The benefits of changing up your running route

running on the beach

The UK is picking up the pace when it comes to running and jogging. According to statistics, 10.5 million of us have taken to running as our go-to exercise method. Getting healthy and getting outside more is a great thing to be doing for sure, but there’s no reason to just keep jogging around the same streets or on the less-than-exciting treadmill.

Play bark supplier Compost Direct has taken a closer look at the ground beneath our feet to find out how different terrains can impact your running routine.

Speeding over the sand

When you were younger, did you love darting across the sand to get right to the waves? Waiting for your parents to finish setting up the parasol and towels so one of them could come with you to splash in the sea, it’s no wonder many of us took off running through the sand to get into the cool water as soon as possible!

Do you remember the effort it took to run on sand? It’s certainly difficult to say the least. And you can channel that added difficulty into your running training. Running on sand can 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.

Don’t try to run full-pelt on sand right from the start though – add sand-running to your regime gradually or risk an Achilles tendon injury.

A greener route

Curb the impact on your joints by running on grass sometimes. 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. 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.

Just like with beach-running, newcomers should take it slow to start with. 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.

Take a run in the snow

Winter is no time to hibernate for runners. The snow is just another terrain to change up your training, and when approached carefully, it can offer great benefits. Plus, 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 prepared for any eventuality.

The cold weather will slow your pace, but that’s a good thing here. 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, 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.

A good old forest run

Running through a forest or wood is so invigorating. 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.

Being among the trees and nature is said to bring health benefits too. 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 not surprising 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!

Which of these different running paths appeals to you most? Do you fancy a sun-bathed beach run, or a nature-empowered sprint through the forest?

One comment

  • after a few runs on holiday I am now deciding to change up my running routes. I love the feeling of every run being an adventure. Hopefully the sense of adventure will help me all the way through my Brighton Marathon training.

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