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How Different Surfaces Affect Runners

One reason running has become the most popular exercise of choice for people all over the world is freedom; freedom to go wherever you please, choose any path, go at your own speed in your own time, and best of all, it can be done any time and any place.

Running takes us across many different surfaces: road, pavement, dirt track, grass, sand, even the treadmill. For a runner, no surface is the same. Each has its own perks and drawbacks.


The large majority of runners stick to the roads when running, after all, most marathons take place on the road, so it makes sense to train on them. Roads are also the most convenient surface, but they can also be the most problematic for those prone to injury.

Roads are tough on joints and can lead to all sorts of injuries, but some experts believe that the road can be beneficial for those with Achilles issues as the hard surface reduces stress on your Achilles’ tendon.

When out on the road you’re sharing it with a number of different vehicles so always make sure you are highly visible and stay aware of your surroundings.


Whilst it is advised you stick to roads as much as possible, sometimes it isn’t always feasible. Pavements are usually the most convenient as you don’t have to share them with many vehicles (apart from those terribly parked ones) but they can also be one of the hardest and uneven. Always be aware of unrepaired pavements, especially at night. Tripping over a loose piece of pavement is easily done and hurts your ego just as much as your body.


Grass provides runners with added cushion to give those joints a well-earned rest from continuous road training. Running on grass still throws up some potential obstacles you need to keep an eye out for; you need to keep your head down to look out for any holes that may be hidden in the grass. If you hit one of these when running you can easily cause a sprained ankle or even a broken one.  

Most who train for running events will choose roads for their convenience, but we recommend that you should always try and mix up your runs to help avoid injury and to keep things fresh and exciting. 

13th November 2018, 9:30
Page updated 13th Nov 2018, 09:30
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