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What impact does trail running have on resilience?

Runners will tell you: finishing a race is an accomplishment that comes with a good dose of joy, gratitude and pride. You feel relaxed, happy and confident. Awesome isn't it? However, it is a practice that comes with its set of chronic injuries, fatigue, aches and pains, and so on... It cannot be said enough: finishing a race is as much a physical challenge as it is a mental one.

In a study entitled "Building resilience through trail running", Selene Lincol demonstrates that trail running strengthens us physically and, more importantly, mentally.
Resilience is the ability to recover or adapt easily to an incident or change. Being resilient is knowing how to bounce back from a difficult events.

"Trail running provides transferable benefits and skills for everyday life, such as resilience, perspective change, readiness and mental health support. Participants have a better ability to handle change and evoke more joy and confidence in their daily lives."

- Selene Lincoln

Building resilience through trail running

Building resilience through trail running: women's perspectives, page 407

Running enables us to accept our mistakes and to move forward, even if the event seems tough. For 65% of runners surveyed, trail running is an opportunity to learn, grow and shape their future. A reminder that we evolve with change, and that change allows us to become a better person.

"In a race, the first few miles are often the most difficult.
The same goes for everyday challenges, both at work and in our relationships. Running helps us realize that while something may seem difficult at first, it won't always be."

- A survey respondent

The essence of trail running is not only about running. It is the quest for a unique experience, in symbiosis with our environment. Running in the middle of nature, far from everything, allows us to change our perspective, to be more mindful, to better understand ourselves and what surrounds us.

The benefits of trail running on the body and mind are reminiscent of Shinrin Yoku (Forest Bathing in English), a Japanese practice that consists of soaking up nature while walking or running. According to Dr. Qing Li's research, "forest bathing" promotes lower cortisol levels, lower blood pressure and higher parasympathetic nervous activity than in an urban environment. Trail running is a true meditation session that allows us to reconnect with our innate ability to heal.

Nearly 80% of participants find trail running a way to learn how to cope with their emotions. Runners use their practice to strengthen their resilience and reconnect with the wilderness. This has an impact on their self-confidence, their bravery and their tenacity in their daily life.
So go on an adventure! Challenge yourself! Above all, take care of yourself, listen to your body and your mind. Stay optimistic, believe in yourself and your abilities: set goals for yourself during your trails as well as in your daily life. You will fail and that is normal! It's part of the game... Beware, you will be surprised! You are much stronger than you think. Over time, you will not only recover more easily from life's ups and downs, but you will grow from them!
What impact does your sport activity have on your resilience? Share your experience with us.
To learn more about resilience, read also the Ultra de Bromont and How to find your why? with Nicolas Danne

 

References:

Dr. Qing Li (April 17, 2018). Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness

Selene Lincoln (2021) Building resilience through trail running: women’s perspectives, Leisure/Loisir, 45:3, 397-421

Timm, K., Kamphoff, C., Galli, N., & Gonzalez, S. P. (2017). Resilience and growth in marathon runners in the aftermath of the 2013 Boston marathon bombings. The Sport Psychologist, 31(1), 42–55. 10.1123/tsp.2015-0053.

The physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku (2010) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19568835/

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