What Is Fell Running? 2023 Ultimate Guide

What Is Fell Running

If running is your go-to exercise, you’re not alone. It’s one of the most popular ways for people to get fit. But if you’re looking for a new challenge or trying a different style, you might want to try the experience of fell running. Fell running involves hills, mountains, and forests. It can be challenging, but it’s also a lot of fun because you can explore areas that are not usually accessible to the public so let us go on for this attractive sport.

This unique sport takes you away from the crowds and into a sense of your calm. Fell races are much more scenic than standard road races, with plenty of variety in the terrain. You’ll find yourself scaling hills, running through forests with no-man obstacles, and crossing streams. All while taking in some of the most beautiful views around.

What Is Fell Running?

Fell running, also called mountain running, is the sport of running and racing on mountainous terrain. Fell running is unique because it consists of climbing up and down hills; there is no set route from start to finish. This means that runners must be prepared for anything and everything! It is considered one of the most challenging sports because of the rugged terrain and weather conditions often encountered during competitions.

Fell running can be a very challenging sport, both physically and mentally. It requires good fitness and stamina, a head for heights, and an awareness of the potential for getting lost in wild areas. However, it can also be advantageous, offering stunning scenery and a sense of achievement.


The word “fell” is dated but comes from the Scots word for hill or high place. The origins of fell running are mysterious, but the first recorded race occurred in Braemar, Scotland, in 1040 AD. The race was to find the fastest messenger, and the winner was given a giant purse full of gold and a great big sword.

In 1879, fell running was officially recognized as its sport when it was included in the annual Kendal Sports Festival. From here, it began to branch out into two parties: professional guides races and amateur fell racing.

History of Fell Races


Fell races are classified based on the elevation gain runners climb over the course, difficulty, and the distance covered:

  • A Category: No more than 20% of the entire distance traveled on roads, with an average ascent of no less than 250 feet per mile.
  • B Category: no more than 30% of the entire distance traveled on roads, with an average ascent of 125 feet per mile.
  • C Category: no more than 40% of the entire distance traveled on roads, with an average ascent of no less than 100 feet per mile.


Fell running is a form of off-road running in mountainous or hilly regions. It requires a high level of fitness and endurance. Fell runners often cite the sense of achievement and satisfaction of completing a challenging run as one of the main reasons for their passion for the sport. There are many benefits to fell running, both physical and mental.

  • Regularly running on the fells will improve leg strength and speed.
  • One of the benefits of fell running is that it delivers a more diverse set of challenges. Hilly terrain and varied landscapes make for an exciting run, as does the potential for different weather conditions. This can keep runners engaged and motivated, as they never quite know what to expect from their next outing. Additionally, running takes place in remote areas away from traffic and other distractions; runners can enjoy solitude and peace while on the trails.
  • It provides a great cardiovascular workout and can burn calories and tone muscles.
  • Fell running can help boost confidence and self-belief and provide a sense of achievement and satisfaction.
  • The fresh air and scenery of the mountains can help clear your mind and reduce stress.
  • Fell race winners usually take cash prizes.

So, running could be the perfect activity for you if you’re looking for a challenging and rewarding way to improve your fitness and mental well-being.

Needed Gear

Fell running is a magnificent sport to exercise and explore the great outdoors. But what gear should you be equipped with to prepare for fell runs or races?

You’ll be able to enjoy your fell running adventure with the below equipment while staying comfortable and safe.

  • Suitable footwear: You’ll want a pair of comfortable fell shoes or waterproof trail running shoes with a good grip for running on uneven terrain. Inov-8 X-talon 225 and Salomon Speedcross 4 are good sneakers for fell runners.
  • Comfortable clothing: Choose clothes you’ll be comfortable running in, including a layer or two to help stay warm on cold days. Hill or trail runners may search for features like pockets and anti-odor materials like merino or polygiene, which are excellent for regulating temperature.
  • Waterproofs: Many non-summer and winter races (or lakes across high fells) require complete waterproof gear. This refers to pants and coats with taped seams that are completely waterproof.
  • A hat or headband: A hat or headband can help keep your head warm and can also help keep your hair out of your face.
  • A hydration pack: A hydration pack is a great way to ensure you stay hydrated.
  • Running Bum Bag: keep your belongings close at hand with the bum bag.

