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2 MILE-3200 METERS
Match Your Running Shoes to Your Running Conditions
By Rick Morris
Running is a simple sport. It requires very little specialized equipment. All you need is a pair of running shoes, and even those are optional. I'm a big fan of barefoot running. In my opinion, minimalist running is best. That being said, there are also some big advantages to wearing shoes in some conditions. Matching the correct type of running shoe to specific running conditions can make your race or run much more comfortable, efficient and successful. Having different pairs of running shoes for specific conditions can be a costly project. But, if you have the funds, why not? After all, you're not spending over $100 a pop for green fees or lift tickets! Here are my suggestions for matching your running shoes to your running conditions.
For you super-minimalists out there, this one is easy. It's barefoot time. Dry and debris free roads present a great opportunity for barefoot running. If you wear shoes, go for the most minimal in your collection. Light weight trainers or racing flats are a good choice.
Some die hard barefoot runners have feet tough enough to run barefoot on dry trails. For the rest of us, the best shoe for dry, moderate level trails are a light weight trail shoe with an fairly aggressive tread. The aggressive tread will help a lot with traction and safety.
If you are running over wet roads and through puddles of water you will stay more comfortable if you run in water proof road running shoes. Many runners believe they should avoid water proof shoes because they don't drain well. They think if you get water inside your shoes the waterproof sock will prevent the water from draining and your feet will be wet for the duration. That's true, but the idea is to keep the water out in the first place, which a good waterproof shoe will do as long as you don't totally immerse your foot and ankle. If you are running through streams or deep water, no shoe will keep you dry.
You probably already guessed this one. The best shoe for wet trails is a water proof trail shoe with an aggressive, grippy tread. The waterproof upper will keep the water out and the aggressive tread will keep you from taking a header on the wet and slippery rocks and terrain.
Snow Covered Roads and Trails
Winter running can present a lot of footing challenges. Whether you are running on the road or trail, I would suggest running in a trail shoe. The tread of most standard road shoes just aren't aggressive enough to provide sufficient traction in the snow. Just as with wet trails, I would suggest a water proof trail shoe. It will not only keep you dry but will also provide additional warmth.
A waterproof trail shoe will keep your feet dry as long as the snow isn't deep enough to cover your ankles. When the snow gets over ankle deep it will eventually find its way inside your shoes. You have a couple of options for deep snow. You could wear a waterproof trail shoe and a gaiter or a waterproof trail shoe with a built in gaiter. Either way, be sure it is waterproof with an aggressive trail shoe tread.
Icy Roads or Trails
With one exception, there isn't much you can do to make running on ice a safe activity. The best thing you can do is run using a trail shoe with the softest and most aggressive tread you have. The softer and deeper tread will do a slightly better job of gripping the ice. The one exception I know of is a unique shoe or series of shoes made by IceBug. These shoes actually have studs imbedded on the sole of the shoe that grip the ice like studded snow tires. They are great for the ice, but not that useful on snow or dry trails. If you do a lot of winter running, these studded ice shoes should be a part of your running arsenal.
There is trail running and then there is extreme trail running. The steep inclines, sharp declines, extremely rocky terrain and loose footing associated with extreme trail running requires the softest, most aggressive tread you can find. Tread of this type will wear out quickly if used for road running or even more moderate trail running, so save these for your extreme outings. You should also consider wearing gaiters for extreme trail running to keep the trail debris out of your shoes.
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