It's tough to keep dragging yourself to the gym's treadmill when the sun is shining so warmly outside. Before lacing up your sneaks to hit the open road, here are some reasons you might want to spray on a little bug spray and find some woodsy trails instead of pavement.
- Sticks, boulders, and streams: With the unpredictable surface, trail running is like doing a natural obstacle course — you can't just run in a straight line. Varying your steps prevents overuse injury and tones your lower body more effectively, and because you have to stay more alert, it also prevents boredom.
- Shady trees: When it's hot, going outside for a run feels like you're baking in an oven. Tall trees found in the woods make for a cool, shady run that can be 10 or more degrees cooler than the open road. Without your energy feeling zapped from the oppressive heat, you'll be able to cover a longer distance and run more intensely while also preventing heat exhaustion.
- Ahh, the fresh air: When you're huffing and puffing during a run, the last thing you want to do is inhale car fumes. There's no pollution in the woods — all you have to breathe is the fresh oxygen given off by the trees and plants. There's also no noise pollution or the danger of getting hit by a car, so you'll feel less stressed while running in nature.
- Soft earth: Going from the more-forgiving surface of the treadmill belt to the hard, dense pavement can be so jarring on your joints that pain prevents you from being able to run at all. Well-loved trails offer a much softer surface that absorbs shock with each step, which means less impact on your joints.
- Hills: Woodsy trails are often naturally hilly, and although you may loathe inclines, you'll love the way they make you work harder and end up toning your legs, tush, and core, as well as your arms. Stronger muscles not only make you feel more confident in your bathing suit, but they'll also help you build speed and endurance.