Why trail running is the best route to success

Prof Greg Whyte OBE

Prof Greg Whyte OBE

We talked to Professor Greg Whyte, one of the country's top sports scientists, about why getting on the trails can be great for your fitness.

Peak on the hills
The secret weapon with trail running is the hills. However, it’s not just the uphills that are good for your fitness but it’s the downhills as well. You get the double whammy effect of concentric strength (developing power) as well as eccentric strength (building mobility and improving balance) coming down. Twice the work in half the time!

Get some fresh air
It's been shown that those who exercise outdoors also find their perceived exertion (RPE) – how hard they think they are working – reduces, making the exercise more enjoyable. If you add in the benefits of Vitamin D, natural light exposure and the impact at this time of year on seasonal affective disorder, there are huge benefits to be gained from trail running, as opposed to running on a treadmill.

Boost your core
Trail running is all about stability and running economy. You get in-built core work running off-road because of that ever-changing terrain.

Break it up
Repeating the same action again and again, as you do on the roads, overloads the joints and muscles in the same fashion continually. Trail running overs the same benefits as cross training. Running off-road changes the way your foot strikes the ground, varying the loading that creates. 

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The above articles is an abbreviated form of the one which appears in the February/March issue of Trail Running - out now.