Whether you are racing, running the OMM, training for the Bob Graham round or just enjoy the freedom of running on trails and mountains, the most important piece of clothing is what you have on your feet.

 

The most important thing about your shoes is how well they fit. Even the most advanced shoe out there will be no good if the fit is wrong and it gives you blisters.

 

Fell shoes tend to be narrower than walking boots or road shoes. This allows the upper to hold your foot securely and prevent it rolling inside the shoe, particularly when contouring. You will feel more secure on steep, rocky ground and will reduce the chance of blisters as less movement = less friction. That said, the shoes should feel snug, not too tight.

 

There should be at least a thumb width of space between the end of your longest toe and the end of the shoe. One of the most common problems that runners have is bruised, and even lost toenails - usually because their toes hit the end of the shoe on every stride, particularly downhill. Most people with this problem find running in shoes 1 or ½ size bigger solves it. Sizing of shoes varies between brands, and it is important to know that the size is right. For this reason we would much prefer to fit your shoes ourselves in the store.

 

The next consideration for fell shoes is the sole. If you are going to spend most of your time running on valley trails, a bit more grip is advisable, but anything too aggressive will be uncomfortable on the hard packed surface. We love the Salomon XA pro 3D Ultra for this type of running. If you are going off the path, on muddy or steep ground, you will welcome the extra grip and low centre of gravity of the La Sportiva Crosslite and its peers.

 

Some of the running shoes that we stock have a Gore-tex membrane and some don’t. A fell shoe for summer use it probably better off not being waterproof as the lack of a membrane allows the shoe to drain if water comes in over the top and allows sweat out to keep your feet drier. In winter, or when walking in lightweight shoes, you may find that the extra warmth and waterproofness (if that’s a word) of the Gore-tex shoe keeps you warmer, drier and happier.

 

If you have ever been fitted for road running shoes in a good shop, they probably looked at the way that you run (your gait) and then prescribed the right shoe. The part of your gait that is important is the way that your foot rolls inwards as your weight comes onto it. The ideal is to roll to flat (neutral) and not go any further, but it is quite common for the arch to collapse and allow the foot to roll inwards. This is corrected with arch support (which stops the roll) and is important for road running as every step on the pavement is the same. If every step is the same, small imbalances can add up and result in injury.

 

On the fell, every step is different, your foot lands on something new every stride, and this has a much bigger effect than a small collapse of the arch of your foot. Fell shoes tend to avoid having too much arch support, giving you a more responsive feel. 

 

Road shoes tend to have a lot of cushioning to cope with impact on concrete, but unless you’re running on hard packed trails or on rock, you’re unlikely to encounter such a hard surface in the hills. Fell shoes tend to be less cushioned to allow room for more aggressive soles, and to keep the heel closer to the floor. This gives you better feel for the terrain and tends to make the lower leg more stable. Be aware, though that a more minimalist shoe, with a smaller difference between heel and toe height puts more strain on the calf and the connective tissues of the foot and should be adjusted to gradually.

 

We stock a range of fell shoes from brands like Salomon, Inov-8 and La Sportivaand are always happy to talk about them (we’re kit geeks, it makes us happy!). We can also order lots of things that we don't usually stock, so even if you don't see it on the website it's worth asking about. So pop down to our shop, have a chat and a cup of tea and find your perfect fell shoe.


 

 

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