When I mention to someone that I love running on trails, more often than not the response I get is a simple one; why? After all, there are perfectly good roads and pavements that provide a whole network of running opportunities right from my front door. But, despite its popularity, road running lacks a certain something for me, something that can only be found when I hit the trails. Whether the trails are contouring hills in a National Park, or across crop-laden fields, my desire to run them is strong. Here are my top ten reasons why you should give trail running a go too!
1. Trails are fun! You can get wet and muddy, jump bubbling streams and logs, and skip down grassy hillsides. In a nutshell, you can play!
2. There’s a real sense of adventure when you embark on a trail run, whether running alone with a map in hand, or with others as part of an organised event. You never know quite what you will encounter or where you will end up going. It’s exciting!
3. Trails can lead you to some stunningly beautiful and often remote places, places you would never see if you only ran on roads, places that make stopping for a quick photo a must. Best of all, you rarely have to run far to find them. No matter where you live or run, solitude or a fantastic view are never far away.
4. The air is fresher, simple. Aside from running through freshly manured fields, breathing becomes a joy.
5. Running in fresh air, surrounded by trees, fields, hills or water is not just good for your physical well-being, it’s great for your mental well-being too. Green spaces are calming and de-stressing, places for blowing your worries and cares away.
6. You can forget about time and times. Every run will be different, even if on a regular route. Conditions change with the seasons, so comparing your time on a dry summer’s day to one on a wet winter’s day becomes an irrelevance. Completing the route and enjoying it is all that matters.
7. Wildlife sightings can add a whole new level of interest to your run. There’s nothing quite like watching a pair of spring hares bounding across a field to inspire you to quicken your step!
8. Landing on grass, mud, leaf-covered woodland paths and stony tracks impacts less on your joints than landing on concrete and tarmac. You’ll be preserving your knees and hips for the future.
9. Your core muscles get a great workout. Every step you take on trails uses a slightly different combination of muscles to keep you upright and moving forward.
10. The kit, oh the kit! Venturing into a shop for your first pair of trail running shoes is like venturing into Narnia. Colours, soles, fabrics, brands; it’s like being a child in a sweet shop all over again. And once you have succumbed, there will be no turning back…