11 Trail Running Benefits (Yes, Eating More Is One)

Interesting in getting into trail running? Maybe you’re weighing the pro and cons of investing in those brand new trail shoes because you’re not sure if the new hobby will stick. Let me help convince you, here are 11 of my favorite trail running benefits!

Benefits Of Trail Running

1) Trail running is a great way to get in shape

Or stay in shape. Running up them hills and mountains will give you some epic looking legs. Plus there’s a good amount of lateral movement and odd foot placement when trail running. This helps utilize less used muscles, especially if you have just been road running….Or sitting on a couch.

trail running benefits

2) It’s a great way to explore the outdoors

Trail running is a great way to get outdoors and enjoy the scenery. Doesn’t have to be up in the mountains, although that’ll sure further boost these benefits.

Take that three mile single track trail that circles the park instead of the paved one that runs through the middle of it.

Drive a little ways out from your stomping grounds if you don’t have any running trails nearby.

Get lost a little bit. Not the “Help I went off trail and have been living off fish & berries for the past couple days” kind of lost. But maybe take that trail that could lead to a fire road which circles back to your. Or that path that look like it hugs the lake edge instead of going straight as far as the eye can see.

I enjoy doing this at Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield VA. Overall, I know many key points within the park. But I don’t know every trail or where they lead. If I’m hesitant on being able to find my way back or out, I’ll give myself a time limit before turning back. Maybe 10mins, 20mins, whatever feels best.

3) Meet new people and make new friends

This can be said with just about every sport or activity. But with trail running it can hit a bit different. You form a bond. Sometimes a bond is formed out of the good hurt that often comes with running. Other times it’s love of food that you explore at coffee/bagel shops post run. (more on that in a section below)

trail running benefits

I’m part of a few trail running groups in Richmond VA. Some meet up on during the week, or on Sundays, while one big group meets up on the firsts Saturday of every month.

Thats a pretty fun group. Great for beginners too, because they’ll stop and group up every 10 mins or so. Maybe after a really challenging trail or if they realize the group has really started to spread thin. Sometimes they host local running shops or shoe brands that let you test out gear. Maybe run in those badass Altra Lone Peak 6 before you buy em.

I participated in a bunch of Ragnar Trail Relays with one of my Sunday trail groups. Although COVID kinda slowed that down a bit, we’re still a pretty tight knit bunch.

4) Helps Relieve Stress And Clear Your Mind

Similar to road running, but better because you’re surrounded by beautiful sights and sounds.

You can even take a quick dip in the creek you’re crossing to cool off. That’ll clear your head real quick, especially if it’s ice cold.

Also, if you take heed to the previously mentioned tip by getting lost on purpose, your mind will be focused on finding your way out. That’ll definitely help you forget about your other problems.

5) Helps You Be A Better Hiker

This is one of my favorite trail running benefits.

Because I don’t get out to the mountains for a hike as often as I’d like, trail running around Richmond VA helps keep my legs trained and ready for when I do make it out there.

Hiking can even count as a cross-training session and help you out trail running. It’s cylindrical. Beautiful.

6) More Fresh Air

You obviously won’t be running indoors when trail running, so theres that.

But you’ll also likely be outside of the city limits so there’s less pollution. Or at least on the outskirts. Still better than inhaling car exhaust on Main St.

If you make it up to the mountains, there’s also nothing quite like the fresh mountain air especially once you reach it’s summit. Sweet taste of victory.

three ridges trail run

7) Awesome Gear

One of the oft unspoken benefits of trail running.

By jumping into the world of trail running, it opens up the door to all the awesome gear. Much better gear than the stuff road running has. (In my heavily unbiased opinion…)

Although yes, you can start wearing the gear without trail running, it always seem to fit & look better when it’s utilized as it should be.

8) Less Boredom

One thing you can be sure about when trail running, is that you’ll never be bored.

From always watching your steps and rock hopping to keep your shoes dry, to following the right trail (or not). There’s always something to keep things interesting.

Much more so than staying on paved roads for mile upon mile in suburbia or in a sleepy city neighborhood. I can’t stand road running anymore.

The only time I really mess with them is when I’m training for a road race or trying to catch up with other runners who for whatever reason, hate trails.


9) You’re Allowed To Walk

When out on the trails, it’s slower.

And not only because of your slowed pace while jumping over creeks and logs. But overall, you learn to slow down and enjoy things.

Or if you’re tired from a crazy climb. You’re actually allowed to walk/hike. It’s an accepted part of trail running life. It’s even quite common to hike the ups and only run the flats and downs.

10) You Can Eat More

Getting into trail running can help offset all that junk food and/or beers from the day before. It’s something I am often quite guilt of enjoying.

“I eat because I run, I run because I eat”


Meeting up at that local coffee shop for a BLT or Lox bagel after my Sunday runs is one of my favorite ways to start the day. Especially on NFL Sundays. Might even be able to catch a London hosted game if ones on.

11) Allows You To Be A Kid Again

Get dirty. Fall in some mud. Splash around in a creek. Climb over some fallen trees. Scrape up your knees.

Heck, you can even get some barefoot running in if that’s your thing. (Just watch out for rocks and try not to break any toes)

Have some fun. Be a kid again.