Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My Trail Shoes

I ran my first seven ultras all in road shoes, starting off with a heavy pair of Adidas Glides, and gradually progressing to lighter weight racing flats. My go-to shoe in the first half of 2014 had been the Adidas Adios Boost, which is worn by many of the world's leading marathoners.

I had been thinking for a while that I needed some more traction on some of the trails I was training on, and I struggled a bit on the steep climb up from Trig Track during Roller Coaster, with my feet slipping out from under me quite a bit. However, it was a bad experience with my feet at TNF that finally jolted me into action. There were quite a few technical sections that had me slipping all over the place, and the resultant pressure I was placing downwards on my toes trying to keep my feet was the major cause of losing both big toenails.

And so began the quest for the perfect trail shoe. So far since TNF, I have bought four pairs, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and each have found their own niche in the different sessions I do during the week.

Inov-8 Trailroc 255
The first pair of trail shoes I bought were the Inov-8 255's, and despite not being suitable for the task I bought them for (ultra racing), they are actually my most most-used pair. They live outside the front door, and go on my feet four mornings a week for an easy 9k trail with my Kelpie Billy. From the start I found them quite hard underneath my feet, possibly due to the rockplate, and they simply weren't going to give me enough cushioning for long training runs, but feel a little clunky for racing. Although they have found a purpose, I probably won't replace them when they wear out.
Weight: 280g
Heel: 22mm
Forefoot: 16mm
Drop: 6mm

Inov-8 Trailroc 255

Asics Gel Fuji Trainer 3
The second pair I bought, the Fuji's have been an exceptional workhorse for me, with many trips up Arthurs seat, and mainly being used on trail runs from 20-40k. They are light, flexible, and very comfortable, and provide good traction on all surfaces except extreme mud. The other things I like about them are the gusseted tongue which helps keep dirt out, and the lace garage at the top of the tongue for storing the laces while running - particularly good for overgrown trails. The more I run in this shoe, the more I like it, and will definitely get another pair when they wear out.

Weight: 272g
Heel: 18mm
Forefoot: 10mm
Drop: 8mm

Asics Gel Fuji Trainer 3

Mizuno Hayate
The Hayates I bought at pretty much the same time as the Kazans below. They are Mizuno's lightweight racing trail shoe, and I wore them at Surf Coast Century until I dropped at CP3. I don't wear them a lot as the plan is to keep them for racing, but I take them out occasionally for runs of 20k or less. I always feels very nimble and fast when I wear them, and they will be the ideal shoe for Two Bays, as the very tight weave of the upper, along with the surface coating is great at keeping sand out.

Weight: 252g
Heel: 21mm
Forefoot: 15mm
Drop: 6mm

Mizuno Kazan
The Kazans are the most cushioned pair on the list, and I generally keep them for 30k plus runs, or when there is a bit of tarmac involved. They are really comfortable, and the original plan was to get another pair for TNF, however I am re-thinking that due to some shortcomings. I've found them to be a bit unstable on technical terrain due to a couple of things. Firstly, the inside of the upper is lined with a very slippery material which causes the foot to move around within the shoe. Secondly, the upper material is quite stiff, especially at the rear, meaning there is not much flex or give on rough terrain. I've often found myself worried I was going to roll an ankle. Still a great shoe for 4+ hour training runs, and I may wear them for Two Bays if I think I'm going to go much over 5 hours, which at this stage looks likely.
Weight: 278g
Heel: 29mm
Forefoot: 17mm
Drop: 12mm

Next on the List:

Saucony Peregrine 4
The Peregrine's have been getting some great reviews, and I want to get a pair of these soon to try as a possible TNF option, as they are flexible but well cushioned.

Nike Terra Kiger
A lightweight trail shoe with minimal protection, I will probably look at these when the Inov-8's wear out for my morning Billy runs.