A question we get asked a lot is ‘do I need trail shoes?’, and while generally you will be fine running the trails in Norfolk in road shoes, there are some points to consider why you may be better off in trail shoes.
- Grip – A bit of an obvious one, but the grip on trail shoes is a lot better for off road terrain. During the summer months this is less of a problem, but certainly during winter when the trails are thick mud, you will find it a lot easier to stay upright in trail shoes. You don’t need to have a full on face plant fall to cause an injury, even just a slight slip can put you out of action for a while, and having decent grip will massively reduce this risk.
- Support – The stresses on you feet and especially ankles are a lot less during road running, and road shoes are designed to reflect this. Once you step out on the trails for the first time though you will generally notice that your ankles will ache a bit until you are used it, and trail shoes are designed to support you around the ankle to limit this. Good supportive shoes become even more important if you are attempting to run up or down hills.
- Rock plate – A lot of trail shoes have something called a rock plate. This is a thin piece of either plastic or carbon fibre that is fitted between the outsole and midsole. This is designed to protect your foot when you step on sharp rocks or other obstacles on the trail. You can just about make out the grey rock plate in the picture below of an old pair of Invo8 Trail Ultras that I hacked up for demonstration purposes.
- Wear and tear – Lets be honest, we all want our shoes to last as long as possible. Due to the increased chance of your expensive shoes meeting sharps object, trail shoes are made of sturdier materials and feature overlays to protect them. You will also notice more protection around the toes, which leads me to my final point
While you can get away with wearing road shoes on trails, you are putting yourself at greater risk of injury. Earlier this month I was at a trail running festival for the weekend, and whilst out on a group run, we had a runner wearing road shoes. Everything was going fine until this runner stubbed their toe on a rock, and possibly broke their toes. They then had a 2 mile walk to get off the trails, and perhaps even worse, they then spent the rest of the weekend hobbling around rather than running.
If you are looking to buy a pair of trail shoes I would always recommend trying them on first, and locally we are lucky to have Sportlink who will be able to advise and help you find the perfect shoe for you.