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Question about running surfaces (Read 1063 times)

nancyw


    Hi, I'm new to running. I'm on week 2 of the couch to 5K program. I have been running on my treadmill, but I find it very uncomfortable and would like to start running outdoors. Here is my question: I live way out in the country and I am surrounded by gravel roads! Is there anyone out there that runs on gravel? This is actual road gravel, in some places it is loose and in others it is packed down like cement. Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated. Smile Thanks.


    Needs more cowbell!

      I'll give backroadsrunner a heads-up to your question. She does a lot of running on rough roads and gravel. I personally don't like getting off the pavement much, but a lot of that is just because I'm not as accustomed to it. When I have to run on the shoulder it often causes me new aches and pains, since it uses muscles that I don't otherwise give much work to. I generally find that the looser the terrain (sand, gravel), the more miserable I am. k

      I shoot pretty things! ~

      '14 Goals:

      • 2 olympic distance duathlons -- 6 days apart -- PR at least 1

      • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)

      nancyw


        Thanks K, I'm mostly worried about injuring myself and not being able to run for awhile and blowing it off!


        Needs more cowbell!

          I think if you are careful and "listen" to your body that you will be alright. Your body will become accustomed to whatever terrain you consistently throw at it. If I made a point of running on a wider variety of terrain I would probably like running on non-paved surfaces a lot more than I do, LOL! Wink k

          I shoot pretty things! ~

          '14 Goals:

          • 2 olympic distance duathlons -- 6 days apart -- PR at least 1

          • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)

          vicentefrijole


            Gravel is great! I wish I could run on gravel all the time! The way I learned it from my old coaches: the softer/looser the running surface, the less damage to your body in the long term... I find this especially true for very long or hard runs! Based on that concept, I've always ranked surfaces like this: (Best) Grass/Dirt/Wet sand Gravel Asphalt/Blacktop Cement (Worst) (I'm not sure how to rank dry sand.. it's really hard to run on! Tongue) That said, Kirsten is completely correct that looser surfaces tend to be uneven and it will give some tiny stabilization muscles a real workout to run on uneven surfaces (particularly in the ankles, I find). It makes you a bit sore, but that's not necessarily bad, as working out those muscles will make you a stronger runner (and will help prevent injury), but it can be tough when adjusting to a new surface... Since you've been on a treadmill so far, you should definetly be cautious as you switch to outside (there are other differences between running on a treadmill and running outside that you'll also be dealing with). Maybe run every-other time outdoors? Or start outdoors and then move inside to the treadmill? Like K says, listen to your body... don't over do it and injure yourself. Also, if a surface is too uneven, it will be too hazardous (you could even trip) or may be just too distracting to get in your "zone". I don't know what the traffic is like on your roads, but perhaps stay off the shoulder if it's too loose there. Around me, we have only concrete or asphalt.... Interestingly, I've read that cement is much more dense than asphalt/blacktop (and it feels like that)... so if there's not too much traffic, I prefer to run in the road than on the side walk. Of course, grass is the best... that's what golf-courses are made for! Big grin
            nancyw


              Thanks for the input. I think I'll give it a try and start out slow. I have a weak ankle from an injury years ago and not only is my road gravel but it's also pretty hilly! I'm only on week 2 right now, so maybe I'll go outside and start with the week one intervals and see how that goes. I wish I had a golf course nearby that would be great! Smile
                Nancy, As zoom zoom said, I spend most of my time on gravel roads. Honestly, the adjustment from treadmill to a real road will be the hard part. Gravel roads aren't bad at all & are actually easier on your body than pavement. We also have a mix of loose & hard roads here. And that can vary greatly depending on the weather. I have found it harder to go from gravel to pavement than the other way. Start by walking a few times on your roads & get used to the terrain. Watch in front of you when you run & be aware of holes, washboard bumps, and stones big enough to twist an ankle on. I tend to be a bit of a foot scuffer, so I usually kick them out of the way anyways! Smile I have also found that a little thicker sock is helpful. I tend to get sand & little tiny stones in my shoes as I'm running & have found that a thicker sock keeps the stuff in my shoe from irritating my foot. I am a Smart Wool sock addict & believe that even their thicker models do not make your feet hot during the summer weather. Actually, I can be drenched from head to ankle in sweat & still have dust, literally dust, between my toes! My big words of caution about back road running: #1 if you enter your courses here or any other websites, keep them private. I don't know where you live, but in my area, I see very few people/cars on my runs & don't want anyone to kow my routes, routines, etc. #2 Change your routes/routines often (see above) #3 If you have to run alone, carry pepper spray, your cell phone, run with your dog, whatever it takes to make sure you are safe. #4 If you live in a deer fly infested area, good luck. The vicious little creatures love to hang out on back roads & think that moving targets are far more fun to take a chunk out of than still targets. And, either I sweat off repellent, or they don't really care that I'm wearing it!!! Oh yeah, and if you are training for any eventual races, make sure you check the race route & know the surface you are running on. I had to work pavement in to my routine a couple of months before my first race because I was so used to dirt & pavement killed my shins the first 3 or 4 runs!! Good luck & happy running!! Eryn
                So do not get tired and stop trying. - Hebrews 12:3


                You'll ruin your knees!

                  good... better... best... Lynn B

                  ""...the truth that someday, you will go for your last run. But not today—today you got to run." - Matt Crownover (after Western States)

                  nancyw


                    Thanks everyone. I'm psyched to run on gravel now! I walked the course today and mapped it on the website. Eryn - thanks for the advice. It's nice to hear from someone who has run on gravel and likes it. I'm not training for a race or anything so I plan to take it slow unitl I'm used to running outside. Smile


                    Needs more cowbell!

                      I'm not training for a race or anything...
                      Ha, that's what I once said...about 4-5 months ago. Now I am dreading the months of Nov-Jan when there are no races in these parts. Sad Races keep me motivated and give me reason to go out and train when I could find so many other reasons not to (mostly really stupid, lazy ones, too). Smile k

                      I shoot pretty things! ~

                      '14 Goals:

                      • 2 olympic distance duathlons -- 6 days apart -- PR at least 1

                      • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)

                      vicentefrijole


                        good... better... best...
                        hehe... that last one looks pretty wicked (and I mean that in both the good and bad ways)! Big grin
                          Lynn, Those are some nice looking trails, don't look like anything in the Dallas area though. You getting that pace on trails like those pictured? Joe
                          Age is not an illusion


                          You'll ruin your knees!

                            Lynn, Those are some nice looking trails, don't look like anything in the Dallas area though. You getting that pace on trails like those pictured? Joe
                            When I'm on trails like that...I just don't pay attention to pace at all! I do, however, think about stretching more...stretching my run to take in the next hill, etc... Tongue Real single track trails often add a couple a minutes per mile...unfortunately , most of my training is on a 2 mile circuit around my office, or on roads/golf course near home. I get to the "real" trails a couple times a month and you would be surprised what you can find around Dallas (ok, not so much snow, but a couple of Christmas's ago...) Lynn B

                            ""...the truth that someday, you will go for your last run. But not today—today you got to run." - Matt Crownover (after Western States)