WHY TRAIL RUNNING IS BETTER (AND EASIER) THAN ROAD RUNNING
This little gem has been borrowed from that awesome New Zealand event the Tarawera Ultra and was originally written by Vera Alves. Thanks Vera, I hope my interpretations and reinventions for the Aussies do the article justice.
Now, I can hear a lot of you crying BS before you even get past the title, but hopefully you have read on in the hope of tearing me apart over this post. I’ll dig myself a little deeper first and go so far as agree with Vera when she says “we don’t mean just a little bit easier: we mean so much easier it’s not even the same sport”. If you think road running is easier and not as ‘hardcore’ as trail running then your perceptions of trail running may be based on running locations rather than the running itself. Yes trail running is usually done away from urban locations, yes, out in the bush and scrub, but as Vera says, “trail running is and will always be better for you than running on roads”.
Time no to pull myself out of the hole I’ve dug. Don’t take these reasons lightly, think about them carefully and you might just come round to my way of thinking.
- Less Impact on your body
Roads and other hard surfaces are merciless. Trails are also merciless but they are soft by comparison with roads. Think how your feet, knees hips and lower back feel as you pound the pavement compared to your excursions over grass to get to the next hard base. Because of the higher impact stress of roads on your joints the recovery from a run is slower, much slower.
- You are allowed to walk!
Is that a hill ahead? Yes, so why not walk up? Even the best Ultra trail runners walk hills sometimes. If it’s good enough for them then why not for you? Again, to quote Vera “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”. Cant argue with that logic.
- Trail runs are less repetitive on your body
Let’s think about that. Steep hills, up and down, where you might be using muscles you wouldn’t use on a road run because you are reduced to hands and knees! Sounds more like a full body workout! Yep, trail run and you can say goodbye to that same repetitive sequence of movements required in road running and work a greater range of muscles instead.
- Trail runs are less repetitive on your mind
No more traffic, traffic lights, vehicle fumes, pedestrians, barking dogs and other urban noise. Just enjoy the natural sounds of the outdoors, a fresh breeze on your face, the amazing scenery you can find, the blossoms and scents of the bush and that wonderful feeling of being at one with your surroundings. Time spent in the great outdoors can improve your mental and physical health, reduce tension and anxiety, or possibly make you more creative (yes there is sound science to support all these claims).
Yep, there is lots of it to see on some trails. It is always pleasing to see wildlife out there but it is more ‘exciting’ for some. If you have fears about snakes for instance then you will probably be more comfortable staying towards the back of the race so those ahead clear them off the track. That done you can get back to enjoying the environment and the wildlife you are not worried about.
Finally, the satisfaction of completing a trail run far outweighs the finish of a road race because you have had a ‘real experience’ not a manufactured pounding. Trail running could change your life for the better.
If you don’t like treating your body well, hate the great outdoors, would rather have a repetitious life, and hate waling then trail running may not be the sport for you!