We interviewed James Whipple, director of the Sono Half and experienced ultra-runner, to find his go-to shoes for running. No surprise here--James owns over 40 pairs of sneakers, and alternates between 2 to 3 during his training periods. James showed us the shoes he loves most for both trail and road running, and what makes them the best tool for a healthier run! Read on to find out how James prepares for a race, and the shoes that keep him on his feet!
James crossing the finish line at Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run with his family.
How often do you replace your running shoes?
"On average, it is wise to replace your shoes every 300-350 miles. Trail shoes may wear out faster if you have sections of road on your trail run, since pavement wears down the treads a bit faster."
How long does it take to break in a new pair of sneakers?
"The approximate break in period for most shoes is 20-30 miles. However, lighter, more minimalist type shoes require much less wear to break them in. It is crucial to get a feel for the shoes before you buy them! Spend some time walking around the store and make sure you do not feel any hot spots that could become painful blisters when you are running in them."
I want to try trail running; do I need different shoes for trail and road?
"There are road specific running shoes and a trail running shoes; each have their own benefits depending on the surface and terrain you'll be running on. If you're just trying out trail running for the first time, a crossover shoe is a great option because it's made to perform in both situations."
Do you have any advice for people who are planning to run a marathon?
"Have a plan! Be consistent! There are many terrific beginner training programs available online. Find one that works well with your schedule and follow it consistently. Keep most of your running easy and comfortable to build your fitness and avoid injury. Be patient! I do a lot of my training on the treadmill at home in order to spend more quality time with my family. This also allows me to control my pace and incline, so there is less risk of injury."
What are some important factors to consider when buying new shoes?
"The length of your run, your experience level and your foot's flexibility help break down the difference between running shoes. Your pedorthist can check based on flexing and twisting your foot whether it is rigid or flexible to reveal the amount of support you need. If you're running for longer distances a shoe with more support can protect your arch and absorb shock. I recommend the new brand Hoka for its lightweight and sturdier soles."
Our on-staff pedorthist Arlo Tarr will take measurements and examine your foot type, carefully to help you pick the perfect pair of running shoes for your feet. This is crucial to ensuring that you have a fun and safe running experience; everyone runs differently, so the same shoe is not necessarily the best shoe for everyone. With a pedorthic background, he can examine your feet and point out potential issues that you might not realize effect your running style, and also recommend a supportive insole to help tweak the fit.
James and his daughter Mia at the New York City 10K last year.
James shared with us his favorite running shoes, for trail running and road running. Here are his top picks in each category:
Hoka Clifton 2
Although Hoka is a relatively new brand, it has already become incredibly popular in the ultrarunning community, with around 75% of ultrarunners using them. They have even become increasingly popular for all distances because of their thick soles that offer maximum cushioning. James likes to use these shoes on his recovery runs of about 8-10 miles; he says, "They keep your legs fresh and absorb shock." They are very lightweight (around 6.6 ounces) and have unique midsoles. Hokas have 2.5 times the midsole volume of a standard running shoe, and they incorporate Meta-Rocker geometry, meaning a sculpted outsole radius in the heel and toe which supports a runner's form. This shoe comes in men's and women's.
Salomon Speedcross 3
James' favorite thing about these shoes is the incredible lacing system: one-pull tightening is quick and easy, and there is a lace pocket on the tongue where you can quickly tuck away the pull tab. He also mentioned that it's incredibly comfortable: "it feels like a glove on your foot." A protective layer all around the base of the shoe protects against mud, and an anti-debris mesh keeps the area between your foot and the footbed free of debris. The deep tread on the outsoles provides the ultimate grip no matter what the conditions. This shoe comes in men's and women's.
Other Road Shoes we Love:
Asics Gel Nimbus
This shoe incorporates a gel cushioning system in the rear foot and forefoot that gives it an incredibly smooth ride. The shoe is constructed of seamless materials, and the elimination of seams and stitching also eliminates the risk of irritating friction and scratching. This shoe comes in men's and women's.
Brooks Adrenaline GTS
A full-length segmented crash pad allows for smooth transitions from your heel to your toe, and the Progressive Diagonal Rollbar adds stability to the shoe. The midsole is designed to be great for people with moderate pronation, and for those with flat to medium arches. Your feet will stay dry and cool thanks to the moisture-management mesh upper. This shoe comes in men's and women's.
Other Trail Shoes we Love:
This aggressive trail shoe will carry you over technical terrain with ease. The outsole incorporates FriXion® XF, LaSportiva's "stickiest running shoe sole compound," which provides superior traction. This shoe offers stability and grip on the roughest terrain, along with cushioning to keep your feet going longer. This shoe comes in men's and women's.
North Face Ultra Cardiac
This is an excellent shoe for beginner trail runners, with a low price point and a stable fit. If your trail run includes portions of road, this is the shoe for you, as it is made to perform on any surface. It makes a great crossover shoe for anyone going from road to trail for the first time. It is flexible and light, but also protective, with a wide platform for added stability. Sticky threads give you traction on your uphill climbs, while the midsole cushioning protects your feet on the descent. This shoe comes in men's and women's.