As some of us start training for the IMTDMM full, the half, or other distances, we must also start to think about where to run. Not just where geographically (we all know our regular running routes can get redundant and boring after awhile) but it is also important to think about which types of surface your feet are hitting with each step taken.
I personally prefer to run on paved surfaces, like sidewalks and roads, but after long training runs, I do try to hit gravel or softer tracks to give my knees a break. I avoid treadmills like the plague but in the winter or if torrential rainfall gets in the way of my training plan, I do occasionally run on treadmills.
I have experienced both pros and cons to most types of running surfaces.
Although my preference because the races I run are usually paved, these can be difficult if all you have to run on are roads. Roads can be very dangerous and even if runners follow the invaluable rule of running on the side of the road INTO traffic so you can see what is coming at you, it still scares the heck out of me when cars don’t get over a little bit for me. I usually end up taking the grass or gravel on the side of the road but then that has risks like tripping and knee injuries from switching surface. Now if you are blessed like me to have a lot of great paved trails or safe sidewalks in your area, then that is wonderful.
placeAlthough definitely easier on the knees, gravel has much more potential for injury from trips or falls. You can also have to deal with skinny roads and when traffic is coming both ways a runner might not have a good place to wait besides untamed weeds on a hill. Dust from passing cars on a dry day can’t be fun when you are soaked with sweat either. Unfortunately for many runners that live in rural areas, gravel can’t really be avoided if you are trying to get a long training run in.
Theses are probably most ideal for sprints or other types of training when you are running intervals. These are generally pretty soft surfaces overall so are likely good on the joints. Downside? Ugh- they are so boring. And if you are like me and enjoy seeing nature and wildlife and outdoors when you run then this is not the ideal surface for you.
Realizing that sometimes I have no choice but to use treadmills, usually due to weather, they are definitely my least favorite surface to run on. I do like that I seem to get more competitive with both myself and the super fast runner a few “dreadmills” away, but they are so boring. I like that I can change the incline and the pace and really monitor my progress and effort but music seems to be the only way to distract you from the fact that you have been running in place for 8 miles. I have never understood how people watch shows on their phones or read while they are on treadmills. I get a headache every time I try!
So what do you think? What surfaces do you like to run on? Comment below!