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The Trail-running thread

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The Trail-running thread

Postby visentin » Sun Apr 15, 2012 10:16 pm

OK, most of us are mountaineers but perhaps few of us in the sect are also wasting their time in running :)
So far I ran with a pair of old Adidas Supernova, not intensively used, but each time I go to a shoes shop I wonder why I'm still running with wooden shoes. And it seems that I'm slightly an overpronator, which would require preferably a corresponding sole.
I ran mostly on asphalt so far but I realized recently I prefer to run on the soil, and I found the few attempts of trail-running funnier than the flat commute route from work.
And if everything goes fine I'll run the trail-athlon in August "terratlon.pl".
And last but not least, soon is my birthday :)
So I went to shops to see...
Asics Trabucco ? Enduro ?
Adidas Kanadia ?
Salomon XA PRO 3D ?
Anyone has experience on some of these ?
Last edited by visentin on Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trail running shoes ?

Postby ExcitableBoy » Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:07 pm

My background: 25+ years of trail running, 15+ years competeing in ultramarathons and other length trail races. First off, all trail shoes are stabilty shoes by nature so these should work whether you under or over pronate. Some brands are basically road shoes that have been hardened for trail use, others are built to be trail shoes from the ground up. I have used trail shoes from Asics, ADIDAS, Nike, Montrail, Solomon, Vasque, and Brooks. Of the brands you mentioned I have used the Ascics Trabucco, Solomon (although XT Wings), and ADIDAS (can't remember the models, but I used a few).

The Asics are really a road shoe hardened for trail use (improved lateral stability, harder midsole to prevent rocks/roots from damaging the underfoot). For good, well maintained trails these are great shoes. I find them lacking in protection for nasty trails (lots of big rocks and roots) and off trail. They also fit my feet very well (narrowish heel, wideish forefoot).

The Solomons are a purpose built trail shoe. Better lateral stability and better under foot and toe protection for nasty trails and off trail. The Solomons tend to fit higher volume feet and have a boxier fit. I added an after market insole and wear a thick sock to get a decent fit. Not a bad thing as after runing 7 or 8 hours the feet tend to swell quite a bit.

I can't comment on the specific model you mentioned, but the ADIDAS I used were the least trail worthy of the shoes I used: very lightweight, little protection, and a funky 'spoiler' appendage on the heel of the sole. That was years ago and the newer offerings may be more trail worthy.

Hope that helps,

EB
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Re: Trail running shoes ?

Postby seano » Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:32 pm

For reasonable trails, pretty much any running shoe, road or otherwise, is fine. If you're running relatively good trails, as opposed to cross-country or the rubble-piles built by horse packers, I'd stick with whatever is working for you now. If not, I'd look for two things: toe protection, since you *will* stub your toes when you're tired, and side-of-foot protection for dealing with sharp rubble.

For several years, I did everything from road running to off-trail scrambling in a model of Asics road runners that were cheap and fit me well. Other than the side mesh getting trashed by scree, they worked fine. More recently, I've used two of the extremes of trail running shoes: New Balance 101s (minimalist, discontinued), and Sportiva Quantums (pillowy, won in a raffle). The former are fine even on fairly rough trails, but I wouldn't take them on talus, because they don't offer much side protection. The latter have good toe and side protection, but are of course somewhat heavier.
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Re: Trail running shoes ?

Postby ExcitableBoy » Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:12 am

seano wrote:For reasonable trails, pretty much any running shoe, road or otherwise, is fine.

I suppose that depends upon what your definition of a 'reasonable' trail is. On a gravel covered, well graded, mainatined trail will no potholes, roots, rocks, holes, etc, then road shoes are fine. Any other type of trail than could cause the foot to roll, a trail running with good lateral stability is a much better option. In a million or so miles of trail running I've done, I've rolled my ankle exactly once, while wearing road shoes. I've never done this in trail shoes.
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Re: Trail running shoes ?

Postby seano » Mon Apr 16, 2012 2:51 am

ExcitableBoy wrote:I suppose that depends upon what your definition of a 'reasonable' trail is. On a gravel covered, well graded, mainatined trail will no potholes, roots, rocks, holes, etc, then road shoes are fine. Any other type of trail than could cause the foot to roll, a trail running with good lateral stability is a much better option.

By "reasonable" I mean that the surface is stable. Rocks and roots are fine; loose talus is not. You've put in many more miles than I have, but I've run enough rooty, rocky trails, and my feeling is that no amount of running shoe will save me from poor foot placement. (Actually, I'm more likely to catch a toe and face-plant than roll an ankle.) And if it's lateral stability you want, it seems like something that fits well with the thinnest adequate sole would be best, since it has less play and puts your ankle closer to the ground.
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Re: Trail running shoes ?

