Everyone has a very strong opinion on which surface is the ideal to run on. We often hear beginners ask us ‘Grass or asphalt?’. As a rule, mixing up your training regime gives you new challenges to overcome and strengthens different muscles in your body. Keeping this in mind, it’s important to mix up your running surfaces as well. If experienced runners stick to just one training regimen then it can start to get tiresome for them and eventually affect their performance.

One of the advantages of mixing up your running regime helps with reducing injury. If you stick to just one running surface, it can overwork a certain muscle group thereby leading to injuries. Muscles tend to grow weary if you keep running the same distance, time and surface. Mixing up your running surfaces works different muscle groups, pushes your body and improves strength.

Soft surface like the beach is a great way to attempt barefoot running (Image: Mike Baird)
Soft surface like the beach is a great way to attempt barefoot running (Image: Mike Baird)

Here’s how you can mix up your running surfaces:

Road Running
Wear ultra lightweight shoes and run faster on shorter distance on smooth surfaces such as roads and/or sidewalks. Alternatively, you could run longer on roads by changing your gear (more cushioned shoes). This mixes up training on just a single surface

Trail running
The most demanding of surfaces. Find a hill and run hard. Make sure you follow our tips and advice for trail-running, and if you think running in the wild can be dreary, here’s why you could fall in love with it.

(Image: Steve Bonini)
Explore the city roads (Image: Steve Bonini)

Natural running
Take away all the cushioning and run like how our ancestors did on a soft surface such as grass lawns and/or a beach. But remember, running barefoot or using minimalist shoes also have their unique challenges.

Once you mix up these surfaces and train well, you will notice a fair change in your speed, your stamina and your muscles’ ability to adapt. It’s also a great way to shake off some of that monotony from your runs. Whether you run for passion or competition, mixing up your surfaces (along with appropriate shoes, of course) is a sure-shot way of becoming a better runner.

So lace up and get running!

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