Trail running is a different beast, but it will leave you breathless—in a good way

By Kryzette Papagayo | Photo by James Chou/Unsplash

There’s a certain allure the wild brings. The atmosphere is zen-like. The arena is colder and more challenging. The outdoors allows you to get into high gear.

Running on its own is a great way to maintain an active lifestyle, but throw in elevated spaces, higher leaps, and steep trails to the mix and you’ve got a recipe for more exciting battles with nature. Simply put, running alongside trees and bushes nurtures the soul, automatically makes you enjoy the workout, and trains the body even more. Here are four reasons why you should steer clear of city roads every now and then.

1. The brain’s on high gear

Running takes the mind off things. That’s why when you’re on the road, focus can easily wander or you go blank. On intricate tracks, however, one should be focused to avoid injuries. The arena is more complex so the body goes on full stealth mode to keep up. It’s important to pay close attention to the terrain, rocks, and branches, and be aware both of the body and the surroundings. Likewise, connecting with nature through movement is grounding, says clinical psychologist Shoshonna Bennett to Runnersworld. It helps one feel at ease and provides for a unique running session.

2. The terrain is an experiential treat

The Philippines is home to a lot of terrain that are good for trail running. The 23.3-kilometer trail called “The Ridge” near Ampucao in the Cordilleras is one to watch out for. Run Society describes it as a “moderate-difficulty running trail and attracts hundreds of runners every day who are looking for a good place to get in their cardiovascular and endurance training while running.” Often embedded with unprecedented slopes, rocks, and other objects, trail running is interesting for the mere reason of its field. It rids you of monotony and lets you enjoy running in peace and quiet. More so, this gives you a chance to appreciate nature that a normal run won’t.

Fact is, trail running requires more energy. Stronger legs, a tougher core, and improved balance or proprioception (bodily awareness of space) are just some of its hallmarks

3. The relief it gives to muscles

While trail running is a lot harder than road running in terms of terrain intricacy, stress in the legs, joints, and knees is lessened because you stomp on softer and more forgiving surfaces rather than hard concrete and pavement. Zen Habits writes, “First, reduced risk of injury: The soft, ever-varying surface of the trail lessens the likelihood of an overuse injury, strengthens core muscles, and ultimately makes for more comfortable long runs than asphalt.” The run is varied because of the differing terrains, and it helps you take a break from tedious tracks.

4. The tremendous results of trail running

Fact is, trail running requires more energy. Stronger legs, a tougher core, and improved balance or proprioception (bodily awareness of space) are just some of its hallmarks. The perpetual shifting of force and muscle use make you employ and contract most parts of the body. Because you are more aware of your movements and surroundings and constantly moving, balance and stability are enriched. Science agrees, and has shown that trail running contributes to burning 10 percent more calories than normal road running.

Before doing your first trail run though, proceed with caution. Go easy and find a trail that suits you. Make sure to pack the essentials, including a map, a smartphone, water, and even bug spray. The right gear is important, so do your research. With the abundant trails available in the Philippines, finding the right track is easy. So roll up your sleeves. Get ready, set, and find out where to run next.

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