Trail Running v. Road Running

To some extent running is running and runners will happily pound miles on the pavement or seek solitude out on the trails. However, key differences exist between the two as well…and if I had to pick just 1 to do for the rest of my life, well trail running wins. Hands down. Here’s why:

{Silent Trails 10 Miler 2013 – Wyoming}

A Culture of Camaraderie: Generalizing here as I realize this is not always the case, but in my experience the trail running community is SO supportive of everyone out there where as the road running community can seem a bit stuck up! In road races, despite being surrounded by people, I feel more alone. Everyone has their head phones on and are plugged into their only little world, monitoring their Garmin. In trail races, despite logging plenty of miles without seeing other runners when you do find yourself keeping pace with someone else you get a new friend out of it! Or at least some great conversation and some serious support on tough sections. Never have I seen another runner at a road race stop to help a stranger who has fallen, is struggling, etc. The kind ones will be sure not to step on you, will ask if you’re okay, and maybe tell a spectator or someone at the next aid station you need help, but they are not letting you mess up their PR! Trail runners on the other hand will stop and carry you out of the woods and stay with you until a race official is there to help you. True story – my friend did fall during a trail race and was cut up so badly she needed stitches. Two other runners stopped and helped her until they met up with a race volunteer who called her an ambulance.

Tanya 13.1

{Trail Nut Half Marathon 2012 – Virginia}

Obstacles: The natural obstacles add to trail running’s appeal and challenge. Road races may have a pot hole or two to avoid, but you can be sure it will be clearly marked. Trail running, your brain is ON at all times helping you navigate rocks (some lose!), roots, streams, snakes, bears, and more! Anyone who has logged miles on the trails can tell you that more often than not those snakes look like tree roots and you don’t realize its true identity until you’re about to step on one!

Pausing for a picture during a run in Zion National Park earlier this year.

{Zion National Park 2011}

Nature: Enough Said. Give me the dense woods, awe-dropping mountains or wide-open plains any day over an endless stretch of road! The images you store away on a trail run and the views you see from the top of a hard climb beat the heck out of buildings and a sea of other runners backsides!

While I certainly hit the pavement frequently for my runs (hey, it’s right outside my door and super convenient) my heart is set on the trails! With Blue Ridge Marathon training starting up soon I plan to incorporate at least 1 trail run a week to help keep my sanity and enjoyment of the training process!

Trails or Road…which do you prefer and why?



5 thoughts on “Trail Running v. Road Running

  1. Ganeeban says:

    2013 was my real introduction to trail running and I LOVE it! I just signed up for a trail half with my cousin, no trail training at all. The community is so different than the road racing community AND they have the BEST aid stations (M&M’s, chips, & soda)! I love trail racing because I don’t put as much pressure on myself for time and I really enjoy the run. It’s hard, but I am now excited to sign up for more trail races.

  2. Caddy says:

    I definitely prefer trail running. There is something really meditative about watching where your next step is going to be and where you are treading. (Thankfully I’ve never encountered bears or snakes running around Yorkshire!!!).

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