Trail running, face plants and my first 10k race – Learning to run in the Lake District Part 2

Scout Scar Kendal Mountain Festival 10k

This is the second part of my ‘Learning to run in the Lake District’ series – from 5k to my first 10k race at Kendal Mountain Festival

You can read the first part of my journey on overcoming the stories we tell ourselves and my Couch to 5k journey here.

We start on the 1st of September, the day after completing my first 5k Parkrun in Keswick.

Similar to my last post, these are a combination of my entries on my personal Strava (which are written in italics) mixed with thoughts taken from my personal diary on a memorable journey of becoming a runner in the Lake District.

September 2019

Sunday 1st September 9.52am 

Derwentwater Lakeside


Hello September 🍂

Got the bug! Early morning run, still buzzing from yesterday! 

Post-run, I head back to the house for a lazy, chilled day off.

My housemate Dan, (the one training for the Bob Graham Round long-distance run) is off too and jokes that I need a new running goal now.

I’m doubtful, happy to just plod on in my 5k bubble, safe in my new comfort zone.

He shows me this video of three female runners taking part in various race distances as part of the famous Ultra Tour de Mont Blanc, held every year in Chamonix in the French Alps.

A wonderful, inspiring film which not only considers running – but how running brings strength and determination in all areas of your life. 

At the end of the film, one of the runners, Millie, paraphrases from the famous book Born to Run:

“You can achieve far more than you ever thought you could. A far fetched dream – just have a go, as you don’t know what will happen – it opens up a whole new set of dreams”. 

The next thing I knew I’d signed up to a 10k, an actual race……a 10k at Kendal Mountain Festival in November. 

A trail race, with a hill. 

The bar had been raised.

I messaged my old ski season friend Sarah, a road and marathon runner, seeing if she was keen to join me. Hills?! Not for me. She’s sceptical, but over time I wear her down and she agrees to sign up. 

Perfect, someone to hold me accountable. 

I’m aware my crappy old Asics trainers would not be up to the trail running job, so in the afternoon we hit up the outdoor shops in Keswick to look for a pair of trail shoes.

I felt confused with all the talk of tread and gait, suddenly a little overwhelmed, like an imposter who didn’t understand this new world.

So after a short look, I decide to mull over the shoes and return another day. 

Tuesday September 3rd 6.27pm

Derwentwater Loop

5.34 miles

Splashing in puddles and adventures in the woods – new distance!!

Thrilled with this post-work run – set off just to have a trot by the lake, but gently pushed myself a little further and felt proud of the new distance. 

On Friday night, I finished work at 11.30 pm coming home to find Dan and Ollie preparing for their midnight start of the Bob Graham Round, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough on the speakers, a pot of olives for pre-run snacks.

I wave them off into the night, wishing them all the luck in the world, having a secret hunch they will smash it together. 

Saturday September 7th 9.01am

Fitz Park, Keswick

3.23 miles

Back for more! Keswick Parkrun 

Loved being back here! 

That evening whilst I was at work, Dan and Ollie ran back to the steps of the Moot Hall in Keswick having run 64 miles with 26,900ft (8,200m) of ascent in 20 hours and 3 minutes. Absolutely insane.

I remember being amazed at how much of community support there was in in the organisation of the run.

Dan’s parents provided the road support and food at each of the 5 stops with their friends from university and old running clubs providing running support on each of the 5 legs; our house the next morning buzzing with bags, running kit and stories from yesterdays adventure. 

A real sense of community rather than competition and competitiveness, a world away from other sports

The following night I went to the pub with Dan and one of his support runners. The chat was naturally about running – I shared my running story and remember feeling so thrilled, so proud to be able to share my story for the first time with a relative stranger.

 A mark and a feeling of really starting to feel like I’d become a runner. 

Tuesday September 10th 4.09pm

Fitz Park, Keswick

3.13 miles

Post work park laps and river paddles

River paddles

Thursday September 12th 4.35pm

Great Wood and Derwentwater shorelines

3.54 miles

Woods descent and splashing in puddles in the rain!

Great Wood Running Lake District

First little climb, descent through the woods and down to the lake! Loved it! First go on a bit of trail and couldn’t believe how different it felt – being amongst the woods & being proud of what my lil body can do!

My very first trail run. This was also the first time I’d ran with someone else, after feeling pretty nervous and shy about it, I decided that given it was the first run for Dan since the Bob Graham Round this would be a good time to run with him!

