While we love the structure of training for a goal, sometimes adding a spoonful of adventure can create a magical experience
Nowadays, run-packing – self-supported running adventures where you carry your own pack and sleep wherever you get to – are no longer the sole preserve of amazing adventuresses like Anna McNuff.
Whether you’re a mum with young kids eager to reclaim your pre-kid identity and have an adventure, an urban runner who wants to escape the city without it costing the earth, or simply someone who has trained for something big and is looking for something unstructured and fun, run packing is gaining in popularity.
If you’re reading this thinking, ‘Oh, I’d love to do that but I couldn’t, I’d be too scared/too cold/no idea where I’m going,‘ think again. A one night out adventure can be really simple, safe and easy.
Here’s our top ten tips to going on your own run packing adventure.
If it’s going to be hot and a warm night, just go! Check the forecast and be prepared to take off. (We love the app Dark Sky for our adventures).
Invest in good kit
To make your night out under the stars comfortable, you’ll need a groundsheet which helps prevent your sleeping bag getting wet from dew and you getting cold.
Get a good sleeping bag, by which we mean, that it is warm enough to sleep in temperatures which will drop to minus figures, as well as being light and small so that you can run with it. And a roll mat which you self inflate is essential for comfort and for adding insulation between you and the ground. Try ThermaRest NeoAir X Lite, from £99.
Plan your route
If you want to make it super easy and avoid carrying food, plan it so that your route takes you via a country pub for lunch, and to a country pub for dinner, leaving you enough time to get to your sleeping spot while it’s still light to set up.
You can also sleep somewhere not far from a train station in case you decide you want to get home.
Take a head torch
If it’s a clear night, you may not even need it but always handy!
Install Find My Friends on your phone so that someone can always track where you are and where you’re sleeping out.
If you’re running somewhere new and need to keep checking your route – or you just love taking pictures, you’ll need a charger for extra battery life. Try the Duracell Power Bank, £19.99 which charges your phone up to three times.
You need to stay well hydrated but if you plan your route well, this means you don’t have to lug lots of water around. Fill up in pubs or in public taps. (If you’re running the South Downs Way, there are regular taps across the downs to fill up with).
A good little tip if you stop for dinner is to fill one of your water bottles with some water and soap from the local pub. Then you can have a nice wash once you’ve found your place to stay the night. Cleaning off sweat will mean you stay warmer as the sweat will just attract water.
Leave no trace
Wild camping is legal in Scotland but not anywhere else in the UK. The likelihood of anyone being up in the dark to see where you sleep and telling you off is minimal. But to safeguard against it, don’t sleep by a well used pathway and make sure you’re up before early morning walkers. Most of the people you’re likely to see are runners who are probably just as interested in doing the same. But leave no trace – no plastic, rubbish etc.
Camp near coffee!
There is so much kit you can buy but the more you have, the more you have to carry. And if you’re just aiming for a little adventure rather than an expedition, just plan sleeping somewhere that will enable you to get up and run for breakfast – and coffee!