One of the benefits of trail running is that, compared to road running, the trail offers a greater variation in surfaces so you work your body differently with nearly every footstep.
For the same reason running in different pairs of shoes regularly may decrease overuse injuries, so can trail running – Different shoes, different terrains, etc all load the legs slightly differently. This spreads out the loading and impact forces to a wider range of body structures rather than hitting the same spot over and over again.
However, this is also why new trail runners must transition mindfully!
Just as with new shoes, more speed-work, or more weekly distance, new terrains such as trails or treadmills must be eased into, so should trails.
When coming from almost exclusive road running, the new trail runner would be wise to separate trail runs with road runs as well. This will give the legs opportunity to adapt to the new stresses of the trail, especially technical ones.
The trail requires more stabilization from the ankle all the way up. Steeper climbs may require more upper body strength as you pump your arms. Technical descents require skill and practice to be developed.
Enjoy the trails, pick up a piece of trash when you see it, and dive into nature. But, be mindful when you start as a new trail runner!
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