For a long time I was the anti-distance running guy. If you didn’t run long distance as a sport you didn’t need to do it. A few things helped me realise that I was being closed minded in my thinking
· Going running and sucking at it
· Reading born to run by Christopher McDougal
· Reading articles by Alex Viada of Hybrid athlete
· The ever present threat of the zombie apocalypse and our need for cardio to survive
I will say distance running is not for everybody and I still think it’s not necessary for sport conditioning, but I don’t think it is bad. I still think road running sucks though. The distance running I’m talking about is Trail running and it is awesome in my opinion. Here are the reasons why I think it’s awesome.
1. Getting into nature
2. Fresh air
Less exhaust fumes are always a win
3. Varied terrain
When you run out in the mountains or forests, the ground is not flat and even. There are rocks, logs, lizards, etc. to run over or dodge. Most surfaces we interact with are uniform. A road has the same camber, tracks are flat and smooth and most soccer/rugby fields are the same. Trails gives us a lot of proprioceptive input. This is the sense of position of the neighbouring parts of the body and the strength of the effort being put out. We have to adjust to running on uneven and changing surfaces. Which improves our joint proprioception and strengthens them to handle the varied and unconventional terrain
4. Moving meditation
It can be a way of clearing you mind, you can work through thoughts or just empty your mind and focus on the present moment. Day to day we have so much to focus on and things to do. When you are running out in nature, you can’t help but be captivated by the surroundings and also you don’t want to fall over a rock so your focus is in the present. I’ve also noticed that I get a lot of new ideas or a new perspective on something during or after a run. Here’s a guide to how to turn your run into a more meditative practice.
5. Getting out of your comfort zone
This is the most important one to me. Anyone who know me knows I’m not a cardio machine, I love anything that is explosive and fast. Power movements is where it’s at for me. To say I find running up a mountain difficult is an understatement, but THE DIFFICULT THINGS MAKE US BETTER. The urge to stop running and walk is strong when your lungs are burning, but there’s something extra special about being at the top of a trail hyperventilating like crazy looking down at what you just conquered. Victory builds momentum in life and we can engineer it through training.
Like I said before Trail running is not for everybody. The joy is that it is scalable you can go for a walk and enjoy most of the benefits listed. If you can only walk then walk. If you hate jogging, why not sprint and walk to recover between sprints. If you can get out in nature you should! If you want more post about what to do to improve you running or what you need to do to run well and pain free. Let us know in the comments.