Choosing Trail Running Shoes

by XTERRA on 01/19/2022

GETTING STARTED: It's all in the fit!

The number one thing to keep in mind when choosing trail running shoes is how they fit. If they don't fit right, they're not going to feel right, and they're not going to work right. The best way to pick a shoe is to go to your local running store. They will recommend a trail running shoe based on the way you run on a treadmill in the store.

Things to look for: cushion and traction

You’ll need a shoe with a good amount of cushioning and traction for trail running. With a mid-level shoe, you can use it for trail, track, treadmill, and road running, and even racing.

Gotta have sole: rock plates and thickness

Good trail running shoes have two different ways of protecting your feet from rocks on the trail: rock plates or thick soles. The purpose of both is to keep the rocks and other objects from poking your feet while you’re running the trail.

Elastic laces

Elastic laces are great for off-road triathlons, because they allow you to slide in and out of the shoe very quickly.


Insoles give more support in the toe, heel, and arch areas.


For off-road racing, go with something that has high ankle coverage. You don’t want dirt, rocks, or sticks going down into your socks.

Will Kelsay is a seasoned veteran on the XTERRA circuit having raced in more than 20 countries around the world over 17 years. Having raced professionally since 2005, he has accumulated more than 50 overall wins and 75 more top five finishes. Over the years, he has been a coach, race announcer, race director, personal trainer, physiology lab technician, videographer, magazine editor and writer, and countless other professions to supplement his racing career.