Today was my last long run ahead of the Chiltern Challenge 50k in two weeks.

The original plan was to follow the North Downs Way from its start in Farnham to Dorking – however the trail isn’t marked as well as I’d anticipated and I lost it somewhere after Newland’s Corner and Dorking.

Rather than tell you why I got lost, I thought I’d share some top tips for a long run in an area that you don’t know well – more in the hope that I’ll remember them for myself the next time I head out.

21.2 miles, 3h24m, 9:38/mi

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Top tips for a long trail run

  • Bring a map. One that doesn’t require mobile recpetion of batteries to show you where to go. I was using my phone which was fine until the reception kept dropping out and when it got wet and I couldn’t even unlock my screen as my hands were wet and there wasn’t a dry fibre on my body to dry my hands.
  • Bring lots of water and food. I was planning to go 21 miles and took 1.5 litres of water. Well, 1 litre of water supplemented with Nuun tablets and 0.5 litres of Powerade. In terms of food, I used to run with Gu gels but after they disagreed with me during the Hackney Half, I’ve switched to solid foods in the form of Nakd bars – cocoa delight being my favourite. I had four of them on me today, polishing off three of them. This set-up worked fine for me on what was quite a wet and cold day, but it is remarkable how much more water you need the longer and further you go.
  • Tell someone where you’re going. My someone was Georgie, who’d agreed to pick me up at the other end. Also with her was a change of clothes, more Powerade and food to immediately replace those calories. As I got lost on the way, I added some extra miles and didn’t want to go too much further than 21 miles this time. I was able to let Georgie know to come back and find me at Ranmore Common (yes, the irony isn’t lost on me that I chose to end the run there).
  • Bring a phone. While it proved completely useless at helping me stay on track in rainy conditions, had I not been able to call Georgie I’d have had to battle another 3 or 4 miles to Dorking and taken a train home. No change of clothes, no more Powerade and no more food. That would have sucked.
  • Go slow. And when you think you’re going slow, go even slower. Now, this is the one that I really need to remember in 2 weeks. I went too fast today. I think I could have added another 10 miles to get to 31 miles, but it would have been very unpleasant indeed.
  • Don’t litter. Yes. You’re carrying all those bottles and all that food. Just you’ll be just as capable of taking those empty bottles and wrappers with you until you find the next bin.
  • Take photos. I wouldn’t say that I run to take photos, but if you’ve been following this blog or any of my social media accounts, you won’t be surprised to know that I love having my legs carry me to beautiful locations and that I get to take a little memory of that view with me as a reward.
  • Don’t eat the pretty flowers. I only recently found out that Foxgloves, while very beautiful, are poisonous. Hence the silly photo of me with some pretty Foxgloves below. The dangers of being a city boy in nature…
  • Stretch and roll. You’ll feel knackered afterwards but don’t forget to stretch and foam roll. You’ll feel better for doing it the day after.