You read that correctly.
We run miles and miles depending on our goals and fitness and desires. Many of us stay on the roads for this and are missing out on one of the best training environments out there. I’m a big fan of running off road for a variety of reasons.
Change of pace. If you always run one pace, you can get very good at that pace. But that can lead to plateaus and limited improvement. Running off road will force you to get slower on climbs and technical terrain and faster on descents. The terrain can also force bounding for rocks and obstacles, slower or faster cadences for desired foot placement, and large jumps (and screams) for that occasional snake.
Change of direction. Running on the road lends to being very good at moving in a straight line. How many of us have tweaked our back or hip or calf turning to look for something or stepping off a curb? Leaving the road behind allows us to build strength and stability through the constant twisting and turning, and lateral movements required with trails and rocks and trees. This can be hard on the body until stamina and stability are built to a minimum level, so go on mild trails for short durations first.
Change of feel. Proprioception is that reaction we get when we step on something and lift the foot without thinking so that something doesn’t penetrate the skin. This is an important survival reaction and can be detrained if we don’t exercise it regularly. The instabilities involved in trail running help to build that sensation all over our body so we are less injury prone and more likely to react before an injury happens.
Change of scenery. Find new views. Find new beauty around your home. Find a new joy in running. I’ve lived in Tucson for much of my life and just discovered a new gorgeous area with beautiful city views on a sunrise trail run just this week. Don’t let life go by on the while line. Go get on the trails!
Go get some trail running shoes, tell someone where you’re going and when you intend to be back, grab some water, and go hit the trails!
Head Coach, Grasky Endurance Coaching
National and World Champion Triathlon Coach
Retul Certified Bike Fitter
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