Attention, now-despondent skiers. Listen up, chain-snapping mountain bikers. You, along with other adrenaline seeking, outdoor lovers, have reason to consider the humble (but not so primitive) trail running shoe this season. More importantly, where and why you’ll journey in them are reason enough to put one deep-treaded foot in front of the other.
Reason #1: Running gets you beyond day hikers.
Heavily trafficked trails near metro areas often sport easy access and refreshing vistas. On the con side, full parking lots and switchbacks knotted with up-and-downers are discouraging. Trail running, even at a leisurely pace, puts you on the far reaches of looped trails as well as out-and-back stretches. Even mid-day on weekends, there’s frequently plenty of less-travelled mileage – including side spurs – left open.
Reason #2: Navigational and time management skills are sharpened.
Reading the route, weather and resources against the objective are essential. So is preparing for potential glitches that include personal or companion injury. Trail running normally is a warmer, more conducive setting for stopping to improve skills as you consult compass or GPS. In the same way, watching the clock and monitoring sun position are priceless. And field practice now could save your life in a backcountry skiing or MTB crash -- or fast-approaching storm.
Reason #3: Spend energy instead of money.
For under $300 – including top-rated shoes – the trail’s your oyster. Shell out for a technical tee (consider long-sleeve) and board short-like running apparel while reserving $30 for two pairs of suitable, panelized socks. Even if trail running isn’t an every-week activity, shoes will either 1) last for years and/or 2) double as casual biking, camping and social footwear. If three-season running is appealing, a lightweight shell (one you may already own) and a beanie complete the upgraded kit.
Reason #4: Cross train for – life.
Look for hills to do intervals going up, hone fast footwork while descending. Ruck up with 100L of water and a lifetime supply of energy bars to build quads and calves. Sprint the flats to test your anaerobic capability. Talus run, skipping boulder to boulder, for greater agility. Employ trail running as a peak workout or a sensible recovery day. Either way, it all works.
Reason #5: Time to contemplate – or connect.
Now’s the time to reflect on the meaning of life, abundant sweat, labored breathing and the prospect of cold beer ahead. This, recognizing any solo outdoor experience embodies risks. These are minimized by traveling well-marked trails that attract at least a passable number of walkers, runners and hikers. Or run with friends to increase the challenge level and be guided into a new area, perhaps a deep copse right off the main road. No matter alone or in a pack, you cross the emotional victory line first every time.
Looking for new Trail Running Shoes this season? Check out our Buyer's Guide: