Do you want to take your running activity to another level? Start trail running and see how it transforms your body along with other trail running benefits.
Whether you are running solo or in a group, trail running which involves running or hiking on trails is an exciting activity. You can also break the boredom of running on a treadmill or track and hit the trail. Let’s explore the trail running benefits for runners and their physical and mental health.
Trail Running: A Different Kind of Workout
You burn 10 percent more calories while hitting the trail when compared to running on the road. While improving your balance and agility you will also increase your cardiovascular stamina, core strength, bone strength and bone density.
The uneven terrain makes it a tougher workout, but at the same time, it is softer on the knees. The lateral movements keep the core muscles engaged and allow you to make use of different muscles with every step and strengthen ankles and hips. This is one of the main trail running benefits. It is also incorporated into the training of professional athletes to prevent overuse injuries.
6 Trail Running Benefits: For Physical and Mental Well-Being
Trail Running Works a Wider Range of Muscles
Trail running entails the use of a wider range of muscles during the activity, as a trail can often be rough, uneven or elevated when compared to a road or pavement. Running over rocks, tree roots and steep surfaces can all be a part of trail running benefits making it imperative for you to watch your step and balance your body as you run.
Trial running helps you work the lesser-used muscles in your legs, core, and arms. Each time you step on the softer surface of a running trail, it causes a depression and you are required to lift your leg to complete the stride. In the process, you end up using more muscles in the legs.
There is Low Impact on Your Joints
Running on hard, concrete and asphalt surfaces such as roads and pavements does put a lot of stress on the joints which work its way up to the ankles, shins, knees and hips. Trail running, on the other hand, is a low-impact activity and negates any adverse effects on the joints.
Breathing Fresh Air is Good for Your Lungs
One of the compelling trail running benefits is that it allows your lungs to get some fresh air as you will find most of the trails in woods or meadows.
On the other hand, road running, mainly in urban areas, exposes runners to several pollutants such as air, noise, etc. apart from dodging the traffic.
It’s a Thrilling Experience
Trail running requires you to focus and pay attention as you need to watch your step even if you have been running on the same trail for some time.
This intense concentration can be a thrilling and energizing experience as you don’t have to worry about obstacles including vehicles, roadblocks and traffic lights which road runners have to deal with.
Being Amidst Nature is Good for You
Running in a green environment has a positive effect on the mind. Trail running gives you just that! It takes you up the mountain, over the river and through the meadows and woods and brings you closer to nature and scenic views. Scientists report that there can be considerable improvement in self-esteem and mood if you exercise in open spaces.
It’s Quieter, Calmer and Peaceful
Trail running can be a very therapeutic experience as exercising itself is not only good for the heart, it also releases the feel-good hormones called endorphins in the brain and nervous system making you feel happier and calmer. Trail running just shuts you away from the inharmonious everyday sounds you get to hear on the roads, making it less stressful for you.
Livingit Tip: Hike or run along with a companion and enjoy the experience even more.
Trail Running Tips for Beginners
You can run on grass, sand, dirt or any surface that is off-road. You need not choose a grueling trail like the one which runs into a dark forest or has a difficult terrain. You can join a local trail running group or opt for popular trails in your area.
Start by running slow and try combining walking and running. As a beginner, you are likely to be slower than your road runner friend because of unfamiliarity with the terrain and the route which might throw up unforeseen obstacles like rocks, boulders, trees, roots and leaves. This might force you to slow down or cause a change in your stride and affect your pace.
Strength training exercises before embarking on a trail run will boost your stability and prepare you to better handle the change of terrain.
Wear the right trail running shoes and always carry something to drink, or at least carry a water bottle. You may carry a backpack with a few essential items like medication, towel, raincoat, food, etc. but make sure that you do not overload the backpack.
Take safety precautions before hitting the trail. Carry a phone, know and plan the route beforehand. Let at least one person amongst your family or friends know about your running activity and trail location. Be prepared to tackle bad weather, animals etc.
Do not always plug your ears with earphones, listen to any sounds around.
Something every beginner wants to know: As a New Runner, Should I Improve my Distance Covered or Pace!
Livingit Tip: Be mindful of fellow trail runners and follow discipline and etiquette.
Trail Running Versus Road Running
Running on the road or the trail both give your body a strong workout that enhances your overall fitness and health and offers two different running experiences. Knowing the difference between trail running and road running helps you choose the activity that best suits your running goals.
Road running entails running on cement or asphalt surfaces and has an adverse impact on your joints. Roadrunners have to dodge obstacles such as vehicles and pedestrians. It does have the advantage of running near home or office and is more convenient. In the case of injury or fall, help is readily available as roads are busy places. Road running gives you a flat, firm and easy run.
Grass, dirt or sand are soft and less strenuous surfaces and running on them can be less stressful. The varied terrain of a trail makes you use all the muscles in your lower body giving you a total body workout. The scenic beauty around calms your nerves, improves your mood and makes you feel happy. If you are not lucky enough to be living in the countryside but live in the city, you will need to commute to the trail, so plan it beforehand.
Try off-road trail running and see for yourself the kind of impact it has on your body and mind. There are a few emotional crashes which running helps to heal.
So, join a club for trail running near you or group or from your own group. Hope you are charged up enough and rearing to hit the trail now! Do share your experiences with us.
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