Trail/off road/ x-country whatever you wish to call it

Hi, I dip in and out of the forum a few times a year.  I am the sort of runner who likes to run 3 or 4 times a week and have competed in a couple of half marathons.  unfortunately i suffer from osteo arthritis and ongoing problems with my left knee.  my knee flared up in February so i stopped running for a while and decided to organise a sponsored walk - walking 95k over 3 days. 

I have some beautiful wiltshire countryside and have long thought of coming off road and running across the plains etc. I have a couple of questions if maybe anyone can answer them for me a) can anyone recommend some good trainers for this? i currently  where Aasics for road running. b) would this type of running be good for my knees? c) how do women feel about running in these type of lonely areas on thir own?

 all replies welcome


  • very interesting!

  • I would seriously have a word with a physio that understands your particular condition before doing anything else.  A lot of people will tell you the generally accepted wisdom that running on softer surfaces is kinder to the joints, etc. but IMO it's not so straighforward.  I've had ongoing hip problems (keyhole surgery in 10 days' time!) and without being 100% sure, it's a fair guess that it has been exacerbated by running off-road.  Maybe running on flat, even grass would be kinder to me than flat, even concrete, but practically speaking running off-road often means uneven surfaces and HILLS.  Running downhill in particular can place a lot of stress on joints, but as I say whether this would mean off-road running is more of a problem for you I think is a call best made by a professional.

    W.r.t. footwear, normal running shoes are adequate for most off-road running really, especially if it's dry, although trail shoes can be more practical in mud and rougher terrain.  I don't know much about specific models, though.

  • I'm a woman who runs alone. I like running alone and have no fears or worries about doing so. I enjoy running off road far more than running on the road which I only do when needs must. I like running along tracks and trails and footpaths. running over grassland is fine but slow going and can be quite lumpy bumpy and I have a tendancy to twist my ankles which I don't like. (show me someone who does).

    I generally wear my New Balance 101's for off road, they are great when it's muddy / slippery and I need traction. They are not a fast road shoe and I do notice that if I have to run on the road.

    PP - wishing you well for your surgery. Hope the recovery is quick.

    I like hills. image

  • I do most of my running these days off road and on trails. I have, until recently, run in my Asics 1160's road shoes. However, I recently bought my first pair of trails shoes, which were Salomon Speed Cross 2. I have had no problems and am running trails faster than with road shoes.

    Off road is certainly kinder on the joints than pounding away on tarmac, although I do agree that you can twist an ankle or have a nasty fall etc. Having said that, off road does strengthen your joints and use more muscles than when running on even surfaces. I also like hills and try to run up and down them as fast as I safely can.

  • As a Wiltshire (west) resident my attention was caught by the name. For Salisbury Plain or Marlborough Downs road shoes are fine. The chalk can be slippery when wet so if there is a bit of grip so much the better.
  • I love Wiltshire, it's so full of places to explore. Trails are the way to go. I run and bike on isolated tracks all the time, even in the dark. I am never scared. I do carry a mobile always and tell husband where I go. I don't have any road shoes anymore as never use them now but Asics do a few good trail ones, I got a good pair from Sports Direct for £30.00 recently and love them. Cannot comment on the knee situation apart from go and see a good physio, chartered one if possible, I could recommend one but I'm in Oxfordshire so a bit way off. Anyway, good luck with trail running, it's great fun especially in late autumn when the trails are muddy, it brings out your inner child to come back home covered in mud.
  • Assuming you take all the other advice, back to the shoes. You don't say what model. I used to use 2140s, and now 1150s on the road since I don't really want the pronation support, but most of the time I'm on trails. I had tried Salomons of various types but have come back to asics. Gel trail attack if I don't need waterproof and gel trail lahar if I do. They both have the same grippy sole. You might like to look at these.
  • I'm female and also run trails on my own. I think the safety advice is the same no matter what sex you are, try and let someone know the route you are running and when you expect to return.

    I have a mobile phone with me and in the winterr I'm planning on putting one of those little foil survival blankets and a whistle in my bum bag. This is because if I trip/fall hurt an ankle etc I could have a long limp to the nearest road. All the time I'm running I am quite warm but in bad weather when you stop running you can chill down quite quickly.

    If you are not familiar with the area you are running through, and depending on how far you are running, then a map can be useful. I meet quite a few walkers / mountain bikers that are completely lost, sometimes miles away from where they think they are and most of them don't have an adequate map of the area......

    I really love trail running and I do run in all weather. There is nothing more exhilarating than running across the top of the South Downs in the wind and rain ! I carried on running on the Downs during the snow and ice last year, most of the time I didn't see anyone else and the only slippery bits were close to home where the snow had become compacted.

    I'm currently running in brooks adrenaline asr 8's. I've only had them a week but so far they are great. My first run in them was 14 miles and I had no sore patches or blisters. The grip in mud was good.... Better than the salomans that I used to run in.
  • Adidas Kanadia getting good reviews for trail & off road grippy outsole but a bit hairy on wet rock - with which few shoes cope well.
  • Imelda Mouse wrote (see)

    PP - wishing you well for your surgery. Hope the recovery is quick.

    Thank you!  Bring it on, I can't wait to get back to it.  image
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