Needed Skills

If you’re thinking of taking up fell running, you can do a few things to improve your chances of success.

  • Navigation Skills: Navigation is necessary for fell runners because there may not always be a well-defined path to follow. Using a map or compass is frequently more prudent than following other runners who might be winging it. Before joining a fell race, you should practice charting your route and managing hills to avoid getting lost.
  • Motivation: You’ll need an unwavering determination to reach that finish line because of the hills, hazardous weather, and muddy terrain.
  • Strong Legs: Calf strength is vital for the athlete facing uphill terrain. But it’s also crucial for the downhill, which is often harder on those muscles. So make sure to include strength training in your workout, particularly in your quadriceps and ankles.

How Do you Train for Fell Running? – Tips for Beginners

Several key attributes make this form of sport excellent, especially for beginners. For one, runners must be able to push their body abilities to the extreme to complete a race. This often includes learning how to embrace pain and discomfort. Additionally, fell runners need a good sense of balance and agility, as they constantly dodge rocks, roots, and other obstacles on the trail.

Here are a few tips for beginners to get started for a fell running journey.

  • First, fell running takes place on hills and mountains, so make sure you’re comfortable running in these environments. You may need to join a local club to meet other athletes and learn more about the sport to cope. You will have access to experienced runners who can help guide and teach you the basics of this exciting sport.
  • Learn to “read” the terrain before you and plan your route. It would be best to alternate between scanning the 5–10 meters in front of you for the track and gazing ahead to see where your feet will go.
  • Start simple, level up, and slowly build your mileage. Don’t try to do too much too soon, or you’ll risk injury. You’ll feel sore in places you’ve never felt before from running up and down mountains.
  • Regularly stretch out any aches, and pay close attention to your ankles and calf muscles because they will work more to keep you balanced than when you run on the pavement.
  • Please keep track of your runs and assess your development by comparing it to your prior training and running accomplishments.
  • Finally, enjoy yourself! Fell running is a great way to explore the stunning countryside and get fit simultaneously.

How to Stay Safe During Fell Runs?

Fell running is a fantastic way to see the beauty of the outdoors while getting a great workout. But staying safe while you’re on the trail is essential. So make sure to familiarize yourself with the terrain before starting, and never push yourself beyond your limits. Below are a few tips to help you stay safe on your next fell running adventure:

  • One of the best ways to stay safe is to run with a group. This will allow you to enjoy nature while having someone there to help in an emergency.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather and trails. Put on layers you can remove if you get too warm, and ensure you have enough food and water to keep you hydrated and fueled.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings and be aware of potential hazards, such as slippery rocks or steep drop-offs.
  • It’s also important to remember not to push yourself too hard on unfamiliar terrain. If this is your first time running in the hills, start slowly and build up your pace gradually. Remember that safety should always come first when exploring new landscapes.
  • The idea behind safe fell running is to use the map, compass, and runner’s skills for navigation. So, make sure to familiarize yourself with reading maps and using compasses.
  • Finally, carry emergency food and water with you whenever you run in the rain or hiking elsewhere. This way, you’ll be prepared for any situation that might occur.

Fell Running Vs. Trail Running

There are many different types of running, each with unique fits. But what’s the difference between fell running and trail running?

Fell running is a type of off-road running that takes place in mountainous, hilly paths, remote moorland, or highly steep descents and climbs. Because of the challenging terrain, fell running is often seen as a more complex form. However, the payoff is to experience some of the most beautiful scenery while getting a great workout.

Trail running, on the other hand, takes place on trails in parks or different natural apparent paths. These routes are frequently labeled; for instance, you may have noticed the small signs on the gate and fence posts. These pathways have long been utilized by runners and hikers and are frequently historic.

Difference Between Fell Running and Trail Running

So which is better – fell running or trail running? Ultimately, it depends on your personality and preference. If you enjoy the challenge of running up and down hills, then fell running is probably for you. But if you prefer a more relaxed run through scenic.

