If you’re a runner it’s likely you already have a preference over running on trails or roads. However, if you’re new to the sport maybe you hadn’t even considered that there were differences between the two. You should familiarise yourself with these differences though, as first and foremost you will need to buy the right footwear for the terrain you run on to ensure your feet are well protected, to help with your gait and body positioning, and to also lower your chances of injury.
As with most things, there are pros and cons to both types of running and we are going to look at the today to help you make the right decision for you.
The Benefits of Trail Running
As a runner myself I absolutely adore the trails, so forgive me if I’m going to be a little biased here. There is nothing better than leaving the hecticness and noisiness of the populated places behind and escaping into nature. But it’s not just about the escapism, although this side of things is also absolutely fantastic for mental wellbeing, it’s about slowing things down and becoming a lot more mindful of your surroundings and the way you run.
When you run on trails, the terrain is a lot more demanding and so it requires your utmost attention. Now you might be thinking hang on a minute that sounds like a bit of a disadvantage to me, and to some degree you’d be right and we’ll touch on that a bit more in a minute. However, the uneven ground, the tree roots, the mud, the rocks etc. all help improve your sense of balance, agility and reaction time. As a consequence of the varied terrain, trail running burns roughly ten percent more calories than road running.
Trail running is also a lot more forgiving to joints, as the ground you run on is significantly softer than the concrete of roads and pavements. Surprisingly, despite the seemingly difficult terrain, injuries caused by overuse and repetitive motion are much less likely with trail running, as your foot strike varies so much.
It is virtually impossible to get bored on a trail run, as the scenery is forever changing and you will likely come across some mind blowing views. Plus, if you fancy yourself as the next big runfluencer taking along a GoPro or an Osmo Action camera allows you to record shake free action footage of your running adventures to share with your followers online. For more details about some of this kind of kit check out Omniviewtech.ca.
The Disadvantages of Trail Running
OK so the terrain of trails may be more natural and softer, but if you’re not used to this type of running there is of course a greater chance of injury, the most common being rolled ankles or falling over tree roots. If you are a road runner you may find it difficult to slow down, but slow down you must, as trail running isn’t about setting any land speed records, it is about slow and mindful movement.
This being the case, you may find it frustrating that you can’t reach the speeds you have been used to and you may also discover that your endurance isn’t quite what you thought. Trail running isn’t necessarily harder than road running, it’s just different and it must be approached as though it is a brand new sport, even if you have been road running for years.
Heading out into the countryside and woodland is lovely, but it can also at times feel unsafe if you are on your own and your chances of getting lost are way higher than if you’re running round the pavements of your local town. You could head out on a run with a friend or even join a local running group, to increase your confidence and to learn new routes. If you do head out on your own, always make sure you tell someone where you’re going, have a fully charged phone on you, and be fully aware of your surroundings.
The Benefits Of Road Running
Road running is often a common starting point with beginner runners and for good reason; it is so convenient. All most of us need do is open our front doors and we’re away. It also generally feels a lot safer, as it is familiar territory, there are usually plenty of people around and you are far less likely to get lost than if you run cross country.
Although I am not a big fan of road running, one thing I do love is being able to have a good old noise at other people’s homes and gardens. It’s great for getting inspiration and can be particularly useful if you’re planning on moving house and want to fully check out an area beforehand. SSBHG can help with that too.
If you are a sucker for a speedy statistic and have a competitive streak, then road running is for you, as this is where you’ll find your PBs. The smoother, harder surface makes for faster times and you will easily complete the same distance on road much faster than you would on the trails. Likewise, as the surface is smoother you can switch off much easily and really focus on how your body is moving, your stride, gait and all the other technical mechanisms of running movement.
The Disadvantages of Road Running
While roads and pavements are arguably an easier surface to run on, the hard man made material they are constructed from has a much higher impact on your body and your joints are much more likely to suffer as a consequence. Roads, and sometimes pavements, can also be slanted on their outer widths, and this tricky camber will create an uneven stride, which over time may result in injury.
Overuse and repetitive motion injuries are much more frequent with road running because your foot strikes pretty much the same with each landing. This can also be tougher on your feet and you may notice you get blisters and callouses. Although making sure you have the right footwear and Spectrum Health Care can help sort this out.
For me personally, the biggest disadvantage to road running is having to cross busy road, vehicles and human traffic. People can get in your way and you can get in other people’s way, which can be stressful at times and not something you really want from a run. Pounding the pavements can also get a little repetitive and boring after a while.
What Will You Choose?
Well firstly, who said you had to choose between the two? In fact, it’s been proven that mixing it up and doing both is actually hugely beneficial as it helps to activate all muscle groups and makes you a much stronger and more versatile runner. Whether you have preference for one or the other it is worth occasionally stepping out of your running comfort zone and trying the other type. You never know you might find you really love it.