If you ask any runner what is the best surface to run on or they prefer, we can almost guarantee that they’ll not give you any direct answer rather they says feelings matters.
Choosing a running surface, whether concrete, dirt, sand, or a treadmill, is largely a question of personal preference, and different options offer a number of benefits and drawbacks for running safety. Our feet come into contact with a variety of various surfaces while running, thus it’s critical to choose the most appropriate surfaces for your particular running style.
In this brief article, we’ll discuss the 10 best surfaces to run on, including their respective pros and cons. Hope you can decide for yourself which is the best surface for running depending on how each may affect your body as well as type of training you’ll be performing.
Table of Contents
What Is The Best Surface To Run On?
Many people believe that running on over and over on particular surfaces, such as concrete, is harmful to their joints. But is that really true? We’ll address that question in this article, as well as explain why you should take into consideration each of the different sorts of running surfaces.
Softer surfaces, such as grass, are an excellent way to fresh up your running routine and provide a welcome rest for your body. According to many, the best surface to run on is grass.
“In the summer, when I run primarily on grass, my entire body seems to be relaxed” says Marchus O’Sullivan, a two-time world indoor champion. Take note that he is an indoor track champion who is advocating for grass-based outside running.
Running on grass allows you to connect with your inner kid. Take the opportunity to brings back the joy of childhood. Remove your shoes for a short period of time and simply enjoy the feel of the cool grass.
Grass is great for beginning runners because it is a low-impact surface, meaning it has less effect on muscles and joints. You can perform this exercise barefoot or in minimalist shoes to strengthen your feet.
The length of the grass is important. With taller grass, it’s more difficult to determine the level of the ground and it can be uneven or may have hidden holes and rocks. This puts a runner at risk of rolling an ankle especially someone who has weak ankles or poor balance, so be cautious.
However, runners can damage themselves on softer terrain since it does not provide the same level of stability as a harder surface. Your feet will pronate, or roll inward, increasing the strain on your muscles and joints, perhaps leading to injury.
It can also be slippery when wet, runners with allergies may suffer more symptoms when running on it.
Asphalt is used as the default surface for paved roads and multi-use walkways all over the world. It may be right outside your door. It is a bit softer and therefore easier on your body than concrete. In addition, it is an excellent training surface because many races are held on asphalt. While running on hard surfaces, choose asphalt roads wherever possible to avoid injuries.
Asphalt has several advantages, including consistency and uniformity, which makes it an excellent surface for speed exercises. When you don’t have to worry about where you’re putting each step, you can move more quickly through the motions.
This flat and solid surface also reduces the amount of strain on the Achilles tendon.
Furthermore, asphalt roads are typically well-mapped, making it simple to track your miles using an app, an online map, or the odometer on your car.
Asphalt will absorb the heat and warm the air around it. This means you will feel hotter when running on it.
Asphalt’s hard surface has its drawbacks—particularly the way it puts a strain on the body.
Running on the road is risky. Even if you are as safe as possible, the drivers may not be. If you run on asphalt, choose wider, less congested streets. It’s also a good idea to leave the headphones at home during this period.
Concrete is primarily made up of cement (crushed rock). Sidewalks of city or neighborhoods and many urban pathways are composed of it. It is a commonly available running surface and one that is most practical for many people to use. If you reside in an urban area, there’s a good chance that there is a concrete surface nearby that you can run on. This is a sturdy and long lasting surface that can be used for cycling as well as running and walking.
Concrete sidewalks are safe from traffic and tend to be smooth and flat in appearance, making them ideal for walking and running. And, according to some research, the influence of the concrete on the muscles and joints is insignificant if you’re not moving too fast.
Concrete is known to be one of the hardest surfaces to run on. Some believe that it’s ten times harder than asphalt. It has a high impact on joint, especially if you are running fast. In addition, you may face obstacles such as curbs, pedestrians, and traffic when crossing streets.
4. Synthetic Track
Synthetic track is a soft and flat surfaces designed for quick runners or those aspiring to be fast. Modern tracks are constructed of synthetic materials that are long-lasting and provide excellent cushioning. While most people consider this even surfaces for quick runners, but they are adaptable for other runners also. Nowadays, synthetic track is used in international competition for distances ranging from 100m to 10k.
Synthetic tracks give a surface that is generally comfortable and forgiving. Furthermore, they offer the extra advantage of being a precisely calculated distance (being exactly 400m around), so you don’t need a fancy GPS watch to know how far you’ve run.
Every lap has two long curves, putting a lot of stress on your calves and Achilles tendon. In addition, like on a treadmill, longer runs are also tedious.
Treadmills are a most convenient and great surface to run on. This running surface is probably the one that gets the most groans. Some people enjoy them, while others despise them. Personally, I’m not opposed to it! They’re smooth and even, and you’ll never have to worry about the weather. A study published in the Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance found that treadmills have an average shock absorption rate of 71 percent compared to 0 percent on asphalt.
