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Trail Running Shoes Vs Road Shoes: What’s The Difference?

Trail Running Shoes vs Road Shoes: What’s the Difference?

The primary difference between trail and road running shoes is weight. Trail shoes are heavy, and road running shoes are built to be light. Road shoes are intentionally made of a lightweight material for fast running. 

If you started out running on the road, you might eventually find yourself on a trail. Whether you are looking for a new challenge, seeking adventure, or just like the peacefulness of the woods, trail running is a wonderful experience. 

Some athletes live in areas where there are beautifully paved paths through a park or other wooded areas. These are lovely, but that is not trial running. When you truly run trails, you are going up and down hills, jumping over creeks, and have to watch every footfall for possible danger. 

Serious trail runners need a specialized shoe, which brings us to the topic: trail running shoes vs. running shoes. 

What’s the Difference Between Trail Running Shoes and Road Running Shoes?

First, let’s answer what trail running shoes are? 

Heavier and designed to protect your foot from sticks, rocks, and other things on the trail, trail running shoes are built tough. If you choose poorly when getting yourself a trail running shoe, you might end up with an unfortunate injury. 

The main difference between trail and road running shoes is weight. Trail shoes are heavy, and road running shoes are built to be light. Road shoes are intentionally made of a lightweight material for fast running. 

Trail shoes also have a very specific kind of tread on the bottom. As a result, road running does not require a lot of grip or traction. Trail shoes, on the other hand, must have a thick sole with adequate traction.

This is important to keep you from feeling every rock, stick, or stone you might land on, as well as keeping you upright on slick surfaces such as mud.

Trail shoe soles are also wide and close to the ground, which will provide more adequate support on those uneven surfaces. They also often have a rubber “bumper” edge for more protection.

When Should I Use Trail Running Shoes?

You can use your regular running shoes on anything paved or packed dirt trails. If you are going more primitive than that, you want a shoe specific to trail running.

What is a trail running shoe? One that protects your foot and helps prevent you from falling. 

When Should I Use Road Shoes?

Road shoes are exactly what they sound like: shoes for running on the road. You won’t likely hear someone refer to their running shoes or trainers as road shoes. Most people assume that their running will be either on the road, treadmill or the track. 

Wear a traditional running shoe when running on a cement or asphalt road. If you are doing speed work on a track, you might want a pair of racers or track flats. You can even wear a standard running shoe on some types of trails.

For example, a packed dirt trail is pretty safe. I wear standard running shoes when I run the trails at my parent’s land. The paths are flat and groomed. 

It is only when I am on technical trails that I want trail-specific shoes. 

Is It Okay To Use Trail Running Shoes on the Road?

Can you use trail running shoes on the road? Sure it is safe to wear trail shoes on the road, but why would you want to? Trail running shoes on pavement will probably feel stiff, awkward, and heavy.

Most people don’t want that kind of “ride” when running on the road. Trail shoes require getting used to for many runners. 

Can You Use Road Runners on Trails?

Although you typically will not use trail shoes on the road, you can use road shoes on a trail.  

I would not advise using road shoes for technical trails, however.

If the trail you are about to run on is very hilly, has a lot of sticks and rocks on the path, and/or goes through water and/or mud, you want a trail-specific shoe. 

Road Running vs. Trail Running Shoes

Hopefully, you are no longer asking: what are trail running shoes? Are trail shoes good for running? If you have decided to take to the trails, we have some great top pics in the trail shoe department

Just like athletes have sport-specific shoes, such as golf shoes or basketball shoes, using the right shoe for the correct activity can help keep you safe and protected.

Starting your journey on a trail literally from the ground on up, proving yourself with a great base by wearing the appropriate shoe. The rest of it will fall into place. 

Enjoy your journey onto the trail. If you are like me, you are about to find your happy place. 




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