Whether you’re a dedicated runner or considering starting from scratch, you’ve likely weighed up the benefits of hitting the treadmill at the gym or taking to the outdoors.
As trail running gains popularity, with Google searches of the term rising, a recent survey of runners has revealed that 88 per cent agree that the practice improves their mental as well as physical health, and helps to combat negative emotions.
A further 40 per cent said trail running was a form of therapy for them.
Trail running involves participants running over grass, woodland, beaches or any other natural outdoor environment. All forms of running are proven to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke, according to the NHS.
Health psychologist and Manchester Metropolitan University lecturer Dr Eric Brymer is researching how engaging with the natural environment during exercise can have health benefits.
He said: “There’s a growing body of research on ‘green exercise’ that shows the simple pleasure of connecting to the natural world can put you in an optimal frame of mind and reduce the risk of poor mental health.”
10 best outdoor running shoes
10 best outdoor running shoes
1/10 Salomon X-Scream
“Both lightweight and versatile, this is an ideal choice for urban runners whose routes might include parks or canal towpaths,” says Sarah. They have the cushioning and ride that you need for pavement, plus the protection and grip for rougher surfaces. £95, salomon.com
2/10 Inov-8 X Talon
“The aggressive grip mean these are an amazing off-trail running shoe. Particularly the really muddy trails, which makes them perfect for obstacle course running,” says Sarah, who advises getting shoes fitted at a specialist running shop. £84.95, wiggle.co.uk
3/10 Brooks Cascadia
Engineered to adapt to the surface and your foot, these from the US brand are Sarah’s personal favourites. “They are a hybrid shoe with a balanced blend of grip and cushioning, making them ideal for country running with sections of road, trails and fields. £105, b2b.brooksrunning.eu
4/10 Mizuno Wave Sayonara
“New from Mizuno, these high-performance lightweight shoes are ideal for the PB chaser and 10km runner,” says Sarah. Featuring the new U4iC midsole which delivers a good cushioning to weight ratio for road runners, they’ll keep feet stable and lightly cushioned. £89.95, runninghome.co.uk
5/10 Adidas Energy Boost 2
This is an excellent all-rounder for roadrunners. “The high-tech new midsole and lightweight feel makes them really comfortable – soft and bouncy but not over-cushioned.” They’re flexible but will keep feet stable. £115, adidas.co.uk
6/10 Brooks Adrenalin GTS 14
A stability shoe that will help correct overpronation - when the foot rolls in excessively - while offering support and cushioning in the right places. These are super-comfy on road or trail – even on those longer marathon training outings you’ll forget you’re wearing them. £94.99, Surfdome.com
7/10 Asics GEL-FUJI TRABUCO 2 GTX
These are a long standing off-road favourite. The latest edition, which is a great all-round trail shoe, will give you a smooth, stable run on rugged surfaces. The outsole is seriously robust and will give you traction on rough and steep terrain. A pair for hill-runners. £88, barringtonsports.com
8/10 New Balance 1260v3
If you have a tendency to overpronate when you run, these could be the pair for you. They’re cushioned but lightweight and the foot’s kept close to the ground without sacrificing stability. Wear them on or off road. From £99, newbalance.co.uk
9/10 PUMA Faas 600 S Glow
You’ll stand out in these lightweight, minimalist-looking shoes with some inbuilt pronation support. They make a good everyday running shoe for pavement pounders. Evening runners take note: they glow to keep you safe in the dark. £53.99, prodirectrunning.com
10/10 On Cloudrunners
These award-winning shoes are designed to make light of concrete – absorbing heavy impact, while providing stability. A good pair to consider if you’re tackling longer endurance runs. £125, on-running.com
A survey of 4,904 runners by retailer SportsShoes.com also found that runners in the gym were more likely to not exercise, citing reasons including being “too tired” and lacking motivation.
However, almost a third of trail runners reported that they felt there were no barriers to exercise, suggesting that it is easier to stick at trail running once you get started. Interestingly, the same number of treadmill runners and trail runners said bad weather was their barrier to exercise.
And those who are put off by the wintry weather shouldn’t ignore their other options, Hayley Madigan, a personal trainer and professional athlete with the Worlds Natural Bodybuilding Federation (WNBF) told The Independent.
She advises working out at lunch time; trying short High Intesnity Training Workouts; going to the gym with a friend; and trying different activities to stay fit during the winter.Reuse content