For many people over the last year any excuse to escape the Zoom calls and ever encroaching walls of our home offices has been welcome relief.

Participation in running and cycling have been at record levels as more people embrace the benefits of exercising in the great outdoors and not needing to devote 3 hours a day to commuting.

One multi-national study of over 12,000 people found that exercise levels were up 88% over the pandemic and the biggest increases were in those exercising 1-3 times per week versus those normally exercising 4 or more times per week actually showing a slight decrease.*

Strava had a 50% upswing in members between October 2019 and September 2020. It also showed an 82% increase in outdoor activity for UK members versus 60+% decreases for countries which had more stringent lockdowns like Spain and France. Interestingly the group showing the biggest increase in activity levels were women in the 18-29 age bracket with a 55% increase in uploaded activities. Globally activity levels were thought to increase by around 14%.*

So what’s with trail running?

For most folk (even here in the valley of the bike people) 15km and 500m of ascent is a bike ride not a “run”. But for more and more people the faff of getting a bike out the shed and washing it afterwards is less preferable than just pulling on a pair of dirty, smelly trainers and getting their ankles muddy over the course of a really good sub 1 hour work out.

If, like us, you’re lucky enough to live near green spaces it seems counter intuitive to run on tarmac in the midst of cars if you can simply head up the nearest lane, breath fresh air and take sustenance from nature in amongst a lot of heavy breathing.

It seems obvious that areas where cyclists and walkers find open pastures and hillsides are also great muses for runners. Yet, trail running has often been thought of as the preserve of the elite athletes like hill runners and adventure racers.

Now, at best, I was tricky to catch on a rugby pitch with 60 yards to go and a rugby ball in one hand but at worst I was a heaving mess at the end of the annual school fun run. As my grandmother once said “aye, you can’t run the length of yourself son”. But for those of us that can (or at least believe so) trail running offers a very interesting combination – steep inclines that reduce most people to a fast walk anyway and declines that with the good Lord Newton’s 3rd law mean we are propelled downward. So as my fellow director here says “it’s all in the mind …”

Gypsy Glen Hill RunThe Tweed Valley has an amazing assortment of terrain and potential routes.

The big issue is where to go and how to match that with your current training plan and fitness level. We’re very lucky to know these hills well and can provide you with ideas on where to go.

Most routes here and within close proximity to civilisation and cycling routes meaning they’re low consequence if you need to cut a run short or ask for directions. We’re also very lucky to have a top local runner and coach as part of the team. Please see his blogs and strava routes below for ideas! Just don’t worry too much about his segment times ;-0