Running in the woods and different landscapes is so fascinating than you might think. Trail running offers a host of adventures, wildlife encounters, and testing your physique to the ultimate levels. However, people have had different experiences, benefits, and challenges over the years attempting this type of off-road running. Most of these might be the reasons why trail running is highly recommended.
So why is trail running good for you? Let’s dive in and find out.
What is Trail Running
Trail running is an adventurous sport that’s a blend of both running and hiking. It is often done for long distances to test the perseverance of athletes in the wilderness environment. This is done in both mountains and valleys, which pose different challenges. This sport is favorably done during the warm seasons as it is conducive for the athletes considering the safety levels and the ease to course through the trails.
Benefits of Trail Running
One of the reasons why trail running is good for you is that you enjoy tons of benefits from the sport. Some of the mental and physical benefits to look forward to include:
Use of More Muscles
Running is known to improve the general fitness of the body. It challenges both your physical and mental abilities and helps you to push even further. However, for trail running, you get more than that. For instance, some parts of the course will require you to use your hands to cross somewhere and hold onto something for support.
In general, you will hit different muscle groups in the entire course, which gives you overall fitness. That helps in a universal growth in your fitness levels, unlike how you get to isolate other muscle groups when you hit the gym. Moreover, you get to challenge yourself to the extreme as some of the trail courses are long enough to take you more than 24 hours to get to the finishing point.
Reduces Anxiety Levels
Unlike on a track, trail running involves various trails to follow depending on how well you know the area. That gives you the confidence that you always have an option if you experience any difficulty. Confidence and agility cut down your anxiety levels to the bare minimum.
The safety of knowing that there is minimal contact with the animals along the course also keeps you in a relaxed state. Anxiety eats up your energy levels as you think more than you do. All you can think about in trail running is where the next aid station is or how far you are from the finish line.
It Helps in Burning Fat
You will burn a lot of fat on your body by engaging in trail running. Running is a cardio exercise that burns a lot of calories. The intensity and energy levels used in the running cuts down on the fat levels in your body. Furthermore, like high-intensity interval training (HIIT), trail running engages different muscles simultaneously, so you get to cut down on fat in other body parts. Another contributing factor is that the sport is long-lived, so you get to run for more extended periods, which contributes to more burning of fats.
Decreases the Risk of Injury
An overall fitness level is one condition to avoid injuries. The reason why trail running is good for you is that it frees you from potential injury risks. The fact that the sports engage different muscle groups is what helps you to have a generally fit body. That includes solid muscles and joints and good strength to cope through the course. Such qualities eradicate any potential injury risks since you have the endurance to take you through from start to finish. It also helps in your life outside the sport as you will be able to do physical activities with more ease.
Potentially Helps in Life Longevity
According to a Harvard study, people who live in green places are in a better position to live longer than those in urban regions. The reasons include less exposure to pollution, and the general lifestyle is less stressful. While trail running doesn’t involve living in these regions, the time spent in training and engaging in the sport gives that experience. Potentially, this sport can be your ticket to add up some years to your life.
Get Rid of Negativity
According to the National Academy of Sciences published research work, a simple 90-minute walk in nature can reduce your depression-associated thoughts. The experience gives you a sensible vibe that puts off any negativity that is attacking your mind. This helps you to build on a more satisfactory life and a positive mindset.
Trail Running Pros and Cons
While trail running is an excellent sport with many advantages, there are some disadvantages that you should have in mind. Below are the pros and cons
Most of the advantages are based on the results that you will enjoy from the sport.
- Overall fitness levels
- Good mental and health states
- The opportunity to enjoy nature and wildlife
- Comfortable course (it is better to run on soil than on a track)
- It’s more of a self-challenge than a competition
- The atmosphere of the sport creates a better community
- There is assured safety by organizers
The disadvantages reflect the perspective before attempting trail running.
- The anxiety of potential injuries
- Worries about fitness level
- Fears of getting lost in the course
Trail Running Equipment
The trail running equipment is purposed to enable you to engage effectively in the sport and prevent injuries to your body. Some of the necessities include
- Water bottle
- Trail running shoes
- Advanced GPS watches
- Wicking garments
- Insect repellent spray
- Ivy blocks
Trail Running Safety
The one critical consideration in trail running is the safety of all participants. Every course is cleared of any potential risks such as lose bridges and wildlife. There are also aid centers about every 5 – 10 kilometers that attend to every runner to check their health state. They also call the shots if a runner might continue or not, depending on the condition they are in. Proper gear is advised to avoid any trouble along the way.
If not racing but just training, it is imperative to follow strong safety guidance. This includes protection from animals and people, hydration/food, not getting lost, or injured, having a support system, etc. Check out the comprehensive trail running guide to learn more.
Trail running offers tons of benefits to all the athletes engaging in the sport. It is a community sport that brings people together to cheer for their participants at different stages of the race. The organizers consider a lot of precautions to ensure that all athletes will do well throughout the course.
For those not trail racing, it has incredible personal benefits and can also aid in cross training for road racing. Many transition from road running to trails and find it fills missing aspects of their training and lifestyle goals.