Never run on concrete. This easily accessible terrain takes a bigger toll on your body than not running at all would, and running on it for too long will surely end your running career in no time. Running on extremely hard surfaces puts a tremendous amount of stress on your body, and all the force you strike it with returns to your body. Shin splints, fractures and ligament problems are only a few consequences of concrete running.
Instead, choose more forgiving surfaces, such as asphalt, grass, dirt or the treadmill belt. Athletic director and soccer coach Andrew Lang says, "the best situation is definitely grass because it allows for better absorption in your feet and in your knees." Want to burn a few extra calories? Try running on sand. This extremely impact-absorbing surface will get your heart racing and provide some extra strengthening on muscles below the knees.
Now that we understand the importance of terrain, we can move on to a topic of equal importance: What is coming in contact with said terrain. Former college athlete and soccer coach Daniel Littlefield says, "running is a great form of exercise, but it is also very demanding on your body. I believe that proper footwear is very important as it aids in cushioning joints from repetitive impacts and ensuring proper bone and joint alignment." When selecting a running shoe, it is important to consider if you will spend more time on a trail or road, and how far you will run.
Think of trail running as off-roading. Would you take a Honda Civic out on a winding, rocky mountain road full of twists and turns? If it were me, I know I'd feel much safer in a big truck or Jeep Wrangler. Similarly, you want to select a shoe with enhanced stability and foot protection to combat the unpredictability of trail running. New Balance offers some great trail running shoes in fun designs and colors, including the New Balance 810v2.
Shoes designed for road running should typically be lighter and more flexible; they are designed to carry you through more consistent, repetitive strides on flatter surfaces. My personal favorite road running shoes are those found in the Nike Free Run collection. They provide adequate cushioning, are lightweight and flexible, and you can actually personalize them at Nike.com!
I would only recommend the Free Runs if you are running short distances (no more than 5 or 6 miles at a time). This is because they provide more flexibility than cushioning, while you would actually want the opposite for long distances.
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