I know a lot of people who I'd classify as Adventurers. These people will see a large country and run across it. They will see continents between themselves and a place they want to be and jump on a bike to cover the distance. They will scooter thousands of miles, just because. Those people will have many words of wisdom to impart about how one can best conduct an adventure of this sort, how to find a good camping spot, how to eat well, how to plan and pack, etc. Unfortunately, those people are busy elsewhere and, as I'm the one writing, you have me.
Hi. I'm Laura and I conducted a fairly shambolic four day run a few months back which featured much crying (by me), zero planning (me again), a lot of beauty (by nature) and a heroic ending (by which I mean, 'I made it without dying'). Clearly, I am a woman to be sought out for advice so I'm laying down a few golden rules that I found helped me in planning my adventure.
1. Have a mascot
Instead of planning a route, I felt it highly important to make sure I had a mascot for my run. Having a mascot gives you a mini support system so that, really, if you're lost in a field in Kent, so long as you have your mascot, things will be okay. The mascot I chose was a lovely little mug with a caricature of the Duke of Wellington on it (my run had a Wellington theme). It was perfect, I thought to myself. I would photograph it in lots of places along the route then, in the evenings, have a cup of tea in it and think about the good old Duke and get fired up for the next day.
Being marginally sensible, I did a test run four days before I left. I had just purchased the running backpack I was going to use and decided to pack exactly what I would for the real thing, go to my planned start point and run the first few miles, to get a feel for things.
Bag zipped up, on back, clipped straps across front, off I go. About three minutes in, I heard a clinking sound and turned around. My mascot was in two pieces on the ground, surrounded by one of my t-shirts and some of my pants. Not only had I just smashed my mascot (how would I survive in a field in Kent now?) but my pants were lying on the busy pavement and I had a zip problem to deal with.
Replacing the mascot consisted of getting a feeble little fridge magnet thing and feeling utterly sad about the loss the whole four days of my run.
The epitome of disappointment
2. Decide to grow hair
This was an especially wise decision on my part. Having sported a short boy do for the previous 18 months or so, I had got a bit lazy and let it grow so that it was just about starting to lay down my neck and across my forehead a bit. I didn't think to take a hairband on my run so my irritatingly slightly-long hair just got drenched in sweat and tickled my face and neck the whole time. I mean, really now, who doesn't love the Flat Sweaty Hair look?
3. Pack on the morning you leave
I woke up at 7am on the morning I was leaving for my run and went downstairs to look at what was washed. I packed a handful of pants (bottom of the bag this time, no more pants on the street for me!), spare t-shirts, socks, sports bra, a large UK map, my new mascot and tons of snacks.
This is why, when I woke up on day two of my run and looked through my stuff, I realised I had no extra running trousers. None. That just left me with the distinctly grimy ones I had peeled off after the 25 miles of day one. Without going into too much detail, running for four days under the hot June summer sun is quite a sweaty affair. The trousers were practically running themselves around by the end.
Another good thing about packing on the day you leave is that you'll hopefully pack something that weighs quite a lot but that you barely use. The large A to Z I had packed for 'route-planning' (ha!) was taken out only once but added untold misery by its heaviness.
There you have it, three of the essential tools for shoddy trip planning, courtesy of the little-known, unadventurous me. If you want more tips, head over here for a more extensive list on how to run around the countryside with no real idea what you're doing.