Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Benefits of Varying Terrain

It's Wednesday!  Time for the WorkOut Wednesday linkup (#wowlinkup) with Femme Fitale Fit ClubThe Frugal ExerciserEat Hard Work Hard,  Comeback Momma and Mean, Green, Clean Eating Teen!  Each week a group of bloggers link up at the hosts' sites to bring you all kinds of posts about fitness.  Check it out!

Good old Suburbia

Back when I lived in suburbia, I ran pretty much the same route.  I knew where to turn to make it 1 or 2 miles longer, but the main loop was always the same.  I had some hills but it was all pavement.  These days, I'm dealing with more inclines and varied textures of surface.  I'm finally getting more used to it.  Translation:  I can actually move the day after a run, I'm not gasping for air after a couple of miles, and my time is getting a little faster. Although I'm trying not to put too much emphasis on pace (which is good because these streets are very humbling), I know this is overall good for my running and I'm embracing it.  Here are my reasons why I'm making it a point to take advantage of the various paths laid out before me:


1) Improved Strength. Whether it's sand, grass, stairs, or hills, anything besides flat asphalt is harder to run on.  If you spend just a few minutes of your run on grass, you're getting a little strength training done for your legs.  You'll also work different muscles, which leads me to #2.



2) Injury Prevention.  If you are running the same route, you are using the same muscles over and over again.  As a result, some muscles are remaining weak, causing muscle imbalance and ultimately injury.  By switching up your terrain, you will strengthen muscles you don't normally use.  When I run hills, my hamstrings and butt are more sore.  When I run on grass, my hips are less sore.  It's all good.    



3) Proper Running Technique.  When I run on grass or even a more slippery surface like smooth tile, I'm lighter on my feet.  I usually take smaller steps at a faster cadence - which is actually better running form!   



4) Mental Break.  Searching for different terrain will take you to new places and we could all use a mental break like that once in awhile!  It's good for us to see new places and take in our surroundings, instead of looking down at our Garmins all the time.  



And because I never miss an opportunity to relate running to life. . . 


A sample of what my feet hit on my runs.

Our path in life will have varied terrain.  Sometimes it's smooth, flat road.  Other times are quite bumpy.  And some days you feel like you might never get up that hill.  But trust that somehow this point in your path is making you stronger - if you take the time to accept that.  There is something beautiful and beneficial at every point in our path.  And if you can't see it now, trust that you will be able to look back on it one day and see it.



What about you?  Do you get a chance to run on anything but pavement?

Don't forget to check in with the rest of the #wowlinkup!  Thanks for reading!

Until next time,
Michele

28 comments:

  1. I just ran on pavement yesterday on a hilly route I haven't run in a few months. Up to now I have been running and sprinting on flat surfaces in the gym at boot camp. I did a trail race once and honestly hated it. It was at a vineyard and the uneven terrain bothered my ankles. There were even gopher holes out there and I was worried about accidentally stepping in one. NOW with that said - the view was gorgeous! We had a stream and I did stop to take pictures because it was so nice but I told myself never again. LOL. I have friends who swear by trail running. I actually like running on the grass though. Great article - I should perhaps consider different ground textures and incorporate more of that in my running to build different muscles, stamina and strength. #wowlinkup

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    1. Thanks Diatta. Trail running is a little scary. Some friends recently did a Ragnar where it was all trails. Since it was rainy and muddy, their shoes came off - in the mud! I don't recommend changing up surfaces to that degree ;-)

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  2. Love the photo relating running terrain to live. Nice job!! Clever too. #wowlinkup

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  3. I used to be a "hill avoider" so I would stick to pretty much the same path each time I ran as well. Since the marathon I am training for is notoriously hilly I have been trying to vary my routes a little and go where I don't know the elevation (that way I can't chicken out and avoid it)

    I also tried (and loved) trail running earlier this summer...I love the varied terrain there, but I am a total klutz so while I am training for my marathon I am avoiding the trails and injury! #wowlinkup

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    1. Yep, I used to hate hills. I have a better relationship with them now ;) Trails can be tricky, you really have to watch your step!

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  4. Hills are an absolute killer--but they're great if you want to improve and boost your metabolism. It kills two birds at once--cardio and strength training!

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    1. Exactly Linda, I like the way you think!

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  5. Interesting post! The last time I tried to run my regular pace/distance on a trail that was unstable I really hurt my shins. I am afraid to do it again. It was muddy and like running in sand.

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    1. Trail running is a different beast that is for sure. I don't blame you for being hesitant!

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  6. Interesting ideas! Last time I tried to do my usual pace/distance on an unstable terrain, I really hurt my shins. I'm kind of afraid to do it again. It was like running in quicksand

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  7. I love the way you related that back to life in general :) I never set out to find different terrain (in fact I wanted to avoid it because I thought it would be too difficult) but I've ended up running on trails with varied terrain a couple times when I was on vacation and actually really enjoyed it. It was a challenge but it was also a lot of fun. And the training group I'm currently with tries to alternate long runs between paved paths and dirt/gravel so I get some variety with them too.

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    1. Oh gravel is tough! During one of my races there was a gravel path we had to run on twice during a 6 mile loop, I was so mad lol! It's great for you though- you will build strength for sure!

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  8. I love that there are benefits to varying surfaces. I run. Majority on trails and very little on the pavement but wish I had a nice safe route that was all pavement.

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    1. You are lucky and in the minority - most people don't have access to trails. That's great!

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  9. I try to get in grass for a different terrain ... but watch my footing, I trip easily on it.

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    1. Yes, same here. But it's a good mental break :)

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  10. Good running and life advice as always Michele! #wowlinkup

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  11. yeah I'm pretty lucky. My running group schedules runs of different lengths and different terrains. It's how I found my love of trail running.

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    1. That's awesome Katie, you are lucky to have such a great group!

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  12. I love the mental break different terrains give. If I did all my runs on concrete or a treadmill or a trail I'd go crazy!

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    1. Yep same here! Although one treadmill run is enough to make me crazy :)

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  13. I mostly run on a paved trail but I also have a small woodchip trail I love to run. Its set a little ways of the main trail and there is hardly ever anyone on the trail. I love the alone time and it makes me feel as though I am away from the hurried life of the city.

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    1. That wood chip trail sounds great - very serene!

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  14. What a lovely analogy. I mostly run on pavement.

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  15. If I run/walk, it is on a track or the treadmill. My running on hard surface areas is long gone because of the tendency of plantar f that comes back when I don't run on pliable surfaces. #wowlinkup

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