Running Training Tips

Advantages and Disadvantages of Running on Different Surfaces

Eric Blake, Coach


10 mile Run

There are many advantages to running on different surfaces. Change of running surfaces works different leg muscles which will lead to physical benefits. Different scenery in your running will lead to mental benefits. Here is a list of advantages and disadvantages of some common running surfaces.

Starting with the hardest and moving to the softest running surfaces:

Road (paved or concrete)-
Advantages: Road races are on roads and it is good to get use to running on the surface that you plan to race on. Roads are also convenient to get to which makes them a very popular surface.
Disadvantages: Roads are hard! The impact is harder on your legs which can lead to injuries.

Track (indoor and outdoor)-
Advantages: Surface is made for running fast. If planning to race on the track it is important to do some hard workouts on the track. The track is a nice place to train on because you know exactly how far you are running. Tracks are also free of auto traffic and give runners a safe option. Indoor tracks also get you out of the cold, snow and ice in the winter.
Disadvantages: It can get boring running around in circles.

Dirt Roads-
Advantages: Probably the ideal running surface (That's what makes Craftsbury so good!). Dirt roads are soft enough on your legs but you are able to run a solid pace. You also are less likely to trip or sprain an ankle as if you are on a woods trail. Traffic is also scarce on dirt roads.
Disadvantages: Accessibility. It can be tough to find good dirt roads because more and more are being paved.

Advantages: You know exactly your pace and distance. Treadmills also can get you out of the bad weather in the winter and give a safe option.
Disadvantages: Running on a treadmill is not the same as running outside because it takes less effort. Also, some find treadmills very boring.

Advantages: The scenery or a trail run cannot be beat. Soft surfaces lead and undulating terrain help work muscles that may not be used on the roads. Also, traffic is not a problem.
Disadvantages: Trail running is usually slower and it is tough to know how far you exactly ran. The winter weather can make trail running a nine month season. Your shoes will also take a beating running on trails.

Advantages: Very little impact on your legs because grass is so soft.
Disadvantages: Not easy to find enough grass to run on. Golf courses are good if you don't aggravate the golfers and you don't get hit by a ball. Running around grass fields can get boring. Just like trails, running on the grass is usually slow.

Advantages: Gives your leg muscles a good strength workout.
Disadvantages: Very slow and the beach gets old very quick.

The most important concept is to not run on the same surface everyday. Changing where you run will help strengthen different areas of your legs and can also rejuvenate your running because you are getting a change of scenery. So if you are a road runner go explore some trails or if you like treadmill workouts than go find a track to run on. The change will help you in more than one way.