Monday, 20 February 2012

Bored of running like a Hamster in a wheel? Try Wild Running

Treadmills are one of the most popular pieces of gym equipment ever constructed. You have total control of every aspect of your workout, the weather is irrelevant, and you don't have to worry about darkness and careless drivers. But let's face it. Treadmills can be really boring. Like a hamster on its wheel, you can run to your heart's content, and the view never changes. The annoying motor sound of treadmills, and the whirring of cross-trainers and stationary bikes in basement gyms couldn't do more to disconnect the mind, body and spirit from the natural world. Unfortunately most of us still choose this option because it is convenient and we feel more comfortable indoors. In order to escape the hamster wheel and spice up your workout I suggest you take a break from the human treadmill zoo and try some wild running. Wild running is what most kids do when they are outdoors playing. Kids will constantly make a detour from the official path to jump over fallen logs or swing from the branches of a tree. All for fun of course. Grown-ups stay on the path and do not include the landscape in our workout, we have forgotten how to play and move our bodies naturally. Instead we stick to one form of motion such as running at the expense of our other muscle groups and movement skills. Wild running is, in essence, including the landscape on your run, in order to create an obstacle course for yourself.

Are you a lone runner, or do you prefer running in a pack? Whatever your preference, wild running is never boring and it will test you both physically and mentally.  The concept of "Wild Running" is to get us moving in a more natural state across raw terrain. You might think this is not possible when you live in a concrete jungle like London, however a new running club on Hampstead Heath ‘Primal Urban Running’ is now offering free monthly sessions specifically designed to recreate that. Wild running allows us to experience natural, raw running conditions while challenging us physically with the inclusion of natural and man-made obstacles to make it more fun and relevant to real-world situations that involve movement and physical action. Running can be very anti social. When training for races you are often on your own, battling physically and mentally with yourself but when running as a small "tribe" and having to help each other over obstacles it becomes a team effort. Wild running, whether on your own or with friends is just great fun. You no longer need to rely on music from your iPod to get through the workout. Your fancy Garmin watch can also be left behind as you will stop obsessing about mileage and distance and simply just enjoy yourself while getting fit.

 At Primal Urban Running (P.U.R), a barefoot-style running club on Hampstead Heath in London, club sessions are not timed or in any way competitive, the emphasis is on camaraderie and having a great time. The monthly sessions are fantastic for anyone who is keen to take their training out of an artificial environment and into a more natural one. Wild running with P.U.R is designed to give a full-body workout and getting us to move the way we were designed to including sprints, gentle running, walking, jumping, lifting and climbing over, under and around obstacles. This kind of running makes us much more functionally fit.  A lot of runners get injured due to repetitive exercise and not enough focus on training the smaller muscle groups, such as the stabilisers in our hips and ankles. Wild Running outdoors in multi-terrain helps build those muscles. Another huge benefit is the relaxing effect of the natural environment. It is a well known fact that activities in nature dramatically increases well being.

Monthly meet-ups currently take place on Hampstead Heath with Primal Urban Running and they are free of charge. So if you want to learn all sorts of fun games and natural movement skills, check out the Running Club page on their website. You can register here for your first wild run with P.U.R.

Come join us for a Wild Run!

Lea Bentzen

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