This review of Inov-8 Roclite 275 womens trail running shoes was carried out by adventurer Sarah Hannibal. Below she tells her running story, reviews the trainers and talks about participating in the Silvretta Run 3000.
So here is my running story. I like running, it clears my mind. I regularly run during my lunch break as it helps me reset and ensure that my second half of the day is as productive as the first. Beyond this my competitive running exposure has been limited.
In 2015 I ran a marathon which was very much a spontaneous decision. I abused an opportunity that fell in to my lap, to check ‘run a marathon’ off my bucket list. I have been running in the same trainers I purchased for that event ever since.
The Silvretta Run 3000 in Ischgl has been running eight years, and each year the number of participants has increased. It is such a fantastically organized event, from the briefing the night before to the water stations, signposting and free massage afterwards.
It is a shame that the word has not spread quicker. I have contemplated doing the small route (11km and 300m climb) for at least the last four years, but for various reasons have never quite got around to signing up.
This year, a friend who I train with had expressed an interest in running a marathon. Unfortunately, our normal 2-3 times a week crossfit-style training, such as 400 meters of burpees, were not really designed to help her complete this dream.
I was reminded of the Silvretta Run 3000 on social media in May. So on the next training session I suggested that we register for the events medium route – 30km and 1400m climb, rather then over-exaggerate our first trail run and go for the full marathon.
Without skipping a beat, she answered ‘yeah, sure’. And so the race was on….
Soon after the “holy **** what have I done” moment, I decided that it was time to replace my old trainers as the soles were falling off. I bought some nice new cushioned ones.
My first couple of runs resulted in impressive blisters from the new trainers. I also realised that these shiny new road running shoes were not going to cut it over slippery stones or snow.
I realised I needed to get some specialist womens trail running shoes
I arrived home one day to find an Inov-8 shoe box waiting for me. Upon opening I was immediately inspired. The quote inside the lid said: “Obsessed is just a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated” (Russell Warren).
With my new favorite quote found and a #letsdothis #inspired, I was ready to train. Trying the shoes on, it struck me that the ankle area was cut very low, lower than my road running trainers. With zero experience of trail running shoes, I wasn’t sure exactly why they were designed like this.
My worry was that they wouldn’t provide any support and so the risk of rolling my ankle would be high on trails. As I began my training, however, I realised that a low cut around the ankles is advantageous. It allows significantly more flexibility when running over uneven terrain.
Shoe sizing is always a stab in the dark for me. Generally, I am a size 39, but could be anywhere between a 38 and 40 depending on the shoe. I ordered the size 39 and was rather worried that it would be too small.
There is no way I wanted to be running in shoes that were going to further compound the post-winter ski touring bruised toenail issue. Somehow, and more by luck than judgement, the shoes were a perfect fit. Not only in the length, but also width wise and round the back of the heel.
After many seasons in ski boots, the back of my heels are rather strangely shaped. Most new shoes cause blisters until they are worn in, just like I’d experienced with my new road trainers.
My first run in the Roclite’s was a very pleasant surprise. I finished without even so much as a sore patch, let alone the blisters I was fearing. And while my feet fared well during this review of Inov-8 Roclite 275, my first training session did not go as planned.
That first run was up to a hut at 2138m. There was a lot of snow this year and whilst the planned run was on the sunny side of the mountain within the first 200m of vertical I had encountered three snow fields.
At that point I decided it was not a good idea to continue. So I abandoned the plan and ran downhill before continuing up to an ever-beautiful lookout point a few hundred meters above my flat. There was not a snowflake in sight.
With hindsight, some training on the snow fields would have actually been very useful. As previously mentioned, I was a little skeptical at first of the low cut around the ankle, but found it to absolutely no problem once on the trail.
Initially my previous experience of extremes – either cushioned running shoes or mountain hiking boots – didn’t allow for this strange combination in my mind. But as I began to run more trails and less paved roads I soon appreciated the firmness.
During this review of Inov-8 Roclite 275 womens trail running trainers the hardness of the sole really surprised me. The switch from well cushioned road runners to these trail shoes, whilst running on a solid trail, was quite substantial.
That said, the Roclite trainers have plenty of cushioning. Even when my altitude runs involved a reasonable distance on tarmac they were still comfortable. Furthermore I never experienced any knee pain after a long run.
One training run I decided to run the first 14km of the Silvretta Run 3000. There was still a lot of snow melting deep in the valley and therefore many streams crossing the path.
I did my best to jump over them, but a couple of times I splashed into the water. I got wet feet and expected that my toes would be squelching the rest of the run
However the mesh upper layer allows the water to escape. Very soon I couldn’t tell that my feet had been wet at all.
During this review of Inov-8 Roclite 275 womens trail running shoes it wasn’t until my last couple of training runs that they started to feel as comfy as slippers.
It wasn’t that they were uncomfortable in the earlier runs, but more that they didn’t feel like they were mine. They now seemed to have completely formed to my feet. But without losing the underfoot stiffness that provides grip and support.
Inov-8 shoes have a handy little arrow system on the back of them which show how much raise the heel has. “So what, like I am going to notice that” was my first thought when I saw that these shoes had two, marking an 8mm drop from the heel to the toe.
