Trail running is growing fast. Here’s why it is good for you.

SA trail running star Ryan Sandes flying up steps at the Red Bull Lion Heart event. Photo: Craig Kolesky

A few years ago there were no dedicated trail running shoe displays in any sports shop. Now trail shoes with elaborate tech features grace the shelves. Are you with the program? And if not, what are you missing out on?

1. It sharpens your mind. Unlike road running, you have to be alert with every step. One second of a lapse in concentration and a root or rock will face-plant you in the most unelegant manner imaginable. Staying sharp is key. Rumour has it that trail runners even become better drivers because their reflexes improve.

2. Impact related injuries that come with road running diminish immensely. Bounce a golf ball on tar and on mother earth. Compare the bounce. The impact on your body is that much different. Alberto Salazar, Olympian, coach and Nike’s main running consultant advises 80% natural surface training, even for his road athletes, for longevity. Secondly, unlike road running the foot rolls and twists according to the uneven surface. That means the impact point is less specific which lessens stress injuries.

This is where the mind has to be alert, checking every step. Photo: Lukas Budinsky

3. Overall muscle efficiency improves. Muscles work differently for lateral, uphill and downhill movement. Steps vary all the time. Short, long, uphill, downhill and sideways steps will be thrown at you with not much of a warning regarding when, where and for how long. Superfit road runners have been brought to a standstill on a lengthy mountain descent, due to muscle inefficiencies. In the mountains fast runners often becomes slow runners, because of untrained muscle groups. If you desire a better butt, do the trail run thing.

4. What you hear, see and smell add true quality to your life. After all, road running happens in an environment and on a surface that are man made. It can never be as beautiful as nature. You will run through rivers and forests. You will see the sun rise up behind mountains. You might even drink from streams. Nothing beats that.

One wrong step means ending up in the river.

5. Even the social vibe changes. Trail runners don’t necessarily talk about whom they’ve beaten. They share stories of how they overcame rocky ascents, how they waded through a river, how they navigated a route. All the natural obstacles demand respect, and require skill to overcome. It bonds people together.

Trail running offers a lot. South Africa has more than you’ll ever need to find trail happiness. Go for it.

The Spur Trail Running Series offers different races for all levels of skill. Follow the links below for trail runs in your area.









About Frank Smuts 188 Articles
“The greatest moments happen when you step out of your comfort zone.”

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.