Packed with people full of good intentions, how ridiculously overcrowded is your gym at the moment? Exactly. And with the weather improving – albeit slowly – we wanted to introduce you to one of the hottest outdoor fitness trends: trail running.
A recent survey by Sportsshoes.com showed that Google search interest around the term has increased dramatically by 54% in the last 5 years. Quizzing 4,904 running enthusiasts, the study also found that:
* 40% of trail runners declared trail running as ‘therapeutic’, helping to combat negative emotions
* Of all runners surveyed, gym goers found the most excuses not to exercise; with reasons not to run including being ‘too tired’ and having ‘a lack of motivation’
* Nearly a third of trail runners, on the other hand, stated that there were no barriers to exercise, suggesting that it is easier to stick with an outdoor running regime
Dr Eric Brymer, a psychologist with a particular interest in the health benefits of nature-based experiences, concluded that trail running has multiple fitness and wellness perks; including toning up, becoming more mindful, increasing fitness levels, being more positive, getting more fresh air and even meeting new people.
He says, “When trail running, you are fully attuned to your natural environment – the surface is uneven and you’re not sure what is round the corner – you’re paying attention to what is going on ‘now’. It is the opposite of disassociation; it is not an internal process, it is very much about your body being in that space at that time. Being fully present in this way means that you are automatically in a mindful state when trail running and the more engaged you are with your environment, the longer-term the wellbeing benefits.”
Tribe’s founder and editor in chief Olivia Ebeling, who is a trail convert, says, “I promise you that I used to hate running outdoors. I used to be able to happily run 45 minutes on a treadmill but would feel exhausted after just ten minutes of pounding actual hard ground.
“Then I moved to a suburban area that doesn’t have a local gym and started running along the nearby canal to keep fit at the weekends. I soon began to enjoy exercising in nature: the views are beautiful and keep me distracted from becoming bored, something I always struggled with on the treadmill. The difference in terrain and ready-made ‘obstacles’ like tree trunks or streams are fun to navigate and add an extra challenge to your workout. Seriously, if I can learn how to enjoy trail running, anyone can.”
Keen to get started? Joscelin Lowden, a professional trail runner in London, describes how easy it is to find trails in your area “When looking for routes I tend to Google local London running clubs as they put a fair bit of route information on their websites about the runs they do. I also look on a map and find a decent sized park, then go to Strava and search runs that other people have completed in that particular park.” See this list of popular outdoor trail runs around the UK to inspire your first run.
Not sure what footwear you need? Sportsshoes.com has a dedicated trail running section. And TheBabbleOut.com has a whole section focussing on running tips, footwear reviews including shoes for those with medical conditions as well as running app recommendations. See you out there!