I’ve been a road runner most of my life, running marathons and halfs since I was in my mid-twenties. But recently I’ve begun trying out trail races, while a good friend of mine has taken up running ultra-marathons in wilderness areas like Grand Canyon National Park. It’s showing me how different road and trail running really are, which got me thinking — do you prefer one over the other, and if so, why? And what are your favorite trail events? — Terrell
Trail running changed my life. It wasn’t about speed anymore. I’m competitive as it gets and ran my first half in 2 1/2 hours, which made me angry because my PR in a half was 1:42. Then I figured out it’s not about speed. It’s about the peace, serenity & enjoyment of being in the wilderness. Away from everyday life.
There was/is a distinct difference. In my experience, slow & steady gets it done on trails. Not to say you don’t scream down some hills for fun :)
Overall, I’m just grateful to be able to run. Have an awesome weekend!!
I prefer trail running. I enjoy viewing the landscape and being far away from city life.
I started with road races and ran 5K, 10K, 15K, 21K and 42K. Then I started with trail running and I fell in love with it. It requires a lot more strenght in your core and legs and I run slowlier being very carefull with the terrain... But the scenery is the best part of all!! I ran mountains, forests, snow... it´s really spectacular!! The farthest I ran was 76K on the mountain in Patagonia Run in Argentina the altimetry of 4050mts+. Great experience!!! And I´m 48 years old!
I grew up running the roads but did run x-country in college. In those days we ran true x-country not paved greenways like so many schools do today. Thinking back I consider some of those races trails. Fast forward to today and your question. I begin doing serious trail running in my early 50's and loved it. However my older body did not like the falling, ankles twists, and overall roughness of trail running. I now limit my running on trails but still love them. I prefer road racing now simply because it's easier to keep by 63yr old body going by running on the roads. But it just so happens I am racing a trial half tomorrow. I guess runners never learn do they.
I am transitioning to trail running. It is easier on the joints, but you definitely work more on agility ! The scenery is outstanding. My favorite trail race is the ' North Country Run' in the Manistee Forest, Manistee, Michigan. It is every August. They boast the 5th largest medal in the U.S. ; It's incredible. They have a 10k, half, 30 mile race, and 50 mile ultra- 100 % trail- Elevation gain is upwards of 600 feet every 13 miles :-D
I have done very little trail running, and really quick figured it wasn't for me. I can trip and fall on flat surface like no one else can. In trail running spent half of my time making sure I didn't fall and break something, i am terrified of getting lost and you run at a much slower pace. I will stick to road running, and I can just leave my front door and go run.
i prefer road running. i feel like i have better footing and don't have to worry about tripping. that being said i did sign up for a trail half next month lol. it is supposed to be pretty easy terrain though.
I try to set up a varied program each year. My centerpiece is six or more half marathons, and I fill in the gaps between them with shorter road races, obstacle runs, track runs (800 and 1500 meters), and a trail run. My last trail run was in January with deep leaves and some snow on the ground. That made identifying tree roots and rocks nearly impossible. I crashed three times and am still surprised I finished without a serious injury. My advice is to choose your trail runs carefully to make sure the risk is worth the reward. A trail run injury can sideline the rest of your program for months, so read reviews and make sure you know what you’re signing up for.
I have done a lot of both, but always noticed that recovery from a 50K trail was so much quicker and easier than from a marathon on the road. Also, smaller crowds and easier logistics on trail runs. I used to camp in the park the night before, get up and run, then go back to the tent and sleep.
I love both. Trail running uses different muscle groups and it’s very peaceful I hit trails when I need peace and just let my mind transcend the stresses of life. Trail races I don’t like as it’s hard to truly compete as sometimes the trail is single path and comparing times is not the same as road races. So for racing I prefer the road for running in general I like both, for the hardest days I like a long peaceful trail run.
I've tried both and quickly learned that road running is my sanctuary and trail running is stressful. I like to run to lose myself in thought or to test my running abilities. I find in trail running that I am paying so much attention to where my feet are landing that I never get to enjoy the scenery or get lost in thought. Road also lets me test my speed and endurance with predictable terrain that I can use over and over again as a standard measure.
