One of the most important aspects of running is your running enevironment, which can be easily translated to your "running environment." The big two are trails or roads, and I'll tell you why I prefer trail running compared to road running. Since when running, you aim for the best experience you can to enjoy and take granted of the benefits it (running) can offer. So I'd like to think trail running offers the best experience, especially compared to treadmill running. Tip: Only do treadmill running if it's only option.
Trail running can be defined as running on a set of trails in the woods/forests, fields, etc. to just plain running in the woods/forests, fields, etc. You can make your own trails as you go along! Whereas road running which can usually be tied down to city running is nice, but not as nice as the natural trails. Paved roads, and sidewalks just don't compare to natures grassy and dirt trails.
This is why I (Shane) prefer trail running to road running:
A major part when running is the surface you're running on. This is where Mother Nature wins without even getting a scratch. Dirt, grass, rock, and even sand are award-winning surfaces! Dirt that has been packed down so much from countless runners/hikers that it's impossible to leave a footprint will always feel great for your feet to run on.
With trails, don't forget you have the option to go your own route and make your own trail. The adventuring/exploring factor is another thing that can make running more entertaining and joyful for yourself. Just don't get lost, which is almost impossible to do if you're carrying your phone/GPS with you, and as long as you have a signal...
It's always a great way to meet other runners in your area, seeing as you both like running and share the same trails.
It's great knowing you're breathing in fresh air, and can even help you relax and feel better about yourself. What can also help the air quality? Well, the wind. A fresh, cool breeze hitting you when running helps you keep cool and just generally feels great on the body.
When running in the wild, don't be surprised if you run into some wildlife. You may not be surprised if it does happen, but it will most likely catch you off guard at first. It's a neat involvement when a deer is eyeing you down as you run along a path. Sharing the trails with deer, bunnies, squirrels, savage grizzly bears, and shy foxes is just another way Mother Nature wins me over. Not all trail run ners are human, after all.
WHO NEEDS EARBUDS?
I love music as much as the next person, but running to the sounds of nature makes you feel more in touch with your surroundings and earth itself. Running on a path, where you start to hear a stream that crosses it, crunching down on leaves, or like I said previously, when you hear the wind hit the trees. It's why you don't need music to block out any other sounds, such as traffic.
Not only does the wild provide a great soundtrack, it also provides a very scenic route for your travels. A huge plus is when the sun rises or sets against your backdrop.
Having fresh air, a cool breeze, wildlife, and a great soundtrack creates a real, and uplifting experience when running. It helps remind you that you are human and that nature provides an experience like no other. It also provides a different experience each time you go to the same area.
Sure, looks and fresh air aren't everything, but trail running can also provide stronger and greater physicalities. Trails offer more uneven ground, hills, and even obstacles. Uneven ground can strengthen your muscles, particularly in your ankles. This can prevent injury in upcoming incidents if your muscles and ankles are used to being roughened up.
Similar to uneven ground, hills also strengthen your muscles, specifically in your legs. We even included this type of exercise in our calf strengthening exercises article. Running up or down hills helps differently by using different muscles.
Obstacles. Is there a better thing to come across when running? Nothing it quite like jumping over a ditch, or vaulting across a fallen tree. Some traceurs even prefer training in the wild as it promotes creativity and because the obstacles vary in many shapes and sizes, compared to city obstacles. And if you want proof that runners love obstacles, just look at all the major fitness/running event organizations that are happening right now. Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, zombie races, etc.
The unpredictable terrain help keeps your mind guessing and always thinking when running.