Off road Vs On Road

Does anyone run both during their 9 weeks ? If so did you notice a difference in your ability to run further on one compared to the other ? The first 6 weeks I have run on a 1 mile country / woodland track and got to where I am now ( wk 6 run2 ) but as a trial i tried running ( yesterday ) on pavement and a: found it harder to keep my pace down & b: got out of breath quicker therefore only did about 4 mins before I felt "shot" .. is it all in my head ??

18 Replies

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  • I generally run on narrow country lanes so that's what my legs are used to but whilst I was in France I began to run on softer tracks and they were definitely 'bouncier'!

    Last time out, now I'm back home, I thought I'd run down the middle of the narrow country lane where there's more loose stuff and that seemed less hard - 'softer' would be overstating it though!

    Many moons ago, when I tried this lark before, I was told that pavements are harder than roads and will shake your legs up more. Its not always possible to run on the road but they are also reckoned to be flatter - less driveways and lifting paving stones etc - I believe.

    As for speed, I'm so slow neither surface makes any difference to me as far as I know.

  • Thank you for your reply :)

  • Yes the gritty paths in france are nice for running :)

  • No no no! I can't stand those! I love a nice flat pavement!

  • I always find different surfaces affect how easy running feels. My normal run covers a varriety of surfaces including tarmac, dried mud, grit over dried mud, concrete, closely trimmed grass.

    Of all of those, I find concrete the most tiring (it's the hardest surface), then tarmac (more resilient than concrete) then the mud and grit paths, the close cropped grass is the easiest.

    Thankfully the large cobbles are a very short slope on my run. They require effort from my ankles to keep upright :)

    So yes, surfaces do make a difference :)

  • Thanks for that :)

  • I did C25K as rehab for a badly sprained ankle and my physio advised off road all the way. The idea was to impose 'functional stress' on the ankle and force the muscles of the foot and leg to learn to stabilise the ankles where the ligaments were damaged.

    Surface and terrain slow you down off road and it's less punishing impact wise - I would argue that uneven terrain builds usable strength more quickly. Also have my dog with me and it's a PIA to be holding a lead (dog trots nicely at heel most of the time). Still do 90% of my running off road but find road sections easier and faster

    All of these issues probably mean your aerobic fitness is not limiting you as much off road. When you get on an even surface and open up the taps (as it seems easier) you'll hit your rev limiter more quickly.

    As you get more experience you learn the signals indicating whether you are at the right pace for the distance you want to go.

  • Makes sense - ta :)

  • I am no expert but I have run on a variety of surfaces over past weeks. Woodland track or coastal paths if uneven I find is hard to run on: you need to balance, watch where your feet land and it really gives your core muscles a pounding. Grass is softer but if damp can be slippy.

    Tarmac/ concrete is harder on the knees etc but usually more even so I guess your pace may increase if you are not used to it.

    I am slow slow slow but a fair bit quicker if running on any flat ground rather than my local hills.

    Because I want to run parkrun etc eventually, I think it is useful to vary you terrains....(I believe most circuits have some mix of ground) whilst also being mindful of any potential for injury, strain, sprain etc etc.

    Happy running!

  • I ran on both, and as it was the end of the year when I did the C25K, it often got.. err.. interesting! My past rambling posts kept the forum amused through the dark winter days! :) Mud slides, ice skating, near drowning by a White van man... ( a nasty one )!

    I love my fields and tracks, pleasant underfoot, great for mind and soul, but not great for speed. Often, muddy, and can, quite literally be ankle-turning. Pavement pounding was/is essential for some runs.. and was just different, and certainly after Graduation I have had some good speedy runs...The lanes around me, are wonderful, but as I run early morning, they are quiet.

    I prefer the fields and pathways for distance, and because, as you may have gathered, running, as for many of us, is about a lot more, for me than just running! :)

    So... speed.. I would say, lanes, and safe roads...( is that an oxymoron...)? Fields,, distance and stamina,That is just me.. we are all different and that is what makes this forum so great.. you find what suits you and where you are on the journey.. and go with it...:)

    As usual, I have rambled on and probably been of little help :) Enjoy wherever you run :)

  • An opinion is always helpful .. thank you.

  • You are welcome😐

  • I've always been a road runner but I think if you had the choice to learn both its a good thing. I think off road works the core more so there is a benefit from both as others have said. I keep saying I am going to try off road but lose my bottle, I have the shoes.

  • So true...off road ain't so bad 🙂

  • I now try to avoid road/pavement running as far as possible, yes it's faster but it really makes me ache the day after (too hard on hips and knees). I much prefer a muddy, uneven trail.

  • I run on most things but I think the most uncomfy is the uneven earth which has dried hard after animals have chuffed it up. I come across it quite a lot on my trails across horse and cow fields. Road running is the most consistent surface I'd say. I do love woodland trails where the earth seems softer because of all the leaf fall but you just have to be more careful about your foot placement and you have to keep your eyes down so progress is slower. Good though

    Do have fun whatever your chosen path. Mix it up so you never get bored. Happy running!

  • I think its harder on the knees to run on tarmac but you can go faster than on an uneven and challenging trail..

  • I run on a mixture of surfaces. I suspect that because Tarmac requires less concentration you are inclined to go faster sand therefore run out of puff.

    You will notice a difference between surfaces, but one is not necessarily better than the other.

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