Postby ExcitableBoy » Mon Apr 16, 2012 3:42 am

seano wrote:And if it's lateral stability you want, it seems like something that fits well with the thinnest adequate sole would be best, since it has less play and puts your ankle closer to the ground.

I think there is a lot more to lateral stability like shape of sole, density of sole, density of midsole, density and construction of uppers, lacing pattern and so forth. I may just be sensitive since I've class 3 sprained both ankles; one ankle twice, (once running, once skiing, and once climbing, or rather falling) but I can feel the difference between a quality trail shoe and a road shoe in lateral stability, not to mention foot protection, both underfoot and top of foot. .
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Re: Trail running shoes ?

Postby visentin » Mon Apr 16, 2012 8:24 am

ExcitableBoy wrote:The Asics are really a road shoe hardened for trail use (improved lateral stability, harder midsole to prevent rocks/roots from damaging the underfoot). For good, well maintained trails these are great shoes. I find them lacking in protection for nasty trails (lots of big rocks and roots) and off trail. They also fit my feet very well (narrowish heel, wideish forefoot).


Thanks guys. This comforts me in the idea of buying the Asics; so far I'm not running into mountainsides of stone rubbles, it's rather the kind of maintained trail you're talking about. Yes, the Salomon looked tougher concerning the protection, but I don't think I'm up to these requirements yet (and this kind of terrain is too far from where I live). Many other friends recommended me the Asics too.
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Re: Trail running shoes ?

Postby seano » Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:41 pm

ExcitableBoy wrote:I may just be sensitive since I've class 3 sprained both ankles; one ankle twice, (once running, once skiing, and once climbing, or rather falling) but I can feel the difference between a quality trail shoe and a road shoe in lateral stability, not to mention foot protection, both underfoot and top of foot. .

Yep, a previous serious sprain could make all the difference. I mildly sprained an ankle in a fall last summer, and had to tread carefully for awhile after that. Fortunately, both my ankles are still in pretty good shape, so I don't really feel the difference between road and trail shoes beyond whatever foot protection they provide (mostly in the toes).
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Re: Trail running shoes ?

Postby SeanReedy » Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:09 pm

I'm not sure if there other/better tools like it, but I found this interesting:

http://www.runnersworld.com/shoeadvisor
.
.
Temporary highjack-- When I got back into running about 10 years ago, I tried on about 20 different brands of running shoes and found that the only ones that felt like they fit me properly were size 13 Reeboks (other brands generally seemed too small, but size 14 too big Edit-- & often hard to find). Ever since then, I find it difficult to steer away from the Reebok Outlet 5 minutes from my house. They start at a discount from full retail, and then have a buy two pairs, get one pair free deal (or buy one pair, get one half price). They used to also allow an additional 15% AAA member discount (now it is one discount or the other).

Now, ten years later, I almost never run on pavement and am more likely to end up hiking or running periodically in the rough and rocky conditions discussed in the above posts (sometimes wet conditions too). I am sometimes curious about taking an inconvenient 30-45 minute drive to try on the variety of higher end trail shoes at places like REI or trying on some from online retailers that offer free shipping. I wouldn't consider the extra hassle and expense except that I find the trail shoe offerings in the last couple of years at the Reebok Outlet have been even less rugged instead of more rugged, and although they usually last me a long time and are comfortable, Reebok has never been known for its trail running shoes. In a recent stop there, a trail shoe mildly interested me more than what I had seen in recent years, but they had no size 13 in stock at the time (usually not an issue there). I am heavy for a runner, strike forefoot (sometimes midfoot in rough/steep conditions), and have normal arch & pronation mechanics. I have had some problems with sore toes/loss of big toenails on long, steep, downhill hikes, and did have some typical lateral ankle sprains 3-4 years ago, but don't have much to complain about, especially given the prices I have been paying for footwear.

Suggestions/leads/links for trail shoes on the rugged end of the spectrum that might work for me on rougher hikes/runs are welcome. I'll stick with cheap Reeboks for runs on less rugged trails.
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Re: Trail running shoes ?

Postby BigMitch » Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:15 am

The start line at a local 100 mile trail run this last Friday was a study in contrasts.

Old-timers like me showed up in the usual trail running shoes, a few young guys were wearing a version of Vibram 5 fingers on steroids, but a lot of runners were wearing Hokas.

They look like clown shoes and one guy told me that "they feel like cheating!" Basically, big pillows for your feet that absorb all of the shock from the rocks. Sounded like the ticket.

When I got home, I ordered a pair, despite gagging at the price ($150). It was easy to do when my toes were swollen and beat up.

Now, I have to figure out what to do with my collection of NB, Salomon, and Keen trail running shoes.

BTW: If any of you run winter ultras, several of us noticed one guy wearing Hokas at the Tuscobia race last December. They did not sink into the soft snow like normal trail shoes. The extra couple of inches in width greatly aided flotation. Same principal as 100 mm clown shoe rims for snow bikes.
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Re: Trail running shoes ?

