Although Kelsey Kerridge is a gym and sports centre, and we love to see people enjoying our facilities and classes, we recognise that sometimes it is just as important to get outside and exercise.
Trail running gives you space to breathe
The fresh air, the space, the sunlight (or rain), these are all elements that should be seen as complementary to your usual gym-based work out. It’s not a case of in or out, but a combination of both.
All of which is why we think trail running is a fantastic activity. It adds variety to your routine, it will exercise different muscles – more on that later – and it gives you a new perspective.
Ditch the stats
The first thing you need to do when setting out for a trail run is to forget statistics. Well, at least forget the statistics that normally bother you, such as time taken, fastest kilometre or number of steps. Instead, concentrate on the newly emerging crocuses, the leaves unfurling on the trees or the number of stationary cars you pass as you skoot past a traffic queue.
You will never be as fast with your trail running as you are on either the treadmill or the road. There are too many uneven bits. Mud patches, tyre ruts, large stones, fallen branches – these are all set to test you. They could even injure you of you don’t slow down a little and watch your step.
Trail running finds those hidden muscles
However, while you might not be setting world-beating times, you will be giving your body a different workout. As you adjust to an incline or take a longer than usual stride, you will be working the little muscles around your hip, knee and ankle joint so much more than when simply repeating the same movement on a treadmill. In addition, the main muscles will also be asked to work a little harder. Quads will work harder on the uphill. Hamstrings are tested on the downhill.
The occasional hill or slope will also make your systems work harder, putting your heart and lungs under stress. You will also find your core comes into play as you struggle to keep your balance on an uneven piece of land.
Smell the roses
One running coach used to call trail running a ‘smell the roses’ experience. He meant that in two ways. Firstly, you were ravelling at a speed that actually allowed you to distinguish different smells along the route. Secondly, it is a state of mind. When you are trail running, you are unlikely to be in a competitive situation. This is a time to relax, unwind and actually enjoy the sensations.
From personal experience, trail running is also a great way to clear the mind or arrive at a solution. There is little science behind it, but many people will say that it is while enjoying the space of the outdoors, that they do their best thinking.
Trail running is also a great way to see parts of the local area that you don’t normally explore. You can run places that cars just can’t access. Paths along field edges, bridges that take you over babbling brooks. There are numerous great apps with routes that you can follow. Or you can just make up your own route.