In Italy, every square inch counts and most people can’t live very close to Mother Nature, but then I moved to the United States and I discovered the joy of trail running. Whenever I can, I run on trails in the woods, on hills, through parks while trying to avoid streets and concrete.
Trail running is good for your body as the surface you run on is more absorbent and therefore produces fewer shocks on your feet, knees and back than any hard road. This not only will help you avoid injuries, but will also make you less tired while running. In fact, your muscles are subject to fewer vibrations and as a consequence get less sore. Trail running is also good for your soul. It allows you to experience nature with less boredom.
You will often find yourself running farther and maybe even faster than you would on the road. Another advantage of trail running is cleaner air. Your lungs will surely thank you for that. Make sure you use very supportive shoes if you decide to experiment with trail running. Race flats are not a good idea. The trail surface can be very irregular. Rocks and holes are the norm and you need something to support your feet and protect your ankles. Cross training running shoes may be a little heavier than what you may be used to, but they are worth it. Running on uneven surfaces with the right shoes will make your ankles stronger because your feet land differently at every step.
There are a couple of precautions you should take if you have never run on trails before:
For example, in my area mountain lions and rattlesnakes are a common occurrence. Mountain lions come out very early in the morning or at dusk. For this reason, I either avoid running at those hours, or I make sure I am not alone. If you are uncertain about wildlife, choose a trail that is not isolated. The presence of people usually helps assure that wild animals will stay at a distance. As usual, use prudence and you will have a lot of fun. You will get home refreshed, relaxed and energized. If you still have some doubts take a look at the Rave Run page of Runner’s World magazine and you may feel inspired.
P.S. Trail running can be done year round (almost everywhere). Even running on snow, (NOT ice though), which can be tricky, is worth a try.
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