Guided running: why?

The term ‘guided run’ is a relatively unused and unknown one in parts of the running world; what’s guided about a run people ask? Surely you just go out and run?  Well, no, it’s not quite as simple as that; guided running has a lot of thought and intent behind it, and here I want to unpick what it means for me as a leader of such runs.

Imagine you are a hill-walker. You’ve reached the top of a lot of the peaks in the Lakes, some several times in fact. You’ve been to Scotland too, tackling some of the easier Munros in summer. This has all been very rewarding, yet you feel that something is missing; you want more. The Cairngorms in winter are calling; they will be the next challenge on your list. But how do you turn this challenge into a reality? Do you pack a rucksack and head off into the snow and hope for the best? It can’t be that hard to use an ice-axe can it? No, of course you don’t (well, I hope you don’t and I think Mountain Rescue would be with me on that!) What you do is you look for a guide, someone who has done it before, someone with the skills, knowledge and experience to not only bring you back safely, but someone who makes sure you have a great time too. If you are lucky you may have a friend that fits this brief, a friend who is free when you are, but if you don’t, then you find a guide, a mountain guide. You find a guide and pay him or her for their expertise and time; sorted!


Now let’s pretend you are a runner (the chances are that if you are reading this, you already are, but if by some chance you have come across this post via Buzzfeed or Horse and Hound or something else, imagine that you are), a road runner; a road runner who fancies a run on the trails. Perhaps you have just moved to the area or are on holiday and you literally don’t know where to go. Perhaps your map-reading skills and navigation leave a lot to be desired; you can put the map the right way up and spot a church but not much more. Maybe you lack the confidence toventure out on your own; you may be concerned about your safety or getting lost, something that worries many, especially women. And even if you are confident, can navigate your way around a route and have all the resources to cope in an emergency, you simply lack someone to run with (assuming that you want to, of course!) So, what can you do? You find a guided run of course and, just as if you were going to climb that Cairngorm mountain, you pay for someone’s time and expertise to take you out and show you the way.


Google, if you ask it for ‘Guided runs in the UK’ returns a whole number of options across the country. You can be guided by experts in Sussex, the Scottish Highlands, the Peak District, the Cotswolds and many more, not forgetting of course my own guided runs here on the Nottinghamshire / Lincolnshire border. While prices may vary (and they do quite a bit, from £3 for an hour to over £25 for two), and the terrain may be different, essentially we all offer very similar; to show you, the runner, a new route; where to go (and what to avoid), and what to look out for; where the key turns, interesting sights and potential dangers are. Along the way, you’ll learn navigation skills, and, given that most guided run leaders are also running coaches, most likely some technical running skills too. Oh, and as an added bonus you might make some like-minded trail-running friends too! That’s a pretty good package I’d say!

 As a guided run leader, I’m most satisfied if my clients finish the run feeling knowledgeable, skilled and confident enough to go back another day and do the run again on their own; that’s when I know I’ve succeeded.