Thursday, April 7, 2011

Boston Qualifying, Trail Runner Magazine, Why Wear Trail Shoes?

"At least 99 percent of running is just showing up,
getting out there and putting one foot in front of the other."

- John Hanc, The Essential Runner

Once I made the decision to make this a ChrisK tribute blog (who can resist The Manly Runner?), it was only fitting that he appear (not literally) in a well-known, national magazine. Yes, that's right, not only Beth from Shut Up And Run (SEWER) made the big leagues.
  1. Not only was the article entitled BQ or Die, but
  2. They mentioned ChrisK's blog, BQ or Die as well. 
Bravo Chris, you're almost famous! Maybe now a woman will be able to love that 47 year old shallow commitment phobe searching for single, drunk, and horny women for booty calls or possible meaningless relationships. 

The most recent Trail Runner Mag is soon to be released, and you can actually access it digitally by heading over to If you haven't read this magazine before or you don't have access to it, the digital editions are fun to look through.

Recently Patrick (of The Road [Multi-Sport] ) and I tweeted back and forth about trail running shoes. He was looking at some very cool La Sportiva shoes, but I questioned whether he actually needed the more technical trail shoes for the locations he normally runs. I have some more technical trail shoes, which are a boon in winter and on a few of the trails I run on, but for the most part, I am just as comfortable running in road shoes. I decided to do some research into whether or not trail shoes are necessary and, while both sides are well-represented, there is no hard and fast rule. Runners World did, however, have a really great article on the benefits of trail shoes:

Why Wear Trail Shoes?

Here are a few reasons why trail shoes…are trail shoes.
  1. Traction. The soles of road shoes are meant to grip roads, meaning they’re not very effective on dirt, mud and rock. Trail shoes utilize various traction—like large lugs, multi-directional lugs with teeth strategically placed to maximize grip, and sticky rubber compounds to give you more control on a variety of trail surfaces.
  2. Protection. Unlike road shoes, trail shoes often feature tighter-weaved mesh uppers to protect your socks and feet from trail debris, as sand, silt and dirt is blocked by the tight weave. Also, those beefy, rubber caps you often see on the toes of trail shoes serve an important purpose. They’re called “toe bumpers,” and they protect your toes from pain and bruises, should you kick a rock or root. And finally, most trail running shoes have some sort of flexible (some are more flexible than others), hard plastic plate within the midsole that’s there to block sharp jabs from rocks, roots, stick and such. The plate saves the underside of your feet from surprising pain.
  3. Support/Stability. Some road shoes—the ones built for overpronators—have stability built into the midsole to straighten our a runner’s footstrike. But trail shoes provide stability to all runners, neutral and overpronators alike…and everyone in between. This is a different kind of stability (though an increasing number of trail shoes are integrating traditional medial posts into their shoes). Trail shoe stability comes from more supportive materials on the upper that really aim to strap your foot down and keep it from slip-sliding around too much. That, joined with what’s often a more secure fit in the heel that fans out to a wider toe box, provides stability within the shoe. Externally, trail shoes often feature a wider platform…picture fat, bumpy tires extending from the sides of an off-road vehicle.
  4. Looks. You’d be hard-pressed to find a white trail shoe, and if you did, it wouldn’t be white for long. Trail running shoes are darker colors to hide, or at least, to provide a colorful backdrop for, all that great dirt and grime you’ll pick up on the trail. Plus, they look a lot cooler with your jeans that your whiter-than-white road shoes.
(List originally appeared on the Runner's World website.)


  1. I agree with your point - a lot of local "trails" are well served by road shoes. If you are running on a hard packed, smooth dirt path; roadies are perfect. When you get out on the switchback laden-single track, a good trail shoe makes a world of difference in speed and comfort.

  2. Nothing like having a sewer in RW. Chris really was the star of the article since they stole the title from him. I was just hanging out on page 126 near the end of it all.

    I still need good trail shoes. I still need to run more on trails. Thanks for the input.

  3. I totally thought of Chris when I saw that article! I guess I never read Chris K's about me, but if above is what it says, then I'm actually surprised he's still single.

  4. Not that I'm not surprised he's still single and in a toga. foot in mouth.

  5. Good info on the trail shoes. Asked a question in the comments of Chris K's blog post about his recent trail run trying to get more practical insight into the 'need' for trail shoes. I can dream up all kinds of excuses to get some new shoes, but just wasn't sure of the benefit. The few trails I hit locally aren't terribly demanding, so I think I'll stick with street shoes until I really notice any issues with stability, root/rock kicking, traction, foot-bottom bruising etc. I was hoping to be convinced in the other direction since there are some sweet looking trail shoes out there.

  6. #4 would be the real reason I would buy trail shoes. I looked for Chris K's comment and didn't see it but I agree with SUAR they totally stole his title.

  7. A tri store once told me that its better to run trails with road shoes thatn to try the opposite.

  8. We need to stop kissing Chris K's ass and find someone brand new to do so with.

  9. I've run rocky, rooty singletrack with road shoes and with trail shoes. My feet were MUCH happier in the trail shoes. Better footing, but even more so, far less hard on the soles of your feet.

  10. Too bad they did not give him some credit and actually mention his name...I mean they got the title from him..come on now!!!

  11. Once we hit April in TX if I am brave enough to venture off onto the trails I need to wear snake bite boots ( Man, they are heavy but really piss the water moccassins off!

  12. They use my old Blog title with no attribution to me. That was after interviewing me for an hour. I wasn't impressed.

  13. And Patrick, I very much think you should continue to kiss my ass.

  14. I'm totally trying trail running next year, so thanks for all this great info!!

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  16. I hear Chris will lead the Boston the start.

  17. I ran trails with road shoes for a long time before I got my 1st pair of trail shoes. I was surprised at how much difference it makes. I suppose it depends on how difficult and technical the trails are but I will never run trails with road shoes again. I sometimes do my shorter road runs in my trail shoes to give my muscles a “different workout”. I believe this reduces the risk of injury, but I am a bit crazy so maybe it reduces the risk of injury mentally only and that’s enough for me.

  18. while i was reading your post, i was asking myself... why wouldn't you wear trail shoe? shoes make all the difference in sports. period. :)

    how are you sugar? i've been out of the blogoshpere for a brief break.


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