Benefits of Trail Running for ALL Runners

The trail run…for a suburban working mom, the trail run often sounds like a far off dream. It is easy to lace up and run out the front door but it requires much more time and organization to get in the car and driving to a local trail. Excuses, excuses right? It’s so easy to find a reason not to do it but push yourself to do it…. and the rewards will be tenfold. My goal this season is to include 1 trail run a week in my training plan.





Softer impact

It is well known that running on pavement is probably the worst running option for our bodies. The impact is hard and over time can causes old injuries to flare up and new ones to occur. The trail softens that impact and creates a cushion for body as the foot strikes the ground.

Varied under footing

Trails can have dirt, grass, rocks, twigs and more strewn across their paths. If you are not paying attention these could be hazardous. However if you are keeping an eye out, then this varied under footing keeps your brain on alert and your striking ability more versatile. Repetitively striking the ground in the same way is often a cause for injury but running, skipping and a hop over a rock can keep you on your toes both mentally and physically.

Training variety

Motivation is big topic for discussion among runners and non-runners alike. How to keep yourself motivated day after day? The answer is variety! Although many people are happy to have the same schedule day in and day out, even those who are very disciplined enjoy variety. By mixing up your runs or workouts you will be able to maintain motivation for longer.

Experiencing nature

This is pretty much self-explanatory. Busy streets, traffic, noise, garbage, street lights or trees, birds, big sky open spaces, hills and valleys? In modern day society we spend way too much time indoors. Our bodies and our minds still crave the outdoors and wide open spaces of our ancestry. This is why we love big bay windows, beach houses and beautiful outdoor views. Trail running can fulfill that need in all of us.



Montreal has many beautiful trail options however for the purpose of this post, only a few of those in the areas surrounding the West Island section of the city have been considered.

Centennial Park 

This is a local go to trail run. A nature park with a man made lake in the middle of suburbia. Although small on the distance side, it is within a 10 min drive from pretty much anywhere in the West Island. In fact if you are planning a long run, you may even be able to there directly from your house. The park is surrounded by a large residential area which gives it an easy access to many people. Although the park itself is 120 acres, the loop around the lake is only 2km. This means having to circle the lake several times in order to have a decent run. However the convenience of it being so close trumps having to circle. This is a great spot for beginner runners as well.

Cap St-Jacques 

This is a beautiful nature park that is partially surrounded by the Lake of Two Mountains. It’s actually the largest nature park in the city. Several different trails are available and it’s an easy spot to access in terms of parking. Here the trails are longer and can accommodate about 10-20km of running within the park itself. There’s even a small working organic farm on the site for the kids, picnic tables, views of the water and more.

Parc Nature Bois de l’Ile Bizard 

Another lovely local park in the western area of Montreal. Running trails vary between 10-15km and the views are spectacular. There is even a 500m boardwalk across the marsh wetlands. Lots of wildlife to see here -mostly birds and small mammals. Makes for a very interesting run! Again like the previous locations, it is very accessible either by a short drive or by foot from most sections of the West Island.

Parc Oka

This national park location is considerably further but a truly beautiful one. Miles and miles of forest trails, many of which run parallel to the river. A truly stunning location. To get here, the options are either drive for an hour or more or simply take the ferry across the river. Of course this depends on your original location but if you can, take the ferry. It almost feels like a vacation! There’s also a lovely chalet to rest up in and get a bite to eat after a long run. There’s a beach, cycling trails and more. A great family spot!


There are so many options in every city for fabulous trail runs. Do some research, get out there and try new things! Don’t get stuck in the same routine day after day. That will only lead to a lack of motivation sooner or later. And especially for those of us in Canada, get outside as much as possible and enjoy nature during the spring and summer months!

Happy Trails!

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  1. says

    It’s true, it’s so much easier to just go out the door rather than drive somewhere! However, trail runs (not that I get to do them very often) are fun and scenic and enjoyable.!

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