Hey iRun readers – hope everyone had a great summer of racing! This time of year always brings back memories of cross-country running in high school and university for me. The crisp autumn air and the changing color of the leaves certainly makes it the ideal time of year to get out and do some trail running. I figured this would be a great time to go over some differences between trail shoes and regular running shoes and whether or not they’re worth the extra money.
Probably one of the most obvious differences between trail shoes and regular running shoes is their more rugged structure. Trail shoes often have re-enforced upper materials in order to protect your feet from poking sticks and rocks. In addition, trail shoes often have a much higher density mid-sole material in order to alleviate bruising from below from rocks and roots. I would debate that these features don’t necessarily reduce the risk of ankle sprains however these are definitely valuable features to have if you have more sensitive feet that feel bruised after a run on the trails, or if you are looking for something more durable.
The main downside that I see to trail shoes is their lack of specific support with respect to the various foot types. Because the majority of trail shoes are neutral, certain foot types may run into problems due to their lack of specific motion control. In addition, because trail shoes are often heavier and stiffer, they don’t always work so well running on harder surfaces.
My general suggestion to most people asking whether or not to make the switch to trail shoes is to stick with their regular running shoes. This way you have a familiar, comfortable fit that should work well on the majority of trails. That being said, for those looking for extra durability or a little more protection from the elements, trail shoes can certainly offer that extra level of protection.