4 Ways Trail Running Keeps You Fit and Focused

You know the drill: Rest day Monday, followed by shorter outings in the neighborhood, tempo runs on the treadmill and one long road route on the weekend.

Break up the routine and try trail running. The payoff is bigger than you might realize.

Trail running puts you smack dab into nature. Whether you're switching to trails from the treadmill or from busy streets, you might notice a change in attitude.

More: 5 Reasons to Try Trail Running

Trail running allows a break from the common annoyances of the city runner like dodging cars, waiting for the cross walk button, and people who zig zag all over the sidewalk and end up breaking your pace.

Trail running can help give you a feeling of freedom that's hard to find when pounding the pavement. The same can be said about moving from the treadmill to the trails, because who wants to stare at the same spot on the wall for an hour when they could be watching the sun set?

Get Away From Car Exhaust

Exhaust from cars and city pollution might be hurting your workout. Studies have linked asthma to car exhaust and running on the streets can kick up your symptoms.Getting on the trails and away from heavy traffic areas can help mitigate these issues.

More: 6 Tips for Women Running With Asthma

Cool Down in the Natural Shade

If you run on city streets and sidewalks, you could be running the risk of scorching in the sun. Trail runs offer a great alternative to hot days because many trails have trees providing ample shade for you to cool down. Trails also reflect heat less than dark asphalt does, adding in another cooling factor.

More: 9 Trail Running Tips for Beginners

Challenging Terrain Builds Balance

The treadmill actually has a bit of a pull helping to propel you forward which means you're not getting the same challenging workout you can get outside. When you're running on pavement or cement, the area is generally quite even.

Trails offer none of these aides, creating a more challenging workout. As you run on a trail you may be running over uneven surfaces, dodging rocks or balancing on them for a split second. This require stabilizer muscles that are often neglected when running on pavement and with traditional weight lifting. As you engage these stabilizers this will help to keep you more balanced and give you an even stride over time.

More: Why You Should Vary Your Running Terrain

Fewer Distractions

Distraction is one of the many perils of street or treadmill running. Car horns, flashing lights and hopping on and off sidewalks can interrupt the mental break running can provide. On the treadmill, we may stare at others in the gym, wondering where they got their outfit or why they smell so bad.

Trail running gives you time to listen to your body and mind. The calm outdoors can help give you the time to actually listen to how your body feels.

More: Go Off-Road: The Ins and Outs of Trail Running

Easy on Your Knees

Trail running is good for your joints and provides less stress overall to your body. When you run on asphalt, your body has to absorb the shock of running on such a hard surface.

Trails typically have softer surfaces, giving your body a much-needed break from asphalt and concrete. Trails also take stress off of your joints. And trail runs increase the engagement of stabilizer muscles, which help protect your joints and prevent injury.

More: 6 Tips to Start Trail Running

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