Fell running is a sport that requires both technical skills and great outdoor fitness. Unlike road running events, fell races usually don’t provide water or food stations until the finish line, so competitors should carry their supplies. It’s also worth knowing basic navigation skills before participating in a race.

The joy that makes fell running unique is no crowds or music are blaring, only the hum of your breath and the sound of your feet pounding the pavement. When you’re out on a trail, you feel connected to nature. You’re part of an adventure shared by hundreds of other runners; runners just like you. Whether you’re looking for a social outing with friends or a more solitary experience, you’ll find complete running a welcoming community. And because each location is open year-round, there’s never a wrong time to run.

How Do You Prepare for a Fell Race?

There are some essential points to consider psychologically and physically before the fell race:

  • Make sure you sleep enough: you should sleep about 7 or 8 hours every day because sleep gives the muscles a relaxation that helps you do exercises more efficiently, and this will help you to bear physical tasks like this race or walking for long distances every day.
  • Recognize the role of comfortable fell shoes on your performance in the race: your interest in wearing comfortable sports sneakers that are designed specifically for racing is no less critical than doing exercise because the shoe plays an essential and influential role in facilitating the racer’s movements and providing him comfort, thus making less effort.
  • The role of food and drink during and before the race: eating regularly is essential for the body and muscles simultaneously, so you should eat healthy meals and fruits before and throughout the race.
  • Train enough to run or walk for long hours continuously: the race is performed for 24 hours and a distance of 66 miles, this means running long distances, so it is crucial to take a walk or run training for hours a day until this becomes a habit so that it will be affected on our progress in the race.
  • Work with daily schedules: of course, making schedules is crucial for the racer; he should sleep on time, eat on time, and train on time. The program should suit his physical capabilities and not be crowded.
  • Continuing to train will make progress: continuing the train would help you make progress, make your muscles more flexible, and help you increase your body skills.

How to Get Ready for Fell Race


What Kit Do I Need for Fell Runs?

When it comes to fell running, there is a lot of gear that you need to consider bringing with you. This includes items such as a running jacket, gloves, and a headtorch. Depending on the race category you are competing in, the Fell Running Association (the governing body for fell running in the UK) stipulates what mandatory kit you must carry.

One thing to note is that no expensive equipment requirements are necessary to practice fell running. It can all be done with essential gear that most people will have. However, having good-quality running sneakers is necessary.

Who is the Best Fell Runner?

English fell runner and sheep farmer Joss Naylor was born on February 10th, 1936, near Wasdale Head. He holds numerous long-distance records and resides in the English Lake District. As his accomplishments grew, he gained further notoriety as the Iron Man or the King of the Fells.

What is Joss Naylor Challenge?

For people over 50, there is the Joss Naylor Challenge. The route departs from Pooley Bridge and climbs 17,000 feet (77 km, 5182 m) while traversing 30 summits over 48 miles and only encountering two road crossings. Joss Naylor did the first run from Pooley Bridge to Wasdale in 1990 when he was 54.

What to Eat for Fell Racing?

When running long distances, it is necessary to eat the right foods to maintain energy levels. This will help you stay strong throughout your run and prevent hitting a wall. Some of the best foods for fell runners include oats, chia seeds, brown rice, apples, and rye bread. These foods are packed with nutrients that help sustain your energy levels and keep you running strong.

Is Fell Running Hard?

There is no one-size-fits-all running technique. Every runner has a different gait, stride length, and foot strike pattern. What fits one runner may not suit another. Many runners get frustrated with the lack of consistency in their running form, but that’s because they don’t know how to adapt their technique to fit their own unique needs. Fell runners have to be strong. They must navigate quickly and efficiently over rocks, logs, and other obstacles. I believe that fell running is for everyone. The more muscular you are, the better your performance will be.

Fell running is the study of making running more efficient and effective by transitioning from heel strike to midfoot or forefoot landing and transitioning back again. In addition to adapting your running technique to match your unique needs, you can choose footwear based on your preference and comfort level. Most importantly, if you are having trouble keeping up with your pace or finding a comfortable cadence, you must evaluate your current running form and adjust accordingly.

What is the Common Fell Running Pace?

