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All you Need to Know About Running on Varied Surfaces

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Like most activities, repetition can become boring after a while, so it is always good to find new ways to renew your routine. You can get a new pair of running shoes, or you also can try changing your running music. those are just a couple of adjustments that may be helpful. Also, trying out different surfaces is great way to add a little more variation to your running. In the other words, it’s a way to break up the monotony, as well as mastering some new types of terrain. Changing your program not only helps mentally, but it is also good for your body. It is also to introduce new running methods, which is important for improving your performance.

Different running surfaces can impact the body and feet in different ways. Each of them requires different postures and positions to avoid causing different problems for your feet. Therefore, Runners need to change their style and energy output to match the different environments.

Running on soft surfaces

If you find yourself becoming tired of running on hard surfaces such, such as pavement, you can try running on surfaces such as grass, dirt, or even sand. Running once or twice a week on nature trails or other similar surfaces can help reduce the stress of impact on your legs, which is often caused by hard surfaces, and minimizes injury risks.


According to research in the Journal of Sports Sciences, running on grass reduces 17 % less pressure on your feet in comparison to running on concrete or asphalt. It’s rated as one of the best surfaces for running, especially for those who already have impact related injuries. However, when running on grass, you should be careful with hidden holes, rocks, sticks. And also, watch out for other obstacles, like dogs, pedestrians, or other distractions.

Running on Varied Surfaces - grass

However, while you  enjoy the fresh air, don’t forget that you have to remain aware to avoid falling, slipping on wet grass and especially twisting an ankle. Because Grass, dirt and sand surfaces often offer uneven surfaces, this requires the runner to engage the full range of muscles, tendons and joints for a more comprehensive and challenging training session.


Besides being one of the most relaxing ways to run, the unstable surface of the beach helps enhance normally unused muscles in your legs, feet, hips, and also core. This is a surface that you can run on with a lower risk of impact injuries because of its softness. However, if you have an existing injury or limited flexibility in your ankles, you should avoid running on sand because it tends to put an increased strain on your calves and lower legs. You should try running on wet and packed sand first for a sturdier running surface before moving to the softer, looser sand.


In addition, the softer surface found on gravel roads and trails can also help you reduce impact stress, allowing for faster recovery from your workouts. Additionally, running the trails helps you engage more stabilizer muscles which you might not be normally used when running on roads or paved surfaces. Although trail running presents a nice change of atmosphere, the rocks, roots and other debris found on most trails requires some attention in order to avoid falls and maintain balance and control.

Running on hard surfaces                                                                             

Concrete sidewalks, tarmac, hard rubber tracks, treadmills, asphalt and pavement are popular Man-made surfaces which are often chosen by many runners, especially those who want to conquer difficult challenges.


Concrete is considered as the most difficult surface for most runners. If runners want to run on the concrete, they should make sure that they have the maximum level of support and cushioning in their running shoes in order to avoid landing with too much force. Forceful landings on concrete can sometimes be enough to break blood cells, reducing the amount of oxygen which the blood provides to the organs. Furthermore, runners have an easier chance of shin splints, because of the hardness of this surface.


Although asphalt is hard surface, when it is freshly laid, this surface can often provide runners a smooth run. However, after a while these surfaces become worn, developing cracks, uneven spots or even potholes, often presenting some dangerous surprises. Therefore, you should avoid these more damaged and worn down areas. Despite less risk than concrete, asphalt can still cause stress fractures and aggravate knees as well. Another risk when running on the asphalt is traffic and the fumes from passing vehicles.

Man made surfaces such as Tarmac and rubber are rated highly as they are often less taxing to joints.


Treadmills are a great way to run if you already have injuries or simply require a less stressful running experience. And because the treadmill helps pull you a little when you run, you may also find that it’s easier to run longer distances. However, if you are training for a race, you need to get familiar with the surface irregularities of road running beforehand!

Why would I want to alternate between surfaces? Every surface, soft or hard, brings different types of impact to a runner’s muscles legs and feet. And, often long races tend to take runners over different surfaces, therefore training for those different surfaces helps the body to adapt and avoid injuries by getting familiar to movement on various surfaces. Broaden your abilities and challenge yourself with new environments and different terrain.

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