Add Some Dirt to your Day - 5 Reasons You Should Add Trail Running to Your Routine

1.     Take a break from the numbers and just enjoy the act of running

Training for a road race can get really boring if you get sucked into the data vortex. If you are one of those people that is constantly checking your watch and monitoring your pace and splits it might be time to make like Elsa and let it go. Run for the pure enjoyment of running, explore new terrain, smell the flowers and run at a pace that feels comfortably challenging on a trail. You will still get a killer workout but you might actually enjoy yourself and remember why you started running in the first place.

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2.     Improve your stability and core strength

Running on uneven surfaces is a really great way to build strength in all the muscles that you don’t engage when running on a smooth flat road. Having to navigate rocks and roots helps to keep you focused mentally and become more agile. The constant adjustment of your stride and having to stabilize yourself as you run downhill activates the muscles in your core as well as your ankles, legs and thighs. But, make sure to take small controlled steps as your run downhill to help prevent knee injury and ankle rolls.

3.     Uphill Makes you stronger

It might feel like you are running at a snail’s pace but running up hill is one of the best ways to expand your lung capacity and strengthen your glutes and hamstrings. Both of which will boost your ability to run fast on flats. Keep your movements small and compact to conserve your energy and focus on keeping your body straight without bending forward at the hips. By keeping yourself upright you will have better range of motion in your hip-flexors and be able to drive up the hill more effectively. 1.

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4.     Downhill makes you faster

While the uphill will leave you gasping for breath, it’s really the downhill that leaves you doing the old man shuffle and dreading stairs two days later. By strengthening your quads and improving your coordination at a high leg turnover you will be able to improve your running speed on flats.

 5.     Give yourself a break from the asphalt

We all know that running is a high impact sport that causes a lot of pounding on your body, but running on concrete and asphalt can really intensify that impact since they are such unforgiving surfaces. Professional runners who run 80-100 miles a week do a lot of their running on trails to help give their hips, knees and ankles a break from the harder surfaces. If you suffer from IT band syndrome, knee pain or shin splints when running on the road try switching it up on some trails and see if that helps alleviate your symptoms. Plus, the mental break from running on the road can help too. Being able to switch off a bit more since you aren’t dodging traffic allows you to de-stress and really enjoy your workout.

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Love running trails as much as we do? We want to hear your suggestions! Tell us your favorite places to hit the trails.