Sunday September 15th 11.33am

Whinlatter Forest Park

3.73 miles

Checking out the Whinlatter Parkrun route 👌

I remember coming here for a walk in April when I arrived in the Lakes and thinking wow people run these trails – but that’s not for people like me…

Pretty amazing what a few months of training and self-belief can achieve… we so often put boxes and boundaries around what we think we can do & achieve. Breaking them down is a pretty ace feeling!

Walked much of the uphill sections which I found tough but these descents, oh wow, soooo much fun! That sense of freedom, of nothing else in your head, your body moving through nature 😍

For someone who usually hikes with boots & a heavy bag, moving through the forest with just my trainers & me was such a liberation ✌

Monday September 16th 9.32am

Derwentwater shoreline

3.59 miles 

Beaut Autumn morning run until I hit the deck face first! 😳😫

Derwentwater Sunset Lake District

Loved cruising through the woods and down by the lake on a gorgeous morning although the body was feeling a lil tired – keen to try and get 10k until I tripped over a pesky rock and hit the ground face first! Bleeding face meant I had to abort the run 😫 but I’m ok!

Despite my Strava entry, this really shook my confidence, and I remember thinking maybe this trail running wasn’t for me….but, good friends pull you out of shit places.

My best friend was due in town that week and she had taken up running again recently after a couple of years whilst having kid.

I couldn’t wait to run together, something we’d never done.

We’ve been best friends since nursery, and I was so excited to share our new found passion. 

Sunday September 22nd 9.32am

Fitz Park, Keswick

3.21 miles 

Getting back on the running horse in the morning  🐎

Super nice to run with the bestie for the first time! Chilled 5k park laps to get the legs moving again – First time running since smashing my face on the ground on Monday – surprised how good the body felt – stoked!

Monday September 23rd 9.36am

Great Wood and Derwentwater shoreline

4.68 miles 

Beaut Great Wood morning sun run with V ☀️

Great Wood Running Lake District

So good to show her the sights and share the landscape with her! 

Tuesday September 24th 2.08pm

Great Wood & Derwentwater shoreline

6.39 miles 

Just me, the woods & the rain 😍

This was my very first slow slow 10k, back in the woods where I did my first trail run. I felt my confidence growing, the bravery to run solo again flooding right back.

Thursday September 26th 7.10am

Fitz Park, Keswick

1.88 miles 

Cheeky early morning wake up laps 

Saturday September 28th 9.01am

Fitz Park, Keswick

3.19 miles 

Keswick Park run in the autumn sun 

Monday September 30th 10.44am

Derwentwater Lakeside

2.98 miles

Last day of September – Gratitude run ✌

Chill morning run in the sun – half of it listening to a podcast, but the other half in silence, thinking about all the things I’ve enjoyed and been grateful this September – spending time with family, seeing pals off on new adventures and reconnecting with old ones, challenging myself little by little with running, lots of hikes & campfires, wine and laughs with housemates 💚

That evening, I bought my very first pair of trail running shoes, a black and green pair of Innov-8’s on sale from Blacks.

On my way back, I popped into the indie bookshop Bookends and picked up a copy of Feet in the Clouds by Richard Askwith – a fell running classic, which documents Richard’s journey to completing the Bob Graham round. 

Future inspiration. 

Trail Running shoes Lake District

October 2019

Tuesday 1st October 12.24pm

Kendal & Scout Scar

6.97 miles

Recce for my first 10k race with Dan

Scout Scar Kendal
Dan was training for an overnight mountain marathon, hence the backpack

Today was a big one: new shoe day and a recce of the race route for the 10k. Dan kindly offered to join me (and navigate, thank goodness!) and we took the 1hr45min bus journey south to Kendal. 

We were greeted by chilly, overcast skies, far colder than the Indian summer days we’d had during September. 

The route began on Beast Banks, a steep road heading out of town towards Scout Scar where most of the running takes place.

The wind whipped at our faces, and after picking our way through some brambles, we found our way to the mushroom-shaped trig point, pausing for a quick snack. Despite the new, uneven ground and relentless drizzle, I loved it out there. 

A wild feeling; me against the elements. Something new clicked again, a new love.  

I struggled on the later part of the run, and we dropped to a walk as we crossed the golf course and headed back down the cobbled streets leading back into Kendal, but I knew I still had time to build up my stamina before the race in November.

Back in the town, I felt pretty elated and we rewarded ourselves with a quick hot chocolate at Bro Brothers before hopping on the bus back up to Keswick.

Recce done, confidence was building. 

Thursday 3rd October 5.02pm

Brundholme Wood, Latrigg

5.50miles 1,057ft 

Exploring new routes in Brundhomle Woods 

Finally got around to investing in trail shoes with a bit of grip – hurray!

