Feel free to read the entire post, or skip to the end for a list of pros and cons.
I had the opportunity to test a pair of the Salomon Sense Ride trail-running shoes at the SRTT Retreat June 22-24, held at Geneva Point Center in Moultonborough, NH.
Despite being a road runner and a hiker, I had yet to combine the two and run on trails. Trail running has been front-of-mind since last year, so the opportunity to try on shoes and take them for a run in the woods was appreciated!
Our Salomon rep, Eric, started by explaining how trail shoes are different from road-running shoes. Here’s an overview:
- Trail shoes are more rugged than road shoes – they offer more traction and stability for uneven terrain. The Sense Rides have less stitching holding the various parts of the upper, and instead favor bonded overlays. This tends to last longer than stitching does.
- Trail shoes are often a bit wider than the average road shoe, which increases stability when the foot strikes the ground. As a result, you may find that you can wear a regular size in these if you normally wear a women’s wide or men’s shoe for road running. (Get fitted, though!)
- Trail shoes fit snug around the arch/instep to prevent the foot from sliding around in the shoe on uneven terrain. Many people can get away with wearing their regular size (rather than sizing up like you would for road shoes), but the goal is a snug fit around the arch with a thumb’s width of space in the toe box.
- Arch support is less of a concern in trail shoes because pronation/supination doesn’t occur on a trail the way it would on a flat road. As a result, insoles may be less of a concern in trail shoes for many people who use them in their road shoes.
- The outsole has a rugged tread, or “lug,” that grips the ground. Think about the difference between the tires on a car versus the tires on an off-road vehicle… then apply it to shoes. This lug wears down slower on a trail than the soles on a pair of road shoes.
- The outsole is sometimes “decoupled,” which means that the part of the outsole that touches the ground isn’t a single piece but is actually broken into multiple pieces so that the foot can bend and grip the terrain easier, as well as absorb shock more efficiently.
- Some trail shoes have a rock plate in the sole, which protects the foot from… rocks.
The Salomon Sense Ride does not have a rock plate. It is a “transitional” shoe, which means it’s meant to work well on rail trails (much like the Goffstown Rail Trail’s unpaved, crushed stone) and transitions well to something a bit more rugged with lots of rocks, roots, etc.
Additionally, the Sense Ride has a heel-to-toe drop similar to many road shoes. These are an 8mm drop (for reference, my road shoes are Saucony Omni, and those are also an 8mm drop).
For new trail runners, the Sense Rides would be great. For experienced trail runners who tackle more technical trails, something more advanced may be necessary.
When Eric picked up a pair of shoes to show off some of the attributes, many of the ladies in the group ooh’ed and aah’ed. They were a pretty color! And so sleek!
(Although, honestly, Eric was kinda nice to look at, too.)
Once the presentation was over, it was time to snag a pair of shoes to demo.
Admittedly, I was nervous.
Sometimes I trip just standing still, and I tend to shuffle my feet when I run, so the potential to not pick my feet up high enough while running the trail was a concern. Additionally, when I hike, even despite nice trail shoes, I don’t always trust the amount of grip that they have on smooth rocks.
Eric mentioned that trail running is often walking for a few steps, then loosening up and running for a bit, then walking again. Sounded a lot like intervals (shout out to all my 3:1 ladies!), but less structured.
The goal is to just get all loosey goosey and let it all go. The less time your foot spends touching the ground, the better.
It’s a great form of cross training because it uses your muscles differently, and helps road runners stay on the road longer, simply because it helps prevent overuse injuries.
Sign. Me. Up.
As the group took off on a flat, dirt road, I couldn’t tell if they felt any different than my road shoes. It wasn’t until I walked up a moderately technical part of the trail that I noticed how well they gripped. (BTW, these can totally be worn for hiking, as long as you’re kind to your ankles.)
Then I asked to pass a couple ladies so I could let it rip and take off for a run… WOW.
These shoes GRIP.
It wasn’t too long before I found myself completely alone in the woods with only the sound of my excessively heavy breathing for company (I have the Instagram video to prove it).
Then I caught up to another group, and passed them, as well.
I felt like I was FLYING down that trail.
Turns out I was averaging 13-minute mile for most of the run, with my fastest pace at a 10:07. But I felt like I was working so hard – and I was.
Side note: my heart rate was in threshold (or orange zone, or zone 4, or 165-185 bpm) for the majority of the run. I hit a max HR of 192 (my personal max HR is 206, so I really wasn’t far off from that).
Trail running is HARD, yo.
But what surprised me the most was how free and fearless I felt, simply because I had the right shoes on for the task at hand. Not once was I worried about lack of grip on any of these surfaces. I honestly didn’t worry AT ALL.
And it was FUN.
The trail had roots, smooth rocks, moss-covered rocks, sand, gravel… these shoes performed spectacularly on all surfaces. With the exception of pavement.
I spent a short amount of time running on a road in the Sense Rides, and I felt like I was peeling the soles of my feet from a tacky surface. My legs felt excessively heavy. These shoes are not recommended for roads (not by me, anyway, and feedback from many others who tested them and ended up on pavement said the same thing).
So… long story short, I enjoyed the demo enough that I went to REI.com and bought a pair using my member dividends (AKA: giant discount, because I spend so much money there).
Runner’s Alley was kind enough to facilitate the connection with Eric, so I’d suggest heading on over there to give them your business! The shoes are regularly $120, but SRTT members get 10% off at all three Runner’s Alley locations.
|· Quicklaces with a pocket to hide the extra length in so you don’t trip||· Expensive ($120) if you’re a newb and not sure about your long-term plans for trails|
|· Relatively light shoe (pair weighs 1lb)||· Limited color options (REI only has 2)|
|· Breathable mesh upper||· Not waterproof|
|· No need for special insoles (for most runners)|
|Totally worth the investment for a newbie trail runner that wants to spend more time on trails enjoying nature.|
~ Emily D. blogs at sofashrunable.com.