Training for a long-distance running event requires plenty of time, planning and passion. In the months leading up to your race, consideration for your training plan is paramount. In addition to the “long-days,” “speed-days,” and “maintenance miles,” here are a few reasons to consider adding “trail-days” into your next training plan.
Road routes are going to provide plenty of foundational cardio and stamina training, but they do not provide a lot of dynamic or “technical” terrain. With a solid endurance base in place, adding trail runs into your plan will create variety and thus added benefit to your performance. Uneven paths and obstacles along your will run ignite your core much more than on a regular road run. Frequent elevation change also challenges your quads, glutes and calves in more dynamic ways than would repetitive road-running motion.
Long distance training can also take a toll on your joints. Achy knees, ankles and hips are no fun when you’ve got a 40-mile week ahead of you. Trail running is a great alternative to road-running to prevent future injuries, or further aggravate existing ones. The ground is much softer than the pavement, so your body will endure less potentially harmful impact on every step. (And let’s face it, those steps add up when you’re training.
Additionally,Technical terrain on the trails will add extra strengthening for your connective tissue. With rocks, roots and holes possible at every step, your ligaments and tendons will be working on overdrive to protect your joints. Consider it bonus strength training for your smaller muscle groups!
Aside from the physiological benefits of hitting the trail, getting out into nature has some serious mental perks. In addition to the (truly) fresh air and beautiful scenery, adding trail running into your plan breaks up the monotony. With only so many long-mileage routes that are accessible from your front door, trail routes allow for some added adventure planning sprinkled into your training. Use your trail days as an opportunity to explore nearby state parks and local trail systems.
Happy trail running!
Exactly, Lynn! Do you have any trail recommendations for the next time we’re in your neck of the woods?
I love trails! There aren’t a ton in Central Florida, but the ones we have are great. I 100% believe they’ve made me a better runner. Why? Agility! Running on concrete or brick (lots of brick roads here) means you’re simply running. Running on the trails means paying attention to where you’re about to step along with enjoying the peace of nature.