Running Free

Running Free

A Runner’s Journey Back to Nature


Shortlisted for the 2015 Thwaites Wainwright prize for nature writing

Richard Askwith wanted more. Not convinced running had to be all about pounding pavements, buying fancy kit and racking up extreme challenges, he looked for ways to liberate himself. His solution: running through muddy fields and up rocky fells, running with his dog at dawn, running because he's being (voluntarily) chased by a pack of bloodhounds, running to get hopelessly, enjoyably lost, running fast for the sheer thrill of it. Running as nature intended.

Part diary of a year running through the Northamptonshire countryside, part exploration of why we love to run without limits, Running Free is an eloquent and inspiring account of running in a forgotten, rural way, observing wildlife and celebrating the joys of nature.

An opponent of the commercialisation of running, Askwith offers a welcome alternative, with practical tips (learned the hard way) on how to both start and keep running naturally – from thawing frozen toes to avoiding a stampede when crossing a field of cows. Running Free is about getting back to the basics of why we love to run.


  • A joyous, eloquent and lyrical account of one man's lifelong love affair with running... Running Free is simply the prod you need to make you step off the pavement and into the wild
    Martin Love, Guardian

About the author

Richard Askwith

Richard Askwith has been a journalist for over 40 years. He has written six previous books, including his modern classic on fell running, Feet in the Clouds, which won the Best New Writer category at the British Sports Book Awards and was shortlisted for the William Hill and Boardman Tasker prizes, and he is now one of the UK's most celebrated writers on running. Running Free was shortlisted for the Thwaites-Wainwright Prize, and his evocative biography of Emil Zátopek, Today We Die A Little, was shortlisted in the Cross Sports Book Awards. His most recent book, Unbreakable: the Countess, the Nazis and the World's Most Dangerous Horse Race, won Biography of the Year at the Telegraph Sports Book Awards in 2020.
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