How many of you have really trail run? I mean really trail run, not just running on a dirt pathway. Its something that a lot of runners don’t really get into, and understandably because it takes a lot more commitment than just walking outside. You have to find a place to do it, sometimes get different shoes, know exactly where you’re going, and on longer runs, take your own water! But trail running can have some serious benefits to most of the running population that is forever running in a straight, forward moving line. Here are some reasons why you should start to incorporate trail running into your routine.
Reduction of Impact
Running on trails usually means you’re running on dirt, grass, or some otherwise softer surface than the concrete most of us are used to running on. When your foot hits the ground, it hits with a force upwards of 3 times your body weight! That’s a lot of force, and softening that blow by landing on a soft surface can allow your joints to absorb some of that impact. Whether you can actually get out to some real trails, or you’re just running in the grass next to the sidewalk, running off the concrete is a nice break for your joints every once in a while.
Change of Scenery
This is more of a mental benefit, but it is a benefit just the same. Trail running keeps you on your toes and paying attention to your surroundings. Otherwise, you’d probably hit the ground after tripping on a rock or run right into a tree! (Believe me, I’ve done both and its quite embarrassing). This can give your head a little bit of a break from thinking about the fact that you’re running and allow you to think about other things, such as the upcoming cut in the trail that goes around a big tree, or the fallen log you have to jump over. Not to mention it will make your reaction time faster…
Like I said earlier, runners go straight and forward. Oftentimes, trail running can make you run in different directions, working those small muscles in your legs that move you to the side. Since these are muscles that we don’t often use as runners, this will allow you to develop a more well rounded physique with the ability to change direction when needed. These muscles also help with stability, and the stronger your legs are, the longer you will be able to hold good form into a run.
Lastly, and this is the most important reason to take up trail running, it is just flat out fun. Its something a little bit different from the usual routine and can speak to the inner outdoors-man in all of us that likes to get out into the woods, or run across a mountain ridge! So next time you’re going out for a run, consider hitting the trail, you may be surprised how much you enjoy it!