Mom on the Run: Surface with a Purpose

This month I would like to discuss the importance of varying the types of surfaces that you are logging your miles on.

I’m often asked about my longevity in running (Remember I’m 34, I’ve been running for over 20 years and I plan on running 20 plus more!).  I honestly believe my mental and physical stamina to keep logging miles is related to the surfaces in which I train.


I learned to love running on grass in high school during cross country practice.  I love grass because it’s incredibly forgiving.  Often times when I’m starting to incorporate speed work I like to start on grass because it lessens the pounding on my bones and joints. I would recommend starting out on a smooth soccer or football field and practice with your strides back and forth.


It’s important to run on concrete and asphalt bikes baths as it callouses your body. This enables you to handle running the roads during winter when trails aren’t as easily accessible. (I learned this when running for the University of Colorado. It was extremely important during the winter months with heavy snowfall.) Most major races are run on the roads so it’s also important to train on the surfaces you will race on.


I like running on trails and am lucky to have 365 access in Georgia.  Trails are excellent for building stronger ankles, giving the body a softer place to land, and runs go by so effortlessly with beautiful scenery. Add the hills and it is truly strength training in disguise.


The track is still one of my favorite places to run. It’s ideal for speedwork and intervals. I use the track to run my weekly 200’s and even sometimes hop on it for an extra fast tempo or 1k repeats. It’s a good place to run when you’re not sure how far you can go for the day or whether you’re nursing an injury, sick, etc. I ran here often when I was pregnant because I could count on the smooth surface, I had a bathroom every ¼ mile, and for safety reasons. You can also bail at any point. Tip: swap halfway through your run and try running the other direction too.

I hope this inspires you to switch your running surfaces up. It does the body good!

Laura Pifer, Mom on the Run

3 x High School National Champion (2 Track 1 XC) and former H.S. National Recorder holder (5k 16:29) from Bingham H.S. She was part of the University of Colorado’s National Championship team. Post-collegiate she has run a recent 4:36 mile and enjoys competing in 5k & 10k road races. She is currently a mother, business owner, and athlete.

Published: October 2018