While you may think any pair of trainers will do, that isn’t the case. Running shoes and training shoes serve their own unique purpose, and in this guide, Fixx Nutrition dives into the difference, so you can get the greatest support for your workouts.
Training Shoes vs Running Shoes: What’s the Difference?
The first thing people assume about any pair of sports trainers is that they’re all-purpose. And while a good pair of training shoes are multifunctional, they aren’t suitable for serious running or jogging.
The way your body moves during different exercises will impact the type of shoe you need to have the greatest support and stability. For example, when you primarily run or jog, you don’t need to worry about lateral movements, or side-to-side motions.
Linear movement primarily engages the quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors, and calf muscles. During this type of motion, your body typically doesn’t need to engage the lateral muscles. These include the abductors of the inner thighs and outer hips, gluteus medius (on the side of the hip), obliques, and lateral deltoids.
The goal of linear movement is speed and agility, but lateral movements require greater stability. To achieve this necessary balance, they draw more from the core muscles than linear-focused exercises.
This brings us to shoes. Running shoes are optimized for linear movement; they offer the greatest shock absorption to protect your feet, and they’re lightweight to help you maximize your speed and agility. Training shoes are more durable and optimized for balance, stability, and side-to-side motions.
When to Wear Running Shoes
When you’re walking, running, or cycling, running shoes will give you the flexibility and support you need. They feature ample cushioning around the midfoot and arch that will allow you to absorb shock from the ground and protect your feet.
You can also choose running shoes with deeper cleats, or treads, for maximum grip on more rugged terrain.
Another important consideration for running shoes is their heel-toe drop, also known as their heel differentiation. This is the difference between the height of the shoe’s heel and toe. It makes a big difference in performance and flexibility; the traditional heel-toe drop of 10 mm in running shoes allows for greater support for heel strikes.
However, if you tend to land on your midfoot or the front of your feet when you run, you may need to find running shoes with a lower heel-toe drop to avoid discomfort or gait changes.
When to Wear Training Shoes
Training shoes are more durable, heavier than running shoes, and offer more support on the sides of the feet to support lateral motions.
During activities like HIIT, cross-fit, dance, volleyball, basketball, weight training, and the like, training shoes offer your body balance and comfort. They also have a lower heel-toe drop than running shoes, giving them a flatter surface that makes it easier to plant your feet firmly during weight training, strength training, and other exercises.
Training shoes have firm padding in the heels and may have less support toward the midfoot depending on the brand. Because they’re meant to support your body through lateral motions and plyometric moves, like jumping, kicking, and throwing.
Running Shoes and Training Shoes: Compared
This comparison table offers a quick overview of the key differences between running and training shoes.
|Running Shoes||Training Shoes|
|Best For||Running, jogging, and cycling.||A variety of athletic activities, including various sports, dance, cardio workouts, strength training, weight-lifting, high-intensity training, and cross-training|
|Cushioning||More cushioning for ample shock absorption and on different types of terrain.||Greater focus on stability, so cushioning can be less than traditional running shoes.|
|Outsole||Treads are optimized for grip while running or jogging.||Treads are designed for multi-functional activities and offer more traction on different surfaces.|
|Flexibility||Most flexible in the front of the shoe to optimize mobility.||Less flexible in the front of the shoe to support total body stability.|
|Support||Running shoes feature greater arch support and midfoot cushioning to improve comfort and stability while running.||Firmer heel cushioning to aid balance in lateral movements.|
|Breathability||More lightweight and greater breathability.||Tend to be optimized for durability and performance over breathability.|
Now, we can look more closely at some key features of both running and training shoes to help you decide which one is the right choice for your lifestyle.
When considering the fit of running vs. training shoes, we can look at four crucial parts of each shoe.
- Toe Box: The toe boxes of running shoes are wider and offer more space for your toes to splay as you run, mimicking your natural gait. This is important for runners since narrow toe boxes can negatively affect the toe joints, causing crowding, pain, and a poorer running form.
- Cushioning: Running shoes will have a lot of cushioning around the midfoot and heel to absorb as much shock as possible. This protects your feet and ankles from trauma and helps prevent running injuries.
- Toe Box: To offer greater stability, some training shoes may have a narrower fit than running shoes. However, you should still have enough space to naturally splay and flex your toes. Aim for at least ½-inch of space between your toes and the top of the shoe.
- Cushioning: You’ll find training shoes offer greater support for the midsoles and arches than running shoes, where the most cushioning is on the heels to prevent painful strikes. Thanks to the added support around the middle portion of the foot, training shoes help you avoid stress fractures and overuse injuries.
You’ll find the greatest flexibility in training shoes since they’re designed to support a broader range of movements. Running shoes have the most flexibility at the front of the shoe, making it easier for you to naturally push off the ground.
One of the key differences between training and running shoes is their weight; training shoes are made from heavier materials that offer more durability. They also tend to have thicker soles and reinforced sides for additional support. Alternatively, running shoes are intentionally made to be lightweight to help you reach max speed and transition from walking to jogging and running with ease.
Arch and Heel Support
Running shoes offer more arch and heel support to support the high-impact nature of running. The good thing about running shoes is that there is a diverse range on the market that can support different foot structures; some people have high arches and need additional midsole support to avoid ankle strain. Meanwhile, training shoes tend to have midfoot and heels support, as well as more side cushioning, to allow for greater all-around balance.
Get More Fitness Tips From Fixx Nutrition
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