply uphill, so it’s a challenge from the start. There are large wooden steps leading part way up, that have become so old that they are partly disintegrated. This makes for one hell of a start to a run. The ground, however, is soft and kind on the feet.
Running through the paths, you have to be looking, as fierce brambles stick out at all heights. At one point, running down hill quite fast, I was doing full hurdles for fear of shredding my legs to ribbons. That wouldn’t have been on my list of bonuses.
There are fallen logs dotted around, providing more challenging jumps. I’ve never had such a varied and interesting run, that’s for sure.
I finished my run, having done a couple of wiggly circuits of the woods, then cooled down with a walk around the lake that sits at the bottom, spotting birds as I went. It was wonderful.
We don’t want to let this secret out though, otherwise hordes of runners will be piling into our woods and scaring off our wildlife.
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