Trail running, why you should give it a go -

I’ve done my fair share of sport of varying degree over the years. I’ve done junior athletics 200m, 400m, high jump in School, I played rugby to a decent enough level in the Army, boxed at inter squardron level, mountain biked, hiked up some pretty formidable mountains, canoed and lots of other silly little things in between. I thought the pinnacle of my amateur and sporting career was completing the London Marathon, but I was wrong. It turned out that marathon running, together with every other sporting thing I’ve done has just been a stepping stone to becoming a merely average trail runner.

There are a whole host of reasons why trail running is head and shoulders above all other sporting pursuits, below are the reasons why it’s better than your current below average sport of choice 😉.

To put things into perspective I am a dad of three demanding boys and a husband to a very understanding wife, so I don’t like to spend too much time out of the house away from the family, so I try to pack as much into the few hours a week I train.

Road Running

Feed your mind, body & soul

OK let’s be strait here, we all know that exercise is what it says on the tin! Exerting yourself on the road can be just as rewarding as smashing it up on the trails and that we all have different reasons for motivating ourselves, but the long and short of it is that we all do it to get our backsides of the sofa to try and stay fit and health, both body and mind giving us a little bit of escape from the mundane. This is in my opinion where trail running excels, the escapism is second to none. Trail, Hill, Woods, Coastal paths are way better than slogging it out on polluted town and city pavements!! The feeling you get on a misty morning running through the woods and hills as the sun pokes through the clouds is simply mesmerising, something I can truly say, that I have never experienced on the roads, it’s something you pavement pounders will have to take my word on, until you leave the tarmac behind and try it for yourselves.

You need to banish your preconceptions about trail running, I will tell you right now its slower than road running! you need to accept that your Strava average pace will plummet lower than a snakes belly. It’s slower for a reason…

Trail running is harder than road running, accept it!.

Mile for mile you’ll need to put in more effort on a trail run, here is why - 

1. The hills are steeper – roads are limited in steepness because vehicles have to be able to get up them. No cars, no limit. A proper trail hill requires the use of your hands and feet.
2. The terrain is varied – it can sometimes be wet, muddy and slippery, adding to the excitement.
3. You’ll rarely be able to get into rhythm, trail runs have a habit of kicking you in the nethers when you’re just getting comfortable – lovely meandering single track, just before it spits you out at a massive hill along goat tracks ☹, oh why the sad face? The euphoria at the top is like nothing you can experience on the road.

Harder = Better for your fitness. I have a sneaky feeling that road runners know that trail running is harder and are a little worried they’ll see a dip in their 5k / 10km speeds, when in actual fact it helps to make them faster.

This leads me to point out that, nobody cares how fast you are. Seriously, nobody cares. From my time of mixing with other trail runners, it has always been positive, 100% of the trail runners I’ve become friends with are brilliant people who are super supportive. They will (and have) give you every bit of support you need to get around a route – there is no pretence and very little commercialism, which is simply just fine by me.

Conclusion

So, there you go, just my perspective on things. It’s all a bit tongue in cheek but maybe something to think about. Whatever your opinion on this you should definitely give trail running a go if you haven’t already. I do appreciate it’s a bit like marmite, some people love it, some people aren’t so keen, but for me it’s the most natural environment in which to keep fit.