why trail running is important to your 2021 fitness goals

We all know running is good for us. It improves the way we feel and look. Our hearts get stronger, our mind clearer, and it’s great for weight control.

Its benefits, however, go far beyond the obvious.

If you haven’t discovered the magic of trail running, 2021 may be the best year to start. Mia Goslett, Brand Manager for Saucony, says that sales of trail running shoes have grown dramatically over the past year.

“Running, in general, has grown in popularity with the closure of gyms. We are also seeing road runners moving over to trails more than ever before,” she says.

Numerous studies have shown that running increases lifespan

A 2018 meta-analysis of research on running and longevity found that runners have about a 25 to 30% lower rate of all-cause mortality on follow-up than non runners. It concluded: “Any amount of running, even once a week, is better than no running.”

We’ve all been spending less time working out indoors due to the pandemic, and this has seen many of us choose to exercise outside, rather than in the gym or the studio. Luckily, with South Africa’s temperate climate, working up a sweat in the great outdoors is available all year round.

Trail running is a great option to get you off of the beaten track, far away from busy streets, traffic, exhaust fumes and other people.

It’s about the journey, not the outcome.

Unlike road running where most runners want to stick to a 5km loop, or a 21km distance, for example, trail running is not at all about the end result. It’s not about time constraints and being dictated to by a device on your wrist.

It’s about getting from A to B in a way that takes you to beautiful places with incredible views, pristine nature and fresh air.

Writer Laura Miller especially enjoys the variety of trail running: “The thrill of the downhill, the burn of the uphill, skipping over a root or ducking under a branch… this change of pace makes the time just fly by”.

Fewer injuries, more calorie burning

Trail runners are less prone to repetitive injuries as the variety of the terrain means that you’re always changing your pace and how your body and feet respond to it. Over time, your balance improves, and your ankles adjust and strengthen.

Mia also says that “trail running burns more calories than road running and the enjoyment one gets from the adventure in nature boosts the runner’s high significantly”.

A safe way to socialise

Laura enjoys how independent you can be with trail running, bringing your own refreshments along and only having to rely on yourself and your team. “I find it a great way to bond with friends or family, while we commune with nature.”

Goslett comments that “it’s a social sport but allows one to social distance while still being amongst friends”.

All in all, it seems that 2021 is as good a time as any to lace up your tackies, pack your water and snacks and hit the trails. Your health will thank you for it.

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