I’m lucky enough to have some pretty fantastic training areas situated no further than an hour from my house, from winding forest trails, to large open mountains, it’s got it all. A big part of my training involves variety, I get bored very easily and struggle to stick to a regimented program therefore spicing it up all the time keeps me interested and motivated. Sometimes the thought of getting blasted in the mountains by Wales’ finest wet and windy weather, whilst wearing shorts and a lightweight waterproof, makes me feel just a little bit reluctant to head out! So call me soft but once in a while I like to head up to the local woodland and hit the forest trails.
Being Wales’ largest ancient woodland means that not only is Wentwood a stunning venue to chuck your trail shoes on and blow away the cobwebs, it also provides plenty to go at! With miles of snaking trails around old oaks, the fresh smell of pine resin in your lungs, and even the odd sighting of a deer grazing (if you’re light footed), Wentwood truly is an outdoor lover and trail runners heaven!
Don’t think that it’s only for the casual walker though, there’s some good quality training to be had there! Although only a short ascent, Gray Hill (the county top of Newport) provides an extremely steep climb on loose, muddy ground. As the lugs of your shoes dig in and the lactic acid floods your legs you feel like your quadriceps have been set on fire as you start desperately sucking in oxygen. All that short period of pain is worth it though when you top out and (in clear weather) can see as far as the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains to the North West, and across the Bristol Channel to the south.
My yellow Labrador Lincoln always joins me for a woodland run and seeing the excitement in his eyes when I put my ascend gloves on and grab his lead definitely inspires me. The pace that he runs at, constantly sprinting ahead, then sprinting back again kind of makes me feel like I’m not working hard enough, I try and keep up, but that just means he runs faster, it’s almost as if he loves toying with me!
Fancy a bit of woodland trail running? Well Wentwood isn’t the only forest you can go exploring, the Woodland Trust has over 1000 woodlands all over the British Isles, check out their website to find your nearest one: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/
So what are you waiting for? Find your nearest woodland, lace up your Merrell shoes and go explore!