When you first start running, you probably, if lucky, managed to run around the block without stopping once before calling it a day. That is no small achievement: the first run is the hardest, and the most important.
Over time, and as you keep practicing running around the block, you will notice that you can do it quicker and quicker; as your speed gradually increases, so does your confidence. Now is the time to extend your route, and experience something new. Trying to find good circular routes back home is an art in itself – you don’t want to go too far because you have to get back. If you are using a distance tracker, you are able to keep an eye on the distance that you are covering; it doesn’t have to be an all singing and all dancing model at this stage, but they do help to make sure you avoid injury by going too far.
You can use your distance tracker to help motivate you into being able to extend your distance. Try changing your tracker from miles to kilometers, running 5k sounds further than 3.1 miles, when you have achieved a comfortable 5k, switch back to miles to achieve 5 miles; similarly, 10k is more motivational than 6.25 miles. Before you know it, you will be running 10 miles.
As you get your mileage up, and your experiences of your new sport has increased, you are now able to enter the great running debate: road or trail? It is on a par with the designated hitter debate in baseball, which provokes much division and emotion because it creates complications which can put the visiting team at a disadvantage. It remains one of baseball’s biggest divides and sparks passionate debate from both sides.
Before you make your decision as to which you prefer road or trail, here are some reasons to trial the trails:
- Trail running makes your body work harder to overcome the uneven terrains; it requires a more technical run that uses all of your senses, and heightened use of your lower body to maintain balance.
- Running on firm road surfaces negatively impacts and stresses your joints. Road running is harsh on the body, and research has shown that recovery times for road distances are longer than the same distance on the trail.
- Trail running gets you into the countryside and out of the conurbations. You may need to commute to the trails, but the extra effort to run in the great outdoors is worth it. You can only get the true feelings of liberation that running can provide when you are on the trails.
- The GPS systems that are available to help log your run are great tools to help you with your running. The downside to them is that it is easy to get obsessed with the statistics that they provide. We can become slaves to the data. Out on the trails, there is more than likely limited cell coverage, and any stats will not be correct. You should just enjoy the experience for what it is.
Whichever you prefer, trail or road, each run you have will bring new challenges and new achievements. Some days your run will make you feel on top of the world, and others make you wonder why you bothered to tie those laces.