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Meep meep, MUD!

Off road running should be any runners favorite (apparently, a lot of professional marathon runners practice off-road. – I’ve done my homework ; ) ). And here’s why:

Running is very popular and most people run on asphalt. Well, thats the easiest place to do it on of course. Not only  because we have a zillion miles of that stuff, but also because it’s right at our front doors. Running on asphalt (or general hard pavements for that matter) is BAD though. With every half-jumpy-step you take your ankle takes a pounding of your own bodyweight hitting the ground. Your knees are the ‘trampolines’ that soften the impact, but they dont last forever. And apart from your knees, some of the impact goes through the joints between your thighbone and hip. So it’s ankles, KNEES and hips that get injured and desintregrate a lot faster if you run a lot. Thats a shame (understatement): we are doing this for our health, right? (read more about Running -the pre’s and cons- here )

So, it makes all sense to avoid the hard roads and take your run to the beach or forest (woodchip-paths!). Even better: take off-road trails that are more challenging. The city I live in (The Hague) has horse-paths and off road (sometimes overgrown) trails that are a lot more exciting than the boring cycle paths. And I bet all of you living outside of the cities have even more interesting off-road trails.

Off road running should be any runners favorite (apparently, a lot of professional marathon runners practice off-road. – I’ve done my homework ; ) ). And here’s why:

 

Horsetrail in the 'Scheveningse bosjes' -The Hague, NL
Horsetrail in the ‘Scheveningse bosjes’ -The Hague, NL

Greater challenge:

off-road tracks are bumpy, muddy in some places, have stones, wood and more of messy nature lying around the place. You automatically look ahead of your stride and work out which are the best steps to take. Its a great brain-body coördination workout. Thus, more fun too! (and TRULY gets youre mind off things)

Better cardio:

because of the reason above, your stride varies a lot more than with ‘roadrunning’. Because of obstacles you automatically go slower and faster. =better cardio/fatburning!

Better muscle workout:

Because off-road running requires more directional changes and lateral movement and demand more variation in stride length and foot action to avoid obstacles and maintain traction, youre actually growing strength and stability in more muscles (the small AND chore) than you would with normal, straight running.

More adventure

Well, youre off the main road. That means theres more nature to be seen and creepy bushes to stride through. It makes your run a lot more interesting and adventurous!

 

 

*Keep Safe!!* (I’m not liable for any accidents. But feel I should warn you anyway)

Horse trails

I love running on these trails. But hey, they are made for horseriding and runners shouldn’t  be there. Its like riding a scooter on the German Autobahn. When running on horsetrails, know youre on THEIR ground. Don’t wear headphones; you want to hear when theres a horse coming, to step far aside to let him/her pass. Not only out of respect for using their trail, but also out of respect for your own bones (a horse wins in a human vs horse collision 😉 ).

Hunting trails

are also off-road. Theyre like horse-trails. You find them mostly in the UK and France. Make sure you dont run on these trails in hunting season. Reason: same as above but than WITH the added  human vs bullet collision risk.

Hiking Trails

Ah, omg. We don’t have these in The Netherlands like they do in other countries. Loved Muir Woods, North of San Francisco. I’d go hiking/running there every week.

 

Muir Woods, North CA
Muir Woods, North CA, US

Injuries

While off-road running is better for your joints, you do have a higher risk of twisting your ankles or knees if you don’t have strong joints and a good balance  to start with. Google ‘proprioception excerises‘  for examples to build up specific strength and balance to prevent injuries..

Running shoes

When running on manmade trails you shouldnt worry about your shoes (provided they are pro running shoes in the first place). On more extreme trails  you should think about other runshoes:  Specific trail running shoes have features such as more durable outsoles, aggressive traction and waterproofing that make them better suited to more extreme circumstances.

Compass

even in the smallest forest you can get lost while running off-road. So bring a compass (aka smartphone ; ) ).

 

More thoughts and tips on running here

 

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