Uphills still a bit tough – but every session is a learning session to build strength…Loved weaving through the woods getting muddy & hyped – just what I needed! 

Tuesday 8th October 11.10am

Fitz Park, Keswick

2.5 miles (phone got to cold and switched off before the end!) 

Breezy chill autumn run in the park 

Running autumn

Shaking off those pesky autumn germs felt gooood

Wednesday 9th October 10.02am

Derwentwater Lakeside

5.67 miles

Into the dark skies, into the woods, into a happy place

Derwentwater views

Got excited by a conker tree at the end and stopped to collect handfuls!

Thursday 10th October 9.49am

Latrigg, near Keswick 

6.37miles, 1,341ft 

Learning French, slipping in mud and a first run down Latrigg with Diane!

Latrigg Lake District

One of my fave runs to date! I met Diane through an event we created at work called Chatty Thursday – with the aim of bringing people together who are new to the area or would like to meet new people.

Diane was a French student volunteering in Keswick and both of us just happened to have recently started running.

Running in the woods, up and down paths and then a walk up Latrigg for my first run down ever which I loved!

It feels kind of apt that it’s also World Mental Health Day – I was struggling with my mental health a bit before arriving in the Lake District – running, being outdoors and connecting with new people has transformed me in the last 6 months – so all 3 of these today felt super special. 

Saturday 12th October 12.30pm

Hathersage and Stanage Edge, the Peak District, Derbyshire

7.82miles, 1,377ft

The stash your bag in a bush and go for a hike/run Peak District edition!

Heading back to the Midlands for the weekend – couldn’t resist a cheeky detour in the Peak District for a lil run/hike!

Got changed at Sheffield Railway station, hopped on the train to Hathersage, stashed my bag in an ivy bush next to the railway station and set out for Stanage Edge – flipping lovely!

Lost my map after this, so just kept running/hiking, fell in a bog, bum shuffled my way through steep heather and finally found my way back to Hathersage – loved all of it! Despite some sweary moments of getting lost!

Baby wiped myself back down at Sheffield station and continued on the train to Nottingham!

Loooove random days like this – makes me feel alive!

Sunday October 13th 9.26am

East Leake, Leicestershire (my childhood home)

2.89 miles

A trip down memory lane – running those paths I walked as a kid

Railway Bridge East Leake

Back home for the weekend – the place I grew up!

I tried many times to get into running here, running the pavements with no focus. I hated it, and never kept it up. It never occurred to me to run in the fields and tiny hills I loved so much to walk in. 

Such a memory lane trip – Meadow Park has so many memories – first boyfriends, hours and hours of angsty teenage chats, the place I camped for my 16th birthday in my Green Day hoodie, the place we opened our A Level results.

With 90’s tunes on the playlist – it felt strangely emotional but awesomely proud to be running these paths I always knew.

Monday October 14th 8.36am

East Leake, Leicestershire (my childhood home)

3.18 miles

Village & fields tour

And home for a second breakfast

Wednesday October 16th 3.11pm

Walla Crag, Great Wood, Lakeside

6.40miles, 1,043ft

The Magic Position ☀️ 🍂

Walla Crag Running Lake District

Hill, wood, lake – doesn’t much better than that on a stunning autumn afternoon 💚

On the stereo –  The Magic Position – Patrick Wolf (puts me in a happy place)

Thursday October 17th 12.50pm

Fitz Park, Keswick

2.52 miles

Fitz Park Keswick Running

Sweating out last nights ill judged combo of wine and whisky (standard)

No regrets dragging myself out for this one

Saturday October 19th 8.57pm


4.42 miles, 890ft

My first proper night run in the Lakes!

This run was on a a bit of a whim – Dan was heading out for a night run…intrigued, but a bit terrified, I decided to join him.

I’d never even thought about running at night before, but I loved the simplicity of it, our two head torches dancing and beaming off the path, illuminating our way. I loved how the darkness made you feel everything so much more distinctly beneath your feet. 

In tune, in step. 

At the top, we switched off our lights and paused in silence. As our eyes adjusted to the darkness, the stars began to twinkle in the velvet darkness. We watched the moon rise over Lonscale fell, the Keswick street lights to our right dancing like tiny fireworks over the Cumbrian sky. 

On the way down, I found my stride, racing across the damp, dewy Fitz Park back to home.

Another proud milestone on what was turning out to be a remarkable journey.

