I am always on the lookout for epic, amazing running events in my area. Low and behold, a couple of weeks back I found a trail running workshop taking place in our very own Kirkhill Forest close to Aberdeen.
The workshop was titled Run Unexpected with Run4It and consisted of a 2-hour how-to guiding session followed by a 2-hour trail running experience. When I found out it was free I was extremely surprised and signed up immediately!
For this week's blog article I want to share my experience and what happened in those 4 hours.
After a more-than-complicated journey to Kirkhill Forest due to the lack of a car, we finally made it to the meeting place in just under 2 hours (even though the car ride would only be 15 minutes).
There we were welcomed by our coach for the day: Donnie Campbell. He is a Pro-Salomon Athlete and ex-Marine and has won races such as the Ben Nevis Ultra or Ramsay's Round. He also has his own running company: Get Active Running, where he offers running camps and coaching.
To get the day started, we all were allowed to try on some Salomon shoes (the moment we were all waiting for). We were able to try the Salomon Supercross and the even more grippy Speedcross 4. I ran one half of the workshop in the pink and the next half in the blue shoes.
Then it was time to set off into the forest. We made our way up the hill for about 5 minutes to arrive at a relatively steep incline to practice uphill running. I rarely do any elevation training and just usually hope I make it through the race, so this was quite worrying for me. Donnie gave us great advice on how to run uphill, using your arms as little motors and keeping your cadence high. After a few reps of the hill, I already felt much more confident conquering the hill.
Afterward, we set off as a group to make our way to a much steeper, but shorter incline. There we were taught the concept of power walking, which is just a runner's excuse to walk. He showed us two techniques, one for explosive moments and one for conserving energy. Utilizing the arms as little accelerators really helped speed up the hills. This extremely helped and really worked the quads, I am still feeling it today.
We made our way deeper into the forest to find a steep downhill section. This was, at least for me, an extremely technical downhill, as it was muddy and full of slippery rocks and roots. I was so worried my shoes would lose grip and I would not be able to de-accelerate. He made each of us run down the hill 5 times, which also meant climbing it five times. By then, my legs were screaming for help. The advice he gave us about body position and pre-planning your route made everyone wiz down the hill by the 5th attempt. I almost slipped twice but managed to stay upright. If I had to run this downhill during a race, I would probably have slipped because of fatigue or nerves (I am a bit clumsy, too).
As we made our way back to the car park for a quick break before the surprise run, I was already feeling a little feverish. I had had the flu for 5 days and had taken a running break. I still had cold sweats and pressure in my sinuses from the illness. Deciding whether or not I should go out for the second run, of course we went ...
With a few people leaving and new people joining us, we set off into the forest again to explore the hills. Donnie told us there would be an unexpected surprise, so we made our way up to the open summit of Tyrebagger Hill. Atop the hill we were handed Orienteering maps of the Kirkhill area. I couldn't believe that out of all the surprises it was Orienteering we got to do. I do this with the Uni as well and loved that I would get to do it there. How it worked was that we paired up and each pair had to lead the group to a point on the map (from 1 to 2 to 3...) At this point, I was feeling very sick and after completing 6 of the map points. So I decided to return to the car park and wait for the others to return 10 minutes later.
All in all, I had a fantastic day with Salomon and Run4It. It was a very informative and fun stroll through the forest. I will definitely run there again and try to get some elevation in the otherwise flat Aberdeen.
For those of you that are interested in Ultra Running, I wrote an article on the blog James Runs Far about 'Are Women Better Ultra Runners Than Men?' Please give it a read!