As runners we often get accustom to daily habits and routine, rarely venturing out to explore different environments for training. There is often the excuse of convenience and doing what is comfortable, but whether you’re a runner who prefers to pound the pavement, tear up the trails or trot on the treadmill, chances are you’re tied to your terrain. Changing up your running surface and breaking up the monotony is not only good for your mind, but beneficial to your body and paramount to improving your performance.
By changing running surfaces you are working different muscles groups that lead to physical benefits. The changes in surface also improve mental alertness and lessen stress. For the road runners – pounding the pavement day in and day can be hard on your knees, consider retreating to softer surfaces to give your knees and shins a break. By utilizing softer trails, not only will you keep those everyday aches and pains to a minimum, but you’ll recover quicker, strengthen your ankles and develop your lower leg muscles more rapidly. Softer surfaces also makes you use a lot of little stabilizer muscles that you may not use running on roads and harder surfaces. By retreating to softer surfaces like open trails and parks you may often find that you train longer because of the fresh air and scenic environment.
I understand you must run on the roads to prepare and train for races, but vary your environments and learn to give your muscles a little break. Running races on the weekends and open roads isn’t the only way to work on speed and timing for runs - reverting to a treadmill can do the same thing. Running on a treadmill doesn’t have to be boring either, by varying pace levels and increasing and decreasing incline, it keeps your running interesting. Using treadmills also allows you to monitor effort levels continuously and track pace.
Regardless of where you run, take the monotony of your daily routine, and find a trail or park you’ve never been to reduce risk of injury and have more fun! Find a new running partner and go with him or her on their favorite trails. With summer half way over, take advantage of the time you have when the weather is pleasant and enjoy running on different terrains.
Happy Healthy Running!
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