Lessons From the Fells
AN AMAZING COMBINATION of cross-country running, mountain running, orienteering and hiking, fell running originated in the fells of northern England, which is really the only place you can truly enjoy the sport. At the recent Inov-8 launch of their latest fell and trail shoes, which feature the revolutionary use of Graphene, offered up the chance to take in some fell running in the true heart of fell-running country, the Lake District north of Manchester.
One of the main characteristics of fell running is the gradient of the climbs. The picturesque fells around the Lake District aren’t classified as mountains because they are all shy of the 1,000 m elevation that the British use to define a mountain, but many come pretty close, including Scafell Pike which tops out at 978 m.
Like orienteering, fell running and racing requires good navigation skills. Racers are also required to carry their own supplies and, with the ever-changing weather conditions in the Lake District, adequate clothing. Those not interested in a competitive fell running experience have more than enough opportunity to get in some epic runs – within England and Wales there are are comprehensive land access rules that ensure right of ways are available through farmland and homesteads to allow you to get to the trails. The challenging terrain that includes steep climbs, muddy (read: downright boggy) and wet conditions ensures you’ll get a stellar workout in the fells, no matter what pace you’re going at.
While the terrain in Canada is decidedly different to that of the super-green vistas you’ll see in the Lake District, that doesn’t mean we can’t borrow some of the concepts behind the ancient practice of fell running to create our own fun workouts, especially in the fall, when some unstructured training time can be a welcome break.