Trail running provides huge benefits over your body, mind and health. I came to realize it by observing the results I got and after a good period spent on running the mountain trails. Therefore, based on my experience, I offer ten reasons why you should start trail running right now:
Trail Running Builds Muscles
In order to stimulate the leg muscles to grow, you need to recruit the largest muscle fibers that produce fast and powerful contractions. Usually, running recruits the slow-twitch endurance muscle fibers that mostly utilize oxygen. This often happens while you run at a steady pace, for long mileage and on flat, without elevation gain.
However, if you run with elevation gain, high enough and for long enough, then your leg muscles have to generate a lot more force. That will recruit the whole muscle fibers and especially the once associated with growth.
Trail Running Tones Calves
The best exercise to tone calves that isn’t boring and looks hilarious at the same time is trail running and sprints, uphill or on the flat. The best part of it is that you work your calves and stimulate them to tone and grow as a byproduct, with every step you take.
What’s essential and required for calf development is to cover a longer distance on technical, rocky and slippery surfaces. The volume and elevation gain provides just that.
To build well-shaped diamond calves, you need to run on mountain trails where the elevation and distance are very high and as frequently as possible.
One of the best runners I personally know that also runs ultra mountain marathons, he is very muscular and developed enormous calves too. Watch below:
View this post on Instagram
"None of your knowledge, your reading, your connections will be of any use here: two legs suffice, and big eyes to see with. Walk alone, across mountains or through forests. You are nobody to the hills or the thick boughs heavy with greenery. You are no longer a role, or a status, not even an individual, but a body, a body that feels sharp stones on the paths, the caress of long grass and the freshness of the wind… "
Trail Running Improve the Gross Motor Skills
The gross motor skill is an ability usually acquired during childhood, and bodyweight exercising and running support aforementioned development. It continues in refinement throughout most of the years of development into adulthood. These gross movements come from large muscle groups and whole-body movement.
Gross locomotor skills include running, jumping, sliding, and swimming. Except swimming, if you go trail running, you’ll enhance the locomotor abilities as never before.
The forest and mountain pathways usually offer slippery, dusty and rocky terrain. You always step differently every time and more so if you go uphill or downhill. Nonetheless, you will slide and also have to execute short jumps over rocks and even streams.
You also have fine motor skills and you’ll utilize them if the route gets very technical, preventing you from falling or slipping over a rock. These skills, together, work to provide coordination and balance.
Thus, if you have to enhance gross motor abilities, then start and go trail running as of today!
Trail Running Isn’t Hard on the Body
Typically, the pavement and concrete are a lot more stressful and the impact is a lot more significant on the leg bones and ligaments.
Running on trails, you will usually step on the grass, slippery terrain, mud, earth, rocks, and to top it all, it isn’t the same running pattern all over again. This alone strengthens your bones, ligaments and tendons. Plus, unless you push the limits with distances and elevation regularly, then it shouldn’t hurt more than you can handle or put you in jeopardize.
Running on trails creates the perfect circumstance to enhance mineral absorption in the bones and also to make ligaments endure more workload and physical tasks.
Trail Running It’s Fun, Fulfilling and Gives a Natural High
There are a couple of aspects that make trail running such a great and funny experience. It’s the scenery, abundance of fresh air, birds singing, the wind blowing, and animals that contribute to our positive state of mind. I experience it all every time I go on the mountain regardless of the season. I meet rabbits, foxes, wild boars, deers, hear the logs cracking, facing freezing or hot temperatures, great sunsets, etc. This adversity positively impacts us and also makes our bodies stronger in all perspectives.
It creates a sense of achievement too because many who go trail running also do it for fitness and performance purposes. Once you reach the top of the hill or the mountain, you’ve covered half the distance. There is no other way around it, and quitting is not an option at all. You have no other choice than going back no matter how tired or scared you are.
The good part is that going back usually requires at least half the time it took to reach the top.