Postby peninsula » Thu Apr 19, 2012 3:17 pm

I took up trail running after reading Born to Run and appreciating how detrimental heel striking is to one's entire body... especially the feet, achilles, knees and back. Now I try to avoid asphalt altogether as it still hurts my feet far more than trail running. I was having so much fun trail running, I decided to enter competitive events recently and subsequently did my research on trail shoes. There are a ton of choices! Bottom line, you don't need much of a shoe, what you need is a comfortable fit. Throw all the expensive gels, anti-pronation garbage, and "foot support" out the window. Running correctly by striking with the lateral or outside region of the forefoot, rolling to the inside, and hardly touching the heel to the ground not only enforces correct foot alignment, it helps to build the soft tissues in the feet. Unless one's feet are already messed up, any kind of built in foot support is counterproductive to building soft tissue in the feet. Even with "messed up" feet, correct running is often more therapeutic than "corrective insoles". Correct running technique demands more of the calf muscles and takes time for proper conditioning. Correct running technique further helps to avoid twisted ankles which will be another price paid when heel striking on a rugged trail.

My advice is to read Born to Run, confirm correct running technique, and get a shoe with minimal support if any, and get one that conforms to the anatomy of your foot. For my feet, I need a large toe box so my toes and forefoot have plenty of room to expand. The shoe I ended up with is the following Montrail model:

http://www.montrail.com/Men's-Mountain- ... lt,pd.html

It is not entirely minimalist, it does have lots of cushion, probably too much. I went for the extra cushion because I developed gout issues when trying to run in five-finger shoes. However, that was partly due to not running correctly, I was landing too much on the ball of my feet instead of "rolling" for the lateral aspect. The problem with too much cushion is the cushion creates friction and until the cushion is well broken in, this friction can create forefoot blister issues if running longer distances with the shoe straight out of the box. Now that my Montrails are well broken in, they are perfect for my feet, but I'll go with less cushion next time around.

Get two pairs of running shoes. Alternate the pairs which is good for both the shoe and the foot. Have fun, trail running beats the tar out of asphalt when it comes to the fun factor!
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Re: Trail running shoes ?

Postby ExcitableBoy » Thu Apr 19, 2012 7:47 pm

I don't buy the whole 'heel striking' is bad thing. If you have bad knees or whatever, this may help, otherwise it is not necessary. I have been running competitvely (heel striking) for 20 years, my running partner for 35 years (also heel striking) with no injuries and over 100 marathons and ultra marathons between us. Short answer is; some folks weren't made to run. I complete with the best ultrarunners on the planet (Scott Jurek, who is also a physical therapist) and Uli Stedeli and neither of them buy into that nonsese either. They wear proper trail running shoes.
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Re: Trail running shoes ?

Postby peninsula » Thu Apr 19, 2012 8:14 pm

ExcitableBoy wrote:I don't buy the whole 'heel striking' is bad thing. If you have bad knees or whatever, this may help, otherwise it is not necessary. I have been running competitvely (heel striking) for 20 years, my running partner for 35 years (also heel striking) with no injuries and over 100 marathons and ultra marathons between us. Short answer is; some folks weren't made to run. I complete with the best ultrarunners on the planet (Scott Jurek, who is also a physical therapist) and Uli Stedeli and neither of them buy into that nonsese either. They wear proper trail running shoes.


It works for me. I'd suggest otherwise when studying the dynamics of compressive forces when heel striking verses the forefoot. I certainly would not call it nonsense, because it is definitely not. With all due respect, I recommend you read the book, Born to Run.
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Re: Trail running shoes ?

Postby seano » Thu Apr 19, 2012 8:34 pm

From what I understand, barefoot-style running works for some people and not for others in terms of speed, efficiency, and injury-prevention. For example, top marathoners have all kinds of foot strikes (though the position of the strike relative to the body's center of mass may be the same). For a thorough discussion, see here.
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Re: Trail running shoes ?

Postby spiritualspatula » Fri Apr 20, 2012 8:03 am

I'll go ahead and comment because initially, when I was poor and in high school, the typical footwear for all my backpacking was an Asics GT2150 if I recall right. I also ran track in the same shoes. Since then, I've run the equivalent trailrunning version. The main difference is that the TR's are made with a harder sole and are made with more aggressive lugs that will sustain harder wear on harder terrain. They also will serve to stabilize the foot better, but, from what I've read and hear, are not quite as suitable for marathon+ distances due to the amount of cushioning. I guess it depends upon the trail you're running, but the trails I run are WAY too rocky to do barefoot/barefoot style, without working up to the pressure for a year or two minimum, just to replicate the same speed/distance.
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