Yes, yes, and yes!!!!! Although coaches (myself included!) rightly bang on about how your training needs to be specific to your race, there are still valid reasons for you to run on the road! Trails are specific to your race and much more enjoyable (most of the time!) than the road, I totally agree. However sometimes there can be too much of a good thing!
Trails make you strong but can slow you down
Trails can cause you to run slower; as we all know it is virtually impossible to maintain the same speed per kilometre on the trail as on the road. And those hills were made for walking!!
Running on the road is great for keeping your cadence and leg speed up. It is important to work on these components. Many trail races have flat or undulating sections that can make or break your race. You may need to run fast to get past someone whilst trying to appear like you’re in control (even if you feel like you’re about to blow a gasket!!!! You can do that around the next corner!)
It is just good to have an extra gear to access if you need to. Anything that adds to your repertoire is important!
Variety is the spice of life
Running only on the one type of surface can lead to injuries. Teaching your body to run in different ways can only be of benefit. Also, you will naturally wear different shoes to run on different terrains. I believe in running in a variety of shoes; different models and different brands. I am sponsored by La Sportiva so run in those on the trails, but I’m always changing the model. On the roads I run in anything from Saucony, to Hoka’s to Altra’s. That’s a diverse range! Running in different environments also keeps the monotony at bay. The mental variety is important too. I have trained for road marathons and still incorporated a long trail run every week. Running on just the road or just the trail can lead to mental fatigue. It is good give yourself different scenery to look at and different things to focus on. As much as I love the trails, sometimes I just crave a nice easy flat run where I don’t have to concentrate on every footfall. Because believe me, I fall. A lot. Ask my friends.
It can be a hassle to get to the trails
Not all of us live at the trail head or are lucky enough like me to be a quick 3k bimble to the trails, so getting to the trails usually involves driving. Sometimes it’s nice to just be able to run out the door. No stress, no commute, just run. This is especially important if you are running early in the morning before work. Driving to the trail just takes away from the time you could be running or sleeping.
Some people prefer the well-lit streets to run on. If you run the trails in the early mornings before work, or in the evenings, you may need a head torch. This can be just another thing you need to buy, or organise. For simplicity, running on the roads can be beneficial.
Roads keep your effort consistent
On the trails there can be a lot of variables to consider; mud, sand, obstacles, slippery roots, and so on. Steep hills and sharp descents are also part of the mix. All of these mean it is very difficult to keep your effort at a consistent level. Training on the road means you can sustain a certain level of exertion for a definite period of time. This is particularly useful for tempo runs and long intervals.
Can you think of anymore reasons? Comment below!
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