Run Surface Choices and Why They Matter
Run Surface Choices
When I do my long runs, one of the things I think about a lot is choice of surface. This can set you up for success or injury depending on if your choices are right, at the right time. Let’s look at the different options and some things to watch for. If you ever run with me, you’ll notice I move around a lot based on road surface or cambers in roads.
Cambers-Watch for these. They can cause all kinds of injuries. It doesn’t seem like much, but running on a road with a slant for a long time or repeatedly day after day can add up and cause all kinds of injuries.
Even Footing -This is another culprit for a lot of unnecessary injury. Snow packed roads, deep dirt, anything that can cause a lot of slipping, sliding or super uneven footing is likely going to lead to some unwanted injuries over time.
Believe it or not, different surfaces are harder than others. The obvious, nice packed dirt is going to be easiest and kindest on your body. Aspault roads are always going to be better than concrete. I will literally run in the bike lane along a road to avoid concrete sidewalks. Concrete is going to be the hardest on your body.
As you get closer to your race, you do need some specific long running on the same surface you’ll race on. If you are headed to a race where you know it is going to be on concrete for a lot of the run, you want to be sure your body is ready to handle that kind of surface.
Treadmills are useful tools, but if you never hit the road, it’s likely you’ll seize up on the course because your body isn’t ready for the impact of the road. The same idea applies if you ONLY ever run on dirt and then your race is on road; it’s likely you’ll feel that at some point in your race. Do some race surface specific running in your key preparation period.
I do recommend the dirt, flat, even roads for most of your training to help the impact on your day-to-day recovery from the run miles, but be sure you do some key runs on the same surface you’ll race on to be ready for it.
These choices can make a big difference in your race outcome. Be mindful of your choices and give yourself the best chance to execute that run form you’ve built come race day.