Surprisingly to me, and probably less surprisingly to those in the know, this makes a huge difference to your running style. It makes having a good running technique much easier, as you are more able to get forward. Almost falling forward with each step helps you use less energy and increases your running pace.
The laces are quite long and thin and they tread through ringlets instead of holes. I found that I needed to tie a double bow to get them to a reasonable length.
My training program for the event was pieced together from various online plans I had found for mountain marathons. It consisted of long distance runs, hill sprints and tempo sessions.
Unfortunately my holidays were not well planned for my preparation for this event. As after just two weeks of training, I went away to hike the Camino Primitivo with my dad. The trail is from Oviedo to Santiago del Compostela in Spain, and is known as one of the best trekking holidays in Europe.
Trekking 18-22km a day for two weeks meant that I wasn’t doing “nothing”. But it felt like the six weeks after my return to get used to running long distances at altitude might not be enough.
Hill sprints are not the most pleasurable of training at the best of times. And doing it in the Mediterraneanly hot weather that hit the Alps late June/early July was very tough.
I must admit that it was not just one session that was scaled back or cancelled because it was simply too hot to go out and train. The two weeks away hiking and skiving off training sessions made me anxious that I would not be properly prepared in time.
For such an event rest is also very important. So I embraced this side of the preparation, this must have been the key to being ready for it!
We arrived in Galtür – a great little ski resort during winter – on the Thursday evening. To help acclimatize to the altitude we went for a slow jog around the Silvretta reservoir at 2100m.
The following morning, we were up early to walk the first part of the route, as we wanted to know what we were in for. We were surprised how quickly we reached the first water station and felt confident that the race the next day was going to be “doable”.
On race day we caught the shuttle bus which was ran from Galtür, where the race finished, to the start in Ischgl. We arrived with plenty of time to warm up and get ourselves sorted.
The weather was perfect. Clear skies but not too hot and a welcome wind from around 9km into the route. As the English moderator had repeatedly told us at the briefing, all we needed to do was “get to the end as fast as possible”.
We set off and after about 1km the route started to climb quite steeply. There were several points in the first 5 kilometers where it was more efficient to walk than run.
At around kilometre 15, the route turned away from the unpaved road and started to head steeply up the mountain to the saddle. Whilst I managed to keep running for the first part, it soon became inefficient and I swapped to walking along with everyone else.
This steep ascent took about half an hour and by the final third I could feel every step burning in to my glutes. This was the only part of the race where I had to convince myself to keep going, all I really wanted to do was stop and have a rest!
On the saddle I had a short pause to grab a drink, a bit of banana and take a second to enjoy the fact that the uphill was over. If only I had realized how much the downhill would challenge me.
It did not take long after I had set off on the downhill, for people I had overtaken on the way up to start to zoom past me and disappear into the distance.
I cautiously made my way across two long snowfields. On the second I resorted to sliding in a skiing type manner. Short of spikes or a mountain boot nothing can help on left-over snow fields from the winter, since the snow is so slippery.
Quite honestly, I didn’t push these shoes to their max. Being new to trail running I took a cautious approach to the snowfields and slippery rock on the downhill.
The path down from the saddle was narrow with lots of clusters of loose rocks. My cautious approach was cranked up a notch when I saw a woman in front of me slip and break her hand.
Despite having spent years telling people to get forward as a ski instructor, I really struggled to follow my own advice running downhill. Once, I slipped out and landed on my bum, but my technique was definitely to blame and not the shoes.
During this review of Inov-8 Roclite 275 womens trail running shoes the graphene soles did a great job. Whilst not able to compensate for my lack of downhill technique, they gave a good grip on both the wet and dry rocks.
The reality of how good the grip was, struck me several weeks after the race, when I ran on sandstone in normal trainers. As soon as I slipped out on a steep downward part of the trail – technique probably partly to blame – I realized just how good the graphene sole is on the Inov-8s.
The finish line was well adorned with spectators. During the race I had only grabbed half bananas from the water stations and had been taking mini bites and letting them dissolve in my mouth.
The lion bars and various other refreshments on offer had been tempting. But I stayed close to the banana mash that got me through training.
After I had come back down to reality at the end of the race, I realise I needed to refuel. There was a great spread of post-race food, including watermelon – which has never tasted so good.
I also ate cheese, sausages and chocolate bars and had an alcohol-free wheat beer for my troubles. Finally to set me on the path to a quick recovery I had my free massage.
We waited to watch the prize giving, where €12,000 was handed out across the different routes and age categories. I came 5th in my age category and was the 14th woman overall on the medium route. A result I will definitely take for my first attempt!
As a newbie, I found the Inov-8 Roclite 275’s a perfect first shoe for the transition to trail running. When I have outrun these, which may take some time, I will definitely be looking to Inov-8 for my next pair too.
This review is dedicated to one of my oldest and closest friends who we recently lost in trail running accident.
We hope you found this review of Inov-8 Roclite 275 womens trail running shoes useful. To pick up a pair head to www.inov-8.com/roclite-g-275-womens and to enter Silvretta Run 3000 visit: www.ischgl.com/Silvrettarun-3000/