Road running is an amazing exercise for clearing the mind, reducing and anxiety and increasing your health, but it can be more taxing on your body than you realize.
As runners know, the impact of constantly pounding on the pavement leads to a plethora of issues like routinely strained feet, knee problems, shin splints, and even hip and back problems. As if that wasn’t troubling enough, roadrunners are also really exposed to pollution coming from cars which naturally leads to all sorts of health problems. All in all, roads are really unkind to the human body. That’s the main reason why road runners might want to switch it up every so often and go trail running instead. For starters, trail runners don’t put as much strain on their knees as they run on much more comfortable terrains. Since dirt is nowhere near as hard as pavement, your body gets a well-deserved break while staying active, and even better, you are less likely to suffer injuries associated with road running. Another plus is, unsurprisingly, the fresh air. Trail running takes you away from the busy streets deep into the forest or a mountain trail, so you can automatically benefit from cleaner air entering your lungs and all the benefits of spending time in nature. It’s a great way to connect with nature while staying active, because, trust us, you won’t be able to doze off. Running of the road requires you to be focused on the path ahead of you. You’ll need to run through roots, rocks, loose dirt, rivers, and even mud, so you’re mind needs to be focused on the activity you’re doing. This won’t be the kind of workout when you can listen to your favourite podcast and forget about what you’re doing.
As for the quality of the exercise, trail running surpasses road running in a number of ways. For once, the unevenness of the terrain helps strengthen the muscles of your legs, increases your balance, improves your ability to focus, and naturally corrects your running technique. It really is more beneficial than running through the city, but it can also be more intimidating as you’re headed to a terrain that you’re probably not familiar with. Don’t worry, here are some tips to get yourself started in trail running:
- Research the area: Don’t ever head out for a trail run without first researching where you’ll be going. It’s easy to get lost when you’re not familiar with the area and you really don’t want to find yourself in that position.
- Join a group: Unlike road running, trail running is something that can be done in groups, so chances are there are already people doing it in your area. You can join your local club to find running buddies, they can make the trail much more enjoyable and also give you tips on how to stay safe and what other trails you can run in.
- Get a kit but don’t go overboard: You will need a good pair of running shoes, water, and probably a jacket or a windbreaker, but not much else. There’s no need to go for the latest, trendiest equipment. You’ll be fine with just the basics. Remember that you’re still running, so you don’t want any unused garments holding you back.
- Stop and enjoy the view: when running in a natural park there’s nothing wrong with stopping every once in a while and enjoying your surroundings. Soak it all in. You’re not just running to exercise, but to be in touch with nature.