HIT THE TRAIL
Pounding pavement is dead. This is the era of the off-road runner – whether that’s hitting a trail 10K, prepping for obstacle race season, or just heading out in search of adventure. Grab your shoes and get ready to off-road
Whether you’re a gym bro, pavement pounder or dedicated couch surfer, you owe it to yourself to embrace the great outdoors. And not just in some hippy-dippy, back-to-Mother-Nature sense either. In a 2015 study, Stanford University researchers found that volunteers who exercised in a natural setting - as opposed to an urban one – not only reported decreased anxiety and depressive thoughts, but actually showed decreased neural activity in areas of the brain associated by mental illness. Researchers theorise that natural settings feel less threatening and turn off our evolved stress response, but there might be more to it than that. “The ground beneath your feet demands 100% of your attention,” says running coach George Anderson. “It’s the perfect mindfulness practice. Every step needs careful consideration.” And, of course, your body will also reap the benefits, adjusting to the demands for core and hip stabilisation that come from running on uneven terrain.
In short: it’s the season to hit the trail. But don’t just throw on your most beaten-up trainers and head out to the nearest wilderness – that’s the path to injury. We’ve assembled an everyman’s guide to getting outside your comfort zone, from taking your first (tiny) steps to competing in your first race. Thank us when you’re breathing that sweet, oxygenated air.