So, you’re a new runner and want to know whether you should take to the roads, hit the trails or circle the track. If you need help finding your main running focus, we’ve got you covered.
The road is where you’ll see most runners. After all, for most of us, it’s likely easier to access the road than trails or a track—just walk out the door and start running. You can also go much faster on the road than you can on trails, but you still get some changes of scenery, unlike when you stick to the track and see the same stuff every few hundred metres.
Another great benefit to choosing the roads is how often you can race. Whether you live on the West Coast, in the Prairies, in Central Canada or in the Maritimes, racing opportunities are never far away. You can even find road events to enter in the middle of winter if you feel like running a chilly race, whether you’re looking for a 5K, a marathon or something in the middle.
On the trails, you can take in all that nature has to offer. Trees provide much needed shade and protection from the sun on hot days, and the undulating hills that come with the territory of trail running will ensure that you get a good workout. When road running, you might not see a hill for an entire run, but in the forest, you can rarely avoid them.
Trail running also relieves you of the burden of eyeing your pace. Because of the constant climbing and descending on trails, it’s difficult to pinpoint a specific pace that you want to hit. Instead, you can run based on feel. If you feel good, you can pick up the pace. If you’re struggling, you can slow things down and go as quickly as you can in that moment.
If you have a need for speed, then the track is the place for you. The track may not have the best views, but it’s really fun. The short and consistent laps give you the opportunity to push yourself and find your limits. On the track, you can set specific time goals and get constant feedback on your progress.
There’s certainly strategy involved in both trail and road running, but on the track, you have to have a plan going into each race so that you know when to make certain moves, how to get out of sticky situations (like when you’re boxed in by other runners) and how long you’ll wait before going all-in with your finishing kick. Track running is a high-intensity affair, and you’re bound to wind up on the ground gasping for air after your fair share of tough workouts or races. There’s really nothing else like it.
There you have it. Maybe one of those jumped out at you, or maybe each did. There’s no reason you can’t do all of these, and it’s fun to have some variety in your training. That’s the great thing about this sport—if you want, you can do it all.