Couch to 5K
60,256 members92,919 posts

Road vs Trail Running

I'm really really interested in signing up for the RunnersWorld Trail Blazer event ( as trail running really appeals to me, all that greenery, nature & beauty and lack of hard surfaces / cars etc...

But how much harder is trail running over normal road running. I've been running the pavements for the last 9-10 months with only a smattering of trail running through local parks and what woodland paths I can find but locally, there's nothing more than half a km here, or maybe a km there so I can't get a real gauge for it.

If I can just about run 10k on pavements, realistically whats my chances of running 10k on a trail?

7 Replies

When I would run a 10k its a mixture of road and trail - probably half and half. The trail I run is very hilly, some days I can handle it just fine, some days I stop to rest (luckily they have benches placed at the tops of the worse hills). Every trail is different though so if you are able to get out to your local one you could do a run/walk through to know if you would be happy just to give it go if you don't know the area well.

Another thought - Weather can have a veeery big impact on your trail too, but that's probably something the organisers will have thought about, I just know personally I tend to avoid trail running in poor weather.


Hey! I have yet to find a relatively close trail - there are plenty a bit further afield though.

I can imagine the weather makes a difference though. I ran through a local lane a few weeks back and that was difficult because it was so slippy.


It is harder, but is difficult to quantify. So much depends on weather, ground surface and terrain. One of my long runs is partly through a country estate - some of this in on a farm track, and that is not usually much slower, except for the very wet slippery muddy bits, but the majority is along the main estate track to the castle and lodge buildings. This private road is surfaced (tarmac), but runs across the middle of a huge lawn-type grassy area. I prefer to run on the grass to save my knees pounding the road, but when the ground is wet this grass is very soft and I feel it is energy-sapping. It slows me down and tires me. Another section of this run is along a narrow path through the woods and here my pace is disrupted as I dodge under branches and hop over tree roots.

I've spotted a multi-terrain 10K run that I'm thinking about doing, but am in two minds about it. I know it would be slower than my time for the road 10K I did, but also, I like my trail running to be more than just pounding along as fast as I can go. To me, the whole idea of running off-road is to explore an area just as if I was walking and I love my long, SLOW distance runs.


I won't lie, your long run sounds idealic. A country estate, castles... sounds bliss!

The TrailBlazer is in June so hopefully the weather won't be too bad.


Hi MrQ, I love running through the forest tracks beside me but its harder, a lot harder if its been wet. We also have a stables close by and they use the same tracks, so wet tracks and loads of horses make for a big meshy run at best. If you have any forested areas near you it may well be worth a drive out sometime to give them a try. Other option is an old disused railway (tracks removed of course) which will get you off and into the countryside. We have a lot up here but they are quite boring to run and you have to come back the same way too which is not a bonus in my opinion. Other option would be to check your local Parkrun venues which are often through parkland, their sites will show the routes which are often circuits repeated. But that would be better than nothing. Hope you get something to at least give off road a try.


Road running is so much more easy for me. It's the certainty of placing your foot down on something flat that feeds back instantly. Now, there are trails that work for me - these are the purpose built affairs through woodland made for horses, cycles and runners and i quite like those, and there are those that I don't. I had a real bad trail run yesterday over a course that I mapped myself. Basically most of it was over Heath and grassland. It was very, very tough.


so that's my excuse for being so slow!!!! running on a hilly, wet, golf course.


You may also like...