I think the thrill of trail running is the unexpected – every second you are thinking of the next step, and just like mountain biking you are ‘choosing your line’. This is why a trail shoe is crucial…
The key to a good trail shoe is being able to mix the ability to grip all sorts of different terrain while still allowing contact for you to feel the ground. Trail running really engages core muscles because your gait is uneven due to the fact that you are dodging the objects you don’t want to land on – tree roots, rocks, puddles – but you obviously can’t avoid everything.
Your trail running shoe needs to allow your foot to roll with what it finds in every stride. If you can feel the rock, root or mush underneath you know your foot is compensating for it and you have a better chance of staying upright as your body alters your balance.
At Running Fit, we sell quite a range of trail shoes that provide a smooth ride amongst the rocky trails. Salomons are always a popular choice amongst runners and we recently just got in the Mizuno Ascends, which are a definite winner. For heavy footed runners and runners who are clocking lots of kilometers, the Hokas are favourites among the ultra runners.
This year I have really gotten into the trail running/adventure scene and the most recent events I have participated in are the Run from the Hills with Big Hill Events, the Lorne Adventure Race and most recently the Two Bays Trail Run.
I personally train in the Mizuno Ascend. I wore the Mizuno Ascend for the Run from the Hills half marathon trail event – which was definitely the hardest but most enjoyable runs I have ever done (yep harder than a marathon!). That course is very technical, the hills were VERY up and down – and you definitely need good cushioning under your foot but because of the technicality you need a good platform to be able to still feel the terrain beneath you so that your ankles don’t go astray! I also found them great in Two Bays where there were a lot more dirt roads and you start the race out on bitumen up Arthurs Seat! They also managed to keep me blister free as I trampled through puddles and crossed rivers in the Lorne Adventure Race.
The Ascend utilizes Wave technology by providing good placement for the foot and also scatters point-of-impact forces, for a cushioned and stable run. The heavy-duty X-Outsole pattern offers ground-hugging traction as you rip through the trail without making the shoe feel chunky or dull. The Ascend provides a responsive and cushioned ride, with lots of protection including protection at the toe. The mesh upper keeps your foot cool and ventilated and has an X-shaped overlay on the upper for lateral support and domination over rough terrain and also features a solid toe protector. The AP+ midsole offers amplified rebound, without sacrificing responsiveness or added weight.
I also sometimes train in the Hoka Rapanui, they are great in that it is in the performance range for Hoka, which means it actually has less sole then the other models. This is good for me in that I am used to a more minimal shoe and don’t like to be on a high platform. When I wear the Hokas, I don’t even feel the downhills – my knees seem to thank me! I guess it would only make sense in the fact that these shoes were designed from the beginning for the downhills! I was honestly surprised how well they respond on the trail, I can definitely see why these are ultra runners’ favourites.
To sum it up, trail running is a bit of a craze these days – Two Bays had 1000 runners! If it’s something you are looking at getting into, make sure you come in store and get fitted into the right trail shoe for you – it will make all the difference!