5 Reasons To Embrace Off Road Running
10k and half-marathon season is coming to an end. Up next: cross country. Have you discovered these 5 reasons to embrace off-road running?
There are so many reasons to include off-road running in your running training, we’re surprised that some people still avoid it. If you’re one of them, read on. We hope to change your mind!
Off-road running tends to burn more calories (both during your run and afterwards, as your body works hard to recover) than steady state running on an even surface. Why? Because the unstable ground, varying gradients and uneven footing of an off-road run means your entire body has to work to keep you upright, balanced and moving forwards. So if you want to lose a bit of extra weight, shed some body-fat or have a new tool in your weaponry for maintaining weight loss, off-road running may be just the ticket.
Powering up all those hills, particularly if it’s wet or muddy underfoot, builds impressive leg, core and upper body strength. In fact, you’ll get stronger without trying. Your body will simply have to respond to the extra work you’re asking it to do. You’ll build explosive power, muscular strength and impressive endurance, all without adding bulk or excess muscle mass.
Target More Muscles
Because off-road running is less stable than road or track running, it keeps the body guessing. You can’t predict where the next lump, bump, hill or descent will be so nor can your body. As a result, off-road runs recruit more muscles (not just in the legs but throughout the entire body) from major muscle groups to smaller, deeper muscles and connective tissue. Put it this way, you’ll feel sore in a whole new way when you introduce off-road running to your training plan! So make sure you stretch, foam roll, get massaged (if possible) and do everything you can to recover well.
Enjoy Your Surroundings
Compare off-road running to road running, track sessions or the treadmill and you’ll see immediately why so many runners just love their regular trail or cross-country runs. Depending on your location, off-road running might take you through fields, farms or forests, along canals, rivers or coastlines, and over hills or along beaches. Perhaps you’re lucky enough to live near an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), a heritage site or a famous landmark? Why walk there to sightsee when you can run!
Refresh Your Training
Like any new training approach, the addition of off-road running will freshen up your running training in more ways than one. It’ll deliver results, fast, helping you see a change in your physique, your fitness and even your pace. But it’ll also have benefits to your mindset, giving you something new and exciting (and perhaps a little bit nerve-wracking!) to look forward to. It’s a great way to keep running from ever feeling stale.
Will you be doing some off-road running, training or racing in 2013? Make sure to tell us all about it, you know we’d love to hear!