How Trail Running Can Make You A Better Hiker

Hiking and trekking are very interesting activities that everyone should try at some point of their lives.

The fulfilling experience of a new adventure; escaping the monotony and venturing into the mountains and treks with a new perspective. One can simply never get enough of that feeling obtained when reaching the peak of a hiking expedition; you can’t help it but admire the view.

These activities help us disperse our mind from the average life; work, eat, sleep, repeat. Trekking and hiking offer a new way to relax and enjoy an alternate activity, and they can be done as a lone wolf or with an organized group.

The two sports are also open for anyone. All it takes to hike and trek is a pair of sneakers and the disposition to try something new–it doesn’t get any better than that, does it?

There’s this one activity that works as an excellent complement for hikers and trekkers. Once again, all that is required are a pair of sneakers and enough willingness to enjoy a new activity. We’re talking about trail running.

Trail Running

Trail running is an aerobic activity which has pretty much the same physical effect as regular running.

“So, what’s the twist?”

As one could probably guess by the name, the activity consists of running through off-road trails. This running approach give runners a new way to perform their aerobic exercise; one in which they can connect with nature and alternate they typical treadmill routine.

This activity, just like hiking and trekking, brings people the opportunity to explore something different in a healthy way. The great variety of options makes it suitable for any weather, any location, any gender, and any age. Trail running can be enjoyed on the beach, through the forest, along the river, and many other possible scenarios.
Besides from the option to stay fit and explore nature at the same time, trail running has an additional list of awesome benefits:

Trails tend to be softer than roads or concrete; this gives trail runners a smoother run, placing less stress on their joints and overall body. By exploring diverse trails every time, you condition your body to different terrains, which might help injury prevention depending on the surfaces.

Trail running is great for balance training. When trailing through uneven surfaces, your body enters a constant state of change in weight distribution; this enhances your sense of stabilization and balance while running.

It’s performed out in the wild. This means there’s no paranoia regarding careless drivers who are stuck on their cellphones, as well as considerably reduced hazards found along roads.

It develops your ankle motions and supports your gait. When running along roads, you’re repeating the same motion over and over again. Not only is it boring and repetitive, but it also lacks ankle action. Uneven trails on the other hand, will put your ankles at more action with diverse elevations and surfaces, avoiding that monotonic motion.

So, as a hiker or trekker you have probably noticed the resemblance of trail running and those activities. Well, that’s because they actually have loads in common. In fact, trail running can serve as a way to enhance your hiking performance–which takes us to the next step.

How Trail Running Benefits Hiking & Trekking

These three activities have a lot in common; from the physical preparation, to the surfaces explored and the benefits they offer. Here are some ways in which trail running can prepare you for hiking or trekking:

Enhanced Technique

While trail running, the gait technique is very similar to the one of hikers. The irregular terrains and surfaces explored while trail running can resemble one similar to a mountain. Performing short and precise steps while maintaining a decent running pace improves your ability to deal with varied surfaces; this is a great way to practice your hiking speed and agility.

Injury Prevention

Running through different trails is an excellent way to condition your knees, ankles, hips and other important joints for heavy activities. Instead of the unidirectional pace a road runner would set, a trail runner obtains multidirectional action on all their joints–strengthening them and improving their agility. Trail runners are way less susceptible to running injuries that average road runners; that’s extra injury prevention on your hikes and treks.

Improved Lung Capacity

Trail running serves as an excellent exercise to stretch those lungs and get fresh air. We all know how annoying it is to deal with a bunch of smog from vehicles when we’re trying to hit the road. There’s no better surrounding for running than a forest full of unpolluted air, allowing your lungs to handle deep breaths without contaminating your whole body.

Going for a trail run in high elevation is a very good idea to prepare for mountain hikes. Depending on your hike or trekking adventure, it might come in very handy to have your body adapted to heavy exercise in elevated places with lower oxygen.

In Conclusion

Trail running is the ideal activity to complement hiking and trekking. Not only can it help you improve your performance in such activities, but it also gives you a taste of a new experience. You never know when you’ll find your new favorite activity!

We presented multiple reasons why hikers and trekkers should have a taste of trail running, but it really comes down to a single reason: because it’s awesome.

Interested in giving trail running a try?

First, you need to make sure you have the right shoes for the job. Check out this infographic on the 10 steps for choosing the right trail running shoes:

This is a guest post from Dan Chabert: TV enthusiast. General beer fanatic. Entrepreneur. Introvert. Food guru. Coffee maven.
Owner of Runnerclick, Nicershoes and Monica’s Health Mag.

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