As I was out running this morning I felt a little disappointed that the trails I chose to head out on were not quite trails yet, and still had a fair bit of snow covering. I had been anticipating this mornings run all week and with the wonderful sunshine we have been having I expected the snow to be gone. So I had two options, stick to the trails, run where I could, and walk when I couldn’t, or choose the pavement and just run! Some of you may be in the same place I am with this transition between winter and spring and I think it is important for us to consider the impact running on the trails versus the road can have on your body and what the benefits of trail running are.
The mixture of terrain when trail running can be fun and so good for our mental health to be out in nature, plus my dogs love being off leash, but these variances also train your body, strengthening muscles that are used for stabilization and decreasing risk of injury. Running on trails can be forgiving to stressed joints and bones with a lower impact than running on a paved surface, and especially for knee pain, ITB syndrome, shin splints, and any other condition that is worsened with increased impact.
Important Read: Why we should not continue to run the same way.
Consider this: Bounce a golf ball off concrete, asphalt, and dirt. The rebound distance will provide an indication how much energy is absorbed by the surface and how much energy is returned to the golf ball. A surface that returns more energy to the ball will all return more energy to your legs and consequently will feel “harder”.
So remember why you are running when choosing your path, because step for step whether that be walking or running, the end results are the same. The cardiovascular benefits, the caloric burn, the endorphic effect, and the positive mindset that comes from getting out in the fresh air and feeling sunshine on your face. Be patient with mother nature and take care of your body!