ASK THE TRAIL STAR

Runner's World South Africa - - Human Race - Ryan San­des

I’m buy­ing my first pair of trail­run­ning shoes. Any ad­vice? – ADRIAN, KNYSNA

A com­fort­able fit is vi­tal. At­tend a demo- run event, where you can test var­i­ous mod­els.

Per­son­ally, I look for flex­i­bil­ity – shoes that move and ad­just their shape as my feet move over tech­ni­cal ter­rain. With all the light­weight ma­te­ri­als on the mar­ket these days, it’s easy to find a nim­ble pair.

An­other thing to con­sider is the ‘ drop’, which is the dif­fer­ence in height be­tween the heel and toe. If you’ve been train­ing in­jury- free in your road- run­ning shoes, then it makes sense to find a pair of trail- run­ning shoes with a sim­i­lar drop. A 7mm or 8mm drop works best for me.

The mid­sole needs to be re­spon­sive, in or­der for you to re­ceive feed­back from the trail. So the shoe should be nei­ther too hard nor too soft and spongy; but the up­per and outer sole of the shoe should be hard­wear­ing enough to han­dle tough, tech­ni­cal ter­rain.

Your fore­foot should have room to spread out in the toe box, but not so much so that the shoe feels clumsy – on tech­ni­cal trails, you want your foot­ing to be con­fi­dent and pre­cise. Lastly, buy shoes with good grip, so that you don’t slip on muddy, wet and rocky trails.

Ryan San­des, a. k. a. ‘ Hedgie’, is the 2017 West­ern States 100- Miler cham­pion.

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