Besides all these factors, you put in a tremendous physical and psychical effort too, and it makes you feel rewarded in the end, very happy and satisfied. Many call it the runner’s high phenomenon and it’s real as it gets, also natural, free of any side effects. Nothing beats that feeling, believe me!
View this post on Instagram
The higher and more extreme the elevation gain is when running or hiking, the more your leg, core and upper back muscles will get recruited . That means you don't only get the cardio exercise done which has many benefits over the cardiovascular system, pulmonary capacity, immunity, burning fat, but also to enhance the growth hormone, regulate insulin and grow muscular-athletic legs too . You'll improve the lactic threshold, stamina, overall endurance, and most importantly, the gross motor skill. By running on uneven terrain, rocky and slippery surfaces too, with elevation gain, requires balance and coordination. If the elevation gain increases leg mass, then the balance and coordination needed to run and hike smoothly will significantly improve the gross locomotor skill . Do you need more reasons to start trail run, athletics, hill sprints and overall leg power exercises????? . #trailrun #trailrunning #trailrunner #coordination #balance #hiking #locomotorskills #grossmotorskills #running #runningtechnique #whytrailrun #whytrailrunning
You Reconnect With Yourself and Nature
You never go trail running and listen to music at the same time because you’ll prefer listening to nature. Perhaps animals prow too, making it dangerous as well.
That allows you to reconnect with nature and with your thoughts. A great cardiovascular effort also adds up and oxygenates your brain fully. This will make you feel relaxed and release stress and feelings. Your mind will run fast and sharp. I promise you that!
Trail Running Enhances Health and Improves the Cardiovascular System
On your way up, even if you walk, if your heart rate will slowly exceed 120 bpm, then you will start to work physically harder and load the cardiovascular system even more. That will improve oxygen capacity and threshold, pulmonary activity, and enhance health overall. It positively affects your digestion and metabolism, making them a lot more effective.
You will improve endurance, muscular endurance, and stamina too, as your blood circulation increases. During the effort, the blood vessels expand, lungs also, and your heart will pump more blood into the stream, which is good more so if you have any cardiovascular problems.
In other words, you’ll feel a lot younger than ever before. Isn’t this prospect satisfying?
Trail Running Builds Athleticism
Everything that I said until now helps you build a more athletic shape and body. Specific muscles will tone and increase, while you get a smaller waist. After several months, you’ll feel and look a lot more athletic as your gross motor skills and muscles evolve, increase and create more powerful and reliable connections.
View this post on Instagram
Fantastic trail run today on snow as part of my Sunday workout and active recovery although my legs burned all the way up and down . . . . . . . . . . . . #trailrunninglife #snowrunning #snowrunningsn20 #naturerun #naturerunning #cardio🏃 #poundsoff #fatloss #legtraining #calvesworkout
Trail Running Burns Fat
One of the best methods to burn calories and target body fat is trail running. You burn a lot more calories and fat on trails than running on the flat ground throughout the streets of your city.
The characteristics that make trail running superior for fat burning are:
- The abundance of oxygen
- It’s a relaxing activity for the brain and it will encourage you to come back every time
- You utilize more muscles that sequentially burn more calories
- You enhance the growth hormone too and stimulate the production of testosterone
- You can’t quit halfway because you don’t find yourself on a track running in laps!
- Find here more about the fat loss phenomenon: Where Does the Fat Go When We Lose It? Mathematics of Weight Loss.
Trail Running Helps Getting Visible ABS
Seek the trails with high elevation for as much as possible. That will involve the whole core muscles, reshaping and toning the abs and lower back. But you should also know that trapezes, upper-back and sometimes even the biceps get plenty of work.
I recall a lot of runs that left my whole back and abs very sore.
Two aspects make trail running reveal abs and get a 6-pack:
- It targets body fat, and as you eliminate more and more, the body fat rate drops below 12%. It’s the spot where the belly turns flat and abs start to reveal themselves
- If you do a lot of uphill hiking and fast downhill running, then your abs and lower back will engage a lot. Thus, they get more prominent and stronger.