Ask the Expert: Hit the Trails!

Our friends at Foot Traffic know their stuff. Whether it’s planning how to ramp up mileage, a better way to recover, or find the right sports bra, they’re the team to ask. Here’s our latest Q & A sesh:
New Trail Runner: I want to start running trails. What are some good trails around Portland/Salem that are good for beginners?
Foot Traffic Expert: I think some  of the biggest fears for new trail runners are:
a.) Getting lost and
b.) Safety being out there alone
With this said, Leif Erickson is a great place to get into Forest Park in Portland without ever having to touch any single track at all, and you just head out and back – there are no turns. Think of it as hybrid trail. Mainly gravel, but still in the forest and not on a street. Plus, just enough people to keep you company. The other great option is the Oaks Bottom trails just down from Sellwood. The loop is short (you can get about 2 miles in down there) and it’s right in the city.
(not sure about Salem…maybe you could plug some info in there?)
New Trail Runner: What are all the types of features in trail shoes and what are they good for? Like the type of tread, waterproof or not … etc?
Foot Traffic Expert: If you have really really big feet like Miles, our Sasquatch mascot, stability is not an issue. But for most of you humans, connection with the ground and not slipping or turning an ankle is the most important reason for a trail shoe. Everyone looks for something a little different in a trail shoe (some are simply interested in a Gore-tex version of their regular road shoe) but the two top features to look for are:
1.) Stability and connection with the ground
2.) Grip and tread
To explain number 1a little further: Trail shoes aren’t built the same way a traditional running shoe is with pronation control or prevention. A trail shoe has to adapt to forces on both sides of the shoe (rocks or roots pushing your foot either direction) and not just forces on the medial (inside) side. So trail shoes often tend to be a little lower to the ground, have a little broader base, and often have less heel/toe “offset” (in other words, the heel height is not usually too much higher than the forefoot height).
When shopping, let the expert know where you plan to run. There are better treads for running in soft mud, and more protective shoes for running on really rocky trails. It all depends on what you need, but unless you’re doing some really technical racing, you can usually get away with one trail shoe (to get started anyway … if you become a trail addict you might start to specialize).
About Author

We started the Run Oregon blog in February 2007, because felt like running in Oregon and SW Washington deserved more positive coverage. We also wanted to level the playing field so that small, non-profit races could compete with big events; and to support local race organizers.

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