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Having been a runner for over 20 years, I’ve learned there are many pros and cons for trail running and road running. I’ve learned them by experiencing injuries, muscle imbalances and through gaining strength and stability. I am going to tell you just a couple of these pros and cons and conclude with the running surface I feel is the safest and most beneficial for all!
Trail running helps to prevent injuries. The trails are much softer than the road and as a result create less impact on the body while running. Too much impact can lead to overuse injuries and muscle imbalances. Trails allow you to build more strength & stability due to the constant stabilization and inclines your body experiences.
When trail running, one must go slower in order to avoid falling due to rocks, crevices, etc. The hills you encounter on trails may also slow you down due to their difficulty. Trail running can also be slightly inconvenient and may require more time due to the distance one must drive to find a trail.
Road running is very convenient and allows one to walk out their door and begin their run. It also allows one to easily explore their environment when traveling. Road running allows one to run faster without worrying about obstacles (rocks, branches, crevices) in their way.
Road running’s repetitive impact can make one more prone to injury. Muscle imbalances can be magnified due to the increased shock in each step on the road. Running on the road takes you away from the beauty of nature. You may breathe in car exhaust, have to stop often to cross streets, and you may also get bored due to too much repetition.
Overall, I feel trail running is more entertaining and better for your body and the longevity of your running career. If you just run on roads, try to add a trail run or two to your week and see how much better your body feels! I personally run 90% of my runs on trails and have been able to increase my miles and avoid injury!
By Alison Williams Morris