Choosing shoes for running on gravel roads can be tricky. Most companies market their shoes for either road running or trail running. Running on gravel can be a bit like either of these. To make the choice easier, focus on the type of gravel you’ll encounter, the conditions in which you run and other activities in which you participate.
Types of Gravel Roads
Not all gravel roads are considered equal. Some are relatively flat and level, with just a bit of fine gravel over a hard surface. Other gravel roads may be covered with thick, larger gravel. If the roads you’ll be running on consist of mostly finer gravel on a hard surface, you might consider using a sturdy road running shoe. You’ll likely need less tread on a road like this, and your chances of spraining an ankle will be lower. On the other hand, if you think you’ll encounter mostly thick or large gravel, a trail shoe may be your best bet. Trail shoes typically have more tread to keep you from slipping on the loose terrain and they also tend to provide more ankle stability, which you might need with the larger rocks.
If you’re a fair weather runner, a road shoe is more likely to work for you on a gravel road than if you’re the type to run in any conditions. The upper material on a road shoe tends to be less durable and thinner so if you run in the rain, you may find your feet end up muddy and wet much more quickly than they would with a trail shoe. Many trail shoes are available in waterproof or water-resistant styles, which can be especially useful if you know you’re going to be running in a lot of muck or rain.
If you’re going to need your shoes for other activities, consider whether a road or trail running shoe would work better in these situations. For instance, if you’re going to run on gravel but need to wear the shoes to the gym, a road shoe may work better for you. The heavy tread of a trail shoe can be uncomfortable when doing some exercises in the gym. If you think you might need your shoes for hiking during a camping trip, the heavier, more durable trail shoe might be the best choice for you.
Running shoes come in many different varieties, such as stability and motion control versions. Running in the wrong shoe for your feet can cause problems. Whenever possible, buy your shoes in a store that provides staff who can help you choose the best shoe for you. This will help you avoid injuries and make your runs a lot more fun!
Lisa Thompson has been writing since 2008, when she began writing for the Prevention website. She is a holistic health practitioner, nationally certified massage therapist and National Council on Strength and Fitness-certified personal trainer. Thompson also holds certificates in nutrition and herbology from the Natural Healing Institute, as well as a Master of Education from California State University.