Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Trail Running Shoe, what to wear?

The owner of the Portland Running Company David Harkin and pro ultrarunner Geoff Roes gives tips and advice for the perfect trail shoes that fits you.

Will you be running on rugged terrain or groomed trails?

Most recreational trail runners who frequent dirt trails or the occasional rocky path can stick to shoes that are comparable to their road shoes, explains Harkin.

“Unless you are running in very rugged terrain, choosing a trail running shoe that is similar to your road running shoe is best,” Harkin said. Many road running shoe companies make trail shoes that complement a road shoe and are a good choice for road runners looking to occasionally take to the trails because they are protective and durable enough for the trails, yet still comfortable on the road.

“These hybrid shoes are the most successful in store because they are used for more than one application,” Harkin explained. “People might have a mile or two [on the road] to get to the trails. So it is best to buy one shoe that is also a good running shoe so you can run in the city to get to the trail.”

Runners looking to tackle trickier terrain should look for more traction, stability and protection in the outsole, which are characteristic of the shoes many outdoor companies are designing. “Most of the outdoor companies now make trail running shoes, which can be confusing [because of all the options,]” Harkin said. But these options allow runners who will be running on rougher terrain to choose a shoe that complements that environment.

Wearing trail-specific shoes out in the dirt can make kicking a rock less painful and slick rocks less slippery, but perhaps more essential is overall comfort, explained Roes, one of the most successful ultrarunners in history. “If you have a shoe you love and trust just wear it. I wear trail shoes because I found a pair three years ago and now I wear the same shoes for every run. I found something I really like and I stick with it. I do wear trail-specific shoes but I don’t think they are at all necessary.”

And Harkin agrees. “You have to wear what feels the most comfortable,” he said. Running in Oregon where Harkin lives, the terrain is fairly flat and not too technical, so he is most comfortable in a road shoe. However, when it rains and the ground is wet and muddy he wears trail shoes because they offer a waterproof upper that keeps his feet dry and comfortable.

The comfort of a waterproof trail shoe comes with a price, however. “If you want more traction, stability or more protection you’re also going to get a stiffer and heavier [shoe]. It’s the trade off,” Harkin explained. “It’s the give and take of a road shoe versus a heavier, clunkier trail shoe.”

If you aren’t familiar with your foot type—neutral, supportive, or control—Harkin advises you to get a gait analysis at a specialty running store, and use the same approach to finding trail shoes as road shoes. “It’s really important to identify your running characteristics and apply that to a trail running shoe,” Harkin said. “If you have tremendous support needs you still need that on the trails.”

The trend for trail runners right now is to wear a more minimally constructed shoe, but Harkins cautions new trail runners against this. “If you have tremendous support needs [on the road] you still need that on the trails,” he explained. “Don’t traipse off in really light trail shoes and think you’re going to be fine.”

If trail running translates to ultrarunning then you will likely be spending a lot of time in trail running shoes. After a few hours your feet will swell slightly and a half size or a full size of extra room in the shoe is necessary. “My body has made adaptations and my feet don’t swell unless I run for three days straight, but I still wear a full size bigger to accommodate the swelling, and warmer socks,” Roes said. “Now, after 100 miles my feet look exactly the same after, but I couldn’t say the same thing a few years ago.”


Sunday, June 30, 2013

5 Reasons to Try Trail Running

1. Fewer Injuries

Injuries are the bane of every committed runner. There's nothing worse for a runner (or anybody who lives with that runner) than being injured and unable to indulge in their favorite pastime.

Trail running surfaces are much softer than the asphalt or concrete you'll find when running around town. Softer surfaces mean fewer injuries, not only due to lower impact forces, but also because you'll build more strength in the muscles that help stabilize your lower leg. These muscles help absorb impact forces and provide more support—no matter what surface you're running on—and that can add up to fewer injuries.

2. Improved Technique

Studies show that running on uneven terrain causes you to take shorter, quicker strides and land more on the forefoot than the heel. These adjustments are helpful when you're running on any surface. Shorter strides, a faster stride rate and mid-foot landing requires less energy and allows for faster acceleration than heel-toe running with longer strides.

3. Mental Break

Just as important as the physical benefits, trail running is mentally relaxing as well. Running in the woods certainly beats chugging around the asphalt jungle in town, and when you’re running the trails, there’s less stress about your time and pace. It allows you to enjoy your run, which is a major component in maintaining consistency in your training over time.

For those who decide to try trail running races, the decreased emphasis on times can be just the tonic if you’re a typical runner obsessed with performance who beats yourself up over your race times. The difficulty of trail running courses and the variability in distances gives you “permission” to run a bit slower than you would on the roads and this can help you relax and focus on other aspects of racing, such as tactics, learning to manage your effort and learning to run by feel, regardless of what your watch may be telling you.

4. Breathe Easier

Trails are usually off-limits to motor vehicles, so you don`t have to worry about taking a deep breath of carbon monoxide every time a car goes by. Some studies have actually shown an increase in cardiovascular disease among those who exercise in a high pollution environment.

The abundance of trees out on the trail provides a more oxygen-rich environment, gives you adequate shade during hot weather, and offers shelter from the wind in colder climates. All of which makes for a faster, more enjoyable run at any time of year.

5. Get Faster

For those of you most concerned with improving your times, rest assured, trail running can make you faster. Most trail running involves hills and lots of them. Running uphill makes you stronger, it’s actually the most efficient form of strength training for runners since it uses all the muscles you activate when running on flat surfaces, but builds greater strength due to the increased resistance.

Actually the Kenyans and Ethiopians who dominate the elite levels of the sport are the ultimate trail runners. They run hills and soft surfaces every day and many count hill training as one of their secrets to success.

Getting off the roads and on to the trails is one of the best things you can do for your running. Whether you`re aiming to enjoy your running more, build your strength or run faster times, trail running can be an enjoyable and relaxing addition to your running program.

Written by Jacquie Cattanach. Jacquie is an avid runner and triathlete whose biggest achievements have been 15 marathons and Ironman Canada. She has learned and experienced a lot of trials and tribulations along the way and she loves to write about them in her blog Online Running Gear Blog, where she also researches, reviews and recommends running products such as the Garmin Forerunner 405 and the P90X Workout Review. Check her other articles HERE

Monday, May 27, 2013

Trail running

Trail running

A sport that includes running and hiking over trails. It's different from road running and track running because it involves hiking trails, often in mountainous terrain, where there can be much larger ascends and descends, however, it is difficult to definitively distinguish trail running from cross country running. In general, however, cross country is an IAAF governed discipline that is typically raced over shorter distances (rarely over 12 kilometers), whereas trail running is loosely governed, and run over longer routes.