How changing your path can improve your running
Now that the UK’s running population has hit 10.5 million, you might very well be one of them! But are you still trooping along the paths of you neighbourhood? There are so many other exciting options available to you beyond concrete and treadmills. Plus, a change in terrain can be very beneficial to your workout! Top soil retailer Compost Direct investigates further:
A day at the beach
Day trips to the beach are the best. Do you remember getting to the beach as a kid and being super-excited to jump in the sea? Waiting for your parents to finish setting up the parasol and towels so one of them could come with you to splash in the ocean, it’s no wonder many of us took off running through the sand to get into the cool water as soon as possible!
Remember the struggle of trying to run on sand when it slips and slides underfoot? And you can channel that added difficulty into your running training. The Running Bug advises that running on sand makes you burn around 30% more calories than running on the path. This is because you have to compensate for the sand sinking beneath your feet! Plus, the beach terrain can be a little unpredictable; get ready to jump over whatever the tide has pulled ashore, or push yourself up the sand dunes! The site also recommends running barefoot in the sand, because you not only reduce the pressure on your lower joints, but you improve your foot muscles and calf strength.
Go steady with your first few runs on the beach. Run Britain advises any wannabe-beach runners to add sand-running to their regime gradually or risk an Achilles tendon injury.
Running through fields
Reduce the impact of running and change up the scenery with grass-running. The turf will offer a softer surface than concrete or tarmac, which means your joints aren’t going to be hit had hard. Plus, it’s great for improving your balance, says Triathlete. Also, like the sand, grass is an uneven terrain to run on. As a result, you’ll be giving your smaller foot muscles a good workout.
Just like with beach-running, take it slow when you first start grass-running. Incorporate it gently and gradually into your regime. Also, don’t expect to hit the same times on grass that you would on the roads — running on the uneven ground will impact your speed and times, so don’t let it dishearten you. This is about building strength, not speed.
Dashing through the snow
You might be tempted to stay indoors when the snow begins to fall, but don’t let the weather curb your running schedule. The snow is just another terrain to change up your training, and when approached carefully, it can offer great benefits. Plus, as Athletics Weekly rightly points out, if your running regime is more than a hobby, you might be taking part in some cross-country races. Cross country season for the UK is usually in the colder months, so it’s best to be prepare for any eventuality.
Don’t be put off if your performance seems to dwindle. The poor weather will slow you down, says Training Peaks, but that’s the point. Your body has a chance to rest, without losing strength. Running on snow is a challenge and requires more strength and effort than running on a clear path. You have to slow down to build that strength, and also to avoid slipping!
That’s not all. Running Magazine points out that the cold conditions will make your body work naturally harder to keep your temperature right. So, you’re getting an extra burn just for being outside! Make sure you are wearing the right kit for snow-running, stay safe, and embrace the benefits of the cold.
Keeping to the trail
Consider a run through the forest or woods if you want a boost to your health and wellness. Like sand and grass-running, the uneven ground will force you to use different muscle groups than regular tarmac-running. And, like on the beach, the elements of nature will add an unpredictable spin to your route, meaning you’ll have to overcome surprise obstacles along the path.
The act of being among nature and greenery is said to be beneficial. In Japan, the act of “forest bathing”, or shinrin-yoku, is very popular as a wellness activity. The idea is that being out in nature, breathing in fresh forest air, and simply being away from concrete, cars, and city noises helps to reduce stress and lower your blood pressure. Trail running is also hugely popular, as it not only makes for a better mood, it can also benefit your balance. You’ll also encounter a few different terrains, such as mud, grass, or sand, which will force your legs to work harder. Running through the forest has so many benefits, you’ll want to give it a try!
Which new running route will you be using? Do you fancy a sun-bathed beach run, or a nature-empowered sprint through the forest?