Run the Wild's Mark Hadaway explains why he loves trail running and why you will love it too.

I love trail running. It might seem like one of the most obvious of things to say but it’s true. You see for me, running is not just something I do, it’s something I am passionate about. It’s a combination of incredibly powerful and positive components that come together in one simple form. Here, Run the Wild (RtW) running coach and guide, Mark Hadaway explains more.

Around the world right now we are faced with unprecedented times. The Covid-19 pandemic is a humanitarian disaster which has also brought on an economic crisis. If we are honest, the world seems a bleak place right now. 


But, whilst our daily lives temporarily face disruption, it really got me thinking about the things I do regularly that positively influence my life yet maybe sometimes get taken for granted. Trail running is 100% one of those things. So, what’s so good about it?!

A Connection

Trail running is, without doubt, one of the greatest influences on my life. It makes me happy. The simplicity of putting one foot in front of the other and moving at a quicker than walking pace is so basic, yet so liberating. Even when I don’t really even feel like heading out on the trails, I come back feeling just a bit more positive about everything.


Due to our physiology, many argue we humans are the ultimate long-distance running animals, and I tend to agree. Theories of our ancestors ‘outrunning’ animal predators and prey in order to survive are legend. Such theories have given birth to some great reading, such as Born to Run.


However, for me it’s something even more basic than that, that inside all of us there is the capacity to run and it comes from our wild ancient heritage.


Perhaps therein lies two key reasons I trail run, because I believe we humans were designed to run therefore we should and, more so, doing it brings me the closest I can ever get to my ancestral past. It connects me not just with my ancestors but also with nature. Something that is explained in the ‘Run the Wild – Spirit of Trail Running’ mini film 

The Spirit of Trail Running

Rekindle Youth

When I’m out running, it’s a great opportunity to just break free. It’s good to clear our minds and let our inner child out, jumping over obstacles, slide in mud and splash through puddles and dash along tree lined paths. Trail running is a great way to just break down those expectations of how we should behave, leave behind those responsibilities and stresses of work, home and global pandemics, for a moment we are free!


But it doesn’t stop there.


I’ve already mentioned trail running makes me happy. And science supports this fact with endorphins being held accountable for this ‘feel good factor’ running can bring. If I’m happy I see the world through a more positive light. I’m in control. And I can help spread the positivity with others, that’s why I’m a RtW coach and guide after all! When we teach our clients how to run downhill, one of the things we tell them is to relax and think like they are a kid again, it genuinely improves their technique!


Numerous studies purport the mental health benefits specific to trail running too. Research has shown nature based physical activity can lower anxiety and reduce stress while boosting mental wellbeing. It can also help alleviate the symptoms of depression.

Runners High

Delve a little deeper and selfishly I’m always searching for the ‘runners high’ or a ‘state of flow’. It’s that moment when running feels easy, exhilarating, perhaps even euphoric. Runners the world over are chasing that moment and believe me when I say you will recognise it. Sadly, this state doesn’t come along all too often but it’s well worth the continued pursuit. Blasting down a trail especially one that absorbs your mental concentration 100% is a meditative almost spiritual state where everything else clears from your mind, and you have that precious “living in the moment” experience.


There is of course the physical side too. The nature of trail running provides a great, varied workout to the cardiovascular (heart and lungs) and musculoskeletal (muscles, skeleton and connective tissues) system, even more so than running on the roads.


Physically, trail running offers fantastic training affects: more muscles are activated; agility; coordination; balance; and the aerobic system is required to constantly adapt relative to the surrounding terrain providing a ‘turbocharged’ fitness boost. You can also slow to a walk without ‘shame’. It tests your proprioception, and is a full body (and mind) workout.


The variation in gait, foot strike and stride length also ensure less pressure on individual joints, reducing the chances of repetitive injuries.


I think when you speak to most trail runners about trail running, a real sparkle enters their eyes as they remember some incredible trail running adventure. For most of us trail running is a way of life, a lifetime passion that is shared across the globe. It’s something that is such a rewarding, natural and uplifting experience, that whatever your ability or goals it’s definitely worth giving a try.

Keep safe and well everyone. 


Mark Hadaway (MBA) is a highly qualified health and fitness expert having been involved in sports coaching for over 15 years.


He is also a triathlete, trail runner and running guide for Run the Wild.


Having been forced to cut his semi-pro football career short, he began competing in triathlons, culminating in the completion of Ironman UK in 2008 in a time of 11:50, 56th in his age group. 


He participates in a variety of endurance sports and is one of Run the Wild's Lead Runners.

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