Picking Shoes for Trail Running. Part 2
Although it might sound counter-intuitive, waterproof shoes are not always the best option when it comes to trail running. The exception to the rule is a very muddy or snowy trail, but in general your feet will sweat too much for the shoe to allow them to dry out and breathe properly. This can lead to slippery insides of a shoe and even worse, blisters, so consider whether you really need waterproof shoes very carefully before you buy them!
Width and weight
Width is generally chosen according to the person’s foot. Wider shoes have advantages as you get to spread the toes and they don’t get as tired, however, wide shoes tend to be clumsier and less precise. When it comes to weight, naturally, you should aim at shoes that are as light as possible while still offering the comfort you are seeking for. Your legs are already doing a lot of work, help them by investing into shoes created to ease it and not make it more difficult!
If you want to be even more informed about the shoes that you are buying, there are some more aspects in need of attention that are very specific to trail shoes. One of those is lug length (lug width). Good grip is a lot more important than many might think. Grippy soles are mandatory as you will need to maneuver on slippery, rocky, uneven ground and one of the worst things that can happen while on a trail is an unexpected and hurtful fall. Here you need to think about the trails you will most often run on; if they are mostly muddy and/or soft, deep lug pattern is your go-to. If the surface you find yourself most often on is heavy with stones, smaller rocks or hard dirt, go for a short lug pattern.
Engineering aspects of your shoe are also very important. Ever heard of thick foam or rock plates? If yes, then you really are informed about your running shoes. If not, time to familiarize yourself. The general rule is that plates offer a more natural feel of the ground and, most importantly, more precise placement of your foot. This can be very useful if you hit surfaces that are not covered with small stones but rather with larger rocks you need to meander around. The other option, thick foam, is perfect for shock absorption and helps protect the foot from sharp rocks, so choose this if your trails are full of tiny but hurtful pieces of rock.
Some more things to think about before you go into the store:
- Price – set a limit for yourself so that a salesperson does not end up convincing you to get something you don’t need at all. That being said, do not go and buy just any pair if you can’t afford what you want right now, it’s better to wait a bit a get shoes that will really work for you. Do keep in mind that more expensive isn’t always better!
- Drop – that refers to heel-to-toe drop. Depending on your running style and preferences, it might be anywhere between completely flat to a 12mm drop.
- Fit – rule of thumb applies here pretty literally – a thumb should fit at the toe while your heel and midfoot should be nice and snug.
- Tongue – make sure it is comfortable yet tight enough to keep stones out of your shoe.