The virtues of road running are many. The consistency of the surface makes building an aerobic base easy, most places have any number of hills to train on, and being able to lace up and head out your own front door really cuts out many excuses to bail on a workout. The roads are not without their drawbacks, though. Who likes waiting to cross roads? What sucks more than inhaling diesel fumes and secondhand smoke on hill repeats? And for the females particularly, populous places often lead to unpleasant encounters. Combine these factors with the constant noise of a bustling city and you might want a change from time to time. This is where the trails come in. Even though most of us aren’t located right on a trail system, most cities and towns have some sort of trail system within a short drive.
Trail running is very beneficial to integrate into your fitness because it will train your body and mind to connect in ways that the road cannot. Instead of looking out for other pedestrians and traffic, you will have to keep your eyes out for loose rocks, mud, roots, and low branches. You will gain improved proprioception which is defined as an awareness of your body and limbs in orientation to space. This skill will be of great use as your training progresses. Another significant physical aspect of trail running is that it recruits more of your stabilizer muscles. Be sure to run carefully on the trails when you’re starting out. It is said that if you run an 8:00ish pace on the road, be ready to settle in to something closer to 11:00 when you hit the trails. The constantly changing surface features and undulations will tax you more than you think and if you aren’t ready for them, you could get hurt. But with consistent training, you will become a much stronger and more resilient runner as a result! In a way, trail running is a different sport than road running and as long as you are mindful of the hazards and aware of the different style of running, it will make for a wonderful break from the monotony of the road. The sense of adventure that goes along with trail running is what draws people in. The neighborhood and city is comfortable and familiar but when you find yourself in the forest, along the coast, or somewhere completely new, you’re sure to want more.
At Triathlete Sports, we carry three of Hoka One One’s popular trail shoes. Firstly we have the Speed Instinct (Men's available here) which is the least aggressive and most responsive. The Speed Instinct has 3mm lugs which are over the whole bottom of the shoe. These lugs are ideal for hard packed gravel and loose dirt but might not shed mud as well as other models. The Challenger ATR 3 (Women's available here) is the next in line and this shoe features more aggressive 4mm lugs in more of a tooth-like pattern by the midfoot and on the heel. The middle area of the outsole is exposed foam but I have never heard of this being a problem on aggressive terrain. These shoes are excellent for most types of terrain except for the most rocky and technical sections. Lastly we have the Speedgoat (Men's available here). This shoe is the beast of the lineup with super aggressive 4mm Vibram™ MegaGrip™ lugs on the whole outsole. The rubber on the outsole is extraordinary and among the best in the industry. Deep mud, wet rocks, roots, and whatever other nastyness the trail has in store can be beaten by these shoes.