Running on trails is perceived as particularly close to nature. Rough terrain and obstacles train not only physical endurance but also the runner's coordination and concentration skills. As the whole body has to be stabilised, more muscle groups are used than when running on the road.
Typical surfaces of the running tracks are gravel, forest and meadow paths through forests or parks, single trails, stone and scree paths in alpine terrain, trim-yourself paths, fin tracks or sand.
Trail running in Australia
The continent of Australia, for instance, is slowly moving towards trail running. According to Ian Cornelius, President of the Australian Ultra Runners’ Association, the prime reason for this transition is the fondness of runners to break away from suburbia. This has been proven by the recently established 100km trail race in the Blue Mountains that has quickly grown in participation to close to quadruple digits.
Why trail running?
Marked trails offer a runner a safe route, but also limit his or her freedom. Running off the beaten track allows the athlete to improvise. On unpaved paths and trails through forests and meadows, over hills and valleys, the possibilities of trail running are many and varied.
Not knowing which path to take frees the mind from stressful thoughts and helps to relax. In addition, trail runners train on the winding paths in many different ways. In addition to endurance, which is of particular interest to long-distance runners, trail running also involves the entire musculoskeletal system. The different surfaces act as a running school. Every step strengthens coordination and reaction. Due to the different ground conditions, the body also learns new movement sequences, which minimizes the risk of injury.