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jamie witton, London , UK, United Kingdom

Running the Epping Forest trails

I LOVE HOW going to sleep the night before I’ve got a good run planned now gives me that ‘Christmas Eve’ feeling.  You head to bed early, inevitably not sleeping straight away because you’re visualising the route, then wake up a few times in the small hours of the morning whilst your body tries to second guess your brainlessly early alarm call.  When the alarm did go off, I made sure to eat well (avocado on toast with scrambled eggs) and do a bunch of muscle activation exercises.  I wanted all my muscles to be fully firing before a trail run, and this was a good chance to go through the Glute-strengthening exercises I’d been working on.  Good news is, it’s working.  The muscles are really getting stronger and more reactive now, so a good positive result there.
Dragging yourself out of bed early on a Sunday morning may not be the easiest, or everyone’s cup of tea, but the result is you catch these scenes when you set off:

The journey from where I live in East-Central London to Epping Forest (North East Greater London) is quite straightforward.  Get yourself to Stratford on the Jubilee line and change for the Central Line up to Epping (whereupon the name of said line becomes rather defunct).  On the train I met up with April and Joel, who I was running with.  Joel & I very much enjoying fact that we had the same shoes!

 “Shoe buddies!” – how cool are we?  A Salomon interloper at the top too...

Following the world’s worst double espresso from Stratford station, we boarded the Central Line up to Epping.  We managed to make it there for a little past 9am in the end.  This was perfect.  The sun was just high enough to bathe the ground in its warmth and the pale grass of the surrounding meadows looked like seas of green in their morning dew.  Of course, we were running into a forest, but crossing this cricket field may give a little clue as to the paradise we were in:

The route was a simple north-to-south traverse across the Forest.  The terrain was up-and-down all the way and the rain made a lot of the route muddy.  Goodbye clean shoes!  We had no intention of sticking to the path though, and soon enough we were darting through the coppiced trees trying to find the long way round.  This prompted an encounter with a lightning-felled tree collection and a failed attempt to get under one with a backpack on.  All part of the fun!

Photo by April

We stopped briefly to get our bearings and soak up some of the sunshine filtering gently through the ochre foliage.  It’s great to know that within 45 minutes you can be out of the city and running free in nature – I’d previously thought this was a privilege reserved only for Oslo-dwellers.  Richmond Park, Hampstead Heath and Greenwich Park all offer trails and varied terrain, but owing to the dissecting roads, swarms of tourists and historic buildings you still feel very much in the heart of the Capital.

Photo by April

Time was against us this morning, so we found a route that took us back to a road, which, in turn, led us back to a station on the Central Line.  Making our way downhill on pavement in trail shoes was hardly enjoyable, but luckily the mile or so uphill to the station was carpeted in grass at most opportunities.  A well needed break for the calves.  In the end, we absolutely blitzed the run up to the station, hitting a 4:22km time for the last two kilos.  This was arguably unnecessary, but I think we were all just in ‘the zone’.  Can’t stop, won’t stop.

Trouble is, when you get on a train immediately following a run you only really have one choice if you want to properly warm down and stretch out.  Do it on that train!  So we did.  And thankfully, the carriage was fairly empty so we didn’t disrupt anyone’s morning.  It was a good laugh, and as you can see we got most of the important ones done!

Photo by April

Overall, the run was only 9km or so (GPS not too accurate in a forest), but it felt a lot longer with the rolling terrain and mud.  Definitely infinitely nicer than plodding the blacktop around the city and my stiff legs were a sign that this was the workout my body was after.  Can’t wait for the next one, and for the next set of stories it’ll bring.

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Photo by April

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Epping trails with Joel & April
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Running the Epping Forest trails
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jamie witton, London , UK, United Kingdom


Trevor Witton Mon, 12/12/2016 - 16:58

Epic Forest!

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