Road running for me is predictable, the line of sight, grip on the cement, access to civilization, it all just stays within a mental comfort zone. Helpful to gain fitness, measure splits, etc. So that is what I like about trail running. Although I’m in nature, I actually feel outside of my day to day element. The trees, the sounds, the obstacles, not seeing when the uphill might end, not knowing exactly when the turn might be (and constantly wanting to confirm I am on the right trail), and as the run goes on, feeling further isolated from my car and “my world.” I was scared and overwhelmed by that feeling at first, not to mention the physical challenge of terrain meaning a completely different style of running, but I kind of like the adventure now. I don’t pay attention to splits or heart rate, the vain / selfish thoughts about the run go away, but it truly is about enjoying the space I am in.
I saw this documentary on Amazon Prime Video recently that speaks to that feeling:
“the mountain teaches our insignificance, as well as our agency. in this search, with this accumulated knowledge, there are times where the borders blur between landscape and self. between human and mountain. when the integration of self and place feels seemless. And that is when the mountains truly become home.”
I love both ways ..when I get chances🙏But choices are rare when you live in urban city(Chicago)
I love trail running. It gives me the freedom to be in nature and also challenged myself. I also love trail running vs.road because I can take my dog on runs with me and she loves it. Also most trail races allow dogs and give medals to them.
Trail running is also great because my non-running husband can take his mountain bike and ride on the trails with me while I run...the only bad part about that is watching him crash and flip over his handle bars😜...true story and he was fine just had a few scrapes and bruises....
I did a trail race in Richfield Utah called Crimson Canyon they offer ultra, 50K and half marathon it was brutal but so awesome and the race coordinator was really organized. They had chili and other things to eat at the finish line and they offered so much food and beverages at all the pit stops it was great. It was also a small town race and so not so many people you can’t move on the trails. We climbed rock, ladders and ropes...I plan on doing it again next year.
I also did a trail race in Hong Kong. It was a series of runs but I was only there for one of them. It was excruciating and they do not have pit stops...I don’t remember the name but it was great to see the back country. I would do it again if I ever have the opportunity to go there again but would be better prepared.
Park City UT also does a 4 trail race series during spring through summer. They start with a 5k, then 10k, 15k and then half. It is really fun and is organized. It is really good for anyone who wants to start trail racing and for experienced runners also. The half course is a hard challenge.
I am lucky to have the mountains 5 minutes from me in one direction and flat desert in another direction by living in Utah.
I like both, but prefer trail running. It is more quiet/peaceful + you get to see wildlife. On my runs I have seen a mountain lion, bears, elk, mule deer, wild turkeys ++
Trail running is incredible. I just started doing these a little over a year ago. Other than having running in common road and trails are just two totally different disciplines. Road running seems entirely linear while trail running you have to use far more agility skills. One thing I found out when I began is that shoes make a huge difference. If you run a trail use trail running shoes. When started using trail shoes instead of road running shoes it increased my enjoyment ten fold. I'm extremely fortunate that I live a few miles from a State park that has miles of trails. Being in Michigan though I have to transition to the road in the Winter time at least during the working week. With it getting dark so early I've nearly broken my ankle twice this year not seeing a rock or stump with my headlamp. It took me a bit (and I'm still learning) how to run trails.
I like to do both. Trail running is more intense and a good break from road running. Road running you can get in a rhythm and run more relaxed. That being said I do like the trail running best.
I am more of a road/wide trail person, we have a fair amount of rail to trail paths in the area so it makes getting the miles in easy. I really try not to do anything that is a two track or less as I just don't feel comfortable about not tripping.
Have fell in love with the trails, but still have to run on the roads , more convenient but not was satisfactory
I’m a road runner by convenience but prefer trail runs.
My trail runs 3x a week with my fellow trail runners are the highlight of my week. It's not about speed anymore but about the beauty that I find in the woods on Long Island. We always encounter deer and last month we finally saw the elusive fox that so many people had talked about. We share the trails with mountain bikers who generously give their time to maintain the trails and have forged a special bond with the mountain bikers who ride on the same day we run. When I am training I sometimes use my trail runs to run a longer time, not a longer distance. If I can do a 2 hour run on the trails, I know my stamina is ready for a half marathon. My proudest half was finishing the North Face challenge at Bear Mtn., NY. Nothing has come close to that experience both mentally and physically.
Flat, boring, one foot in front of the other=yep street running. Soaring, foot placement, peace & quite, breathing, heighten awareness and enjoying nature=trail running. THE END
"There are many paths in life, and the best ones are made of dirt."
