Trail Running vs Road Running

Trail Running vs Road Running

So in the epic battle of trail running vs road running…which is better? 

Hint, they are both running and both equally as good.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll notice that a lot of my runs have been on trails since moving to California. It isn’t that I avoided trails when living in New Jersey, but finding trails that were easily accessible and more than a few miles long was difficult and could require at least an hour drive. Now, in California, I can access trails from my house or a five-minute drive.

Trail Running vs Road Running

Since I’ve run on a combination of both trails and roads, a few people have asked:

(Keep in mind, I am still new to logging a lot of miles on the trails. There are many people much wiser than me)

How Can Trail Running Benefit Road Running?

  • Trail running improves overall balance
  • Builds strength and core
  • Reduces the risk of overuse injuries due to using different muscles
  • Keeps running different. You aren’t running the same thing day in and day out. The pace is different. The scenery is different.

What people don’t realize is there are many different types of trails. East coast trails are often rocky and require more scrambling, whereas many west coast trails are easily runnable for the entire time. I prefer being able to run as much as possible and not worrying about hiking.

How Can You Start Trail Running?

It is really easy. You just go. You don’t have to worry about if “you fit in” or do you look like you belong. No one cares. Like anything practice makes perfect.

How Can You Find Trails to Run On?

I like to use alltrails or ask around to see if there are runnable trails. You can also use Strava to find routes. Social media has made it easy to find a new spot to run.

What Kind of Running Should Should You Wear Trail Running?

While you can use your regular road running shoes for trail running, you should get a trail shoe if you find yourself more serious on the trails. Trail shoes have more traction, often are more rigid, and prevent debris from getting in shoes. There is no best trail shoe and only what feels good to you. Depending on where you live, many local running stores have options for you to try on. You can read more about running shoes in my running shoe ebook.

So Which is Better in the Battle of Trail Running Vs Road Running?

Like anything, running on trails takes practice. You might trip and fall a few times (I certainly have). You might fall in love with climbing thousands of feet in a single run. You might hate it! The beauty of running is there are so many ways to get out there from road running to trail running to running on the track or a treadmill. The key is doing what works best for you.

Questions for you:

Where have you been running lately?

Do you like running on trails? 


  1. During the week on the roads and on the weekends on the trails. It is a great compliment but I think the most important thing I’ve learned from trail running is to not be obsessive with mile splits. One mile on a trail may take 9:00 and the next one may take 20:00 because of the climbing. Starting at your watch isn’t going to make you go any faster, so when I am running on the road I don’t pay much attention to my mile splits and just run.

    1. Yes, I completely agree! Some days on the trails my pace ranges from 9-15 minutes!

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