With the UK’s running population hitting an incredible 10.5 million, it’s no wonder that we’re seeing so many more joggers and runner passing by us on the streets. You may have been inspired to set yourself your own running route too!
But there’s no reason to restrict yourself to just the grey old pavement and the same streets every day. It’s always good to shake it up a bit! Here with grow bag supplier Compost Direct, we show you how different terrains can do more for your running route than just changing up the scenery!
The challenge of sand-running
Remember beach days as a kid when you wanted nothing more than to jump right into the sea? Waiting for your parents to finish setting up the parasol and towels so one of them could come with you to splash in the ocean, it’s no wonder many of us took off running through the sand to get into the cool water as soon as possible!
Remember how tough it was to run on the sand? It’s certainly difficult to say the least. And you can channel that added difficulty into your running training. The Running Bug advises that running on sand makes you burn around 30% more calories than running on the path. This is because you have to compensate for the sand sinking beneath your feet! Plus, the beach terrain can be a little unpredictable; get ready to jump over whatever the tide has pulled ashore, or push yourself up the sand dunes! The site also recommends running barefoot in the sand, because you not only reduce the pressure on your lower joints, but you improve your foot muscles and calf strength.
Introduce it slowly though! Run Britain advises any wannabe-beach runners to add sand-running to their regime gradually or risk an Achilles tendon injury.
Green thumb? What about green…toes?
If you want to make running a slightly less impactful sport, try running on the grass. The turf will offer a softer surface than concrete or tarmac, which means your joints aren’t going to be hit had hard. Plus, it’s great for improving your balance, says Triathlete. Plus, like the sand, grass is an uneven terrain to run on. As a result, you’ll be giving your smaller foot muscles a good workout.
As with anything new, ease into it. Incorporate it gently and gradually into your regime. Also, don’t expect to hit the same times on grass that you would on the roads — running on the uneven ground will impact your speed and times, so don’t let it dishearten you. This is about building strength, not speed.
A run in the snow
Don’t let the onset of winter’s chill keep you indoors. The snow is just another terrain to change up your training, and when approached carefully, it can offer great benefits. Plus, as Athletics Weekly rightly points out, if your running regime is more than a hobby, you might be taking part in some cross-country races. Cross country season for the UK is usually in the colder months, so it’s best to be prepare for any eventuality.
Keep in mind that the colder climes will slow your pace. Your body has a chance to rest, without losing strength. Running on snow is a challenge and requires more strength and effort than running on a clear path. You have to slow down to build that strength, and also to avoid slipping! Also, Running Magazine points out that the cold conditions will make your body work naturally harder to keep your temperature right. So, you’re getting an extra burn just for being outside! Make sure you are wearing the right kit for snow-running, stay safe, and embrace the benefits of the cold.
Running through the trees
If you’re lucky enough to have a woodland area nearby, make use of it in your running schedule. Like sand and grass-running, the uneven ground will force you to use different muscle groups than regular tarmac-running. And, like on the beach, the elements of nature will add an unpredictable spin to your route, meaning you’ll have to overcome surprise obstacles along the path.
Even just walking or being among the trees is said to bring health benefits. In Japan, the act of “forest bathing”, or shinrin-yoku, is very popular as a wellness activity. The idea is that being out in nature, breathing in fresh forest air, and simply being away from concrete, cars, and city noises helps to reduce stress and lower your blood pressure. It’s no surprise then that trail running is hugely popular, as it not only makes for a better mood, it can also benefit your balance. You’ll also encounter a few different terrains, such as mud, grass, or sand, which will force your legs to work harder. Running through the forest has so many benefits, you’ll want to give it a try!
Will you be adding any of these new routes to your running regime? Do you fancy a sun-bathed beach run, or a nature-empowered sprint through the forest?