Still More Thoughts on Trail Running Shoes

Never stop running. Never stop thinking about your feet hitting the ground.


I’m trying to figure out what the right selection of running shoes is. I know I don’t have it currently. I have four pairs of trail shoes. One is absolute magic. One was absolute magic, but now it has a hole in the toe. One is and always was just ok, but is old now, and maybe doesn’t fit as well as I’d like. The last I wear if I’m walking, but is no good for running in. That means I pick the same pair over and over, and as I’ve said before, you can’t run in the same shoes all the time.

I normally have a pair of road shoes in the mix, but I gave up the ones I had after I ran my last paved half-marathon and didn’t replace them. I run asphalt more in the winter, so there is a growing urgency to add some roadies to the mix. I think one is the right number.

As an aside, I know some people will fill a closet with running shoes, but I don’t really have the space for that, and I like to keep my rotation small. I do a lot of research, and try to choose wisely. I think 4-5 pairs is the right number, and I make myself get rid of shoes before I add shoes to keep myself honest. I am super curious about different shoes, but not so curious that I want to own everything. That’s the point of this piece, to say what I do want to own.

My main pair of trail shoes currently are Salomon Sense Ride 3s. They are stupendously great (for me). They’re light and breathable. The tread is a good, neutral pattern that isn’t hyper aggressive, but does the job when things get technical. They fit my foot well, and above all else, they have great ground feel, somehow striking the perfect balance between protecting my foot and still giving me a lot of good information coming up from the trail. As a primary pair of trail runners, these tick all the boxes for me.

As a second aside, I will reiterate that I am not recommending any specific shoes for you. Our feet are different. Our running styles are different. What we like and dislike, etc., etc. etc.

For a second pair of trail shoes, I want something with a bit more cushion and support, a shoe to choose when I’m tired or feeling beat up. When I was younger I would also have liked a minimalist pair, but my lower leg joints don’t really tolerate those shoes anymore. I might wear them for fast, non-tech summer runs, but that’s not a wide enough category for me to invest time and money in anymore.

For a possible third pair of trail shoes, I want something with a more aggressive tread. I like technical terrain. New England has plenty, not to mention the kinds of wet, muddy, possibly icy conditions that cry out for a shoe with talons.

And then there’s a solid, neutral road shoe. I might err on the side of cushion for these, again, because I don’t run pavement much, and a little help with the pounding, well…helps. I’m not much bothered if these shoes are super light or racy. Comfort is king, for me, on the road.

What I don’t need, and many other people feel they do, is either a pair of Gore-Tex trail shoes or a zero-drop set up. What you gain from Gore-Tex (dry feet theoretically) you lose in added weight, stiffness, and sweaty feet. I’ll take my chances. And then the zero-drop thing (or low drop) has just never jibed with my running style. It works for other people, I guess.