3 Reasons Why Road Running is Great for Outdoor Athletes

Running & Fitness / ZZBLOG POSTS


While the absurdly cold and windy start to spring in New England has made¬†road running more challenging than I’d prefer, I really love to run…though not necessarily because running itself is enjoyable for me. Sometimes the thing I like most about road running is how it helps me be better at all of the other outdoor things I like to do. So if you’re an outdoor athlete who tends to scoff at the thought of pounding pavement, here are three reasons why you’re being ridiculous:

1) Road running builds mental toughness.

Road running, at least for me, does more to build mental toughness than any other outdoor activity I do. No matter how much I’ve “hated” my bike in the middle of a hard ride, or how many times Iv’e said I’m going to quit snowboarding, or how often I say “climbing is stupid!” when a hard route or boulder problem is getting the best of me, I can guarantee that I’ve “hated” road running more often and with more intensity than anything else. So why do I keep doing it? Because I know that even though it may suck at the time, it’s making me a lot tougher. While I still lack the mental fortitude to get through a hard run without whining at least once several times (a phenomenon my running partner now affectionately refers to as my WPM, or “whines per mile”), being a runner has definitely made it easier for me to handle less-than-ideal conditions mid-ride, mid-climb, or mid-hike.

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2) Road running leads to better endurance and overall conditioning.

Sure, if you do any activity enough you’ll build up endurance…but it’ll likely only be for that particular activity. Road running, however, is an amazing way to build endurance that will translate well to all the other things you do. It’s also an incredibly fast and efficient way to whip your ass (literally!) into shape, which is beneficial for many obvious reasons. When I first started running about five years ago, I didn’t even run that much (like, twice a week at most and not more than two or three miles at a time), but it was enough to quickly shed some unnecessary pounds. I remember realizing one day that climbing suddenly felt SO MUCH EASIER; I wasn’t tiring out as quickly, and I was able to work through harder routes that had previously felt impossible. (It’s amazing how much less difficult climbing can be when you’re dragging 15 fewer pounds up the wall with you.)

I’ve also found that hiking is a lot more enjoyable now than in my pre-running days. Once upon a time, I actually kind of hated hiking because it always felt “too hard.” But now I love getting out in the mountains (and typically prefer tougher trails) and I imagine it’s because I’m just in better overall shape. Thank you, running.

3) Road running gives you tougher feet.

This one might sound weird, but hear me out. Over the past five-ish years, I’ve had numerous blisters on my feet (some in places I didn’t even know could have blisters). Now that my feet have more hardened, callousy skin on them than normal skin, it’s really rare for me to get blisters or hot spots from my climbing shoes, cycling shoes, or hiking shoes…and that’s a pretty big win in my book.

Oh, and while we’re on the topic of feet, one of my favorite things about running is how awesome running shoes look. (The brighter, the better, obviously.)

You probably won’t love road running at first (it took me more than two years to finally realize it was something I enjoy), but I can guarantee that you will love how much easier the other things you do begin to feel once you start putting in some miles. And, even if you hate it, at least you’ll end up with some sweet new shoes.

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The New Balance Women’s 890V4…WANT.

Jim Darroch