Ever since I became a runner, I ‘ve always been warned of the supposed dangers of running on hard surfaces, especially concrete and sidewalks.
But if you’re a city dweller—just like most of us—a paved road, whether it’s concrete or the sidewalk might be the only two options you got to squeeze a run in, especially when life gets busy.
So which of these two impacts your legs the least?
In today’s post, I’ll explain the pros and cons of running on concrete and asphalt surfaces.
Running On Asphalt
A combination of tar, sand and crushed rock, most roads are made of asphalt. This material is the most widely used material and is often used on city streets, sidewalks, and park trails.
- Asphalt is considered as one of the fastest running terrains and the easiest to measure.
- Asphalt has more give than concrete and remains a stable terrain.
- Most road races take place on asphalt. That’s why you should do a lot of training on it if you’re getting ready for an upcoming race.
- Although not the hardest of all terrains, asphalt is not as merciful nor forgiving as some other surfaces.
- Despite being smooth, many roads have camber or sloped shoulder. This may cause injury as your body tries to compensate for the difference in height.
- The road can be littered with many different dangers, from trucks to potholes, which can make running less safe.
Running on The Sidewalk
Concrete, the stuff most sidewalks are made, ss constructed by mixing a cement binder with an aggregate material.
- Concrete is found virtually along pretty much every pavement surface around the world.
- In most cities, the sidewalk is usually reserved pedestrians, making it safer than the roads.
- You may also be in proximity to grass when running on the sidewall. Grass is the ideal running surface for your joints.
- Concrete is undoubtedly the hardest— maybe ten times harder than asphalt— and least forgiving terrain you can run on, causing tremendous shock to your lower body joints.
- Concrete is too slippery on rainy
Asphalt Vs. Concrete – Which one is Better For Runners?
As far as I can tell from the scientific papers published on the subject, I’m not sure. There’s a wide range of studies coming to different conclusions with some championing concrete while other encouraging runners to train on asphalt.
Just do a Google search, and you’ll find yourself in the midst of experts contradicting each other.
But if I had to choose, I’d go for asphalt, but not on a slanted surface.
In general, the downsides of running on concrete outweigh the pros over time, and you should avoid running on concrete whenever possible.
Not only that, but you can also mitigate many of the risks associated with running on asphalt.
Here are a few suggestions:
Keep safety a priority. Go for roads with spacious shoulder and bike lanes—as long as there’s enough space between you and cars passing by, you’re safe.
Minimize camber. Alternate the sides of streets when running alongside the curb. Run near the center of the road to avoid the camber only when it’s safe.
Always run facing traffic. Stick to the edge of the street or shoulder as often as possible.
Pay attention. Keep your eyes and ears on your surroundings. Turn your music down and be aware of what’s happening around you. Situational awareness is key.
Look for softer surfaces. When available, run on grass, a park, a dirt path, or bike path. These are better running surfaces by leaps and bounds.
So did I answer your question? Do you have a different answer? Maybe you prefer running on the sidewalk instead of roads. I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.
In the meantime, thank you for reading my post.
Keep Running Strong.