I've ran in 2 trail runs so far (one in Philadelphia and 1 in Greensboro) and while I enjoyed being "away from the city", my anxiety went into overdrive after every stumble and trip that I made over rocks, twigs, and dirt patches. For me, train runs require more concentration than a road race. I would have to work on how to ease my anxiety before I try another one.
Trail apps are great for not getting lost
North Face Endurance Challenge in SF is the ultimate trail running event with breathtaking views!
I love trail running, but road is still best for me. I usually have to run in the dark and it's a bit of a safety issue!
I love to run trails, but very carefully as a senior. Trails give me another excuse to take it slow and enjoy the views. I run roads most of the time. My favorite runs are rambles near water.
Spent a number of years running road races and am in the process of switching entirely to trail races. There are non-technical trails, many made up of crushed stone that are easier footing wise. Far as technical trails you do have to be alert footing and surrounding wise. Unlike road races effort replaces pace on the course. If your looking for real challenges the trails often given runners an unforgiven terrain with lots of uphill, downhill, tree roots, water crossing etc. I will admit I could live without the water crossings. Also if running ultra trail races you have all the nutrition and hydration concerns. With road races runners worry about their finishing time, where in trail ultras runners worry about finishing.
Trail running intimidates me. Turn an ankle and I could be done for the season.
I love changing up my road running with trail running! I’m predominantly a road runner and love going by houses and navigating my way through towns and cities, especially when I’m travelling to somewhere new. But I also love getting out into nature and the woods or around a lake.
I would like to do more trail runs, however they seem to involve more safety concerns and are dependent on weather. I ran one trail race, which involved extreme mud after a rain. However slipping and sliding can be fun if the trail is not too precarious.
I like them both the same, but they fulfill different needs. Road running is for convenience and speed drills. Trail running is for chugging along in a peaceful, beautiful, yet challenging woodsy area.
We are lucky to have easy access to great trails and hills where I live and it's not an all day expedition. I do enjoy trail more, but you do need to be 100% engaged the entire time. We did the Ragnar Crystal Mountain Trail Event. Worst and best event EVER! The views and access to the mountain was unbelievable.
I love both. I still enjoy the quintessential road race, but I do lot of my training (especially my easy runs) on trails with my dog. I'm fortunate enough to live where I can leave my house with my dog and be on BLM trails in literally five minutes. She loves to get off her leash to chase rabbits and bark at deer, and I love not having to worry about cars or sidewalks or people.
After years on the road I am planning my first trail race in September. Can anyone provide recommendations on shoes/brands? It's actually a road to trail race so I need the best of both worlds :-)
For shorter/slower runs I prefer trail running. For my longer runs I prefer road running because I can complete them faster than on trails.
I have not tried trail running, but would love to. My biggest issue is that there are none very close to me so daily training would require a drive. Is it possible to do road running during the week and trails on the weekends? Would that be good enough for trail training?
I have never been to this race, but MI has what are called the Hungerford Games. They do a 1/2, Full and 50 miler. They are held in Manistee Natl Forest. I used to mountain bike there when I lived in MI in the ‘90’s. I would love to try one of them sometime!
I think I would love trail running, communing with nature, but, at almost 62 yrs old, and I'm generally alone or with my dogs, street/road running is safer for me to avoid sprained ankles and going down and can't get up/out. Walking/hiking trails...I absolutely love. The scenery has got to be gorgeous! Safety first for this senior runner.
I ran my first trail run Dec. 7 and tripped and fell three times over tree roots! It was still a great run (though I didn’t place) and I’d probably do more trail runs in the future, but I think I prefer road runs! I also was mid-directed by a well-meaning volunteer at what would have been the last mile or so of my race. This added an extra mile to my half which made my over-all pace look really bad!
I love a good road race, but trail running speaks to my soul. Anything that can get me out in nature, I am all about.
I love trail running. I’ve only done one ultra so far, Arches. But during the last few miles I was planning on doing a 50 miler. I love the freedom. I can actually run more days a week on trails. I’m a back of the packer anyway and slower yet on the trails but I feel stronger and have less soreness after being on a trail. I rarely use my earbuds, it’s so peaceful on a trail. Welcome to the club.
I’ve never experienced trail so no opinion on that. It has crossed my mind a few times though that maybe I’d want to transition into that. Is it true that it’s easier on the joints given the type of terrain?
Trail running is my favorite. Outdoors and less pounding of joints.