The benefits of trail running

trail running

Midway through our trail run on Sunday.

I’m a creature of habit. I tend to stick to the same running routes week after week. In fact, I’m one of those crazy runners that actually enjoy a run around a track or repeating a neighbourhood loop five or six times. Sometimes, running mindlessly is a good way to regroup. I find it relaxing. It’s kind of like my form of meditation.

That said, I cannot stress enough the importance of variety in your exercise routine. Sure, you can try new areas of the city, but why not try something new altogether – like trail running!

I had the pleasure of going on one of my first true trail runs this past weekend in Goderich. My parents have a boat in the beautiful Homan Inlet Marina in Goderich. Nearby, there’s a little trail that runs along the Maitland River and as far as the teeny town of Auburn.

Escaping into nature is an experience you’ll never get on a typical road run and there are plenty of reasons to hit up a trail. Here are five of my faves:

Gives your body a break

A trail’s softer surface is easier on your joints and alleviates a lot of stress many runners encounter daily running the city streets. There’s some give in the ground along trails and as a result, your knees, ankles and hips aren’t absorbing as much weight. Trail running can often result in fewer injuries too, not only because of the lower impact, but also because you build more strength in your lower leg muscles.

Makes you a better runner

OK, I can’t really guarantee this but there’s definitely evidence to suggest that the benefits of trail running transfer to regular road running. Studies show that running on uneven terrain causes you to take shorter, quicker strides, which is good for any surface. Ultimately, this allows for faster running both on and off the trail.

It’s good for the mind

There is less focus on time and pace on a trail and as a result, you can just focus on and enjoy your run. You know your time won’t be fast because you’re focused on avoiding tree roots or rocks and adjusting footing for hills and tight turns.  For this reason, regular trail runners say they find the sport mentally relaxing as opposed to the arduous grind often associated with slogging along the asphalt streets.

Protects your skin

Well, sort of… Running in the shade of a forest will definitely help you avoid the sun’s damaging UV rays, but you’ll have to spray on some bug repellant before you head out. That, or run really, really fast, to avoid mosquitos! Another added benefit of a shady trail run? No racer-back tan lines! Whoo!

Enjoy the quiet

I feel like I spend half my life in traffic. Hitting a trail is a great way to avoid constant stops at red lights or busy intersections and you can really just take in the quiet surroundings. Leave your headphones at home and enjoy the sounds of birds chirping or running water. It’s a beautiful thing, especially if you’re a daily commuter like me!

Do you ever run on trails? Where are your favourites?

6 Comments

  1. Martha B July 21, 2014 / 10:12 pm

    I am a huge fan of trail running… It’s definitely addictive after awhile. Sometimes I road run to get speed out of my system, but I can definitely say trail running primed me to be much better at running as a whole.

  2. Nicole Lowe July 22, 2014 / 7:56 am

    I love trail running and wish all my runs could be done on the trails.

  3. Miranda July 22, 2014 / 8:46 am

    Thanks for the comments guys! I think this might be the start of a new trend for me!

  4. Mary Lorenzoni July 22, 2014 / 1:02 pm

    Sherwood park along the Burke Brooke.. Let’s do it sometime 🙂

    • Miranda July 22, 2014 / 2:20 pm

      Amazing! Let’s do it!

  5. Kennedy July 22, 2014 / 9:00 pm

    Nice, you were in my old stomping grounds! I also discovered trail running this year – loving it! You should check out the Run for the Toad – 25k trail race near Paris ON. Heard it’s gorgeous. Lots of swag and a catered dinner. I’m about 80% sure I’ll be signing up 🙂

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