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To many, trail running is the supreme discipline of running: out and about in the mountains, crossing rockfall and streams, through woods and up on summits. But trail running is not always that extreme, as it is also about running on simple plains or along your local river. To meet all these different requirements, trail running shoes vary a lot: shock absorption, stability, soles and treads, as well as materials are all crucial elements to be considered when choosing the right equipment. In order to equip you with a helping hand in this rather difficult search, we´ve created the Sport Conrad Shoe Configurator as a means to make sure that you´re gonna get on the right track - or trail if you will - with your next pair of trail running shoes.
The trail running shoe is very different to your regular running shoe
Be it high-alpine terrain or in the flat, all trail running shoes have some specific features that set them apart from your regular running shoe.
First of all, the profile or tread. In uneven terrain, you need stability, grip and a good transfer of power, which is why these shoes have knobs, grooves and cleats.
Also the sole gives you more stability: It is stiffer, decreasing its torsional movement which is especially important when the ground is very soft or rocky. A midsole prevents you from injuries caused by small rocks, thorns or other sharp things. Underneath your heel, this shoe is a bit wider to guard you from twisting your ankle. Also, your center of gravity is a bit farther down, giving you a more direct ground contact.
Some people might be surprised that this shoe has less dampening. But actually, it really makes sense. Because the ground out in nature is much softer than streets, meaning you need less shock absorption!
One feature that you will notice right away is the material. Trail running shoes need to be a bit more robust than regular shoes. Because they obviously need to save you from rocks and other things. Again, there are different options. Most people use shoes of breathable material, others have water resistant Gore-Tex material.
Trail running shoes – what are the differences?
As already said, trail running shoes can be used for a large variety of different terrain. Especially those who are just beginning with this sport will want shoes that are good on the streets as well. Because here, the motto is „from door to trail”, and you will need a few kilometers to get to the trail from your door. Meaning you need good shock absorption and good profile. And then there are other trail running shoes: Those running on a more advanced level on unsecured paths in the mountains will need way more stability. But the shock absorption is weaker, because that would only make you lose stability. And then there are those shoes for running races. Again, stability and profile are key but you also want them to be as light as possible.
Also, there are other additional details such as quicklace or Boa system or integrated gaiters.
Most importantly, the shoe needs to fit you well!
Other than meeting your individual needs, the shoe also needs to fit your style of running. And this is very much affected by your foot position, meaning how your foot turns when running. This is called pronation type. With pronation, your foot leans a bit too far inwards. Supination, which is the opposite is when it leans too far to the outside. When not using the right shoe to treat this, damage on your knees and hips can easily occur. As of this, it is important to pick the right shoe. Whoever has a neutral running style does not have to pay attention to any of these and has the greatest selection of shoes.
Of course it is also important that the shoe fits you generally. Some people have wider, other people narrower feet, ankles that are lower or higher up and so on. Also, your toes need to have enough space. Because downhill is a big part of trailrunning and your toes will hurt if they touch in the front. What is more, the shoe should not be to tight or wide, because that would lead to pain and blistering.
In the end, you need to try on a bunch of shoes to find the one that fits you the best! If you have already had positive experience with one brand and their running shoes, they might also have a well-fitting pair of trail running shoes for you! Also, make sure you also have the rest of the needed equipment: breathable running apparel, jackets, pants, socks and maybe backpacks, running poles and a sports watch.