Advice and Benefits of Running Off-Road

Off-Road Running (2002) by Sarah Rowell


Running off-road

  • strengthens bones and joints by forcing the body to adjust to ever-changing conditions;
  • prevents physical staleness, psychological boredom and overtraining by giving runners variety in training workouts;
  • offers freedom to explore and enjoy less inhabited and less polluted environments.

Trail and fell running in particular covers traversing terrain such as mountains, hills and moors. Rowell urges runners to be sensible to minimise risks and to respect the countryside. This means runners should follow a progressive plan and start by alternating running with walking to familiarise with landscape.


For off-road runners the pelvis and ankles are the most important platforms, because stability is the ability to control the whole range of motion of the joints.

Plyometric exercises such as hopping, small jumps (including sideways) and quick foot movements. The aim is to maintain a higher knee lift and bouncier stride, ideal for running on uneven surfaces.

Running Research

Rowell also relays fascinating and useful scientific evidence.

  • 70-80% of endurance adaptation and performance is genetically determined.
  • The thinnest runners have an abundance of fat stores, energy equivalent to running over 1,000 marathons.
  • The reason runners suffer from stomach problems after eating soon before a run is more blood moves from the digestive system to the muscles compared to at rest.

Off-Road Running

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