City or Mountain Running? Advantages and Disadvantages

If you like to go running, you've surely thought about where you can go. This time, we're going to compare two of the most popular options: the city and the mountains.
City or Mountain Running? Advantages and Disadvantages

Last update: 19 May, 2019

Maybe your new year’s resolution this year was to start running, either with your partner or your best friend? One of the most common questions regarding running has to do with where to run. In an urban environment or a natural landscape?

The advantages of running in the city

Among your other goals for this year, you promised yourself that you would go running every day, or at least several times a week. You already bought the correct clothing and you have all the motivation in the world…but you wonder if it’s okay to run in the middle of the city?

Of course, many people prefer to run in the park. You see them in the early hours during the summer or at noon in the winter, and you think to yourself: “I would like to do that too!” However, before starting, we recommend that you pay attention to the particularities of urban running.

1. Comfort

When you’re living in the city, being comfortable is as simple as dressing up and going jogging, you don’t even need to have a park nearby.

2. Specific training to go running

You can dodge obstacles -such as people, pets, cars, etc.- and work on toning your legs and ankles.

3. Different routes

You have the whole city at your disposal so you can choose which streets you want to take or which roads to run on. This way, you’ll avoid boredom… it’ll be more fun than the treadmill at the gym!

4. Say goodbye to stress

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons that you want to start running is to eliminate work-related stress or everyday problems. The good news is that running has the power to remove bad moods, anxiety, sadness or anger. It encourages the body to produce the so-called “happiness hormones.”

Disadvantages of urban running

Of course, as with everything in life, urban pedestrianism isn’t all beautiful and positive. Therefore, we also have to think about the disadvantages of running in the city:

1. Pollution

Even if you run in a park (the city’s “green lung”), you’ll be in contact with the smog and smoke that’s around you.

2. Traffic

Crossing the street can be quite an adventure when you’re running around the city. Therefore, it’s recommendable to avoid busy avenues, especially if you like to exercise while listening to music or talking to an exercise partner.

3. People everywhere

If you live in a big city, you’ll know that it’s impossible to ever be completely alone… much less when you’re on the move. Dodging people can be a nuisance when you go running, especially when spaces are small.

4. “Unfriendly” surfaces

In the city, we have no alternative but to run on the asphalt, a hard surface that can punish the ankle and knee joints. You can pick a spot where running on grass or dirt is allowed, although in many cities it’s prohibited.

Advantages of running in the mountains

Now, let’s move on to the second option: going for a run in the mountain, of course, has its pros and cons. These are some of the points in its favor:

1. Having contact with nature

The first thing we should emphasize is that being in an outdoor natural environment gives you the opportunity to be at one with nature. You can enjoy the environment and wonder at the trees, plants, birds, rivers, and everything else that the mountain entails.

If you’re tired of the city and its busy rush, exercising in its outskirts can be an excellent idea.

2. Soft and uneven surfaces to go running on

To avoid injuring your heels, feet or knees, it’s crucial that you exercise on soft surfaces, such as grass or dirt. Precisely what the mountains and their surroundings have to offer! Be careful with the rocky areas, though, because you can easily get hurt.

Some of the disadvantages of running in the mountains

Of course, as we did with running in cities, we must also highlight some of the not so favorable details of choosing the mountains as a place to go running:

1. Remoteness

If you want to schedule a weekly mountain running routine, you may have to consider the logistics of traveling to that spot.

We may not always have a mountain or a field nearby for the purpose of exercising. That means that we’ll have to wait for holidays or weekends to go running, which may not be the best idea since it’ll be difficult to go regularly.

2. Lack of supplies

If we go running in the city and our drinking water is depleted, we can always enter a store and buy some. The same goes for if we are injured or have an accident: within a few minutes, an ambulance or a police officer will arrive to assist us. This kind of help won’t come easily when we’re on the mountain; here, we’ll be somewhat isolated from civilization and any emergency help that we may need.

In short, it’s a question you must ask yourself: Which is better for me? Running in the city or the mountains? You can always complement your exercise and enjoy both scenarios.

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All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Easthope, C. S., Nosaka, K., Caillaud, C., Vercruyssen, F., Louis, J., & Brisswalter, J. (2014). Reproducibility of performance and fatigue in trail running. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.

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