Trail Running vs. Road Running

Running is a wonderful way to get fit and enjoy the outdoors. Runners fall into two categories: trail runners and road runners. Many runners enjoy both types of terrains, but they are different and require different types of training and gear.

Trail runners always focus on agility and coordination exercises to help them on the trails. The trail surfaces are not flat like a road. The trails are often rocky, rooty, and have exposed tree stumps or vines that can be potential tripping hazards. Trail runners usually have to slow their pace to prevent falling as they run over technical terrain. The distances are often longer than their road running friends, with some ultra distances of a hundred miles! They will often use a full time sports coach who has a running coach certification to manage their running schedule to make sure they add those miles safely and gradually to prevent injury. Trail runners also have to be mindful of form and remember to pick their feet up when they run to prevent tripping or falling. Trail runners require trail running shoes to be successful. Trail shoes are different from regular road running shoes because they have lugs on the bottom to help them gain traction in the dirt and mud. Road running shoes are smooth on the bottom and can be very slick on a trail.

Road runners stick to the pavement where it is flat and smooth. They may run many hills, but there are no tripping hazards like tree roots and loose rocks on their course. Road runners focus a lot on running drills for speed. Marathons are the long distance of road running and speed becomes important as they try to qualify for the coveted entry into Boston Marathon. Road runners will do a lot of exercises to increase quickness and a fast turnover of leg motions. Sprint workouts are often incorporated into the training plans of road runners. They do not require as much gear as their trail running friends. Maybe a water bottle that can be refilled from any convenience store you pass along your route. When running a road race, there are usually water stations every 1-2 miles so you are never too far from aid or supplies.

Both trail running and road running are year round sports. Both can benefit from using a speed and agility workout program. However, trail miles are a little slower than road miles – so do not get discouraged if the times seem off when comparing your workouts. Take a break from your normal routine and invite your friends for a run outdoors. Regardless of whether you run trail or road, you can still appreciate the beauty of being outside and having a change of scenery.

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