Training Versus Running Shoes: Solve the Dilemma Once & For All

Are training and running shoes the same thing? No, not really.

There’s a common misconception that they are, which is understandable, considering the fact they look quite similar.

But the real expert will tell you that there’s a vast difference between the two!

Each type of sports shoes will have its own purpose and key dissimilarities with regard to the other.

After reading this article, you’ll be able to spot training versus running shoes immediately, as well as determine which ones you need.

Stay tuned!

More...

What is the difference between a running shoes and a training shoes?

1. Training Shoes: Story of Versatility

Generally speaking, training shoes serve for more versatile movement. I’m talking about lateral (side-to-side) and circular motion, which you need if you play sports or do a workout.

Why are training shoes more adaptable to movement?

First and foremost, because of their construction.

They have a flatter sole, which is, in turn, more flexible and adaptable to different surfaces. What this means is that the whole bottom part of the shoe can bend as you step in different directions. Plus, they are lightweight for easier movement!

They have a reinforced upper part of the shoe that prevents any unwanted movement, which comes in handy when you’re jumping.

The low heel-to-toe drop provides a better base for lifts, and the firm midsole increases stability.

Some training shoes also have an extended outsole, which serves for gripping onto a rope during rope climbs.

Thus, training shoes support cutting, jumping, stopping, and a bit of running. Switching between physical activities is what they are best at.

You can consider them as something of an all-in-one training shoe.

Image source: xMarshall/ShutterStock.com

What about the treadmill?

So, one could easily deduce that training shoes are excellent for the gym. But what about the treadmill? It is running, isn’t it?

Should you get running shoes for the treadmill?

In an idyllic world, yes - you’d use running shoes even for the treadmill.

But realistically, not many people carry two pairs of shoes to the gym to switch them in-between the exercises.

Hence, your training shoes can be okay for running short distances on the treadmill. If you’re going to be running for longer than 15 minutes, though, I suggest running shoes.

When to use training shoes?

High-intensity gym workout
They’ll make you ready for any kind of mixed workout because of their versatility.

Boot camp workout
Again, training shoes are your best bet for this training program.

Weight lifting
Training shoes will keep you steady while you’re doing weight lifting. Also, the heel support is excellent if you’re doing squats with dumbells and are required to stand up with weight.

Strength workout
Training shoes help you with endurance exercises and support your body.

Playing sports as a hobby
Some casual sports players prefer running shoes, but training shoes are better for this purpose because they enable swift movement.

Of course, if you’re a professional, it’s better to go for shoes that are specifically designed for that sport (e.g., high tops for basketball).

2. Running Shoes: Story of Comfort

Obviously, running shoes are called that because they are made for running.

But what’s that bit that makes them the best shoes for running?

Their sole is made in such a way that it protects your feet and provides additional support during running.

So, when you’re performing one and the same motion (basically, hitting the surface repeatedly with your feet), running shoes alleviate the drop.

Many people claim that running shoes are best-in-class when it comes to comfort, and they aren’t wrong.

Comfort and Injury prevention

Remember how I said that training shoes are made primarily for multidirectional movement?

Well, running shoes are predominately for moving forward.

When you move your feet while running - that is, heel-to-toe, the balls of your feet are under bigger pressure. This requires more cushioning and support that running shoes have.

In other words, what you get is shock absorption.

The cushioned midsole benefits you the most, but other parts of the running shoes’ construction also increase your performance.

Thus, the fabric upper part maximizes breathability and ventilation, which is helpful in the long run and prevents any injuries and discomfort.

You’ll find that some running shoes also have a reinforced outsole that enhances durability. You should opt for these if you’re often trail running on uneven or off-road terrain (rocks, pebbles, mud, etc.).

However, bear in mind that, however durable the outsole is, running shoes aren’t made for hiking.

Those running shoes that are made of the thinnest fabrics are the best for road and pavement running.

Image source: xMarshall/ShutterStock.com

When to use running shoes?

Running
Pretty straightforward - the main purpose of the running shoes is what they are named after.

With the right running shoes, you won’t feel tired after running miles and miles on any surface thrown under your heels (literally).

