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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Ashby

Trail Running in Coventry: How Trail Running Can Change Your Life For the Better

Updated: Jun 30, 2023


Two runners enjoying a trail run.
Trail running is so good for you mentally and physically.

10 Benefits of Trail Running


Trail running is any run that is off-road. Whether it’s a grassy footpath in your local park, a secret track in the deepest darkest woodland, or a scarcely trodden mountain trail in another continent, if it’a run on an unpaved surface, it counts as a trail run.


And it’s so good for you!

Here’s how trail running can improve your fitness, make you a better runner, and could even change your life.


1. Gets You Away From Pollutants and Danger


Ok, this is self-explanatory: trail running gets you away from dirty city roads, car fumes, dangerous drivers, and noisy traffic. You get to explore new routes in much nicer surroundings while benefitting from fresh air.


Now for some are much less obvious reasons to try trail running.

2. Trail Running is a Workout For Your Entire Body


When running on uneven terrain and negotiating obstacles, you work your core and move your arms to maintain your balance. It’s a full body workout! The twisting and turning associated with trail running means you are also working on your balance and agility and your smaller stabilising muscles.


Trail running can be tiring and hard work, and you’ll notice the difference!


3. You Build Stronger Legs


Due to the varied terrain, experts report that runners may see improvements in lower limb strength, balance, and neuromuscular benefits. And stronger legs has to mean one crucial thing: you’ll become a better runner.

Tip: In Jessica Salter’s article in The Times Weekend, Henriette Albon, 32, a professional trail runner and co-founder of the training platform AlbonApp says trail runners can benefit from adding ankle strengthening exercises to their fitness routine. Try simple calf raises, says Albon. Stand on your tiptoes, then lower your heel to the ground. Repeat ten times.

4. Less Impact on Your Joints


A softer surface is kinder to your joints and provides shock absorption, which may reduce the risk of injury. With trail running, you give yourself a break from the unforgiving tarmac roads and concrete paths.


5. Benefits for Mental Health


Trail running is different from regular jogging because you need to give it your full concentration and attention.


When you’re trail running, you need to focus on where you’re putting your feet, whether you need to dodge a branch or obstacle, and how you need to strike the ground to stay safely upright. As a result, your brain is engaged. You’re likely to be so focussed that you’ll forget about any niggles, worries, stresses–and unanswered emails– in your life.


In other words, you are being mindful, which has many psychological benefits, including improved cognitive faculties, and increased clarity in thinking and decision making.


6. It Gives You a Break From Chasing PBs

When you’re training for a race or a big event, you can start to lose your love of running. You put yourself under pressure and can become so centred on pace, times, distances, routines, and statistics that you find you’re not enjoying your runs so much. If this sounds like you, maybe it’s time to try trail running.


“Trail running is different,” says Salter. “You might still wear a watch to track distances and elevation (most runners, even amateur ones, are stats nerds), but….you’re less concerned about speed. Speed can’t be as constant as it can be with road running because of the unpredictable terrain. And without a time to chase down, you’re much more in the moment.”


7. It’s Fun

If you slow down your pace, surround yourself with nature and beautiful surroundings, notice what’s around you, and join other runners who feel the same, guess what happens? You relax, make friends, and enjoy yourself.

In Salter’s article, Pip Black, 40, the co-founder of FRAME gym, talks about joining a trail running group when she moved out of London to Somerset. “ I’m hooked,” she says. “We don’t run that fast–it’s not the same intensity as a city running club–so it gives you time to chat and make friends in this incredibly bonding way.”

8. It’s An Excuse For New Kit


Lots of us enjoy shopping for running kit, and if you’re going to take up trail running, you’ll need some new gear, right?


Joking aside, the right footwear is essential for trail running. Trail running shoes are designed to support your foot. They have more grip like a hiking boot, but they’re much lighter and flexible like running trainers.

Tip: Talking of new kit, safety is paramount wherever you’re running. Plan your route, tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back, and consider running with an alarm. Your smartwatch may also have fall detection tracking.

9. Trail Running Opens Up New Possibilities


If you find trail running is for you, it’s a hobby you can take as far as you like–or dare! Perhaps you’d like to try ultra running? Ultra running, a more advanced form of trail running, is typically defined as any distance greater than a marathon (42km). This is a whole new sport that is as much about stamina as it is about technique. Ultra marathons are often a combination of running and hiking over much greater distances. In addition elevation or extreme terrain are involved.


Perhaps you fancy running in the Sahara desert, the Alps, sizzling Death Valley in North America, the jungle, or even the Arctic Circle? Well, there are ultra marathons in all of these places.


Or maybe you’d rather aim for an ultra in the Cotswolds, the Malvern Hills, Snowdonia, the Isle of Arran, or Lake Windermere?


If ultra running sounds like something you might be interested in, trail running is an excellent way to start training and building the strength you need.


10. Any Running is Good For You


The last point to make here is that any running is good for you. A recent study found a lower risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease in participants who logged any amount of running throughout their week. As well as being good for cardio fitness, running can help to improve muscle strength, heart muscle elasticity, and insulin sensitivity, and increase bone density. In addition, due to uneven terrain, trail running helps to improve balance and stability.


Trail Running in Coventry


Now you know how good for you trail running is, what are you waiting for? Join us for a trail run in Coventry soon. We know lots of places locally for trail running, and we organise events in the UK so you can safely explore new terrain with experienced runners and good friends.


References:


Jessica Salter: Why I’ve Fallen For Trail Running: The Times Weekend, 10/6/2023.


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