What is Adventure Running?
A review of the fitness, skills, and equipment needed for the trails.
Tired of running the same old route from home? Don’t enjoy the competitive aspect of running races? Adventure Running – also called ‘destination running’ – solves these problems and more, offering avid runners and beginners alike a new way to enjoy their favorite activity. When paired with an epic destination, Adventure Running also offers a new form of motivation. To travel farther and see more. To get out past the day-hiking crowds, without the weight of a heavy pack on your shoulders.
I’ve been running trails for years. Yearning all week for that opportunity to go long. To burn off the stress of work or to just find some quiet in the depths of the forest. What started as an hour on the trail became two and then sometimes even longer. Racing provided an occasional thrill but I found myself running past beautiful overlooks without a pause or cutting conversations short for the sake of running ahead to the finish line. I wanted the run but without the rush.
Simply put, Adventure Running is trail running in an epic destination of your choice. Routes tend to be somewhat shorter than a long trail race, more often in the 8-20 mile range than marathon distance, though some destinations may require more than one day of running to complete. And since these long runs lack aid stations or other race-style accommodations, Adventure Running places particular focus on safety skills and self-sufficiency. With only a carefully packed running vest or pack with the essentials, Adventure Running offers the most stripped-down way to cover long distances over land on your own two feet.
It won’t come as a surprise that great fitness provides the foundation for enjoying Adventure Running. Physical readiness will amplify your personal enjoyment but it is also critical to keeping you safe. Decision making such as route-finding and self-assessment rely on your state of mind which can quickly degrade if you become exhausted. We recommend that new Adventure Runners use widely available race-focused training plans as follows:
- 6-10 wilderness miles -> train for a trail half-marathon
- 11-15 wilderness miles -> train for a trail 25k
- 16-22 wilderness miles -> train for a trail marathon
- 23-28 wilderness miles -> train for a trail 50k
- etc., the point being to slightly over-train…
Critical skills for Adventure Running include route-finding (incl. map/compass as a backup), the ability to recognize potentially dangerous weather, good self-assessment skills to understand how your body is faring under the pressures of the run, and the ability to identify other natural physical dangers from local flora/fauna/terrain. We also recommend practicing your photo-taking skills as you’ll probably see things that almost no one gets to see!
Part of the joy of Adventure Running is the ability to go far in a relatively unencumbered state. We recommend a light pack with:
- Water – sufficient for your full planned distance or to the nearest reliable water source
- Food – use 200-300 calories per hour as a guideline but this may be light for some runners
- First-aid Kit – packed with an eye toward the hazards of your destination
- Emergency Blanket – the lightweight mylar type
- Mini-lighter – in case of emergency
- Satellite Messenger/Beacon – in case of emergency
- Clothing – extra layers for foul weather, especially for your head and core
- Trekking Poles – our favorite piece of Adventure Running gear
- Sleep Gear – if you’re staying overnight
- Headlamp – if you expect to be travelling in the dark
- Phone w. Camera – running with an SLR is no fun!
- Yonderlust Mobile App – or other sufficient map and navigation guidance
The Yonderlust mobile app also includes a full interactive packing list.
Where to Go
Here are just a few ideas from trips we’ve enjoyed to provide some inspiration:
- 3 Passes Loop – an incredible loop near Aspen, Colorado
- Smokies Challenge Adventure Run – full transect of Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- Laugavegur – run over glaciers and volcanic ash in the heart of Iceland
Ask us about these trips in store and don’t forget to check our mobile app as we add more of these Adventures!