The most common fell running time is usually around 20% slower than your typical road running pace. For example, if you run 3k in 15 minutes on the road, a 3k fell running time will be around 20 minutes.

What Makes Fell Running a Good Idea?

Fell running is a fun and easy way to get fit. It’s also great for your health as it is low-impact and good for your joints. It’s also an excellent form of exercise that can be done in parks, forests, and fields.

In fell running, you run down hills or through forests at a slower pace than you would when running on flat ground. This allows you to use most of the muscles. In addition, the lower impact will help to protect your joints against the wear and tear of running on concrete or tarmac. You can also run with a dog, or bike, or push a wheelchair. You can also carry a friend if you find it challenging to navigate uneven terrain (although this may slow you down).

  • Long (L): More than 12 miles (>19.3km).
  • Medium (M): Between six and 12 miles (9.6km – 19.3km).
  • Short (S): Under six miles (9.6km).

What’s the Difference Between Fell running and Cross Country Running?

The main difference between fell running, and cross-country running is the terrain. Fell runners take on more obstacles and climb. In contrast, cross-country runners navigate different landscapes, which can improve their cardiovascular health and strength and change scenery for a healthier lifestyle.
A rookie runner may not be able to handle the distance; it’s recommended that they start with fell running first before moving on to cross-country running later. In addition, rookie runners should wear clothes appropriate for outdoor activities, like sweatpants and comfortable sneakers, and weather-appropriate clothing, such as a raincoat or poncho.

What do Beginners Consider Before Fell Running Races?

Before entering a fell running race, it is crucial to check the kit regulations. The best kits to have include: a waterproof jacket, waterproof trousers, a map of the route, a head torch for night races or poor visibility, and a compass. It is also advisable to bring emergency food and an emergency blanket with you in case of inclement weather conditions or other circumstances that affect your ability to continue running.

In cold weather, eat warm foods to keep your energy up. Stay hydrated at all times with a drink with sugar before you’re thirsty. Eat before you’re hungry, and plan for the day’s calories, so you don’t get low blood sugar or confused when navigating. Fell athletes use a waist pack or ‘bum bag’ to access their supplies easily. Veloforte Mixed Bites are perfect for fell running as they can be eaten one piece at a time without struggle.

What are the Common Abbreviations Related to Fell Races?

  • ER: Experience Required.
  • LKA: Local knowledge an Advantage.
  • NS: Navigation Skills Required.

What is the Fell Running Association?

It is an organization (Also known as FRA) in charge of fell racing in England and the Isle of Man. The Fell Runners Association, founded in 1970, today has more than 7,000 individual members who participate in the sport in England.

Related article: tips to start running at 50 and overweight

What is the Difference Between Fell and Trail Running?

The trail race course is typically wholly marked. However, in fell racing, the course is usually unmarked; you must navigate on your own using a map, compass, and prior knowledge or preparation. You are also not allowed to use electronic devices, such as GPS, to help you locate yourself (even momentarily).

The majority of trail races are exclusively on paths. However, most fell races take place on open fells, and the terrain can be challenging in some spots. Additionally, extreme climbs and descents may be included in fell races (which may not be runnable).

What is the Most Challenging Fell Route?

The Bob Graham in England is one of the world’s most challenging fellrunning routes and races. It continues for 24 hours with a total distance of 66 miles. If you want to get yourself ready for such, fell races.


Fell running is a great way to spend time outside and get in shape. Fell running helps beginners with balance, agility, and quick direction changes. Fell running also teaches runners how to focus on the next unpredictable obstacle instead of getting distracted by what’s ahead. You don’t need to be an expert hiker or runner to try it out, and you can start as soon as you’re comfortable walking a short distance.

It’s also a great way to get more active without spending too much time in one place. The most important thing about running is to be prepared for all weather conditions. Stay safe and have a plan if you run in the rain or the cold. You can also wear appropriate clothing and get the right equipment to avoid injury.

Getting into running can be challenging, but it’s worth it! This exciting sport combines fitness, technical skill, focus, and navigation. To get good at fell running, you’ll need to work on building up these skills over time. It can take a while to excel in this activity, but runners who enjoy the hardships of rugged terrain will love fell running.

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