When it comes to overall fitness, cardio training is essential.
But not all cardio training is equal.
Running, walking, elliptical, cycling, swimming, rowing, hiking, mountain running, climbing—each cardio activity trains your body in different ways.
Each will improve your overall fitness, but one form of cardio training provides more valuable cardio advantages than the rest:
The trails provide more than an elevated view of the world and higher perspective.
These 13 benefits of trail running will have you dashing off into the mountains!
13 Benefits of Trail Running
Interested in starting the sport? Here are 13 great reasons to take the plunge:
1. Improved Practical Endurance
While running on a treadmill keeps you working out on a flat, stable, consistent surface, trail running is variable. This is a great boost to your practical endurance and will work muscle groups you didn’t even know you had.
2. Increase Leg Strength
Trail running pushes your muscles in a variety of challenging ways.
Your muscles will grow and adapt to incline and decline running, and you’ll gain explosive speed from jumping up and off rocks and other natural obstacles.
3. Injury Prevention
The soft impact of the trails will decrease the pounding on your knees.
Although the trails can benefit runners seeking softer surfaces, you’ll need to avoid injuries caused by technical terrain.
4. High-Quality Air
Mountain running allows you to break free of the city pollution.
Your respiratory system will enjoy the fresh mountain air as opposed to the constant carbon monoxide emissions from every passing car.
5. Increase Speed
The increased resistance from incline training will help develop your running muscles.
After consistent incline training, you’ll find you run much faster on flatter surfaces.
Altitude benefits from mountain running will also improve your cardiovascular capabilities, allowing you to push yourself faster with less effort.
6. Increased Knowledge of Your Local Area
Mountain running gives you an excuse to go out into the wild and do some preliminary exploring. This is a great way to learn more about where you live, and enjoy everything it has to offer.
7. Burn More Calories
The increased effort from the elevation and altitude will help your body burn more calories.
If you want to lose weight quickly, you’ll burn fat much quicker doing high-intensity training on the mountain trails than flat-surfaced runs.
8. Improve Your Balance
Anyone can run straight without losing their balance, but mountain running isn’t quite as easy.
Learning to navigate rocks, roots, fallen trees, and all the other aspects of nature will provide you with real-world running skills.
9. Increased Focus
A lot of runners fight through their workouts in a stupor.
They turn on their audiobook, music playlist, or Netflix and zone out for the duration of their exercise.
Mountain running, on the other hand, trains you to keep your head up, eyes ahead, and mind active.
10. Break Free of Monotony
If you don’t enjoy the exercise you’re doing, you won’t stick with it!
If you hate running around the track or on the treadmill, you won’t be able to sustain a long-term workout plan.
Mountain running gives you an opportunity to try something new and experience the joys of trail running.
Find the right trails, and you can run them over and over and never get tired of them!
11. Take a Mental Break
Mountain running and walking has been shown to decrease worry, anxiety, and negative thoughts.
Connect with nature in a meaningful, relaxing way, forget your hectic life and responsibilities and hit the trails.
12. Enjoy a Stress-Free Workout
It’s not easy trying to reach a new PR when your dodging bikes, strollers, and avoiding red lights.
Out on the trails, you don’t have to stress about crowds or traffic.
Just you and the dirt path…and occasionally the wildlife.
13. Improve Running Technique
The uneven terrain of the trails will require you to take shorter strides.
Shorter strides will help you avoid landing on your heel, and you’ll develop a faster stride rate landing on your midfoot.
Whether you’re a new runner or an old veteran looking for a way to spice things up, trail running is an exciting practice with a lot to offer. Try it for yourself and see how it changes your fitness game!
Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. Many times the content is not written by a single author, instead it is usually a team effort.