As a regular trail runner, swimrunner and once upon a time triathlete, I ask a lot of my trainers. They have to stay put swimming across freezing lochs, hold fast when being sucked at by sticky mud and run trail day in day out. Having tried lots of different ones, I always come back to the same old favourites. But every now and then, tempted by bright colours and marketing, I throw caution to the wind and try something new. So I thought I’d follow my own top tips before I went forth and splashed the cash.
go to a shop that is run by people who do the sort of running you do and stock a wide variety of trainers. If they can't tell you about the trainers don’t buy them!
try before you buy whenever possible - the great shops let you run round the block.
Not all shoes are equal - sizes vary across brands.
Consider buying a half size bigger - when coming down steep hills, toes are often forced forward and will be grateful for some extra room.
Look at the bottom of your trainers - are they rugged and grippy and going to keep you upright in the best mud winter can offer or are they smooth and made for road running?
What are the laces like, can you get them tight enough to be comfortable, can they be tied away to stop being caught by brambles etc?
Crazy thought but are they comfortable? Can you wiggle your toes? Are they tight enough to keep your feet in place when you are running?
There is a lot of talk of pronation and supportive shoes. The good news is that run trail and your feet are more supported by softer ground than on road. The very nature of trail means that your feet land in so many different directions that overpronation is thought to be less of an issue. If you go for gait analysis make sure it it with someone who is qualified and who runs trail.
Wear the socks you will wear running when you try new shoes on?
If you are used to wearing certain trainers, be wary if new ones are very different. For example, how high is your heel (aka as heel drop). I know many an runner who has experienced injury as a result of deciding to do an event in different trainers that they are used to.
Money doesn't buy the best - I have runners who love their £25 trail trainers and those who love their £200 pair.
The perfect pair of trainers are the ones perfect for you!
Did I follow my own top tips? .... Well Christmas arrived early in our house this week as our postman delivered 2 pairs of shiny new trainers. Matching his and hers old favourites ; )