Why you should run off-road

A break from road running

Running on roads is hard on your legs so getting off-road offers a different option with more natural cushioning for the body. Here's our quick guide to why you should run off-road, plus some sample training sessions.

Grass naturally provides a softer surface to run on and can be considered nature’s answer to the shock absorber. Running on grass acts as cushioning for the legs, and provides more resistance for you to train against.

If you were to try running at the same same pace on grass as you would on the road, the effort required to run on grass would be greater because of the extra resistance that grass provides. With this in mind, you could also run at a slightly slower pace but still get the same benefits as a faster run completed on the road.

Running on grass ensures that the legs don't take as much of a pounding, and as an added bonus your running shoes don't wear out as fast as when running on hard surfaces. Make the most of running on grass whenever you can.

Take a look at your regular road running route and it's quite possible that there's a grass verge on it that you could potentially run along. Even if the grass is interrupted by driveways, it is worth running on the grass section for a short time, as any extra cushioning is better than nothing.

If you have good grassed areas or off-road sections to run on then take advantage. Sessions such as hill repetitions or fartlek (interval) work can all be done on grass. When doing a session dedicated to running off-road, make sure that your shoes have plenty of grip, as grass contains a lot of moisture and can be slippy. Consider buying some specialist off-road running shoes which will be ideal for sessions dedicated to running on grass or other off-road surfaces.

Try these workouts on a decent grass surface that you can find to train on:

Beginner: 4 to 6 x 1 minute with 3 minutes walk recovery.
Or Run 30 seconds then walk 30 seconds for a total of 10 minutes. Gradually build up the total time until you get to 20 minutes.

Intermediate: 6 to 8 x 1.5 minutes with 3 minutes jog recovery.
Or 30 seconds/1 minute/1.5 minutes/2 minutes/1.5 minutes/1 minute/30 seconds all with 1 minute walk or jog recovery between.

Advanced: 8 x 2 minutes with 1 minute jog recovery.
Or 2 x (5/4/3/2/1 minute) with 2 minutes/1.5 minutes/1 minute/30 seconds recovery between repetitions and 5 minutes between sets.

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