Can I Wear Trail Running Shoes When Running on Roads?

Runners feet
Photo by John Foxx

"I have a pair of trail running shoes. Is it safe to wear them when running on roads, in addition to trails?"

Whether you're running in regular running shoes or trail running shoes, the most important factor is whether they're the right shoes for your foot and running gait. Some runners need more support and motion control than others, based on the way they run. Running in the wrong shoes can lead to discomfort while running and possible injuries.

If you haven't already, go to a running specialty store and get a gait analysis, so a running shoe expert can recommend the right shoes for you.

Trail Running Shoes vs. Road Running Shoes

The main difference between trail running shoes and road running shoes is that the trail shoes are usually made with thicker materials. They're usually heavier and have sturdier than regular road running shoes, so you're less likely to bruise your soles and toes, or tweak your ankle.

Trail running shoes are generally fine to wear when running on the roads. However, if you're doing faster workouts such as tempo runs or interval workouts, you may feel more comfortable (and faster) in a lighter shoe.

How's the Weather?

The weather is also a big factor when determining what type of running shoes to wear. If it's very hot and humid, you may also prefer lighter road running shoes over trail runners, so your feet don't get too sweaty.

On the other hand, you may find that you're actually better off wearing trail running shoes when running on the roads or sidewalks when the weather is bad. Because trail shoes are thicker and usually more water-resistant, they can be more comfortable and safer when running on snow or in the rain.

So, How Many Pairs of Running Shoes Do I Need?

One pair of running shoes is sufficient for a beginner runner.

However, if you're really getting into running, you may want to invest in multiple pairs of shoes. For example, you may want a pair of trail running shoes solely for trail and bad weather running, and a pair of regular running shoes for treadmill and road running. Some runners who run several times a week like to rotate two pairs of running shoes. Alternating shoes will increase the life of your shoes because you'll give them a day or two to decompress and dry out between workouts.

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