The result of a sample of 1 is this: when I started running more on the soft surfaces in the parks of New York I began to improve my form, lower my PRs, and feel better. As a result I have to assume I have become less injury-prone. I had followed the advice of my coach and friend Toby Tanser and the Kenyans he works with. Train mostly on soft, race on hard roads, and conquer.
Another such sample confirming my preference for the soft underground: when I hurt my foot two weeks ago, it came after an intense speed workout on the rock-hard loop around the Oval in Central Park. I have felt all kinds of pain while running on the bouncier trails, but nothing like this.
Gina Kolata, runner and New York Times reporter, concludes that there is no difference in injury rates between those of us on the trails and roads. The ever excellent Well Blog about that issue intrigued me. Favorite line about the question why no one knows what’s best for you: “I think the reason people haven’t answered that question is that it is not an easy question to answer,” Dr. Warden said. Science at work!
The article does not discuss the impact of running surface on one’s speed, form and general running happiness. Maybe that’s because the latter would be hard to measure in anyone. I wouldn’t know right now anyway. I haven’t run in 8 days. I would pay to run – on any kind of surface.