Why trail running is better (and easier) than road running
By Vera Alves. Warning: Spoilers
We’re gonna let the cat out of the bag here: trail running is easier than road running. And we don’t mean just a little bit easier: we mean so much easier it’s not even the same sport.
There seems to be this idea that trail running is a lot more hardcore than road running. Maybe it’s because it’s usually done in more remote locations – in which case, sure, there’s an element of added badassery. But still, trail running is and will always be better for you than running on roads.
Here are some reasons why:
The pavement is merciless and hard. The trails are merciless and soft. That jarring on your knees you feel while running along that main road where you live is a lot harder on your body than the feeling of soft trail underfoot on your local park. Road running has a lot higher impact and stress on your joints and a lot slower recovery time.
License to walk
Trail running – and ultrarunning in particular – can include a spectacular amount of very much justified walking. See a hill? Walk up it. It’s usually smarter and more efficient to walk up a steep hill than to try to run it anyway. Road hills in urban settings, however, have a maximum inclination that does not provide you with the same legitimate excuse to walk up it.
A trail run, compared to a road run, is a much more complete full body workout. You might have to be on your hands and knees climbing up hills at times, working muscles you never thought would be required when going for a run. In that sense, trails are a lot easier on your body, as you are not required to execute the same repetitive sequence of movements that road running requires you to do.
Peace and quiet
Forget having to stop at traffic lights or dodge other pedestrians along the way. On the trails, the only thing you have to worry about is making sure you’re getting the most out of the birdsong and the breeze on your face and that incredible feeling of being at one with nature, away from all the worries of your day-to-day life.
Time in nature has also been proven to improve your mental health, alongside your physical health. It reduces tension, anger and even anxiety and studies show it can even make you more creative.
Ever seen a morepork dance around your headlamp at night, hop over a snake sunbathing in the middle of a trail or beat a hasty retreat from a skunk who is adamant ‘you shall not pass’. Like us, wildlife tends to be inherently lazy – the same trails that we run along are often the easiest ways to get from A to B for all manner of creatures. It’s always good to share.
We’re not saying running a trail distance at the next Tarawera Ultramarathon will completely change your life and provide you a level of happiness and self-satisfaction a road race could never help you achieve but… actually, never mind, that’s EXACTLY what we’re saying.
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