Whilst road running is undoubtedly the most popular option for runners, trail running offers a unique way to spice up your routine.
What is trail running?
Trail running means running away from roads and stadium tracks, opting for natural terrain instead.
Mountains, woodland, hills, forests, fields and hiking trails are all typical sights for trail runners.
Trail running will put you through your paces as you explore the beautiful sights of nature in a less controlled, less planned and sometimes unpredictable environment.
Why go trail running?
Lower impact: Road and track running is great fun and has many benefits but, make no mistake, it is high impact and puts pressure on the joints and muscles in the legs. Trail running is typically on softer ground and is often on grass and soil.
Trail running gives your legs a well-deserved rest. Give it a go every now and then.
Nature: Trail running is a nice reason to get out and about in nature. Trees, woodland, forests, mountains and the gorgeous views that come with them, are inspiring sights on trails.
Research suggests nature is good for us: it alleviates stress, reduces blood pressure, improves mental health, and gives you a greater appreciation for the outdoors.
Cleaner air: Road running usually takes place in the hustle and bustle of busy towns and cities, which typically have high levels of air pollution. High concentrations of pollutants are associated with health risks like headaches, breathing difficulties like coughing and asthma, decreased lung capabilities.
On the flipside, trail running is usually in the countryside which boasts cleaner higher quality air. The cleaner air means better absorption of oxygen, so you perform better, whilst avoiding the potential implications of running in polluted areas. Trail running means a more enjoyable experience.
Challenging workout: Mountains, hills and slopes in trail running, often mean unexpected changes in terrain which add the extra challenge to your run.
Unlike roads and tracks which are smooth in their surface and gradual in their incline, trail running has a habit of throwing steep slopes and rocky trails at you unexpectedly. The rapidly changing environment will strengthen your leg muscles and core muscles whilst building endurance, which will make road running much easier.
For a fun and challenging workout, give trail running a go.
What if you’re comfortable with road running?
Road running is most runners preferred option, and it’s tempting to remain in your comfort zone. However, what harm is there in spicing it up and trying something different? Trying something different often results in a pleasant surprise!
Think of one of your favourite foods; pizza, Italian and Mexican are popular options. Once upon a time, these foods were unknown to you and you had to try them for the first time, not knowing what you’d expect.
Chances are you will try trail running once, and it will quickly become a favourite alongside road running.
What do I need to do before I go trail running?
Heading out onto the trail for the first time is going to feel different for first time trail runners.
There are a few things you may need to do before going trail running.
Trail running shoes: It’s a good idea to wear appropriate trail footwear when you head off the beaten track. Trail shoes typically feature thicker soles, protected toe caps and some even feature studs to help you grip the ground easier.
Tell someone where you’re going: Before heading out on a trail run, tell someone – a friend or family member – who lives nearby, where you’re going. Trail runs are often quite isolated, in the countryside, away from busy towns and the people that live in them.
Though it’s unlikely to happen, running is a sport and brings a risk of injury. If you fall and hut yourself, at least you have told someone where you are going which means someone can come an help you if required.
Bring your phone: Okay, it’s the 21st century so you might not need to be told to bring your phone. However, it’s crucial that you do bring your phone if you go trail running.
Should you injure yourself on the trail, whether you’ve tripped and cut your arm or fractured your leg, your phone will be your guardian angel. Whip it out, call the emergency services or a trusted friend or family member who can come to your aid.
Trail running is great but remember, safety first!
Running glasses: You only have two eyes, so you should protect them! Wearing running glasses on trail routes is highly recommended. Not only will glasses protect your eyes from dust and pesky swarms of flies on the trail, they also protect against the glare of the sun on hot days.
You can pick up a decent pair for around £20-£30 and are well worth the investment.
Go for it!
Give trail running a go! Even if you’re not overly enthusiastic about it to start with, you soon will be.
Ease into trail running lightly. First, plan one trail run in the place of one of your weekly runs. You could even make it half road and half trail, to ease into the trail running gently. Have a brief idea of the terrain -whether it’s a forest, woods, or a hiking trail – and where you will enter it.
Experimenting with new types of running will things fresh, and keep you engaged in the running.
You’ll discover how fun trail running is. You’ll discover the beauty of your local areas natural offerings. You will get away from the hustle and bustle of city and town life for a while.
You will awaken your inner adventurer.
You will spice up your running routine.