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marathon, Training

Running on Different Surfaces

By Alix Shutello

There are a few good reasons to run on trails. Here are some of them.

1. Boardwalks – They are fun for many reasons. In Baltimore, you can run by big coast guard ships and have a nice jog past all the Baltimore Harbor attractions. These are your easy days; days when you can relax and enjoy the sites rather than do an intense training run.

2. Wooded Trails – Running on trails offers many benefits – first, they are often shaded, which is good for getting away from the heat.  They are also on dirt, which is good for training. Running on dirt gives your joints a break; but also gives you the challenge of running on surfaces and grade levels that change a lot. Running on trails offers a mental break because you need to concentrate on where you are running as much as what you are running on. Use the time on trails to enjoy a long run. Trails are good for tempo runs and distance training.

3. City Trails – City trails are great for training because miles and half miles are often marked, so if you are looking to do repeat miles or track your pace between mile markers, city trails are great. They are often well-maintained and have good scenery.  The only downside is that you need to watch out for everyone that uses the trails but that is good training for race day.

4. Beaches – If you want a good work out, run on sand. Sand is tricky because it is rare that you find a nice, flat surface along the shoreline. However, running on sand offers many training benefits; the most important being that you are going to use more muscles than normal to stabilize yourself as you run on the sand – especially if the sand is soft. When you chose to run on softer sand you are working harder and the probability of falling is greater because you are fatiguing your muscles and are not running on stable ground. Running on sand is great for shorter runs or doing some wind sprints. It’s also refreshing and different to run on the beach in the morning hours before the sun bathers come out. Just be careful about running in the rain – you are not safe from lightning when you are running on the beach!

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