Annie Brooks is part of the Brooks Run Happy Team (her name is a happy coincidence!), and she joyfully embodies that spirit (follow her for more @itsanniebean). She describes herself as a “look pro, go slow triathlete”, and she loves all things adventure.
She’s a huge fan of trail running, having started to keep her pet pooch happy – these days, the pup is often left at home while she takes part in trail events. Whatever she does, however, she stresses that it’s just for fun – no stress allowed!
“I got into trail running after moving from a busy town to a house that was near the woodlands,” she explains. “Dog walks took me along some fantastic local trails and eventually I ditched the wellies for trainers to explore them.
“I am a big fan of the non-pressure that comes with trail running; it’s almost an unspoken thing that pace can become irrelevant, and that this kind of run is as much about the experience and the mental escape as it is about the actual run.”
Adding variety to running
Annie loves the variety that trail running has brought to her training. “I’m not a big fan of replicating the same training routes, and I find that sometimes long road runs can absorb me mentally in a negative way,” she admits.
“So adding in a trail run that needs me to focus on what I’m doing to remain upright, is a welcome escape! Plus, the varied terrain helps bring race day resilience, as you never know what an event will be like on the day.”
Top tips for the rest of us budding trail runners! We’re keen to find out what races Annie has done since she took up trail running and tri – what goals keep her happy? “I’ve done a few standalone trail races, and I have loved the variety, so I have two booked in for this year. UTS ERYRI 25 and the UTMB ETC,” she says.
“But beyond my trail races, I have three Ironman 70.3 races coming up, starting with Ironman Staffordshire 70.3 in June.”
“I was doing shorter distances like sprint triathlon races, it was always quite frantic”
Brooks explains that the races she’s completed have all been a positive experience for her, even if she’s changed the goals in her sights as a result.
“When I was doing shorter distances like sprint triathlon races, it was always quite frantic in terms of flying in and out of transition as quickly as you could. But trail took off that high alert: if I couldn’t see the top of a climb, I’d walk it, run the flats, and lap up the gravity of the downhill!”
And what about training? Where does Annie build up her trail running muscles?
“I enjoy the trails near my home, but I’m lucky to travel a fair amount, so I seek out trails wherever I go. I loved doing a sunrise trail run up to the Hollywood sign, and a hilly race at Griffith Park Observatory Santa Run in a Santa costume in LA! It was pretty epic!”
So come on, then, Annie – where does this adventurous spirit want to run next? “I’ve run in some amazing places, but having only visited Norway in the winter, I’d love to visit in the summer and explore the trails there.” See you on the fjords!