An Ode To My Inov-8 Trailrocs

An Ode To My Inov-8 Trailrocs

 

Bit of history; I can remember when I first came across the Trailroc 235s on one of those ‘top ten best off-road shoes’ lists in some corner of the internet. I was drawn to the way they looked, the design, colouring and minimalism of them – it was the first time I had seen a minimal 0-drop trail shoe and I had never heard of this company ‘Inov-8’ before (must be an American thing). The only thing that put me off buying them there and then was the price – retail at around £95? I had sworn to never spend over £50 on a pair of running shoes…… Little did I know what would become of those thoughts……

A few months later I ran an incredibly muddy race (Muddyrace!) in Worcestershire in some minimal shoes advertised as trail shoes but were essentially flat from being worn down in training – I ran a strong race and felt like I could/should have won but was completely unable to turn corners or run on slopes without ending up flat on my face. I ended up in third place and a comment from first place got to me: “I could tell you were a strong runner at the start but as soon as I saw you slip I looked at your shoes and knew I could take you.”

This was one of those moments that stuck with me and really opened my eyes… I NEED TRAIL SHOES. After much scanning in stores and online I stumbled across the Trailrocs again…. can I justify spending that money on them? I was desperate for them, knew they would make a difference to my racing and just couldn’t get them off my mind…. something I’m sure other runners can relate to when it comes to a certain pair of shoes. I convinced my girlfriend to go halves on them as a Christmas present and the rest was history!
 
inov8 trailroc
 
On first impression they are a great looking pair of shoes, a shade of green that has been created just for this shoe and they weight basically nothing (well, 235 grams but it feels like nothing!). Putting them on set aside my fears about losing them in a muddy pit – these are a very snug shoe, they stay tight on my foot without becoming uncomfortable and won’t let too much mud get in, for a minimal shoe like this they have a very nice amount of cushioning around the ankle (probably where those few grams come from) and they have a more rounded toe box (anatomical fit) rather than the pointy-toe shape (racing fit) that some shoes can feature and feel like there is too much space at the end of the shoe – all of these help the Trailrocs hit that nice point of being able to run and not think about your shoes.
 
That was all at the beginnings of the relationship though, since owning them, I have run 13 out of 15 races in them (one I didn’t wear them because they were still muddy and wet from the race the day before, the other I didn’t wear them because I thought the Bare-Grips would suit the terrain better on the day) including a trail half-marathon and countless training miles on top of that. Clearly these are my go-to shoe when it comes to off-road (I have many pairs of shoes..) and how have they held up?
 
inov8 trailroc
 
Let me tell you; these shoes can take some punishment, I have put them through their paces regularly over the last seven or eight months and putting them on still feels fresh. Running in these shoes over rocky trails is no problem for the feet – the rock guard at the toes and the design of the sole keep my feet pain-free compared to other minimal designs and while admittedly they don’t have the most aggressive tread compared to some of the options out there, the amount of tread on the sole makes up for that and I have felt stable in some pretty horrendous conditions, you can comfortably run on concrete or gravel sections of races and you won’t be digging out grass and mud caught between any thick lugs. For summer racing these are perfect with the need for a fast shoe over soft ground.

While they still look like new at a glance, the black material at the front of the toe has come away from the main shoe slightly but that area is still completely covered by the main material itself so is more of an aesthetics issue I suppose, and if I can come up with any criticisms then I have to point out that the shoe laces are a bit strange…. they are made of a slightly elastic material and are very smooth. While the slight elasticity must contribute to the shoe staying snug to the foot, they really need to be double tied and tucked underneath themselves to prevent worries of them coming undone (although saying that I can’t remember any instance of them coming undone…. I really am trying to find criticisms here….).

I also have to add in here that in the course of writing this, I have had a close look at the slight fraying on the inside of each foot and am sad to say that I have found a couple of holes on the left shoe.
 
inov8 trailroc
 
They have obviously taken a pounding from some aggressive trails and over-pronating to wear down the inside and have created splits. That fact that I have only noticed these now is testament to this shoe and I will still run in them, but they will clearly take on more water/mud now so their racing days will finally be over. It is a sad day having to say goodbye to your first real (shoe) love, and my curious nature is excited to now go looking for new trail shoes to replace them, but if I act sensibly then I will be replacing my Trailroc 235s with a new pair of Trailroc 235s.
 

Written by me: Keith Fairburn

Personal Trainer, Sports Therapist, S&C Coach.

Ninja Warrior Semi-Finalist, Obstacle Racer, Salming Running Ambassador.

If you have any questions about anything I’ve written in this post or want to get in touch, contact me.

 

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