Because the road surfaces we run on are very even (generally speaking), we tend to use the same muscles over and over, day in and day out.
The result being that we end up over using the same muscles and fail to properly activate and use others.
Hit the trails. From time to time, instead of going for your usual slow/easy run on the weekend head out to a trail and spend a bit of time running the trails.
The advantages of running trails from time to time are numerous:
- You use your legs, hips, core and lower back muscles in ways you wouldn’t normally on the road. The trail surface is uneven and changes all the time, this forces you to use and activate muscles in ways you wouldn’t normally on the road. The end result being that you begin giving your muscles an all round strength work out and this means less over use injuries and fewer muscles imbalances.
- Hitting the trails from time to time adds variety to your training and gives you a break from the same old same old.
- You get out of traffic and the harmful pollution we breath in when running on busy roads, not to mention the risk factor. Sadly, we continue to hear reports of runners been knocked over by motor vehicles while out on a run, there are no cars on a trail (you do have to keep an eye out for mountain bikes from time to time 🙂
- There’s nothing quite like getting out into nature where it’s quiet and peaceful and you can take in the beautiful surroundings.
Of course there are many other advantages.
Just a few suggestions when starting out:
- Take it easy! Given the uneven surfaces you’ll encounter when out on a trail it is crucial that you start off slowly and cautiously, as your body adapts with time you’ll find your pace beginning to increase naturally.
- Start off with short distances and increase as you become more confident. There’s nothing worse then being out on a trail for the first time and getting lost! No matter which way you go you simply can’t seem to find your way back down and of course the longer you’re out there the more fatigued you get and the more dehydrated you get and this will simply put you off trail running. Start off with short distances by running out and back, that way there’s very little chance of getting lost.
- Let a spouse, family member or friend know where you’re going, what time you’re starting and by what time at the latest you should be back. You don’t want to trip and fall and injure yourself out in a trail and no one has a clue where to even begin looking for you. The other option, if you have somewhere to keep it, is to take a cell phone with you.