As we ran through the woods the other day my sister and I were compiling a list of reasons trail running beats road running. The most obvious one is the biggest draw for her: Dirt trails are much easier on her aching joints. Here are five other benefits we came up with:
*You can get away with wearing crappier shoes. This one isn’t based on exhaustive research, other than my reluctance to wear a nice pair of shoes in the mud. Lately I’ve been lacing up a 2011 pair of Saucony Kinvaras with well over 1,200 miles and the uppers torn to shreds and had no issues whatsoever on trail runs of up to 11 miles. These shoes, which are equipped with relatively new insoles, are actually pretty comfy and they’re my lightest, snuggest fitting shoes which make my feet feel more nimble and get better clearance over rocks and roots. I wouldn’t wear them on rocky terrain, but on a dirt trail they seem fine.
*Superior scenery (even if we do spend most of our time scanning the ground for obstacles.)
*It works your muscles in a more random way, rather than the repetitive, treadmill-like gait used in road running.
*Less pressure. It’s not as big a deal if you need to walk for a minute, whether that’s to get over a fallen tree or use a park restroom on a longer run. On the road, taking a walk break feels weird unless it’s pre-planned, and it’s often hard to get going again.
*Finally (and I must admit this was the primary thing we were laughing about that led to the formation of this list), if you happen to be one of those multi-childbirth fortysomething women who occasionally experience unexpected pee leakage during major adrenaline bursts, you can always cover up the evidence by rolling around in the mud and saying you tripped over a rock. (Whereas if that kind of thing happens on a public jogging path, there is no possible cover – other than running home ASAP!)