Running in the Forest, With the Forestry Commission

My relationship with running over the past few years has been a bit up and down (ha!). I take part in Race for Life every year and so once I’ve signed up I start *thinking* about going for a run so I get used to it, and because I’d really like to start running regularly. Last year I think that happened once before the race, and this year it didn’t happen at all, but somehow it was’t tooo bad, and I ran most of it.


I really would like to start running regularly though – apart from the health benefits, I think it would really do me good to get out for some fresh air regularly, especially as someone who works from home and sits on a chair on my butt for most of the day.

Not too far from where we live, and near Ava’s nursery, there is a lovely river with a wide, winding but flat path running along by it. It’s great for going running first thing in the morning after I’ve dropped Ava off – the scenery is lovely, there are cow’s to look at, and at that time of day there aren’t too many people around.

running forestry commission

The thing is though, I’d rather there were even less people around. I really would like to not care about people seeing me as a hot, sweaty mess ‘running’ along, but unfortunately I do. I have thought about going for a run in the evenings near my house, but I know that I would be very conscious of running past lots of people, especially as I am just starting out and cannot yet run very far. Plus it’s not fun having to run around lots of people. So I end up not bothering.

Research has found that many mums are put off by the chance of seeing people they know whilst out running. This is where the Forestry Commission’s new running campaign comes in. They have launched two different running programs in forests around the UK – one aimed at complete beginners or those wishing to get back into it, and is great for mums. The second is for more experienced distance runners and those who enjoy beautiful scenery and running in inspiring locations.

I think where you run is very important, and can make the difference between you carrying on or not if you are just starting out. It can be daunting running at a busy gym or on the streets, which is exactly what I found. The beginner’s program – ‘Run Forest Run’ (nice name!), has way-marked trails of 1, 2, and 3km – so perfect for those new to running. ‘Run Forest Run’ also includes a free beginner training programme with top personal trainer Claire Darlington – full of weekly exercises, inspiration, tips, and health advice for getting you off your bum and into the woods.

These routes have been specifically constructed to help set goals, motivate you, and to improve a runner’s skills in a peaceful and encouraging setting. At the moment the trails are available at three sites – Delamere, Dalby, and High Lodge Thetford – so if there is one near you and you fancy giving running a go, then I think this would be a great way to get started and get some motivation. The idea of running in a forest, surrounded by beautiful scenery, with all that fresh air really appeals to me.

The more advanced program is called ‘Wild Running’ and has off the beaten track 5 and 10k routes at four different sites – Delemere, High Lodge, Sherwood, and Bedgebury. The sites have been mapped by wild running enthusiasts Jen and Sim Benson. These trails offer a great mixture of winding, technical trails, and wide open paths through a beautiful variety of forest and woodland, with some hills thrown in and easy-to-follow navigation.

running forestry commission

The routes are all available from the Forestry Commission website where you can view maps, print directions, as well as upload a .gpx file to your device. There are also loads of tips, information and playlists to help you get going.

The Forestry Commission have also teamed up with Bounts for those who need a bit of extra motivation to go for a run – Bounts is a free fitness app that gives you real rewards for being active. These incude restaurant, cinema and high street vouchers, every time you visit one of the ‘Run Forest Run’ sites for more than 30 minutes!

I think it’s a great campaign to encourage us to get healthier and fitter in surroundings we feel comfortable in, alongside all of the information online to motivate us a bit more. It’s perfect for those mums, like myself, who may be lacking in self-confidence since becoming a mother, and want somewhere more private to run.

This is a collaborative post with the Forestry Commission.

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