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Evan's avatar

Can Trail Running shoes be used (safely) when NOT on trails?

Asked by Evan (805points) April 30th, 2010

I know that trail-running shoes are typically stiffer, w/ a bit more traction, but i just wonder if there’s an accepted wisdom on whether or not you can use them when street running also, if it’s more of a debated issue..

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8 Answers

bobbinhood's avatar

I personally don’t know anything about this, but your question made me curious, so I did a bit of research. It seems that it is generally better to leave trail shoes on the trail and invest in some road shoes for road running. Everyone that I read about that had tried trail shoes on the road said that it was a bad idea. Since they are not designed for the roads, people who used them on the roads found that they wore out more quickly, and often caused joint pain. Here are a few of their comments (there is a blank line between each person’s commentary):

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.

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.

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.

marinelife's avatar

You could—but why would you when there are shoes especially designed for the street? Or you could get cross trainers.

iam2smart99037's avatar

It’s perfectly SAFE to use them on the street, but it’s much, much less comfortable. I was wearing some New Balance shoes that had an aggressive tread and tried to run 5k’s with them. – big mistake. I got a pair of Asics 2150’s and now I don’t get shin splints and I can run much further than I could before. Gotta go with the right equipment.

bobbinhood's avatar

@iam2smart99037 I don’t think that you can call shoes that give you shin splints safe given that shin splints eventually lead to stress fractures.

iam2smart99037's avatar

yeah i call them safe because shin splints are common fatigue no matter if you run with pillows strapped to your feet or run barefooted. It just takes longer if you have the right equipment.

bobbinhood's avatar

Interesting. My cross country friends always told me that shin splints meant you were doing something wrong. They said that if you were running properly, you wouldn’t get them.

arpinum's avatar

Trail running shoes have a sole designed to provide more grip than is needed for running on asphalt. The consequence of this grippiness is faster wear. Also, asphalt is almost the hardest surface to run on, requiring more cushion. Third, trail shoes have a hard shank to protect against pointy rocks and such, this is unnecessary for the road. Fourth, trail shoes are better designed to keep out dust and dirt, but at the expense of a less breathable shoe. Road shoes don’t often need this protection.
Trail running shoes can be used safely, but you are at increased risk of foot bruising, blisters, and a less pleasant experience. Use the right tool for the job.

Evan's avatar

Thanks! Great response! I wasn’t as clear on the specific differences, and this definitely helps. :)

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