Treadmills are generally equipped with cushioning beneath the moving belt which reducing the amount of impact and stress on the body.
Most treadmills have displays and you can get all the necessary information like distance traveled, speed, heart rate, calories burned, pace, and incline. You can achieve the desired pace and inclination by simply pressing a button. The precise level of control makes a treadmill perfect for speedwork.
Furthermore, you won’t have to worry about bad weather such as rain, snow, cold, or heat.
Running on the spot isn’t really fun, and if you don’t retain your focus on maintaining your speed, you may be thrown behind the machine without warning.
A common mistake among treadmill runners is to over stride, or to reach their legs too far forward on each stride, putting additional strain on their heels and knees.
Treadmill runners tend to sweat heavily when there is no natural wind around.
The machines are too expensive and most runners can’t afford it.
A common complaint about treadmills is that they are incredibly boring
6. Cinder Track
Depending on your age, the expression “cinder track” may or may not be familiar to you. Prior to the invention of synthetic tracks, there were cinder tracks, which were composed of fine rock, ash, charcoal, and slag. Only a few of these are still in existence, and you can still find cinder trails in some town parks as well. However, if you are fortunate enough to live close to one, it’ll be a pleasant change from the usual running surfaces.
Cinders are more comfortable and less stressful for legs than road running. A cinder track is a good, even, and precisely measured surface for running.
Cinder tracks, like packed gravel, have a less-than-solid surface that may be uneven or give poor traction.
Cinders don’t offer an all-weather surface which means that it will perform best on spring or fall day. When it’s hot outside, they become slippery and loose, and when it’s raining, they might get muddy and squishy.
When compared to other types of surfaces, running on sand is a completely different experience. Indeed, because of the contrast between wet and dry sand, there are actually two of them. Running on packed wet sand is far more difficult than running on loose dry sand. If you never got the opportunity to go to the beach for a run, I recommend you to do it next time you’re there.
Sand gives an opportunity to run barefoot in an pleasant environment. You can enjoy the sights, sounds, and winds of the beach.
Sand (especially when wet) is a low-impact surface, but the amount of effort required to travel through the sand will result in an excellent cardiovascular exercise for you.
Sand that is dry and deep is more likely to be found further along the beach. This will slow you down considerably, but will provide an exceedingly hard and effective workout for your calves.
The softness of the sand increases the risk of Achilles tendon injury. Additionally, you may have to deal with the surface’s inclination toward the water, which places uneven stress on your body.
If you’re running barefoot, you must always be aware that blisters are more likely to occur. You may experience serious pain because of the presence of abrasive sand.
You should also bring sun protection because there is no shade near the beach.
Running on snow may or may not be possible, depending on where you reside. It can be an exciting and entertaining exercise, but when mixed with ice, it can become extremely hazardous. The unfortunate runner who extols the virtues of snow as an excellent texture for running, only to wipe out when he comes across a patch of ice – is a common sight in the online running community. Warm clothes and grippers for your running shoes might help you stay safe while running. Snow should not be considered as an excellent running surface.
Running on a snow-covered surface forces you into a slow and steady pace that still offers quite a workout. This could be beneficial if you’re returning after a break and need to be more careful in your recovery runs. In addition, running outside in the cold gets you off the treadmill for a while.
You will have to deal with cold weather and perhaps with a temperature significantly different from that you are used to, so it might be a shock.
Furthermore, you may encounter snow, and ice that can be very slippery and unpredictable, making your run far more dangerous than you anticipated.
The shortening of daylight hours throughout the winter months also indicates more risk.
Additionally, you should strongly consider adding spikes for safety concerns, which means you’ll likely need additional pairs of shoes to run in the snow properly.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Which on is the best surface to run on for bad knees?
Soft surfaces like running on grass or sand offers benefits for bad knees. These surfaces has low impact which means less force is applied to the knee with each step. Additionally, running on the sand stimulates the quadriceps and hip muscles. These muscles help and strengthen your knees’ muscle.
On the other hand, running on hard surfaces like concrete and cement surfaces should be avoided whenever possible as they provide the most shock. Most road races are run on asphalt, which is not a good surface to run on if you have bad knees.
What is the best surface to run on to avoid getting injured?
Simply, the answer is all of them. Depending on your body and injury history, you should change the surfaces on which you run in order to develop and build different muscles.
Listen to your body and make the greatest decision for yourself. If one surface does not feel right or appears to be causing injuries, it is a good idea to run on a different surface, even if only temporarily. Start carefully when you do so for the first time.
It is also better to keep your body from becoming overly accustomed to a single surface. This will help you avoid injuries.
Is running on road good or bad?
According to painscience running on roads on a regular basis can be bad to your knees. This is not only due to the high stress applied by the hard surfaces but also repeatedly mechanically identical stress. To minimize repeated stress injuries, alter up your workouts regularly or mix up it with other running surfaces.
The tendon that links the calf muscle with the knees can become inflamed when running on a road and cause pain. The chance of occurring increase if you do not adequately warm up before starting running on a road.