**This post is one of several in an excerpt series from the book, Be a Better Runner by Sally Edwards & Carl Foster**
TRAIL RUNNING: WHY YOU NEED TO HIT THE DIRT
Nothing is better for improving foot and leg strength, enhancing overall body stability, and reducing the risk of running injuries than training on trails. Many people who are relatively new to running don’t consider running off-road, and that’s too bad. Although the unpredictable surface angulation and consistency can seem daunting to someone who has never tried it, those same challenging characteristics have the potential to strengthen your body from the feet up, ramp up your running excitement, and extend your running career.
BENEFITS AND CHALLENGES OF VARIABLE TERRAIN
Running on dirt has some serious benefits:
-Better workout: Studies have shown that trail running requires 26 percent more effort than road running because of the constant adjustments and changes in stride that are required. The additional effort you expend means you get more bang for your buck in terms of fitness levels.
-Improved stability: These adjustments also mean you will improve stabilization and will become more coordinated.
-Injury reduction: Because you need to use your body in a different way, you use different muscles and break the overuse patterns many runners fall into.
But trail running also has some challenges:
-You can’t zone out. You must be constantly aware of where your feet are falling—or else you soon may be falling. So, enjoy the scenery, but in small bites. Gaze too long and you may run off a cliff.
-You can’t always hammer. The rough terrain may make it difficult to break out into the full speeds that are possible in a road run. You must be constantly mindful of avoiding injury and scanning ahead of you for hazards.
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More to come ..
Keep your eyes peeled as we continue to release excerpts throughout upcoming weeks. If you fall in love with these tips from our excerpt series, make sure to stop in and grab a copy of Be a Better Runner from our online store, and keep it on your shelf at home to reference and share with others!