Traditionally, the cross-country season would be under way by now, and fields up and down the land would be filled with discarded-at-the-last-second jumpers, little red and white route markers and not a small amount of cake. This season, it’s a bit different, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make use of the excellent trails you’ll find not far from home.

Mud isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but unleashing your inner-hippo can benefit your road running.

Being a predominantly winter sport, cross-country comes with the weather; all of the weather. It’s not unusual to start off soaked to the skin, only for the race itself to be dry, or for a seemingly beautiful day to turn to blistering sleet-storms by the time you’re half way round the course.

You’ll often find a mixture of terrains, too. Some courses are mostly on grass, for (in my view mind-numbingly dull) laps to make up the distance. Others take more scenic routes and may include woodland, open countryside and even streams to traverse.

Cross-country running also allows runners to work hard physically. Undulations, uneven surfaces and small obstacles mean that strength can be developed without the repetitive and cumulative effects of road or track training.

My absolute favourite cross-country course is the event hosted by Handy Cross Runners in the Thames Valley Cross Country League. Just north of High Wycombe, runners find themselves running up, down or through a bog. It’s brilliant!

Yes, cross-country running will toughen you up mentally and physically; why not give it a go?!