I’m not a fan of pounding the streets or roads when I run, give me a woodland trail or towpath any day. The air is cleaner (usually), the vista preferable and all those tree roots, muddy puddles, twists and turns keep me on my toes. Literally. Nature is everywhere, whether it’s the ducks and swans on the river or the starlings and red kites in the sky. In addition there’s the changing seasons that feed the senses every step of the way – bluebell scent, or freshly rained-on foliage, cut grass or just good old ‘country smells’ – it’s all preferable to carbon monoxide and the constant growl of traffic. Not to mention how trail running can have less impact on the joints.
Of course, if you’re training for a road race, then road running is what you need to do. And running, in my experience is an absolutely wonderful way to discover a new town or city (and to get lost), either here or abroad, as long as you stay alert and safe when running alone. But running off-road, amongst nature, accompanied ideally by a silent, calm world with only your own thoughts and bird song, is definitely my favourite form of running both mentally and physically…
Fi says: ‘Trail running? My favourite. Apart from the obvious benefits of no traffic or pedestrians, the sheer joy of being in the middle of quiet surroundings, and the multiple opportunities to stop and appreciate where you are with a quick photo opportunity? Getting off concrete is good for your achy bits, the bits that get pounded by your feet hitting the ground the same way, thousands of times, navigating rougher and uneven ground seems to ease the kinks. Cheap physio! Actually, it’s free physio. I like getting lost too, following paths just to see where they go.’
Carol says: ‘I love trail running – it’s magical. It provides a visual feast which makes running SO much easier. The beauty of the woods and our English countryside makes me feel happy and I’m in awe every time I run these routes. It’s without doubt my favourite kind of running. The change in colours week on week in the woods, the wildlife, the twists and turns just make it so special. It never gets boring and that’s the magic. It slows you down and makes you take in your environment.’
It’s the best.