Saturday, 6 October 2007

Taking road shoes off-road

At the UGE Events sprint race at Hennops River (near Hartebeespoort) today I was very pleased to see many new faces. Another thing I noticed was the abundance of road running shoes.

If you’re going into your very first sprint event, road running shoes will get you through. But if you’d like to participate in sprints (and other off-road disciplines like trail running and orienteering) regularly, then you’d do well to invest in a pair of trail shoes.

Road shoes are more cushioned and they're built for road running; trail shoes are built for dirt. These are the basics…

  • The fabric is tougher and more resistant to abrasion
  • On the road your feet only go up and down, on trail they move in all directions. This why the trail shoe upper is stronger and firmer than that of a road shoe; it has to give your foot support so that you won’t turn over on your ankle and it holds you foot in place so that it isn’t sliding left and right
  • The front of the shoe (toe box) is stiffened and often “coated” with a rubber extension from the sole. This protects your toes from impact when you stumble over rocks and tree roots
  • The tread is more aggressive, to give better grip on uneven surfaces. The sole compounds have been developed to maximise traction on slippery surfaces.

The more important message of this blog is that trails and off-road, off-path activities will destroy your road running shoes (and your feet and ankles). You’ll have to buy another pair before you can say, “I love adventure racing”. Go shopping.

Always use shoes for the purpose for which they were designed. Use your road shoes on road and your trail shoes on trail for their longevity and your podiatric health.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The other important aspect of off road shoes is a more stable sole that also assists in 1. not twisting an ankle, 2. More stability when crossing rocks, 3. No pressure from small stones under the feet.

Most people seem to think you cant use trail shoes on the road. While the sole is definitly less spngy, I havn't found them bad to run with on the road.

Using Road shoes on an AR is still better than using generic takkies, Road shoes still have better uppers for support than R150 takkies.