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Choosing the right running shoe for different surfaces

different running surfaces - trail

If you’re serious about running then there are a lot of things to consider and it can get complicated! To start with you need to choose the right shoe for the right surface, and then there’s choosing the right trainer for your foot shape etc. We going to start with choosing the right shoe for the right surface. And trainers for different surfaces even different distances are quite different.

Road Running

right running shoe for different surfaces

This is probably the hardest surface you’ll run on and by far the most common. When running on roads / asphalt, traction is less important so don t worry too much about grip and focus on trainers with higher cushioning. The cushioning will dissipate some of the impact and will result in a smoother ride and less chance of picking up some of the most common running injuries such as the dreaded shin splints.

Grass

different running surfaces - grass

Grass offers more cushioning than other surfaces therefore cushioning is less important. But due to the uneven nature of grassy surfaces, you need to focus more on running shoes with good support and stability. Any pronation that your body normally displays will show up more on grass. Expect your foot to move more laterally so a more rigid shoe may help control that movement a little better. And remember, grass is great when dry but slippery when wet, so make sure you have good grip, trail running shoes are best for grip.

Expert advice on treating shin splints

Sand

Different running surfaces - sand

Running on the loose sand creates resistance and lots of slippage and cushioning, ultimately providing an very effective workout and a great way to catch the body off guard. The soft impact of the sand helps prevent injuries but can sometimes force the ankles into a vulnerable state, so choose trainers that have a more rigid upper with some support underfoot so that your foot doesn’t move too much in the shoe. Grip is also important.

How running on different surfaces can affect the body

Trail Running / Dirt

running shoe for different surfaces
A typical trail running show

A personal favourite of ours here at PledgeSports! Trail running offer so much more that running on roads, you are out in the fresh air, away from traffic and get to run an all types of surfaces.  The nature of trail runs means hills too so in exercise terms you get a better all over workout.

This type of surface has an optimum degree of hardness and just enough leeway preventing the most common running injuries like plantar fasciitis and IT band syndrome. But wearing the wrong shoe can mean the opposite!

The nature of trails means running on loose surface with racks and slipper dirt so you have to choose a trail running shoe, which will offer good support and most importantly good grip. Running on inclines up and down on loose surfaces or slippy rock will end in disaster if wearing normal running shoes.

Our bucket list of trail running locations

Because of a lot of lateral movement and potential sharp objects on trails you also need good support from your shoe.

Threadmill

Our least favourite, the treadmill is one of those running surfaces that moves to your command and, as is the opinion of many, is not a running surface at all. It’s also a great tool for starting though and is not gear intensive, any shoe with support will do

The physical and mental benefits of running

Track

The soft, spongy surface of a track is an ideal surface to run on. This man-made 400-metre loop is perfect for short speed workouts or running long distance. It’s the easiest surface to run on, don t worry about cushioning as the track already proves that, in fact too much cushioning in the sole could make you unstable! Go for running spikes.

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