Does Trail Running Build Endurance?

Trail Running is an enjoyable, Natural, Healthy and Free Sport that is good for the Body and Mind. In this post we’ll discuss exactly what Endurance is and why Trail Running will build it up.

But the short answer is, Yes, Trail Running builds endurance and it does it fast.

What is Endurance?

Endurance is our ability to Endure (put up with) an unpleasant or difficult situation for a prolonged amount of time without giving up.

So, How Does Trail Running Build Endurance?

Does Trail Running Build Endurance - Trail Running

Well, to answer that question we are going to have to dig a little deeper into what Trail Running is and what it puts our bodies through.

When we use the expression “Build up Endurance” we could be referring to one of the many types of Endurance that we can have. Here are the main types of Endurance associated with Trail Running and life in general.

  • Cardiovascular Endurance
  • Physical Endurance
  • Mental Endurance

Each of these types of Endurance can also be broken down into further sub-sections too, but one thing is for sure, if you go Trail Running regularly, you are going to build your Endurance in every department as well as gain all of the other associated benefits of Trail Running too.

How Does Trail Running Build Cardiovascular Endurance?

Does Trail Running Build Endurance - The Cardiovascular System

I would describe Cardiovascular Endurance as our ability to continue taking part in demanding exercise (Trail Running for example) for ever increasing periods of time without needing to give up. I’m sure there’s a proper, official definition out there, but I like how mine sounds, so we’ll stick with it.

If you increase your Cardiovascular Endurance it will have a healthy, positive knock on effect into the rest of your life and day to day tasks too.

More Efficient Blood Flow

It’s always nice when someone says you have a big heart, but Trail Running will give you a bigger one. It is a proven fact the people who Trail Run Regularly increases the size of the ventricles in the lower left chamber of their hearts by around 20% through a process called Physiological Hypertrophy.

This is a good thing. With our now larger and stronger heart we can pump more fully oxygenated blood, at a higher rate, in order to satisfy any increased demand caused by longer, tougher Trail Runs.

This oxygenated blood courses around our bodies faster and with more regularity which ensures that it gets all the way to our extremities too.

Lower Resting Heart Rate

Now that we have a larger, stronger heart and clear blood vessels with fully oxygenated blood pumping around our bodies, life becomes easier for our heart and it doesn’t have to beat as much.

A lower resting heart rate is traditionally strongly associated with a healthy body, so having one can only be a good thing.

Regular Blood Pressure

Having fluctuations in blood pressure during normal resting conditions is seen as unhealthy. Fluctuations in blood pressure have been associated with incidents of Strokes, Heart Attacks and numerous other unwanted health conditions.

Having regular blood pressure that stays within in a healthy range is something that we should all aim for. Increasing our Cardiovascular Endurance will ensure we maintain a healthy, regular rate of blood pressure and a good rate of blood flow.

Increased Lung Capacity

Regular Trail Running will increase your lung capacity and with it the amount of oxygen you can supply to your blood stream. When we trail run on a regular basis several things happen.

  • Our Lungs grow due to extra demands placed on them
  • Our Diaphragm grows allowing deeper breaths
  • Our Intercostal muscles grow allowing more efficient breathing
  • Our bodies grow more Capillaries allowing more blood flow
  • Our bodies grow more blood carrying Alveoli

All of these things together are beneficial to ensuring we can continue to Endure more by maintaining our pace over tougher terrain for longer periods of time as our cardiovascular endurance increases.

How Does Trail Running Build Physical Endurance?

Does Trail Running Build Endurance - Physical Endurance

Our Physical Endurance is described as our physical body’s ability to continue with the exercise that we are doing. I’m sure that in the past you have all been to a gym and done Dumbbell Curls until you were unable to complete the last one. This was the level of your physical endurance for that exercise. However, you also knew at the time, that if you kept coming back to the gym regularly, soon you would be able to do more reps with that weight. The same thinking can be applied to increasing our Physical Endurance for Trail Running.

Increased Strength

The more we exercise our muscles by Trail Running, the stronger our muscles are going to get. As we get stronger we are going to be able to endure tougher and longer trail runs, therefore our strength endurance is going to increase.

Better Balance

Trail Running, unlike running on a Treadmill takes place over rapidly changing terrain and conditions. Jumping over rocks, stepping in and over puddles, plodding through mud and rapidly changing from speeding downhill to an almost dead stop hitting a serious uphill are all going to exercise the thousands of tiny muscles that we use for balance constantly.

The more we exercise our balance muscles, the stronger they will get and the more our balance will improve.

Increased Bone density

Trail Running is a high impact activity. When you are Trail Running your body is going to be put through it’s paces. Every time you jump over, jump off or otherwise negotiate an obstacle your feet are going to crash to the ground with your body weight, or multiples of it attached.

Your body is quickly going to become aware of this and almost miraculously your bone density is going to increase as your body adapts to it’s new normal.

Studies have shown that Trail Runners have significantly more bone density than Cyclists of a similar age and build. This is because their bodies have adapted.

More bone Density will prevent fractures and breaks. As an added bonus, the soft tissues of your bones will also increase. This will strengthen the tendon connections preventing or reducing the risk of tendon injuries too.

How Does Trail Running Build Mental Endurance?

Does Trail Running Build Endurance - Mental Endurance

I would describe Mental Endurance as knowing what your goal is and preventing anything from stopping you from achieving that goal, no matter how tough things get.

Can We Train Our Mental Endurance?

I would say yes, most definitely we can train our Mental Endurance. There are several attributes that we can associate with people who have high levels of Mental Endurance. If you read through them you will quickly see how each of them can be related to Trail Running.

  • Self Belief
  • Motivation
  • Focus
  • Desire
  • Dealing with Adversity
  • Dealing with Physical Pain
  • Dealing with Mental Pain

Laughably, I think I have put myself through all of these in the last week by trail running a long circuit in the pouring rain on a challenging, muddy and hilly trail in close to zero degrees. And we do this all for fun…

What Other Benefits Are Associated With Trail Running?

Does Trail Running Build Endurance - Additional Benefits of Trail Running

If the increased Cardiovascular, Physical and Mental Endurance aren’t enough to get you interested in Trail Running, here are a few more associated benefits:

  • Better Digestion of your food
  • Increased blood flow to your brain
  • Better sleep
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Fat burning
  • Weight management
  • Better complexion
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Reduces stress
  • Good way to meet like minded, healthy people

There are far too many positive attributes to name them all, but I’m sure that the ones I have named are enough to pique your interest in trail running already.

Does Trail Running Build Endurance? – Summary

Does Trail Running Build Endurance - Trail Running Benefits

The answer is most certainly Yes, as we have seen above Trail Running Increases your Cardiovascular Endurance, your Physical Endurance, your Mental Endurance and as an added bonus has the multitude of associated health benefits mentioned above too.

Trail Running has been a big part of my life for many years and has left nothing but a positive impact on it. If you don’t already Trail Run, I suggest you give it a try, I doubt very much that you will regret it.