Sunday October 20th 5.06pm

Derwentwater Lakeside

3.17 miles

Rounding off the week with a post work run with Diane

Derwenwater Sunset

Golden hour over the lake, autumn colour – wasn’t up for this initially but always worth even a tiny run

Wednesday October 23rd 10.09am

Derwentwater Lakeside

3.74 miles

Watching the seasons change

So lucky to have this as my regular run route – seeing the light & nature change still gives me tinkles

Also collecting leaves & conkers for my kids activities tomorrow 

Friday October 25th 10.42am

Buttermere Lakeside

6.48 miles

Buttermere Baby

Butternere Running Lake District

One of my absolute fave lakes – stunning autumn colours and nice chill path

The bus doesn’t run here in the winter so it was a lil farewell tour! 

Stashed my bag in the little chapel on the hill. This was also one of the first walks I did when I arrived in April – so I took some time to reflect on an amazing 7 months of living in the Lake District.

Saturday October 26th 9.03am

Fitz Park, Keswick Parkrun 

2.72 miles

Post Loft (a nightclub in Keswick) Parkrun 

Phone gave up in the cold but I didn’t! Considering I was merrily dancing round Keswick 6 hours before, I’m pretty happy with a 30.56!

Kudos to the guy with the awesome T-shirt Prove Them Wrong – kept me going on the final laps sweating out last nights wine!

Sunday 27th October 2019 3.47pm

Fitz Park, Keswick

1.87 miles

Golden hour park laps before Sarah arrives for dinner and wine drinking! 

Fitz Park Keswick Lake District Running

Monday October 28th 10am

Dale Head, Honister Pass

2.40 miles 1,190ft

Dale Head Plod (Dash) – My first dip into fell running! 

A poster appeared on the work notice board about a winter fell running series at the start of October. A different fell to run from October to March.

When I first looked at the poster, I thought, not for me, not ready yet.

But as the month wore on, I wondered, could I just give it a try?

On a glorious, crisp, frosty morning, a friend happened to be driving up to the Honister Pass to hike. I debated for a few minutes, and then concluded, what’s the worst that could happen?!

The start of the route is from Honister YHA which is already at 320m, with the summit of Dale Head at 753m, on a pass between the Derwent and Buttermere valleys.

Running was scarce on the way up, the terrain a mix of grassy and rocky paths. I felt myself grow in annoyance at my slowness but tried to remind myself that it was by doing that I was growing.

I paused for a few minutes at the top to take pictures, before slowly, gingerly, running back down. I was cautious on the rocky, uneven parts and I clipped my ankle slightly…and I was terrified most of the way down.

Back at the hostel, though, I was thoroughly proud to have achieved it, despite being 3 times slower than most of my work colleagues!

Honister down to Seatoller 12.33pm


After a quick refuel at Honister Slate Mine cafe, I ran the twisty road back down to Seatoller and spent the afternoon hiking in Borrowdale, loving that my trail shoes are so light and let me interchange between running and hiking.

Wednesday October 30th 10.07am


5.67 miles, 1,149ft elevation

Latrigg, me & my happy playlist

Latrigg Views Lake District

Descending 😍😍

Friday, November 1 4:16pm


4.69miles, 896ft elevation 

Walk/run in the fading light up Latrigg with Diane

Latrigg Night Running

Chatting Christmas, relationships & making mulled wine on our return home!

Saturday, November 2 9:02am

Fitz Park, Keswick Parkrun

3.22 miles 

Parkrun fun

2nd fastest 5k & a new Parkrun PB of 29.27 proper chuffed – I’ll take that this week 👌

Sunday, November 3 4:12pm


4.21 miles; 1,031ft elevation 

End of season run/hike adventure with the team up Latrigg!

Latrigg Lake District
Latrigg Lake District

A huge week of running concluded in the end of season hike/run up Latrigg with my work colleagues.

I wasn’t massively up for this at the start, my body sore and tired, I was ready to start the end of season drinking instead!

I hung back and hiked most of the way up with Simon (who was dressed pretty much like a zebra!).

But at the top, Helen cracked out a hip flask of brandy and it felt an incredible way to mark the end of the season surrounded by all those who had inspired me to run, and despite taking a more technical route through the woods on the way down, the thought of wine chilling in the fridge on my return helped me run faster!!

Wednesday, November 6 10:25am

Newlands Valley, close to Keswick

10.09 miles 

S Club Party in the Newlands Valley 😍

In honesty, the morning of this run I had woken up struggling with anxiety., which I’ve experienced on and off in waves during the last few years.

It had been a weird, unsettling few days saying goodbye to a few of my housemates and I’d found myself alone in the house.

Only intended to do a lil run over to Portinscale but turned into my longest run (with a lil walking) to date absolutely love this valley, esp with the autumn colours.The cheesy playlist was cracking motivation!