Treadmill workout
As noted, you can also use training shoes for the treadmill and cardio training, but it’s better to keep it to short distances.

Marathon race
Even if you walk during a marathon instead of running (if it’s a long one), running shoes should still be your first pick.

3. Importance of Using the Right Shoes for Your Activities

If you pick the wrong shoes, you can experience some mild problems such as discomfort and fatigue.

In case you’ve ever worn inappropriate kinds of shoes for a longer period, you probably know what I’m talking about.

Ache, chronic pain, soreness, even blisters? This will be a thing of the past when you pick training or running shoes accordingly.

Also, there’s a risk of injuries or other conditions, such as:

In addition, if you have wide feet, high arches, or flat feet, it might be challenging to run and maintain the desired amount of activity if you don’t get yourself the best pair of shoes for your needs.

Just follow my guide above, and this shouldn’t be a problem!

Let’s see in practice how the mismatch of shoes can cost you an injury:

Running shoes used for side-to-side movement

Higher heel drop with this kind of shoes can increase the chances of spraining your ankle during this kind of motion.

Running shoes for weight lifting 

The extra cushioning does not provide the necessary stability and support you need to stand properly with added weight.

Training shoes for running

Many problems, from fractures to sprained ankles, can arise due to a lack of cushioning support and shock absorption.

4. How Should Training and Running Shoes Fit?

Rule of the thumb is that your running and training shoes should be half a size bigger than your casual shoe size.

Why is that so?

During any activity in which your feet are involved, your blood flow increases, and slight swelling occurs.

The too-small size of shoes can also cause your toenails to bruise and fall off.

How to know whether running or training shoes fit properly?

Here’s a quick, three-step gauging of the fit:

Step 1:

Take out the insoles of the shoes and stand on them. They should match the shape of your foot.

Your toes should be just inside the lines, and the tip of the insoles should be above them.

In other words, should have some wiggle room in the toe box between your big toe and the top of the shoe.

Step 2:

When you lace your shoes tightly (when you can slide a finger between the knot and the sneakers is okay), you should feel comfortable. They should not constrict your nerves or blood vessels.

Step 3:

Give them a try. Walk - or, if possible - run, and you’ll see whether a particular pair is a good fit. You shouldn’t sense pressure on any part of your foot.

5. An Often Neglected Benefit - Better Performance

Are you in top form and trying your best but still do not achieve the maximum?

Believe it or not, it might be the wrong shoes that are holding you back. And that’s the last thing that you want!

Let me give you an example.

Say that you’re in a perfect physical condition and know that you can do more - for instance, run faster - but you aren’t.

If you own some other shoes than running, their dynamics might keep you from performing better because they increase the traction and grip.

Or vice versa - you feel that you’ve gained strength but still cannot bring your weight lifting to the next level? It might be that you haven’t got appropriate training shoes.

So, consult again the main purposes of training and running shoes presented above, and get the ones that suit you best. It’ll be life-changing!

6. Training or Running Shoes for Walking?

This is another frequently asked question when speaking about these two kinds of shoes. Which ones are better for everyday use and casual walking?

Definitely running shoes.

Their amount of cushioning will help with low-impact activities, and their featherweight makes walking a breeze.

When choosing every-day running shoes for long walks, aim at those that have good amounts of cushioning, but perhaps a bit lower than what you would take for running.

For instance, if they have foam in one part of the sole, it’ll be enough - you don’t have to go for double cushioning.

7. Final Words: Training Versus Running Shoes: Which Ones to Get?

Shoe technology has become so developed that it can influence your performance to a considerable extent.

When you choose the right pair of shoes, you’ll forget that you’re wearing them, and they won’t interfere with any of your activities. Quite the contrary - they will facilitate them.

I hope I helped you decide on the training versus running shoes matter for yourself. They both serve a range of different purposes. With my short guide, now you know what kind of footwear you need.

Take training shoes to the gym, and take running shoes on tracks and runs, and you won’t make a mistake!

Matt C.
 

Hi, I’m Matt, the man behind Empower Your Run. There's nothing quite like crossing your first finish line, and I hope one day you'll get the chance to experience that for yourself. Remember – “if you can walk, you can run” – and I'll be here guiding you every step of the way!