Trail running and road running are both great ways to stay fit and challenge your body. If you are an avid runner but new to trail running, there are some key differences between these activities to be aware of. While trail running does offer the benefit of a lower impact running surface, it also includes many more obstacles like uneven terrain, hills, and varying trail conditions. Because of these challenges, you should not expect to maintain your full road speed on the trail—most runners cut their speed by 10-20% on the trail vs. the road. Still, including regular trail runs in your routine can ultimately make you faster thanks to the added resistance of inclines and rough terrain.
Many runners use trail running to give the joints a break from higher-impact pavement, but you should keep a close eye on your heart rate when you hit the trail. You’ll likely burn more calories and increase your heart rate faster, so be sure you’re not pushing yourself too hard too fast. If you are thinking about including trail running into your routine, start gradually and don’t focus on mileage or speed—set time-based goals as you get started. You’ll also want to wear shoes specifically designed for trails so that you have the support and traction you need on unpaved surfaces.
No matter where you run, you should be doing so pain-free. Find care for repetitive or acute running injuries at Complete Balance Physiotherapy.