What Makes A Good Trail Running Shoe
A question often asked amongst novices to the trail running scene is, “What makes a good Trail Running Shoe?” – By Brendan Lombard (ASICS Frontrunner)
Before I describe the closest thing to a perfect shoe, one must understand the dynamics and technicalities of trail running. Trail running is inherently more dangerous and technical than running on the road. Physically it is extremely taxing on the body and often sometimes we find ourselves red lining and diving into our VO2 max zones whilst ascending some gnarly mountain which the earth has been so kind to bless us with. Thus, it is important to have a shoe which provides ankle support, grip, a lightweight built and of course the style, protection, cushioning and breathability a runner requires from a shoe whilst putting our bodies through what most think is utterly NUTS! We trail runners often climb gradients a treadmill only dreams of reaching and we also descend some exposed single track and fly along jeep tracks faster than a 1970’s 4×4. So, in a nutshell, we need a shoe that does it all.
Trail running allows for the foot to fall a lot more naturally than on the road due to the undulating terrain, hence my reference to ankle support in order to make sure we don’t come away with a strain from bouncing over rocks or landing in wet, muddy dirt allowing our foot to sink and cause an over pronation or supination which could lead to an injury of the ankle and the surrounding ligaments and muscles if we are not conditioned enough to prevent such an occurrence.
Trail running often finds us running in abnormal weather or on surfaces which are not the easiest to remain stable on and we see in the post-race photo’s a picture resembling a surfer rather than a trail runner as we try navigate to correct our gracious “slip.” Thus, grip is highly important in aiding trail runners in the pursuit of speed, a PB or just simply the ability to remain upright.
A shoe which is lightweight, yet stable and supportive is best on the trails. Whether running a 10km trail or ultra trail race, one does not want to carry any extra weight especially as shoes more often than not end up carrying some extra debris or water from running through rivers and exposed terrain. It might sound ridiculous, but one does also not want to be running with heavy shoes if a race with some epic fast sections await.
Protection is a must in order to prevent stubbing one’s toe on a rock or descending at such a rapid pace that the toe box causes those bruised and bloody toe’s riddled with blisters. Make sure sufficient space between your toes and the front of the shoe is evident as well as a hard toe box to prevent yourself from re – enacting Joel’s 1995 Rugby World Cup drop goal.
Sufficient cushioning is a must. As runners our joints take a beating and we need a shoe to soften our landings and foot strikes so that injury prevalence is decreased as well as also provide an energy return during those long, hard, slogs.
Lastly, we all want something that looks good and lets our feet breathe. The modern runner enjoys sporting some “fresh kicks” on the start line for his/her friends to envy and marvel at. Luckily trail runners are a really fun bunch and tend to pull off style on the trails really well. There is also nothing worse than running in 33 degree heat and one feels as if they are hauling themselves over hot coals due to some very hot and swollen feet. Therefore, find something that allows your feet to “flirt with the air.” Not to mention it might help with some of the post – race “pong.”
Brendan Lombard’s Recommendation
It is with no further a due then that I announce which shoe I have found best to work for me. The ASICS GEL-FujiAttack 5. It is great on technical trails allowing superior grip and also light enough to gallop along at some rather rapid speeds. I am able to descend confidently and cruise through exposed sections knowing my feet and ankles are protected with a sturdy design. It provides just enough cushioning so that I do not feel every rock and bump and also allows for my feet to breathe a bit. One last thing about these trail blazers – they look FRESH too.
The ASICS GEL-FujiAttack 5 is available at selected sport retailers nationwide. The shoe offers designs for males and females – colour, model and size is subject to availability.
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