Trail running shoes on concrete?
April 7, 2008 4:43 PM   Subscribe

Trail running shoes on concrete?

I've run in Brooks Adrenaline shoes for > 4 years now, and I probably will never switch off them. When I recently went to buy a new pair, though, I noticed they had a trail running version that was slightly stiffer and felt like a better fit. I run probably 80/20 on concrete/dirt, with most of my longer (> 10 mile) runs on dirt/gravel mixed. I generally run in wetter/muddier areas, so the idea of having better grip, a stiffer toe, & a little bit of waterproofing is appealing.

I'm worried now that the decrease in cushioning could lead to an injury on concrete, though - they still feel fine, but I can definitely notice more of an impact. I don't run high mileage right now (< 25 miles a week, with long runs every few) and I still have a functioning pair of road shoes, though they're getting a bit worn down. Is this something to be concerned enough about to go back & swap the pair for my regular road shoes? Ideally, I'd have a pair of dedicated trail shoes I suppose, but I can't really afford that at the moment.
posted by devilsbrigade to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Well, I had a pair of Hi-Tek trail runners, and I was using them to run mostly on blacktop. My knees were hurting. I switched out to some Asics Gel Cumulus, and the knee pain went away. I liked the Asics so much that I just bought a pair of the Gel Nimbus. My knees have always been a bit weak, and I do jiu-jitsu and judo; your knees may not be as sensitive as mine, but the extra padding on a road shoe really helped me. Just my experience.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 4:55 PM on April 7, 2008

I used trail running shoes on concrete, and the softer, grippier tread wore clean off long, long before the cushioning even had a chance at causing me serious problems. In my experience, it would be smarter to keep the regular road shoes for now and save up for the trail shoes, instead of buying new trail shoes twice as often.
posted by adiabat at 5:07 PM on April 7, 2008

If you have a pair you love and you got a new pair you don't love, why not swap back for what you know works?

I run in Montrails, and for me too, there's a noticeable difference in cushioning between their trail vs. street shoes. They also differ in flexibility -- the street shoes, I can nearly fold in half, but the trail shoes are meant to keep feet stable on rocky terrain, so they don't bend much. (I got one of each, but I really do run half-time in each location, and I found a good sale so it was worth it to buy two pairs at once.)
posted by salvia at 5:48 PM on April 7, 2008

My favorite pair of running shoes ever were some Asic trail shoes. I wore them way past the point where they were broken down.

Anyway I'm not going to give you a real technical reason pro or against our side of the fact that if they're comfortable for you - use them.
posted by bitdamaged at 6:09 PM on April 7, 2008

When I started running last year, my friend at the outdoor shop put me in a pair of trail-oriented shoes. They fit great, and were miles ahead of the cross-trainers the kind of which I'd worn for forever. HOWever, I most certainly knew - hell, I could almost tellyou blindfolded, what I was running on, and days where my route took me on more concrete than usual, the usual running aches were a bit more pronounced. Two days' running on the granite of Prague, for instance, was awful.
When those shoes came near the end of their functional life, I decided to try something more street-oriented. (I figured, days on the rubberized indoor Y track, or when I run cross-country, I'll still use the old shoes.) The difference was night and day. Street miles in street-intended shoes feel much less rough. I did a half marathon over the weekend, and the only pain was overtraining pain, not shoe-induced pain.
posted by notsnot at 8:47 PM on April 7, 2008

I sell running shoes at my job. As I'm sure you know, Runner's World magazine rates Asics, Brooks, and Mizuno as the top running brands (in no particular order). In your question, you pretty much already stated the differences between the trail shoes and the tech. shoes.

One difference you didn't mention though, is the weight. Because of the thicker urethane on the soul of the trail shoes, and a generally less meshy upper, they are on average 3-5 ounces heavier. If you're running 20 miles a week, or more, those extra ounces can begin to make a difference in tired ankles, calves, and knees. As already mentioned, the extra cushioning in the tech. shoes will truly save wear and tear to your knees when you're on the street or treadmill.

Also, make sure you're wearing the proper style of the brand for your gate pattern. If you're a pronater and an Asics man, stick with the Kayano or GT-2130, and if you're a supinator use the Nimbus. With Brooks, use the Trance or Beast for over-pronation. If you have a neutral gate, your Adrenaline's are just the ticket. The entire Mizuno line is pretty much neutral, so keep that in mind.

I agree with those who have already said, when you can afford it, go for two pair. This enables you to swap out your trail and street shoes depending on the location of your run. It also gives you more time (not mileage) out of each pair before they begin breaking down. It is also not a bad idea to just alternate shoes every other day to keep your feet from getting too used to one shoe or the other.

I really wish these superior running shoes weren't so expensive so that all serious runners could afford three or four pair. It would be a lot better for their feet. When you aren't thinking about your feet or knees, you can enjoy your run so much more.
posted by netbros at 9:45 PM on April 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

I run in Vibram Fivefingers on every surface. There's virtually no cushioning; they're just protective sheathes for your feet, and running in Fivefingers is biomechanically identical to running barefoot. You'll have to cut down on your mileage while you adjust to barefoot running, because your technique will change, but once you do, shock absorption becomes a moot point. I find that I run differently depending on the surface, but they serve me well wherever I go. The nice thing about Fivefingers is that my knees no longer tell me to replace my running shoes every three or four hundred miles. There's no cushioning to break down. Someday I'll have to replace them, but the $70 pair I bought over a year ago are as comfortable as the day I bought them.

That being said, if those trail shoes are a great fit for you, switching to a more cushiony shoe isn't necessarily the answer. No matter what your running surface, the right shoe is most important, and it sounds like you've found it. A pair of $30 Superfeet insoles to correct any underlying pronation issues might serve you well.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 11:01 PM on April 7, 2008

I'm also a Brooks Adrenaline girl. And those trail shoes are WAY too stiff for concrete / gravel running. I noticed immediately in my feet, ankles, and knees, and I usually run between 25 and 35 miles a week on gravel, not even concrete. And I think Netbros is on to something else: that extra weight adds up over time on your joint. The heavier the shoe, the more difficult (especially towards the end of a long run 10 miles and up) it is to pick your feet up. I say stick with what you know.

And while I do try to support my local running store as much as I can, those shoe prices are pretty high, so for your next pair, try rnjsports. They sell Brooks GTS8 for $78 instead of $95. Then go back to your running store for clothes, socks, and gels.

Good luck and have a great run!
posted by cachondeo45 at 8:15 AM on April 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

« Older Is my off-brand laptop battery toast?   |   Whoops should have checked ALL the paperwork Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.