Trail or Road Running. Or both? #REDBED day 4

Final few hundred metres of the Gravy Pud fell race yesterday
Final few hundred metres of the Gravy Pud fell race yesterday

Day 4 of the #REDBED Challenge was made all the more challenging by being busy!

I woke up at a reasonable time this morning but still felt tired! The impact of lots of running over the weekend!!

Knowing I had a busy day ahead, I decided that I ought to get the daily run completed before I had a chance to be distracted. Unfortunately, it did make for one of the least inventive routes I’ve made ever. However, a 5k is a 5k when it comes to meeting that part of the challenge for today.

Some main roads. Woo

Some main roads. Woo

Different types of running

When I asked Twitter about topics I could cover, one suggestion was a pros and cons of road versus trail running.

I started out very much a road-runner, pounding endless miles up and down the tarmac around the Stockport and wider area. In the last few years I’ve taken on more trail running and scaled back on the tarmac. Going forward I’m adding a bit of fell racing into the mix. A whole new chapter of running and lots of new skills to master.

I thought I’d work through this topic with a few pros and cons of the two.  Remember that whilst most roads and pavements look very similar, trails and paths are far more variable. And some things are listed as ‘cons’ but are more things to be aware of; it doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing!

Please feel free to add your pros and cons below as there will be plenty of others that I’ll probably miss.

Road Running


  • Availability – generally you’ll find roads and pavements immediately on stepping out of your front door
  • Navigation – it’s generally harder to get lost when running along roads, at least those that you know. If you’re in an unfamiliar area, use maps to plot a simple route
  • Little equipment needed – probably the only necessary bit of kit is a decent pair of road running shoes. The rest of what you wear is up to you really, although if you’re out at night investing in a headtorch and a highly visible top is recommended.
  • Easy to get into. Whether it’s running by yourself, in a group, in training or in a race, generally it’s not difficult to find your way into.
  • Predominantly well lit and accessible


Some of this is personal taste; some off-road runners would sooner take a rocket trip into the centre of the sun rather than running on a pavement.

  • tarmac/concrete can be uncomfortable on the joints. The research as to whether or not it’s bad for you per se seems to change on a regular basis!
  • traffic hazards – other road users may be less than accommodating with runners and it’s important to be alert to new hazards. It’s the one reason I would strongly recommend against running with headphones as I rely on my sense of hearing for dangers I may not be immediately able to see.
  • pollution – more an issue in towns and cities, but the air next to roads carrying any amount of traffic can be pretty grim

Trail Running (simple off road up and upwards)

Whether it be a disused railway line that has been converted into a ‘nature trail’ or wide paths in a park or property, there are lots of simple trails available to run. Some are short circular routes, others can go for many miles.


  • Trails are often well marked and signposted (to a greater or lesser extent)
  • Surfaces are often quite good, either firm mud paths, chippings or crushed stones
  • Many trails pass through lovely countryside
  • Can be combined with other family-type visits to places
  • Running on different surfaces and terrains is fun


  • Some trails in country parks etc may only be accessible at certain times
  • Often unlit, so you’ll need a head torch if running in the dark
  • Road running shoes may not provide enough grip, so you may need trail running shoes with much more grip
  • Surfaces not guaranteed and can vary widely in how level they are and what potential trip hazards are there. So you may need to be more careful
  • Many of the popular trails get busy with other users – walkers, runners, dogs, horses, children, cyclists (these groups not mutually exclusive)

No mention of fell running?

I had several attempts to write something about fell running, but I didn’t come up with anything I liked. It’s a topic I’ll return to in the future when I’ve decided what I want to say! In the meantime, here’s a photo of me at the end of yesterday’s fell race!

Final few hundred metres of the Gravy Pud fell race yesterday

Final few hundred metres of the Gravy Pud fell race yesterday

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