This Ultra-Runner Picks His Favourite Instant Adventures

One of the best adventures RISING ever had was setting off on a bike one summer’s morning with the full intention of getting hopelessly lost. The countryside rolled out either side of the road, impossibly green; hunting buzzards wheeled overhead; and because we were completely unconcerned with where we were going, we were totally immersed in the experience. It felt like a real adventure even though it wasn’t remotely far from home, showing that exploration is a state of mind, not a place. Author and adventurer Tobias Mews knows all about making the most of your opportunities to explore, whatever your lifestyle and location. Check out his favourite methods for creating instant adventures that don’t require you to book time off, or even travel far from home, taken from his new book, GO!

1. Letting The Roll Of The Dice Decide

Sometimes planning an adventure can take all the fun out of it, especially when time is short. Instead of stressing about missed opportunities, turn your regular runs or cycles into adventures by randomising them with the roll of a dice, with numbers assigned to challenges. Once rolled, you have 24 hours to complete the activity – and no re-rolls!

‘I found dice of a different colour to denote a different approach to running. Red, for instance, was for adventure; white for distance; and blue for speed work. I’d then dip my hand in a bag, pull out one dice and roll it to see where it would take me,’ says Mews.He found that doing this with friends dramatically ramped up the inventiveness and fun.

‘Your ability to get creative increases dramatically as you come up with somewhat silly ideas that none of you necessarily want to do (such as run ten times up and down the tallest skyscraper you can find), but it adds another dimension to the game and turns a potentially boring training session into a midweek adventure run.’

Something To Get You Started: The Red Dice

1 = Race a bus, train or boat

2 = Run to the highest three points in your area

3 = Take a bus or train somewhere and run back

4 = Do a night-time trail run

5 = Run to a new cafe/pub and indulge in cake/beer/avocado toast

6 = Do an urban triathlon

‘A continuous line of purple snaked along disused rivers, around parks and through housing estates’

2. Mapping Your Own Manor

We love cities at RISING – where else has such energy, innovation and fun? The only problem is that the controlled urban environments in which 90% of us live can feel unadventurous. Rather than dreaming of escape, turn organisation into exploration – chances are, like Mews, you live within an administrative borough, or a town with a boundary.

‘Bored of running around my local park, I was searching a London A-Z map for new paths, commons or parks to run in, anything to escape the monotony of my regular evening run,’ he says. ‘By chance, I noticed a blue line tracing around my local borough of Wandsworth. It snaked along disused rivers, around parks and through housing estates – a continuous line of purple marking the boundary of one of London’s thirty-two boroughs, just as you’d find in any other city. It was a lot larger than I’d imagined.’

Once you’ve found your boundary, decide if it’s a cycle or run adventure, and set a route on Strava, avoiding private land or other barriers – then set off!

Bear in mind that it’s an exploration, so it will take longer than a training session. ‘You need to allow for what I call the ‘faff factor’. Somehow, as soon as you step off your familiar route and start following a GPS or map, everything takes longer – whether it’s stopping to figure out where you are, reaching a dead end, pausing to take photos, waiting at traffic lights – it all adds up,’ says Mews.

3. Make Your Own SwimRun

Outdoor swimming is spilling over from triathlon into a summer lifestyle trend. From lakes to lidos, more people are pulling on wetsuits and taking the plunge. But you can stay ahead of the adventure pack by tapping into the hottest new adventure race – the SwimRun. Born from a drunken bet to swim and run across the Stockholm Archipelago, it’s now become a worldwide phenomenon, since Michael Lemmel and Mats Skott co-founded the ÖTILLÖ SwimRun World Series. The rules reflect an adventure ethos: it’s self-supported and you have to race in the same kit, which means swimming in your trainers and running in your wetsuit.

Safety should always come first so always SwimRun with someone else, and watch this space for the RISING guide to open-water swimming, out next week... ‘Your first SwimRun should be simply getting used to transitioning from water to land and back again using just one lake, pool or reservoir. Working out what kit works and doesn’t, how to carry water and food – it all takes a bit of practice. And that’s part of the adventure. Because after you’ve done your first SwimRun, everything else will feel boring,’ says Mews.

‘Eleven hours and forty minutes later, I stumble onto Brighton Pier – we’ve done it; we’ve beaten the sun’

4. Race The Sun

You only need one day free to complete this long-distance adventure. Once again the location can be anywhere; the adventure depends on achieving the challenge you set yourself. Step one: Google the local sunrise and sunset times. Step two: plot a realistic route to cover on foot or two wheels within those two times. Step three: go and do it!

Of course, Mews has some useful race-tested tips you can learn from. ‘There’s a good chance you’ll either do a circular loop, an out-and-back route or a point-to-point,’ he says. ‘The circular option – whether that be running/cycling around a lake, city or even around a mountain like Mont Blanc – offers the greatest challenge. An out-and-back route – whether that be to a prominent high point, a town, or along a river – is, in my experience, the easiest to plan. There’s no need to worry about return transport and if you have friends and family in support, it makes their life and yours much easier.’

The third option, point-to-point, is ideal if you’re navigating a national trail, or racing the sun to the beach!  

‘A top tip is to use an online mapping tool, like Strava or MapMyRun, which predicts how long it will take you,’ adds Mews. He used this to run 60 miles off-road from London to Brighton. ‘Eleven hours and forty minutes later, my friend and I stumble onto Brighton Pier feeling like intrepid warriors returning from battle. With three minutes to spare, we’ve done it. We’ve beaten the sun. All we have to do now is have a well-earned drink and get home. “Anyone know where the train station is?”’

WHAT NEXT? It’s summer and that’s the perfect time to go night riding – simply fit a set of high-powered lights to a mountain bike and go ride the trails you know from daytime excursions. Trust us, it’s an eye-openingly different experience – the trails seem faster, and the night adds an edge.