Choose the Right Trail Running Shoes

Shoes or no shoes: that is the question as far as health professionals are concerned. And, with no distinct answer, road runners and trail blazers are left wondering what shoe is best for them. 

Though that question won't be answered here, one thing is certain: trail running shoes are very different from average road running shoes.

More: 5 Reasons to Try Trail Running

Whether you're lacing up your trail running shoes for the first time or want to dive back into the sport, be sure you have the proper pair of shoes. 

Trail Running Shoes Basics

  • Always make sure you have enough room in the toe box to comfortably wiggle your toes.
  • Be sure that the fit is snug but not constrictive. You don't want to be sliding around in your shoes, but you don't want to feel like your foot is crammed either.
  • Ask to try on only trail specific shoes; these will provide the most protection for your feet on any kind of terrain.

More: Use Proper Hydration to Stay Cool on the Trails

Durable Soles

You need a pair of shoes that are designed to handle rocky or gravelly surfaces. Unlike shoes designed for road running, trail running shoes will have a reinforced sole or a rock shield to reduce wear and improve durability. A durable sole will also keep you stable as you manage trail obstacles.

More: Tips to Start Trail Running

Light Weight

The last thing you want to worry about while running up a hill is how heavy your shoes feel. When trying on a pair of shoes, consider how they'll feel when you're fatigued and still running. A lightweight pair of trail running shoes allows you to ascend steep trails with ease.

Distance Between You and the Ground

Trail running shoes sit lower to the ground than traditional running shoes and keep you safe on tough trails. As running coach Vince Sherry explains, "This lowers your center of gravity, giving you more stability on those 180-degree switchbacks, greatly reducing the risk of spraining an ankle, or eating dirt."

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About the Author

Emilie Littlehales

Emilie Littlehales lives in New York City with her fianc?. She's proud to be a RRCA-certified running coach, a founding member of the LUNA Chix NYC run team, and a Team Oiselle athlete. When she's not running you can find her knitting, doing yoga, or aimlessly browsing the Internet. She maintains her own running-related blog at, and also writes for the LUNA Chix Journal. Her dream is to help empower women through sports by one day opening up her own individual coaching practice..

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