I’d read about a tiny chapel at the foot of Cat Bells that a running mad couple got married in which was mentioned in the Feet in the Clouds book, and I felt compelled to check it out.

I briefly sat and collected my thoughts, thankfully the anxiety shifting.

Home for a bath…then remembered I’d agreed to run with Diane and Jamie in the evening…..

2nd run of the day! Great Wood with Jamie & Diane 👌

3.52 miles; 427ft elevation

Keswick running crew

Tough little slog uphill but worth it for the views, golden trees and sweet company!

Home for Kraken hot chocolate & German cookies 😍

And so ended up running a half marathon in a day! Needless to say, I was in bed by 9pm but super proud! 

Sunday November 10 8.40am

Castlehead Wood near Keswick

1.46miles (Actually around 3 miles) 

Pre work Castlehead Wood getting excited about snow on the hills run!

Skiddaw Winter Lake District

Forgot to press start again after phone turned off in the cold so half of it wasn’t recorded! Stunning winter morning – always worth getting out for a blast before starting work at 10!

Monday, November 11 8.51pm

Fitz Park, Keswick

2.55 miles

I’ll follow you into the dark

In the cold November rain. Keeping the legs ticking over for the big race on Saturday 🙈

Learning to love running in the dark – love the heightened senses it brings!

On the Friday before the race, I headed down to Kendal and caught the first day of the Mountain Festival, including an incredibly inspiring collection of short running films. This one about a couple who still run in their 80’s really struck a chord.

I stayed the night at Sarah’s parent’s house, who had made us pre-race fuel of shepherds pie, before having restless, weird race dreams all night!

Race Day 

Race number

Saturday, November 16 10.59am

Kendal & Scout Scar

6.82 miles, 848ft elevation

My very first race! Kendal Mountain Festival 10k trail race

In the morning, I’m feeling a mix of excitement and nervousness, my shins are a bit sore, a slight background concern.

I’ve no idea what to expect.

We head out to pick up our race numbers and I’m mortified to have been issued 13. Brillant luck for my first race.

I panic I’ve not eaten enough, and then too much (porridge) and pace around nervously as Sarah calmly chats to her parents – she’s an old pro at these races. Janet arrives, Sarah’s old friend from school who is also racing and we head off to the start line.

The crowds are gathering, and my nervous energy begins to translate into excitement as we join the hundreds of runners lining the main street in Kendal. A guy with a megaphone is trying to give safety instructions, but no one can really hear him. As Sarah and Janet were a lot faster than me, we agreed to meet at the finish line.

11am strikes and it’s go, go, go out the main street and up to Beast Banks which I manage to slowly run up before heading towards Scout Scar.

I immediately love the carnival atmosphere and feel energised by the spectators clapping and cheering us on. This was real, it was happening!

We were blessed with a clear, dry November day and I remember feeling butterflies of elation as we summit Scout Scar, the Lake District fells in the distance dusted with the first snowfall of winter.

This place, this place that was now my home, where I’d learnt to love running.

Scout Scar Kendal Mountain Festival Trail 10k
Scout Scar Kendal Mountain Festival 10k

Coming off Scout Scar, my body was still feeling good and I upped my pace a little as we hit some flatter grassy sections, feeling proud to overtake another female runner in a Cumberland club vest!

I soaked it all in, enjoying every step, even though I knew I was somewhere vaguely near the back.

Through the woods, and heading back towards Kendal, I was tiring now as we hit the cobbled steep slope which had become an ice rink with all the shoes travelling over it.

I cling on to the railing, shuffling down. I wasn’t going to injury myself on the last hurdle.

Knackered now, I had to dig deep and appreciated the marshals shouting encouragement as I rounded the corner back towards the main street.

And here I was, running down the final few metres, the crowd clapping and cheering, that last little push I needed. I spot Sarah, Janet and Sarah’s Dad waving and shouting as I cross the line.

I’d done it, I’d really done it.

I step aside from the crowd of runners, to take it all in. I felt my eyes wheeling up with tears, proud, happy tears that not only did I give it a go, but I had also exceeded all my own personal expectations.

As I stood on the race podium, passing my camera to another runner to take my photo, I thought of Millie’s words – you can achieve far more than you ever think you can.

And you can, you really can.

KMF 10k Podium

I really hope if you’re reading this, it’s perhaps inspired to you try something new, perhaps push yourself that little bit further, be that in running or another area of your life.

You can read the first part of my running journey here

Learning to run in the Lake District: My Couch to 5k journey

A personal piece I wrote about Latrigg which become so special during this second part of my running journey

On the places that made me: Latrigg, the Lake District

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