Tips & Products for Off-Road Running
By Jenny Willden
You may run at the gym, in the park or even in your neighborhood, but have you ever run on a trail? Anyone can do it and it’s easier on your joints than road running. All it takes is a pair of trail running shoes to get started and our tips on how to ditch the gym and get off-road this summer.
1. Wear the right gear. A good pair of trail running shoes will protect your feet and keep you from slipping on unstable terrain. Check out our picks of the best new trail shoes and gear on the next page.
2. Choose a trail based on your fitness level. Start on something easy and build to more difficult runs.
3. Map your routes. Use mapmyrun.com, a social networking site for runners to map runs through mountains or on roads. There are many Utah trail runs already mapped on the site. Just type in your location to find them. Find more local trails at trailrunner.com and sportsguidemag.com.
4. Prevent blisters. Wear good running socks, like Bridgedale’s X-hales or tekoPOLY™, and sprinkle some baby powder in your socks before putting them on.
5. Bring water. If you’re going to be running for more than a couple miles put water in a torso pack or Camelbak®.
6. Pick up your feet. After a few miles you may get tired and be tempted to drag your feet. Pick them up to avoid tripping on roots and trail debris.
7. Skip the iPod. Enjoy the sounds of the trail instead of music. This will also keep you alert to animals or other people coming on a trail.
8. Keep your head up and look in front of you. This will help you see obstacles ahead of time.
9. Slow down. Don’t expect to run the same pace on a trail as you do on the road, and take the downhills slowly to avoid injuries.
10. Run with other people. If you’re looking for a non-competitive way to meet other trail runners and try out new runs, attend Tuesday Trail Runs from June 2–August 25
in Park City. All ability levels are welcome and runs take place each week and last from one to one and a half hours. Just meet at the scheduled trailhead at 6 p.m. Full schedule of trails is available at: mountaintrails.com
Trail Running Gear
Adidias Adizero Sunglasses
The ultimate choice in lightweight running sunglasses, the new adizero has an amazing photochromic sport lens called LST Vario that adjusts to the perfect light in different conditions, which make them great for trail running where the lighting changes often. Also, adizero offers a personalized fit with adjustable points and are so light that you’ll forget you’re wearing them. The sunglasses feature a full wraparound view, scratch resistant lenses and 100% UV A, B and C sun protection. Once you get these glasses, you won’t run outside without them. $125–$190 adidas.com
Merrell ST Stature
This stability trail shoe, for men and women, provides great support for all-season running in any conditions. These shoes are champions in wet, muddy weather and the gaiter collar keeps mud and debris out while the waterproof areas keep feet dry. You’ll stay on the trail with rubber compounds that grip and provide traction on aggressive terrain. While the footbed absorbs heat generated during runs to keep feet cool. There’s also an antimicrobial foam sock liner for fresh smelling feet. Plus, these shoes are made partly from recycled materials so you’ll be helping the planet while enjoying a comfortable run. Bottom Line: Perfect for all-weather running. Good on rugged terrain. $120 merrell.com
Oboz Ignition II
An update of last year’s Ignitions, these trail shoes offer unique bootie construction, which means there’s no separate tongue, so they fit more like a snug sock and help keep rocks and dirt out. This means the tongue won’t slip or move while you run. The bootie also cradles your foot while the forefoot cage locks it down for a secure fit. The large lugs provide grip on difficult trails, but the shoe is surprisingly light and comfortable. Available for men and women. Bottom line: Great on technical trails. $95 obozfootwear.com
Ahnu Cross Terrain Firetrail and Terra Linda
For trail running, road running and even light hiking, these shoes are designed to provide shock absorption and stability on a variety of surfaces including grass, pavement and trails. However, they’re not best for slick or muddy trails because the traction isn’t aggressive and you may lose your footing. But for day-to-day running these breathable, lightweight shoes keep your foot in place to prevent rolling while offering arch support, rigidity in all the right places and all-day comfort. Bottom line: Good for a variety of terrain, but not best in mud. Firetrail (men) $124, Terra Linda (women) $100 ahnu.com
Take these shoes over mountains and across creeks with no problems. They feature a breathable synthetic air-mesh upper that’s durable water repellent (DWR) and seals out water. The Dynamic Fit Lacing System keeps them tight and secure as you run by wrapping around the forefoot while the Vibram sole with track spikes provides traction on tough terrain. Prevent funky odors and keep your feet dry with the moisture-wicking Ortholite® footbed, but if you have high arches consider inserting your own insoles for more support. Styles available for men and women. Bottom line: Too heavy for long trail runs, but are perfect for short, technical runs or hiking. $110 patagonia.com
New Balance 875
Made for your toughest runs, this lightweight trail runner has a solid and sticky rubber outsole with big lugs that grip any terrain from mud to slush to gravel without getting clogged or slipping. A Rock Stop plate runs from the mid-foot to the forefoot to create stability and protect your feet so you feel like you’re running on a smooth road. The Sure Lace shoelaces keep shoes ties tight so you don’t need to worry about falling, and inside the shoe there’s an Ortholite® footbed to fight odor and moisture. There’s also extra cushioning in the heel and forefoot for shock absorption. Bottom line: Lightweight, comfortable shoe for difficult runs in any weather conditions. $100 newbalance.com
Vasque Celerator and Momenta
Perfect for summer runs, this shoe features a highly breathable mesh upper and a nylon lining that wicks moisture from your feet to keep them dry and comfortable. The shoe is Vasque’s lightest, but still offers good support and traction that allows you to climb and descend rugged hills without slipping. Inside the shoes your feet will stay protected with high rebound EVA strike zones. Bottom line: Breathable, lightweight and great for warm weather runs. Celerator (men), Momenta (women) $105 vasque.com
Honey Stingers Chews
Power up for a run with these great tasting, grown-up fruit snacks and try the delicious new flavor, Pomegranate Passion. These little chews have just enough carbs to get you going and provide natural energy before or during activity. They’re made from USDA certified organic ingredients and contain naturally occurring fiber and protein from tapioca syrup and honey, but are gluten and dairy-free. $2 honeystinger.com