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Some serious runners may view this recent craze of trail running a bit suspiciously. Afterall, how can one expect to crush their previous PR running on mountainous terrain? Also, isn’t running on rocky surfaces synonymous with more injury?

Well, the facts may surprise you. And the benefits of trail/mountain running are enough to cause many great runners to trade in their trainers for some trail running shoes.

Looking for a new form of exercise? Look no further.

Fewer Injuries Believe it or Not

Contrary to the belief of some, trail running typically results in fewer injuries. Why? Well, asphalt may not be all that good for a runner. While the data behind the high-stress impact of street running is far from conclusive, the softer surface provided by trail running is undoubtedly a nice change up from the usual solid asphalt. Also, the jagged and sometimes treacherous terrain of trail running can lead to stronger and more developed muscles in the lower leg. These muscles can help protect a runner’s bones and ligaments from the biochemical stress of running.

Improved Skill

Trail running can cause the runner to take shorter and more controlled strides. Why? It seems this may be a direct result of the focus needed when running on obstructed surfaces. This type of stride can often result in the stride ending on the forefoot instead of the heel. Working to develop a stride that prioritizes the forefoot can help increase speed and preserve energy.

Meditation in Motion

Trail running doesn’t come solely with physical benefits. Anyone who’s run in a seemingly endless circle on a track or grown complacent with the landscape of city running may enjoy the refreshing change-up that trail running can provide. The benefits of spending time in nature are numerous, and adding some cardiovascular exercise in that mix is a great way to improve one’s overall health. Simply running a trail surrounded by nature is a great way to leave the stress of the day behind you and enter into a peaceful state of “runner’s mind.”

If you’ve grown tired of your usual running routine, try implementing trail running into your regimen. It may, literally and figuratively, be the breath of fresh air you need.