For some of us, running is food for the soul. Despite the initial challenges, many of us want to pursue running and reap its benefits. Have you considered running on a different kind of terrain? If you did, have you actually tried it? We will tell you everything you need to know about running on various terrain. We will first describe the various benefits of running on different types of terrain, followed by a brief discussion of each type of terrain.
Your progress as a runner starts with your regular running routine. After having run on the same surface for your practice session, you might want to experience a change. Some of you would associate running with high impact exercise where injuries are common. In this scenario, knowing the pros and cons of running on a different kind of terrain would be ideal. Let us get started with the benefits of trying different terrains for running.
Benefits of Running on Different Kind of Terrain
Of the many benefits that running of different terrains will bring to you, we have highlighted the most important ones.
Diversify Your Running Style
When you choose to run on different terrains, you give your body a break from monotony. Different surfaces require a different running style; therefore, you learn new styles of running. This extra knowledge is very fulfilling for some of us.
If you are used to running on hard surfaces, you might feel that softer surfaces don’t cause as much injury. Thus, by varying your running terrain, you actually decrease the likelihood of long-term injury by increasing core strength.
Improve Your Stamina
Running on terrains like hills instead of flat grounds will increase your stamina much faster. When you come back to flats, this stamina will manifest as increased speed.
Improve Your Performance
When to switch to trail running from the treadmill, you train yourself to run through bends, curves, and twists. This training translates into a better overall performance.
Learn to Run in Different Weather Conditions
Running on a treadmill inside your home or gym will not teach you how to run when it is raining. Running on outdoor terrain will train your body and mind to run when the weather takes a turn.
Thus, you see the importance of running on different kind of terrain for your running style and performance. Let us now move on the types of terrain that you might consider for diversification of your running practice.
Different Terrains to Enjoy Running
We have listed the different terrains for runners. Take a look:
Running on Grass
Good old grassy surfaces are perhaps the first running grounds for us. Don’t we all have childhood memories associated with running on the grass? Some of the advantages of running on grass surface are as follows:
- Being a soft surface, grass offers a low impact training.
- This surface is ideal for runners who have injuries due to impact.
- It is considered to be the popular running terrain for all age groups.
Some downsides of running on grass terrain are:
- You have to regularly go to the park for practice. This takes more time than running on a treadmill in the comfort of your home.
- You have watch out of obstacles like twigs and hidden rocks.
- Other occupants of the park like dogs, kids, other runners etc. may prove to be a hindrance in running continuously.
Be aware of your landings as running on grass often leads to a twisted ankle.
Running on Sand
Remember the thrill and satisfaction of running on the beach? This experience is truly unmatched, especially in scorching summers. The pros of running on this terrain are listed below.
- The sandy beach is perhaps one of the most scenic terrains to run.
- The soft surface of sand has very low risk for impact injuries.
However, the cons of running on sand are:
- The extremely soft nature of the sandy terrain is not suitable for runners with the previous history of injured ankles.
Most of the solid roads are made of asphalt. It is also the medium of construction of long courses and commonly used for marathons. Some advantages of running on asphalt are:
- This terrain is most suitable for runners with Achilles tendonitis.
- This terrain is closest to your race terrain. Practising on this terrain will train you in real race conditions.
The biggest disadvantage of running on asphalt roads is that the safety can be compromised by an irresponsible vehicle driver. This is not the case when running on other types of terrain.
You can minimise the chances of an accident by wearing bright and light-reflecting clothes. Avoid using earphones when running on the road.
Running The Track
Importance of running on tracks meant for professional races is that it will train them for real race conditions.
The main advantage of running on the track is that:
- The surface of a track is a perfect blend of soft and hard terrain.
The main disadvantages of running on tracks are:
- Running in oval tracks for routine practice may get very boring.
- Runners with injuries in their calf muscles experience a worsening of their calf pain when running on tracks.
If you have calf muscle pain, IT band syndrome then opt for short track runs.
Running the Dirt Trails
Some runners prefer to practice on dirt trails. The main advantage of running on these trails is their softness, making them ideal for runners with impact injuries. The main disadvantage of running on this terrain is that the surface can be uneven. Thus, you should be very careful while running. Always watch your steps, landing and you would keep running injuries at bay.
Running on Pavements
Pavements are another very popular terrain for runners to practice on. The advantage of running on pavement is that you are safe from the ongoing traffic on the road. The main disadvantage of running on this terrain is that the surface, usually made of concrete, is very hard. Running on this terrain regularly might be more stressful on your joints. You can minimise this problem by wearing the most comfortable footwear for running. More cushioning in your shoes will ensure safety to your joints and muscles as you run on this terrain.
Treadmills to the Rescue
While the treadmill doesn’t really qualify as a distinct running terrain, they are ideal companions for runners. There are many advantages of running on a treadmill. They are made of soft material that doesn’t induce undue stress on your joints and muscles while running. Most modern treadmills can be inclined so that the runner gets training like running on hills. The biggest plus is that since treadmills are indoors, you don’t have to cancel your run if the weather is bad.
One disadvantage of running on treadmills is that you have to invest a substantial amount of money if you want a multifunctional treadmill. Running on outdoor terrains is free! Another point to consider is that a treadmill will be kept indoor always, therefore, you won’t have a beautiful scenery to admire when you run.
Each terrain comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Runners should carefully consider the history of their injury and their format of running before choosing their preferred terrain for running. It has to be kept in mind that there is no single ‘perfect terrain’ for runners.
Running on different kind of terrains is beneficial to the runner in many ways. For example, running on various terrains strengthens different muscles in the runner’s body. Also, it reduces the recurrence of injuries. Running on a variety of terrains is an excellent way to diversify and improve your running style. Let us know which terrain is your personal favourite!