Trail running has grown in popularity throughout the United States. I’ve done a few trail races and some training on trails in the past. It seems to be easier on my knees than running on concrete or asphalt. Also, due to the varying terrain, you get a more complete leg workout.
Trail running takes place on paths that are normally inaccessible by the road, except at the trailheads. A typical trail traverses through rough terrain, mountains, streams, lakes, hills and forests. Common distances in races are between 5 km and 50 km. Runners often ascend and descend thousands of feet through steep grades varying in technical difficulty. Runners all over the United States are involved in trailing running, There are many races on the Appalachian Trail on the East, and in Midwest States.
Trail runners typically use specially designed shoes, which have stiffer soles for protection from rocks and roots, and are more rigid than normal shoes used for road running. Shoe manufacturers in the US like North Face, Nike, Salomon and Vasque have special trail running shoes varieties.
Trail running shoes are geared towards keeping the feet dry in wet conditions, safe from rocks and roots, and comfortable on slick, tricky terrain. They are also designed to grip on wet surfaces and steady the feet.
All running shoes are designed to provide bio-mechanical protection from injuries, but trail shoes take it to another level. Road-running shoes are built to provide cushioning and motion control to prevent repetitive movement or overuse injuries such as over-exertion, shin splints and knee pain.
Trail-shoe design generally emphasizes on stability, a feature that protects against ankle sprain, which is the number one cause of injury in trail running. Trail shoes are tested on a wide variety of surfaces, including single-track, fire roads, jagged technical trails, gravel paths and even pavements.
The industry standard for the lifespan of a running shoe is between 350 and 500 miles. Different models offer varying results. A runner averaging 20 miles per week could expect a pair of shoes to last from 16 to 25 weeks, or about 4 to 6 months. Many factors affect how long a shoe would last, including the runner’s weight, the runner’s style and the surfaces run on. A trail shoe is required to be sturdier than a normal shoe because of the greater wear and tear involved in trail running. Therefore, it is recommended that trail runners wear shoes that are especially designed for trail running.