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  • Writer's pictureJay Kasthuriarachchi

Trail Running V Road Running: Which one is better

Road running and Trail running are two completely different activities. Even though they involve the basic movement of putting one foot in front of the other, they can have different effects on the body

Road running traditionally means running on the road, pavement or other hard surface.

Road running will generally take less effort on the body than trail running. If you want proof of this, try running on road for 100 metres, then running on the beach. Which one is more tiring?

A harder surface will also exert less force on the achilles, compared to a softer surface. This means if you have had a history of achilles issues (or other lower limb tendon issues), running on a harder surface may be easier.

You would also think that running on a hard surface would wear out your joints. That is not true. In fact, those that run regularly actually had less wear and tear than those that don't! The theory is that runners tend to have better BMI's, and less weight on the knees reduces wear and tear.

In terms of muscle use, being a straight line activity, you will get mainly quads, hamstring, calf and glute work.

Trail running is a bit different. Because you are running on an unstable surface, the intrinsic muscles of the foot will be working harder. There is more side to side movement, and twisting and turning involved which means that your core muscles work a bit harder

You also need to be more aware of your surroundings a well. There is also evidence to suggest that being in a green space can help reduce stress.

You are also forced to run at different speeds while on the trail. This will work your fitness in a different way compared to if you were running at the same speed (like on the road).

So which one is better? The answer is neither. As long as you are doing what you enjoy, and are doing it regularly!

But if you had to press us for answer, we would say doing a mix of both is always good, rather than the same thing over and over.

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