importance of running on soft surfaces 5


~600 lbs. per footstrike, yikes, that’s a lot of load.

Running can be a fun sport, be let’s be frank its hard on the legs, the pounding which can place around 600 lbs. of load for each foot strike  is not the most pleasant experience. While a running is a  natural part of the human gait, it  can break down our legs pretty hard when we run very frequently and very long and especially on very hard surfaces such as concrete and asphalt.

One way to minimize this effect is by running on softer surfaces, such as grass, sand, wood chips, gravel, soft tracks and any other ground that has some “give”. When we can strike a soft surface some of that energy is dissipated into the ground and not into our joints and ligaments, this is a good thing.

I think the point of running on soft-surfaces really hit home when I was recently listened to a Competitor Podcast with Alberto Salazar   . Alberto Salazar is a legend in distance running for winning the NYC marathon (Among others) and now being an elite coach,. he coaches 8 elite runners including 2012 Olympics medalists Mo Farrer and Galen Rupp . During the podcast he noted that he strictly forbids his runners, from road running during training , and exclusively has them train on soft surface. During part of the podcast he indicates that this is a standard training procedure for all elite distance runners. In an interesting anecdote he mentioned that elite African runners when they are traveling will often find a small grass fields or soft trails and then just run in circles or short loops, instead of having to run on the road.  So its such an important part of training not to run on hard surfaces and “deaden the legs” , that its something we should all do elite or not.

Running on softer surfaces like rubberized tracks

Running on softer surfaces like rubberized tracks

So my revised training this time is to really seek out soft trails and tracks. Luckily for me I’m a mile away from a wonderful park that has a few soft trail surfaces and also a couple of rubberized tracks are nearby, outside of that its mostly a hard surfaces, that I’ll wait to stay away from.



5 thoughts on “importance of running on soft surfaces

  1. Reply ChristineN Feb 25,2013 2:45 pm

    treadmill does not use the same muscles as normal street/road running, and so the sooner you take the plunge the better.

    • Reply AndyW Feb 28,2013 3:56 am

      Member of a gym then by all means use the treadmill to gain some experience of running.
      BUT treadmills are no substitute for getting outside, so do this when you are feeling more confident.
      Put it on a 1 degree incline and away you go, also treadmills are generally a bit gentler on the legs.

  2. Reply wannabeKip Mar 2,2013 6:33 pm

    I agree, African runners probably have limited roads but plenty of trails..

  3. Reply RyanHallClone Feb 26,2013 4:09 am

    Absolutely agree – makes a huge difference especially on your joints!

  4. Reply JanetRunner Feb 25,2013 8:13 am

    Yes, I noticed a big difference in stiffness and injuries once switching to soft surfaces. I’m almost never injured now, and when I am, it’s usually something minor that requires only a day or two off. . I used to be injured all the time when I ran on concrete.

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