The freedom to run takes us on many different surfaces: road, sidewalk, dirt, grass, sand, track and treadmill. Each surface has its own set of pros and cons and it is important to understand these before starting your run.
Here at PledgeSports, we care about the health and fitness of all athletes, whether they are fundraising with us or not.
By staying informed we make more intelligent decisions, and perhaps avoid some of the most common fallacies in the process. Here are the 7 most common running surfaces and how they affect us.
This surface is compatible with the majority. The road can be profitable because of its convenience; However, it can also be hard on the joints, leading to potential injury.
Meanwhile, some experts believe the road is beneficial for runners with Achilles issues. The hard road surface reduces the stress on your Achilles tendon which makes injury less likely.
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Despite this, safety becomes a matter of concern while running on the road. Be sure to wear reflective gear and keep an eye on traffic, especially when using headphones.
sidewalk / sidewalk
For many city runners, this is the safest and most convenient surface of them all, however, they can also be one of the most difficult. Hard ground puts a lot of pressure on your joints and muscles. So, if you are fighting an injury, it may not be the best route to recovery.
So, how can you avoid the downside of pounding the pavement?
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For one, try a shoe that fits properly. Also, try some extra insole support. Both solutions will help soften the blow. In the meantime, it sounds basic, but beware of unrepaired sidewalks, especially when walking at night. It’s easy to clip a broken or raised slab, and it can force you to drop it on the ground.
Not the ideal way to find out how hard the ground is.
For some, dirt is the answer to their rushing prayers. This type of surface has an optimal degree of stiffness and sufficient relaxation to prevent the most common running injuries such as plantar fasciitis and IT band syndrome.
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On the other hand, at times, the trails can be very demanding, serving as home to many steep rolling hills, not to mention tree roots and large rocks. When running on dirt paths, also known as trails, you quickly learn that if you look up you are going down!
Alex Kashefi ran the full length of Europe during the autumn and winter months of 2016 and early 2017. Alex ran a lot of trails covering 6,189km of the continent and became a huge fan of what Mother Nature has to offer runners.
“I really like running on boulder technical terrain, whether it’s uphill, flat or downhill. The more serious and technical (rocky, rooty, bumpy) the better,” Alex said.
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Michael Wardian is an American marathon and ultra-marathon runner.
Wardian has won several titles including 3 consecutive US 50 km Championships, US 100 km National Championships and 6 National Marathons, winning 3 in a row on 2 separate occasions. While the roads have been good for Michael, he also has a soft spot for the trails, it seems.
“I like running roads, trails, tracks, etc., I don’t play favorites. I love running on the trails with Rosie our Vizsla (dog) because she loves it, but again I love it all,” Michael said.
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The softer surface of the grass provides much less impact than other surfaces. The layer of grass acts as an additional cushion and does a good job on the joints of road-trainers.
As opposed to running on the road, be sure to keep your head down as you navigate the path ahead. Grass can hide holes and uneven surfaces, making it too far east to go to your ankle.
Don’t be fooled by its soft surface, grass can hurt in the blink of an eye.
As the running surfaces go, there is nothing quite as incredible as a morning run along the coast as it is inspiring and generally has a great effect on your mood.
Also, in addition to the beneficial mental aspects of running on this surface, loose sand creates resistance, ultimately providing an effective workout and a great way to catch the body off guard. Not to mention, the softening effect of sand helps prevent injuries.
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While loose sand can provide an excellent workout, it can also force the ankles into a weak position. Fortunately, sand is hard when wet; Therefore, running towards the water would potentially provide a safer running surface.
Treadmills are one of those running surfaces that run at your command and as many people are of the opinion, there is no running surface at all. It’s also a great tool for transitioning down the road and provides an effective tool for building your mental strength.
“I think treadmills are incredible equipment and allow you to be present for your family, work, etc. at a moment’s notice,” Mike said.
Trail Running V Key Road Running
We’ve heard of people who run full marathons on a treadmill, staring at the same wall for hours on end. If that doesn’t build up mental strength, not much will happen. In addition, some say that treadmills can help with injuries, while on the contrary, others say that they cause injuries or prolong their effects.
“Treadmills land you when you run so there’s no need to push the weight. It’s not really like running outside because of that,” according to Alex.
Whatever you choose, understand that we all have different bodies and different goals, a treadmill or any kind of treadmill movement is better than no movement at all.
The soft, spongy surface of the track is an ideal surface for running. This man-made 400m loop is perfect for short speed workouts.
However, in long distance running, it is best to approach with caution. Repeatedly circling around the same tight loop can wreak havoc on your IT band.
Keep your runs short and fast while on the track…then run faster!
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