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How to Buy Trail Running Shoes

Leaving the roads and hitting some trails opens up a whole new world for avid runners, but it also demands different equipment, too.


  • Step 1: Figure out where you’ll normally run Figure out what type of terrain you want to cover most often. You will be picking a shoe based on this, so don’t rush your decision.
  • Step 2: Pick shoes with a good grip for groomed trails For groomed trails in a park or a packed fire road, select a shoe with good grip, plush cushioning, and a wide, stable tread. These types of shoes will resemble standard running shoes.
  • Step 3: Pick a shoe with protection for rocky trails Pick a shoe with solid toe and heel protection if rocky trails and boulders are more your style. This type of shoe should have a hard plastic shank underfoot and a tread that looks like it was taken from a hiking boot.
  • TIP: For running up and down mountains, consider a trail runner with a high ankle – almost like a basketball shoe – for added support.
  • Step 4: Pick a waterproof shoe For galloping through mud, rain, snow, and muck, pick a shoe with a waterproof/breathable liner, a stiff sole, and a tread with widely spaced lugs.
  • Step 5: Pick a shoe with plenty of ventilation If you’l be running in hot desert areas, slip on a shoe with plenty of ventilation to help keep your feet cool.
  • Step 6: Make sure it fits snugly Whichever shoe you pick, make sure it fits snugly in the heel and around the toes. Try on several sizes while wearing your trail running socks. Something too small will be uncomfortable and something too large will lead to awful blisters.
  • FACT: Every year there is a mountain marathon run along the Inca Trail in Peru, which winds its way to Machu Picchu.

You Will Need

  • A place to buy trail running shoes
  • A thick pair of trail running socks

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