Exploring forest pathways, getting lost in the mountain tracks, or the feeling of flying over rocky tracks are experiences that are unexplainable in words for trail runners. When you feel like you have hit the sidewalks, the pretty walkways of the parks, and the treadmill for the millionth time in your routine workouts, it might be time to experience something completely different. Trail running can be that exciting new alternative to your average cardio run.
There are many forms of cardio training such as running, power walking, cycling, swimming, climbing, hiking, trekking, etc. All of these forms have their different benefits, but the main benefit is the overall improvement of your health. One of the most effective ones is trail running.
Not only is trail running an effective form of cardio, it is a thrilling experience as well, which explains why it is gaining in popularity with the younger generations. Millennials are an adventurous bunch. Gen Z is promising as people from this generation are turning out to represent the most thrill-seeking generation ever.
From adventurous vacations and experiences to exciting new exercise routines, these active generations are up for an adrenaline rush wherever they can get it. This can lead one to trail running. So, what are the benefits of this bumpy ride of challenge? Let’s find out:
1 – Improves Overall Health
Trail running has a myriad of benefits from improving our brain functions to our emotional health to physical well-being. Studies say that running makes you happy, helps you stay focused, and can be a huge stress reliever. The mental and emotional health benefits are enormous with running.
It keeps you physically fit and mentally at peace. Running gives you a rush of serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. These happy juices can boost your happiness levels and overall mood. When you can combine these happy juices with an escape to some of the freshest air out there – your body will thank you even more.
Trail running requires you to be on the hills and mountains filled with clean crisp air void of the pollutants and carbon-heavy air. Your lungs will love the fresh mountain air which has long term benefits to your respiratory system. Fresh air can boost your immunity, help regulate your blood pressure, and even aid with digestion.
2 – Strengthens Your Lungs and Legs
The lung capacity of a runner is 10 times stronger than those who don’t run on a regular basis. Strong lungs are good for endurance training and cardiovascular health. Stronger lungs help oxygenate better which helps prevent aging and boost immunity.
Also, trail running will sculpt your leg muscles and push them in several challenging ways. This will help your legs become the powerhouse of your outer body and carry you up and down the mountains easily. It increases the strength of your ligaments and tendons. Trail running is actually easier on the joints and muscles than pavement running – this leads to better leg health.
Leaner toned legs have the added benefit of fitting in those favorite skinny jeans of yours. Be sure to use the right kind of running shoes to avoid injuries and aches and pains. A good pair of supportive running shoes can help you run longer and build more leg strength. You can learn more about the right shoes on the given link.
3 – Helps regulate Blood Pressure
The expansion and contraction of your arteries while trail running will keep your arteries active and fit resulting in a normal range of blood pressure. This stress-free workout out in nature will increase your vitality and energy level. The dopamine and endorphins released will also help you de-stress and lower hypertension – another important factor in regulating your blood pressure.
4 – Improves Practical Endurance
Trail running is different from your usual running tracks. You trade in the flat surface of regular pavement running, but with inconsistent and variable tracks when you take on trail running. This helps to boost your endurance. The constant adaptability nature of the exercise can lead to a more creative mind and reflexes.
Trail running will also help with anger management and depression making your brain sharper and your overall endurance and attention span better.
5 – Increases Runner’s Speed
The most invigorating moment for a runner is when they can ramp up their speed and reach new levels of maintenance speed. Trail running is there to help you with that woohoo moment. It will help you improve your running muscles and will strengthen your legs to a greater degree which will level up your running speed. Your agility and balance will be in greater shape helping you speed up and maintain that speed.
6 – Burns More Calories
While flat surface running already burns calories, trail running on uneven terrains and elevations will amp up burning calories to a much higher level.
Calorie burning is in fact 10% higher in trail running than normal running. Running also helps digest food better and burns food more effectively. This can improve overall immunity to fight pathogens and infections.
7 – Increases Bone Density
The bone density of your legs and hip gets improved with trail running. High impact training like running helps to both increase and also prevent loss of bone mineral density. Running can lead to bone remodeling that helps increase bone mass and bone mineral density known as BMD.
However, a word of caution, too much of a high impact exercise can lead to the reverse situation in certain age groups and amongst young female athletes. So, it is important to pair running with bone-healthy nutrition rich in calcium, vitamin D, and potassium.
8 – Helps break free from Monotony
Trail running is a new experience. You don’t have to navigate through busy pavements of streets or running tracks with the same sights and sounds of the city or the gym that you get with regular running.
Trail running puts you in an environment where it is just you, the trail path and mother nature, and the occasional sights and sounds of wildlife. So, trail running gives you the opportunity to break out of your daily life and try something new. Monotonous exercise routines can get boring and demotivate you from repeating it day in day out. So, why not? Try something new – a sort of an excursion if you may!
9 – Increases Focus
Trail running keeps your mind focused on just running on the trails. Since the runway is not a consistent flat surface, trail runners always have to keep an eye on the trails keeping the runner focused. Flat surface running can be done easily with a distracted mind with your music or podcast or even catching up on your tv shows.
There is no such distraction while trail running – since you need to be focused on the next turn and the uneven terrain. There is also no room for thinking about your work stress or stress at home. It is just you focusing on your trail and the next step. This can be very soothing for the mind and immensely helps increase focus and brain acuity.
10 – Prevents injury
Mountain trails are softer than normal trails as it is a dirt pathway. Trail running is actually easier on your joints and legs so chances of injury are lowered from repetitive trail running. But, be careful and stay focused because falls even on a softer dirt path can cause injuries.
11 – Increases Confidence
Trail running helps to boost your serotonin level which, in turn, makes you relaxed and confident with what you are doing. Once you start running on the trails, your confidence level goes up. Your self-control will automatically increase too.
12 – Improves your Balance
Running straight is an easy practice but mountain running is not a straight way with an easy surface. With unstable and rocky surfaces with tree roots and other solid objects serving as obstacles, trail running is not a piece of cake. However, trail running will improve your balance and adaptability to different surfaces.
13 – Improves Running Technique
Trail running not only helps you with your health it also helps you improve your strategies in running. As the pathway will be uneven, those terrains of the trails will help you take shorter strides, which will help you to avoid landing on your heel, and this will strengthen your midfoot and help you develop a faster stride rate.
As you can see from the several physical, mental, and emotional health benefits of trail running, this activity can truly change your life. For trail runners, it is not just an exercise or a sport, it is a way of life. Whether you are a newbie or a seasoned veteran at running, you will enjoy the exciting new challenge of trail running.
Trail running is bound to spice up your exercise routine and be that exhilarating de-stressing activity you look forward to every week. Try it and witness your body transform and happiness level go up! Happy trail running!