Even More Thoughts on Trail Running Shoes

I know. It gets exhausting for me too. And at this point, the third entry in my attempt to say something meaningful about shoes, it’s important for me to acknowledge that the best shoes on the planet won’t run for me. I have to do that part. The shoes might make the run feel better, but my quads and the stabilizer muscles around my ankles are likely the more important pieces of equipment.

Having acknowledged that, here is some more stuff to consider.

Drop is a thing. There are zero drop shoes, 4mm, 8mm. These differences have an effect on your gait. Most folks have run in 8mm drop shoes (or thereabouts), and that’s what they’re used to. Could less drop be good for you? Maybe. But I’d wanna give those shoes a test run before I jumped off that cliff.

Did I not mention this before? Are you a forefoot, midfoot, or heel strike runner? They’re pretty different, and again, the shoes you wear can be compatible or incompatible with your natural running style. I’m a midfoot guy. Heel strike oriented shoes don’t roll well for me.

Someone smarter than I am said, “Minimalist shoes put stress on lower leg tendons, muscles, and ligaments, so those are the injuries we see from minimalist runners. Maximalist shoes puts stress on your hips and lower back, so those are the injuries we see from runner who chose maximum cushioning.”

That assessment jibes with my experience and gives some substance to the idea I expressed in the last installment of this series, that we should all diversify our selection of trail running shoes, if only to move the structural burden of regular running to different areas of the body. This seems like advice mainly for older runners, like myself, but as nearly all running injuries are repetitive use injuries, the sooner you start balancing the load of your running, the longer, theoretically, you can stay healthy.

Finally, just a word about advice and endorsement. My aim is never to tell you what shoes to wear. Our feet are different. Our injury histories are different (I hope yours is shorter). Our needs are just not the same. If I illustrate a post like this one with a pair of shoes there are three things you should infer. First, I have run or will soon run in those shoes. Second, I paid for them. Third, I can say whatever I want about them, but I choose not to, because of all the reasons at the beginning of this paragraph.

4 thoughts on “Even More Thoughts on Trail Running Shoes

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  1. My current shoes are altra lone peaks. I’m on my third pair, which is saying something because I push them for a year. It’s been so long since I researched them that I’ve forgotten the drop (I assume between 0 and 4mm). I sort of jumped off the clif when I came to zero drop. I was running in a pair of Nike Pegasus road shoes – those have a drop of 12mm or more. I was a terrible heel striker and I was always injured. I rebooted, made the switch to mid/forefoot strike and my running health has been better ever since. I gave up about a minute on my pace when I made that switch, but I’d rather run slowly than not run at all, which is what I was doing as an always injured heel striker. I love talking about running shoes.


    1. I wish I could get into the wide forefoot of Altras, but I feel like I’m swimming in them. I have narrower feet. The Salomon and Saucony last seems to work well for me.

      I tried briefly to become a forefoot runner, when that was the thing to do, but it just didn’t work for me, and I eventually decided that not everyone needs to run the same way.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah, yes. the wide forefoot. I think I take that for granted now. Thinking back I now believe that was the feature that sold me. The form change was brutal (my calves hurt all the time) but It has proven to be the right move for this aging runner. I probably trip on roots and rocks more than I should though.


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