If the Shoe Fits: A Buyers' Guide to Trail Running Shoes

8:06 p.m. on July 13, 2009 (EDT)
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This thread is for comments on the article "If the Shoe Fits: A Buyers' Guide to Trail Running Shoes"

To choose the right trail running shoes, or trail runners, consider the features of the various shoes on the market, as well as the unique nature and biomechanics of your feet. Know your feet, know the terrain, and know if the shoe fits.

Full article at http://www.trailspace.com/articles/buyers-guide-to-trail-running-shoes.html

7:10 a.m. on August 21, 2009 (EDT)
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I have been a serious trail runner for about three years. Prior to that I was a rather casual runner; running to stay fit for hiking trips and avoiding road-only runs where possible to prevent boredom! My views on trail shoes have evolved quite a lot in this time, and are still evolving.

I live in the UK and it’s worth noting that we have nothing like the choice of trail shoes that are available in the US. Stability or motion control trail shoes are practically unheard of over here. Years ago a staff member from a running store watched me run and told me I was a neutral runner, so I didn’t give it much thought.

I have taken part in many one day ultras, over distances from 30 to 85 miles. For the longer ones and those not in mountainous areas, until recently my shoe of choice was the Montrail Continental Divide (CD). I used them because I wanted my feet to be well protected and supported.

For more technical running, especially in mountainous areas, I used much more minimal shoes, which give better ‘feel’ and control. In 2007, I did the GL3D, a UK mountain running event covering 65 miles in 3 days, wearing my Inov8 Mudroc 290 ‘fell shoes’; very minimal, snug fitting ‘slippers’, with grippy soles and little cushioning. Beforehand I thought my feet would end up really bashed up, as it had been a dry month and the trails were in hard condition. However, it was a revelation: my feet felt great at the end of it.

Until recently I never questioned my need for very supportive shoes in ultras, despite my GL3D experience. What really made me think was reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. It calls into question the whole rationale for ‘modern’ running shoes, although that is only a small part of the book.

Having read Born to Run, and thinking back to my GL3D experience, I realized what a wonderful piece of engineering my feet are: the best I can do is interfere with their function as little as possible. I now run in the lightest shoes I can. Now, my ‘everyday’ shoes are Inov8 F-Lite 230s; basically a racing flat with a ‘light trail’ tread, and on trail ultras, where the jabs from the small stones underfoot get a bit much after a few hours in a thin-soled shoe, I use a more cushioned one, but nothing as ‘engineered’ as the CD.

I am not telling anyone to just throw received wisdom on shoes out of the window, but I know how well ‘going lighter’ has worked for me, and I would encourage anyone reading this to give it some serious thought. Read Born to Run or one of the various articles Christopher has written on shoes (The painful truth about trainers, on the UK Daily Mail’s website is a good one). See what you think.

December 20, 2014
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