Love Trails Festival, July 2019



Love Trails Festival, aka hundreds of Londoners (specifically runners) spend the weekend in South Wales. Well, maybe not that many, but it felt like it. There was a group of dudes from Seoul who came to the UK just for LTF. THAT is the pull and the power of this event. 

I’ve felt so positive after spending the weekend at this festival in the Gower that I felt this deserved a bit of my time to get words and thoughts down. After what I can only really describe as a blip, last weekend has made me full of love for running and even just simple human movement again.

Amy really had to do some serious work to get me to even consider going, let alone forking out the cash for the tickets. I must admit I was apprehensive and anxious (this is a mental health blog after all folks!), about even going in the first place since, on the whole, I’m not filled with appreciation for festivals, but I’m so incredibly grateful that I was able to have had that experience among so many others all of whom share first and foremost a love of the simple sport that is running. There are few opportunities for runners to socialise like this (that I’ve found at least, excluding parkrun). I’d love it if this could happen more at races but it generally doesn’t occur too often then, everyone has stuff to do and at the moment I’m not amongst the early finishers. Maybe it does and I’m looking in the wrong place. If it does, leave a comment.

Running is a powerful thing. It’s a lifestyle, not just a thing we do. We want adventures and we want the knowledge to improve ourselves. That’s my position at least and there was plenty of knowledge to be imparted that let me get my geek on.

All this was there in spades in the Gower last weekend. What was even more special was that even with all this available there was still plenty of time to relax in the sun and talk to new people about their own adventures and relationship with running. We got chatting to Josh and Charlotte from Manchester after a blog workshop, Victor and Anna from Blackheath near where we live and got to know Sarah from our local parkrun a little better.

Perhaps what made it so good was that there was no competitive element (expect during the beer relay of course), just good vibes and an inclusive atmosphere among a community united by the fact that, at its simplest, they love to move. Some further or faster than others but when it comes to it, they’re all running.

It’s a festival experience like no other, packed with guided runs, talks and workshops. An incredible amount available for everyone. There was just no way that I could have done or seen everything I wanted to and its a credit to Theo, George and the rest of the crew that they were able to arrange such a great programme. I’m choosing to look upon this positively. I learned something new over the weekend: the Joy of Missing Out. Instead of being unhappy about what I might not have attended, seen, or taken part in, my choice was to stay in the moment and make sure I enjoy what I can get involved in.

Yes, it was a running festival, but I didn’t run much at all and spent many hours with my foot elevated wherever I could find a place.

Why was that? I put my foot in a hole during a head torch run up to Arthur’s Seat on Friday night (twice) which straight away meant no more running over the weekend. I’m glad I made back down from up there because I’ve since read that the local legend is those who venture up the mountain at night and choose to sleep there will either wake up mad, wake up as a poet or indeed never wake up again. I picked up a ligament strain but I refused to let it get me down and ruin the weekend. It may even have set me back even further with my training for Berlin (just over eight weeks away!), but right now that is fine.

My Love Trails highlights:

Nick Kershaw, CEO and Co-Founder of Impact Marathon. I knew a little bit about Impact Marathon already thanks to the coverage its had via Marathon Talk and took this opportunity to listen to Nick. Impact Marathon was established with the intention of using the power of running for positive social outcomes in deserving communities around the world in line with the Global Goals. Impact was created in order to harness all of our own innate abilities as runners to realise our own potential and to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Running has the power to transform lives, first of all our own, but also those around us. When we put one foot in front of each other shows us what we can achieve and its this positive mindset that shows us just what else can be achieved if we choose to. Mindset is everything. Of course there’s an endurance event to run during the trips Impact organise too! I can’t think of a more inspiring business than Impact. Nick related the story of a recent, very eventful and emotional first trip to Guatemala. Amy and I are getting married next July and we want to do something that’s slightly more adventurous than what passes for a normal honeymoon next year. We both spoke to Nick later in the weekend. That’s all I think I should divulge for now.

The Kogma Kinetics guys ran a workshop entitled: Optimising Human Movement to Maximise Running Performance. These dudes are full of knowledge about muscular skeletal movement and the gait cycle. What they got across to us is that, even though we take it for granted, we need to be aware that every part of our bodies is connected and is utilised when we move and run. Very quickly, the guys identified, having never met me before, that the way various parts of my body move makes me susceptible to problems in the lower lumbar region, glutes and hips. Exactly the problems I’ve had to seek treatment for recently. To say I was astonished that they were able to identify potential problems from movements I make was an understatement.


Chevy Rough, a London-based Human Performance and Mindfulness Coach, who I had quite ashamedly never heard of previously, but who is an absolutely incredible human gave a Performance Breathing workshop. The key takeaway from this workshop was that the focus for most runners focus specifically on nutrition and hydration, but our primary fuel source is of course Oxygen. Chevy spent an hour outlining the mechanics of good breathing and getting us to realise that we can use breathing to gain control over our physiology to put ourselves in an optimal state to deliver peak performance. He made reference to the body’s sympathetic and parasympathetic systems (knowledge I’ve come across at various other points in my Discovery journey). I came across a recent podcast interview with Chevy that’s definitely worth a listen.

Charlotte and Anna from Zero Waste Life also gave an enlightening insight into the process of going zero waste and perhaps most importantly eliminating their use of all single use plastic.

Maggie May Dempsey – Maggie talked about her running journey from novice disheartened by personally underwhelming performance to competitive ultra runner.

Bad Boy Running podcast – these dudes recorded a live edition of their pod the festival making those present aware of the podcast commandments. I had no idea this podcast even existed prior to sitting down at the Campfire Stage, but I’ll definitely be checking out their podcast!

Kris King, founder of Beyond The Ultimate, delivered a training adaptations and recovery workshop aimed mostly at the ultra audience in the tent but useful advice for runners at all levels of experience and ability.

Finally, those of that stayed and camped on Sunday night got two extra highlights: a simply magical acoustic sets from Harbottle and Jonas and Emily Davies in the grounds of the adjacent Weobley Castle and a visit from a Chinook that buzzed the campsite at 2am! That little impromptu gig really capped off a really great festival!

The whole weekend was the most incredible, and, most importantly inspiring, experience. I’ve left out a whole lot and could go on forever, so do give Claire Maxted’s review a read too! I don’t think I’ve ever had as engaging but still fun weekend in my life, it was something I had probably been in need of for some time and I don’t think I can thank the Love Trails crew enough for the experience. Keep a lookout for tickets for 2019 launching soon!





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