Running definitely isn’t for everyone, but most people start running on pavement, a track, or any area that’s convenient and close by. If you are just beginning to workout again running is a great way to build cardiovascular training, endurance, and improve your overall health. Some people are content with running the same speed, distance, and even the same path day in and day out, which is great! Personally, I get very bored and unmotivated doing the same workout everyday. Recently, I have turned to trail running to switch up the scenery, go easier on my knees, and add longer distances to my workouts. Here are some benefits to trail running, and why adding it into your workout regimen might just be the next step to advance yourself as an athlete.

Brain Food

Avoiding car and city noises and replacing with sounds of nature such as birds, trees rustling in the wind, and streams give you a completely different experience. Many runners have said they gain a spiritual connection when spending time in nature. Looking at the sun, animals, and trees is very grounding, it gives you time to free your brain and let go of everyday stressors.

Good for Your Body

Running on pavement puts a lot of pounding impact on your body, trails will take a lot of this stress away and you will do less damage to your knees. Forces that are normally transferred from pavement up to the ankles, knees, shins, and hips are dispersed when the foot hits the trail due to more give in the surface. Trail running may also be more beneficial when preventing forms of tendinitis as well as knee pain and shin splints.

Run with Some Caution

trail-running-jumpStarting with a non-paved surface such as a packed dirt road, a rail trail, or a wood-chip-covered path will ease up pressure on your joints while you enjoy the nature that surrounds you. This type of trail is good to start on before graduating to a more challenging route with uneven surfaces and changing inclines. When running on these types of surfaces you have to be more cautious as to where you’re stepping, as there is a higher risk of traumatic injury.

Running on an uneven surface can make you stronger overall, as you use more of the smaller, more stabilizing muscles that are relied on for proprioception and balance. Most trails are significantly softer than concrete, which makes your step depress a little bit, and in turn you have to lift your leg and use more of your muscle with each stride.

Get in the zone!

Trail runs demand intense focus, as you must watch where you’re going very carefully. This type of focus fuels you with energy and exhilaration. When you’re on a trail you don’t have to stop for cars, or stop lights, which makes it easier for you to get in the zone!

Get Faster

If you feel as though you haven’t been getting faster, trail runs will surely help you shed time off of those miles. Most trail runs involve a lot of hills, which make you stronger and are the most efficient form of strength training for runners. Hills use all of the muscles you activate when running on flat surfaces but builds greater strength because of the increased resistance.

Try getting off of the pavement and onto the trails – you will enjoy the scenery, build your strength, get faster, and most likely add more miles to your running program.