Controversial topic. I’m prefacing this post with a note that this is purely my opinion only – you can make your own mind up about this one.
I’m a trail, minimal and barefoot runner. In that order. My choice of shoes basically come down to what I’m doing, and I run in as little shoe as I possibly can given the terrain. And that’s it.
My preference for shoes is pretty simple – zero drop (the heel is at the same height as the toe), minimal cushioning, flexible, ‘enough’ grip for the terrain. Running trails, this means my shoe choice varies from no midsole, low height lugs and ultra lightweight if I’m running soft forest trails, to aggressive grip and more cushioning for rocky and steep trails.
My preference, even on rocky terrain, is for a firm midsole – even in my ‘cushioned’ shoes. You can have a protective midsole and rockplate without going to the marshmallow end of the spectrum. For me a firm midsole gives quicker terrain feedback, meaning quicker adjustments in my body position. This means Hoka’s are a big no in my books. Way too soft.
I’m also a massive fan of barefoot running.
If I’m on a path or road I know well, and know that it’s a kind surface, I’ll generally opt to be barefoot. I’ve had runs where I start out in shoes feeling like crap, and I take off my shoes and end up having one of those awesome runs.
Unfortunately, in most instances, barefoot trail running isn’t realistically possible. I’ve accepted that there is a time and place for some protection from the ground, in particular those 2+ hour runs on rocky terrain – my most minimal shoes just don’t do the job and my feet feel beat up for the rest of the day (and then some on occasion).
For what it’s worth my current shoe rotation is:
Trails (most cushioned to least)
Altra Lone Peak 1.5
Inov-8 Trailroc 235 & Altra Superior
Inov-8 Trailroc 150
Roads (most cushioned to least)
Merrel Bare Access (the original model – still the best IMO)
Merrel Road Glove
All of these shoes are zero drop.
What’s your preference? What’s in your rotation?
See you out there – Juddy