I often ask my patients if they incorporate trail running into their training program. Most of them say “yes, I run Town Lake all the time!”
Many runners consider themselves trail runners because they do not spend all of their time on concrete. However, if you want to get the maximum benefits from trail running, you need to get out on some “real” trails. Trail running can be an extremely useful tool for building hip, ankle, and knee stability, but only if you challenge yourself by running on difficult trails. Trails with rocks, roots, steep inclines, and other difficult natural features will require your body to constantly react and adapt in order to navigate the obstacles. Most road runners are moving in a linear plane all the time, without much variety in terrain. This is why many runners, despite their overall strength, have a relative weakness in the stabilizing muscles of their hips. They are rarely moving side to side, as say a basketball player or soccer player might do. However, running difficult terrain will require a lot more lateral movement which will in turn build hip strength and help prevent injury.
Some great running trails to consider in the Austin area are: