Some outdoor sports enthusiasts prefer a fast asphalt surface while others like to power out in the great outdoors away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Whether urban running or trail running – on the right trails both versions have a lot to offer.
If you are getting bored with your usual running session, try a little variety. You don’t always have to go to the city park or the same circuit on your doorstep; big cities, as well as small villages, are more varied than you might think.
1. Trail running
Trail running is more than just running through the countryside. Freedom is an aspect that is increasingly becoming the focus, and more and more people are becoming enthusiastic about the somewhat different kind of jogging.
1.1. What is trail running?
Over the past few years, trail running has evolved from hype to mainstream sport. Since 2015, the World Athletics Association has even recognised trail running as a sports discipline in its own right.
But when does running actually count as trail running? As soon as you leave the road, you’re a trail runner. This can be in the park, in woodland, off marked trails or even in alpine terrain. The demands on shoes are very different, but the majority of trail running enthusiasts run on paths that are more or less paved.
1.2. Advantages and disadvantages of trail running
Trail running is extremely varied. You can admire the beautiful surroundings, especially when running on new tracks, and you rarely have the feeling that running is just a training exercise.
Uneven ground requires your muscles to compensate more and also work out your ligaments and tendons. So trail runs are ideal training for improving your balance and your reaction abilities.
But especially for beginners, the stress can turn out to be a disadvantage because the risk of injury on unsafe paths is higher. Your first trail run doesn’t necessarily have to be on extreme terrain.
You always have to be more alert out in open terrain than when jogging on asphalted paths, so some people find it harder to clear their heads. When you live in the city centre, outdoor trail runs are usually limited to weekends because you have to travel there.
1.3. The right gear makes the difference
If you are venturing into open terrain and looking for a real outdoor feeling, you have to have the right gear. Your trail running shoes need significantly more grip and stability than a road running shoe so that you don’t slip or twist too easily on uneven terrain.
A light rain jacket is the perfect solution for a sudden change of weather in the mountains. If your trail run is going to be a longer distance, such as a half or even complete marathon run, think about taking a rucksack, a hydration system and a headlamp, in case it gets a bit dark later.
2. Urban running
Playfully discover the city, encounter new places and friendly people or merely use the early morning hours to go jogging before work – this is what modern urban running looks like.
2.1. What is urban running
You don’t need any open spaces, a forest on your doorstep or a lot of space for running. Running on pavements offers many advantages that you should not overlook.
Urban running takes advantage of the natural physical activity of the oldest sport in the world to explore your own neighbourhood while getting fit or keeping fit at the same time.
2.2. Advantages and disadvantages of urban running
The huge advantage of urban running is its simplicity. Anybody can start right outside their own front door and don’t have to miss out on the outdoor activity at all. You don’t waste any time driving anywhere. Instead, you can concentrate on running so that urban running fits in well with your work life.
It also gives you a completely different perspective on your neighbourhood and the surrounding area by the way.
You will find charming hidden corners that you otherwise may not have seen.
The paved roads can increase the strain on your joints. You may come across traffic lights and traffic that makes it difficult to keep up a fluid running style unless you plan your route very carefully.
Although city air is not as good as the air you experience on trail running, you can still enjoy filling your lungs with deep breaths to get your body into top form.
2.3. The right gear for the urban jungle
As with all outdoor activities, your gear must be tailored to your needs. For hard road surfaces, you need more cushioning, while unnecessary grip in the inner city only slows you down.
Wear loose clothing and, depending on your training and fitness level, compression clothing to counteract the increased strain.
3. General tips for beginners and advanced runners
If you want to try out trail or urban running first, there is not much you need. You can start off with the right shoes. As soon as running has got you under its spell, your gear automatically expands.
Don’t start with tempo runs or long distances straight away; give your body time to get used to the new strain slowly. You practically make training progress on your own doing it that way.
Use the first few minutes of each run to warm up your muscles and limber up. You can still up the pace later.
Be well prepared for outdoor runs. Take a look at the route beforehand, take something to drink with you and set yourself small goals that you can gradually increase. Running will still be fun in the future if you bear this in mind.
An excellent way for beginners to start is running in a group. If you find it hard to get going, find like-minded people and explore the city or the nearest mountain peak together.
4. Open running versus trail running – which one wins?
It’s a mixed result. Better air and less strain on the joints are the clear advantages of trail running. However, it may be difficult for many city dwellers to find the time to travel.
Try both of them out to get a better picture. Everyone finds their own preferred running style or switches shoes every now and again to try a new experience.
And of course, you don’t have to miss out on the terrain in the city either. How about urban trail running? This trend combines urban elements with nature. You can cross roads, sprint through the park and run up and down steps to spice up a leisurely pace.