Why everyone should experience trail running.
That feeling of freedom, the feeling that you’re the only one around, you jump over a fallen tree and look over to the kangaroo standing alert as you go by. The air is fresh and the light rain cools your heated body. You don’t need a watch out here, you’re simply playing; playing with the trail you’re running on. Exploring where the road may take you and excited for what’s coming next. It’s never the same no matter how many times you step one foot in front of the other the change of weather and the movement and sounds of the animals that occupy the area make sure of that. To run a wild trail is like no other workout you’ve done before. When was the last time you had this feeling of complete awareness, almost as though you were in the body of a wild human ancestor discovering new land or chasing your prey. The best possible training you can give your body is the one which gives you complete mind, body and environmental awareness. To adapt to the elements strengthening your body from the inside out.
We search for workouts that make us sweat, make us feel strong and powerful, we search for a workout that challenges. We search for workouts that help us to function, we search to rehabilitate, and we search for flexibility and balance.
The thing about trail running is that it combines every one of these workouts, we challenge ourselves with the natural terrain changes from mountains to climb or descend, or distances to conquer. Your body is never at the same pace and you have to work every muscle to adapt. Your core keeps you balanced, and so your feet, ankles and knees move the pelvis and support the spine through these movements. Your butt drives your legs, and the legs continue to turn. Your chest is open so it can inhale fully the freshest of air. Your arms work to create momentum and help project you forward. On a trail it’s not just straight, you have to squat, you have to weave, you have to correct your balance as you run over roots of trees or stepping stones. Your being stretched out each time your body adjusts and allowing it to complete a full range of natural movements.
Some think meditation is about siting down to empty and centre the mind, to acknowledge your surroundings and at the same time be tuned into to your body and what it needs to feel calm. I say you don’t always have to be stationary, to move and be aware of your environment can sometimes be the best way to tune in at the same time, to clear the mind of any external thought other than that of what your body is doing at the particular moment.
- A few benefits of trail running vs a treadmill or flat road.
- Impact actually lessens on a trail so there is less force on your knees and back, plus because we have to use our brains more to adapt to changing surfaces the reaction time of the body will be faster to naturally protect you.
- Compared to a treadmill you can actually go downhill. A functional benefit to adjust your bodies’ posture and muscle development.
- Improve mental health. Studies have shown that exercising in nature can influence positively on self-esteem, and uplifting moods. People tend to enjoy running outdoors more, so they’re motivation to continue increases. I mean really running on a flat surface and especially a treadmill has to be the most boring thing to ever experience. No goal to run towards and no scenery repeating the same movement pattern over and over. (Source)
- Increased energy expenditure when trail running as opposed to a flat surface. More energy is used when adapting to these environmental changes to terrain.
Things to consider when exploring trails.
- Be aware of what your local councils are doing to the area, including maintenance of controlled burning or spraying.
- Dress appropriately. Being active outdoors is the best way to get your body to acclimatize to the changing seasons or new places, you may need to add a layer. Check out the new Winter range at lululemon Athletica.
- What animals live in this area? When I ran trails in the central Alps of Japan I had to carry a bell with me to ward off bears.
- Take a drink bottle, I always carry a camel pack or back pack with some H2O. If I’m planning on exploring somewhere new I don’t want to be interrupted by my stomach so some snacks, a bottle and well for some a shovel and some toilet paper.
- And a camera/phone, damn we live in a beautiful world sometimes it’s nice to capture these moments so you can have them forever.
Happy trail running!