Q:

Which running shoe can save my knees on paved surfaces?

I'd love to run on the concrete recreation trails outside my house, but they hurt my bones. I’ve had to stick to dirt trails, which are a car ride away. Which running shoe will cushion well on paved surfaces? LCB Erie, Colorado

Feb 26, 2007
Outside
Outside Magazine
Saucony ProGrid Triumph 4

ProGrid Triumph 4

A:

Yeah, running on concrete is awful. And it really isn’t good for you. Asphalt is a little more forgiving than cement, but neither come close to the comfort of running on dirt trails. So the solution, and it’s an imperfect one, is to find the most cushioned shoe that you can. But that isn’t always a solution, either, because well-cushioned shoes have less motion control than shoes that are a bit firmer. Plus they’re not apt to work as well on trails. So it’s a dilemma.

That said, I’ve always found New Balance shoes to offer a good cushioning with decent support. The MR810 ($85; newbalance.com) is actually a trail shoe that’s billed as having excellent cushioning, so might be worth a look.

For lots of cushioning, try the Saucony ProGrid Triumph 4 ($120; saucony.com). It’s a very soft shoe, with a molded EVA midsole and slip last for good fit. It’s a very highly rated, comfortable shoe. Nike’s Air Max 180 ($110; nike.com) has the most air cushioning Nike has put into a shoe, although you might want to swap out the somewhat stiff insole (which I recommend anyway—Superfeet are great add-ons to any shoe for $29; superfeet.com). Lastly, New Balance makes a soft running shoe called the Model 1061 ($130), which has lots of cushioning and an excellent fit.

One thing to remember is that running on hard surface is tough for you AND your shoes. So swap out for new ones more often than you’d like to—at least every six months. Your knees will thank you.

The Gear Guy reports from 2007 Winter Outdoor Retailer, the bi-annual gearapalooza in Salt Lake City. Check out his top picks for gear to watch in 2007.

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