Have you ever wondered if there are any differences between trail running and road running? There are plenty! There’s a persistent myth that trail running is much harder than road running but it’s not true. Running in open countryside is incredibly peaceful and far easier on the eye than busy urban streets.
It’s true that trail running requires a lot more attention than running on local roads. The undulating surfaces keep your mind in the present moment which is a big plus when we’re all seeking out mindfulness classes and apps. Instead of letting a voice guide you to notice what’s in front of you, trail running simply requires it, so you don’t miss your step
What are there other big differences between trail running and road running? Trails are perceived as more difficult, but road surfaces are certainly harder to run on. Concrete and asphalt are unforgiving surfaces, returning plenty of energy back into the joints. You can reduce your recovery time by running on more accommodating, natural surfaces.
There is something that many road runners won’t tell you about many long-distance races – often, they are routed through uninspired, grey urban and industrial areas to make up the miles. The satisfaction comes from completing these races rather than soaking up the scenery. Hitting the trails gives you plenty of fresh air, natural scenery and stunning views. Depending on your trail you may not see another person, leaving you to breathe in the beauty of nature.
Trail running gives you a chance to explore areas that can’t be accessed by car, and that gives runners a unique opportunity to explore parts of the countryside that would otherwise be missed. Organised long-distance trail runs are often smaller, close-knit affairs that allow plenty of room for each participant. Compare this to the London Marathon or any other race where you’ll be fighting for space along with 20 000 runners or so, not to mention the crowds all along the route. That kind of race offers its own thrill, but the relaxed feel of trail running cannot be understated.
Are trail running and road running the same? Not at all. Both formats offer something valuable, but trail running certainly presents a more attractive proposition, in our view.