This is the question ASICS FrontRunner Jani Du Toit asked herself a while back. "Why after running a 21km on the road it feels like my hips are breaking and my knees are squeaky but when I do a 24Km on trail my body is not nearly as wiped out afterwards?" She wanted to know. So she did some research and was pleasantly surprised with what she found:  

"You’d think that trail running is much more raw, harsh, hard and technical than road running. You have to duck, jump and dive every now and then, all while your feet might land in strange positions as you try to miss obstacles. Right?"


The road is constructed out of asphalt or concrete, man-made. "Both these mediums are very hard and has a very high impact on your body," Jani found.

"On the flip side trails are more natural, softer surfaces, consisting of the soil, mud and grass among other surfaces. All of which allows for less pounding on your joints and on your body," she says.  

(c) Chelsea Bartz

This is obviously taking very broad strokes, but the bottom line is: If you're a pure roadie, some trail cross-over can only be good for you as it is actually easier on the body. Here is why:

Trail running has more obstacles and will allow for a slower more concentrated run. "You’re constantly faced with either a root or a rock that is in the way, or even a branch up ahead that you have to look out for. As a Trail runner it is also very important to have good balance and a very strong core to support your legs as they jump and move suddenly in different directions," Jani says. 

The uneven surface and varied terrain challenge the muscles of the lower body more than a flat, firm run. According to Jani: "The natural obstacles can give you a more effective full body workout and help improve your sense of balance and reaction time."

Running on trails changes up your gait. "Trail running will get road runners on their forefeet (running forward on their toes) shortening their stride as they make their way through technical sections. Trail running can help road runners with activation and condition of muscle groups in their legs and core that provide additional stabilisation, reducing the pressure put on muscles mainly used for forward moving movement," Jani says. By not conditioning the other muscle groups road runners run the risk of over working their main muscle groups and this can lead to injuries and poor running performance in the long run.

Read Jani's full blog on trail vs road, here.

Want to learn more about trail running? Click here. 

Looking for the right trail shoe? Check out the GEL-FujiTrabuco SKY and shop here.