Shoes and kit for hill running

Shoes and kit for hill running

Features to look for in hill running shoes, clothing for warm and cold weather and what equipment you should take when running off road.

Shoes

'Fell running' shoes, i.e. footwear for running on muddy or grassy terrain, are generally lightweight, as you don't need too much cushioning, with chunky studded soles. These maximise your contact with mother earth on those soggy bits of grass you will want to race down, fulfilling your need for speed. Inevitably you will contact terra quite firmly with other bits of your anatomy - everyone does it sometimes and usually without too much drama.

Inevitably you will contact terra quite firmly with other bits of your anatomy - everyone does it sometimes...

'Trail running' shoes - i.e. footwear for running on more solid, rocky trails, usually has less deep studs on the soles and more cushioning. Fell shoes are usually best for soggy UK terrain!

In the aptly named terrain of, say, the Lake District your feet will get wet, so comfort and fit will be very important. The stiffness of shoes can vary considerably. Some are quite solid, which some people find protects their foot from knocks, and others find adds to blisters, unlike the softer ones. It comes down to personal preference on comfort.

Fell racingMake sure your foot is comfortable without sliding around the sole - a recipe for blisters when you are running around a hillside. Some racing models have thin soles, and are therefore not great for the heavier runner or rocky surfaces. Others have a little more padding.

A low heel will reduces the risk of turning an ankle (these usually strengthen anyway as you get used to running on uneven ground).

Clothing

Clothing should keep you warm (or cool) and comfortable without chafing. In colder weather you will need tights (or not too baggy tracksuit trousers), a thermal long-sleeved top and a set of lightweight waterproofs. If it is hot, shorts and T-shirts can be got away with, but remember if you slow down you cool down, especially in exposed and windy places such as hill tops, so carry an extra layer.

Equipment

Kit is usually carried in a bum bag or lightweight rucksack. It's best to buy specialist running ones, as these will have been designed to be comfortable to run with (e.g. offering minimal bounce and access to essentials on the move). The essentials to carry are water and snacks on longer runs, hat, gloves and perhaps a buff in colder weather and an emergency layer. Consider adding a map and compass, depending on where you are going.

I run a lot on my own in the hills and always keep an elasticated bandage and some plasters in a plastic bag as a basic but practical first aid kit. A tiny plastic bivi bag is no weight if you go out regularly on your own for longer runs - remember - it makes sense to tell someone where you are heading, but you could still be out a while before any one finds you.

In the aptly named terrain of, say, the Lake District your feet will get wet, so shoe comfort and fit are important

Compulsory kit

A lot of fell races specify mandatory kit such as full waterproofs (with hood), hat and gloves, map and compass. You will be disqualified if you fail to produce those items at the finish of the race.

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