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How professionals test new shoes and 5 tips for faster trail runs

Off-road-running star and On athlete Ben Allen shares what he looks for when testing a new shoe - and his 5 tips to run your fastest trail time yet.

Ben Allen - Xterra Triathlon legend.  


When I get a new pair of shoes, I first test them out in two ways: doing long strides then sprints to get that initial “wow” feeling. There’s nothing quite like lacing up a new pair of shoes – feeling that push off and acceleration forward that sends you millions of new messages to decode from the ground up.


After these initial tests, I then start to compare the shoes I currently use and wonder if these new ones are better at such things as adhesiveness with the ground – something important that can give me an edge as I climb, say, a volcanic mountain while running.

When it came to the Cloudventure Peak, I opened up the box and my reaction was, “I need to put these on now”

It usually takes me around 20mins to get used to new shoes. The time lets me create a connection that gives me confidence and strength to go all out in them. It’s one thing to test and train in new shoes, but another to compete in them. For that, I believe and trust in the technology and details behind the scenes that I am lucky enough to be involved with when it comes to On.

We asked Ben what his 5 top trail running tips are for people looking to break in to the sport.


1. Fast cadence - Trail running generally demands that you take shorter steps. This allows your brain more time to assess the best part of the trail for your foot placement. Larger steps equals more force on your legs, increasing the risk of rolling an ankle or taking a fall. Small and steady means speed.


2. It’s all in the arms - When it comes to trail running your arms can become a less controlled force, unlike in normal running, as they provide you with counter balance. You might look like you’ve had a few drinks waving your arms about, but there is a method to the madness and those arms are doing a vital balancing job, so relax and let them do their thing.

A post shared by Benny Allen (@bennyallen) on

3. Concentrate - Get in the zone and force yourself to stay there. Watch what you’re doing and be active and aware of your surroundings and especially where your feet are striking the ground.


4. Posture and technique  - When you can, maintain “normal” running posture. This will keep you flowing and allow you to maintain a good rhythm.


5. Speed can be your friend - There is a lot of courageousness and boldness to fast trail running - even more so on technical downhill sections. It takes guts to really throw yourself at a technical trail and hold your speed. Guts and skill. In a competitive event, you need to be a fearless technical runner. This can gain valuable seconds – or even minutes - on your competitors to get ahead and claim your place on that podium.

The Cloudventure Peak
For runners looking for a lightweight trail competition shoe with downhill cushioning.
See it here