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What does training add to your life?
Does it give you an escape from a job, relationship or situation you don’t want to be in?
Does it help you get rid of built-up anger or emotion?
Do you feel so happy you can train, because it’s the only thing bringing any happiness and sense of achievement to your life?
I know how that feels. I’m here to show you how trail and fell running can help you heal, and bring a joy to your life you didn’t know was possible. AND IT’S FREE. No gym memberships, just you, your thoughts, and the wonders of fresh air. Absolute bliss.
The idea for Phone-Free Adventures started when I decided to take a break and delete all the social media apps from my phone. Every last one. I did this for a month, and in that time I spent more time looking up at my surroundings, talking to friends on the phone rather than just hitting *like*, and getting out doing things in the evenings rather than staring at a minimum of two screens until I struggled to get to sleep.
More and more, we are switching off our phones in favour of reality. I'm not adverse to technology but when it becomes the lens through which you filter life, it can warp your sense of morality beyond all recognition.
How do I know? I've done it. Seven years working for British Intelligence at GCHQ will do that to you. Since then I've seen it play out hundreds of times in more ordinary situations: online trolling being the most obvious occasion when hiding behind a keyboard suddenly makes the most hurtful observations okay to share.
Lots of people ask why I left GCHQ. The answer I give them? That I would have to have sold my soul to stay. This is one situation where truth is stranger than the wild rumours that surround the cloistered world of Intelligence...and has made me place such high value on my freedom, kind-hearted souls and not living my life through my phone.
Featured Run: Buttermere Circular Lake Run
If you're glued to your phone at any point during this 4.4 mile route, you really need to sort out your priorities. There's no signal in Buttermere anyway, so you might as well put your phone in airplane mode (you'll want it for photo opportunities, as there are many) and soak up the scenery on this very pleasant trot.
TRAIL SHOES - go and invest in a pair of Harmony Roads from Reebok. They're £44.95 in the sale and will stay comfortable through any walk or run on any Lake District terrain (just ask my friend Ellie who ran a 50km trail run in them a couple of months ago). You can even get them personalised for free so your mates won't steal them - they're a no-brainer.
CAMELBAK - grab yourself a hydration pack with some extra storage and you'll be a happy runner whatever the weather. I used the standard 2-litre Camelbak but I'd recommend getting one with extra storage pockets like this 3-litre version so you can stash your phone, keys, wallet and snacks in there too.
GARMIN - When you want to track your distance, pace and much more, you can't go wrong with a Garmin. My Forerunner 230 is a few years old now and if I could I'd upgrade to a Fenix 5X which includes GPS navigation built-in, a 'get back home' feature, offline music storage (Spotify-compatible) and even Apple Pay). If anyone has £600 to spare, you know what to get for me...