Training Shoes vs Running Shoes—Why You Shouldn’t Confuse Them

For any fitness enthusiast, finding the perfect footwear to optimize your performance is crucial. For optimal support, you need a shoe specifically for your type of workout.

The query is generally training shoes vs running shoes. You’re not alone in confusing them—but using the wrong type of kicks can lead to discomfort and lowered performance. Hence today, we’re clearing the fog by comparing the two.

Here are the main differences between training and running shoes:

  • Training shoes are for weightlifting and gym-based activities.
  • Long-distance running in training shoes isn’t recommended.
  • Running shoes have crucial cushioning for shock absorption.
  • Weightlifting in running shoes increases the risk of injury.
  • Training shoes allow for lateral movements.


Difference Between Training and Running Shoes

which better Training Shoes vs Running Shoes

Spotting the difference between training and running shoes isn’t easy from the first glance. The main places, however, to look at are heel drop and sole flexibility—this is where you’ll find a significant distinction.

  • Training shoes are for use in the gym, where you’ll be doing weight lifting and bodyweight exercises. The design allows for multi-directional movements, such as lateral (side-to-side). If you want a fantastic training shoe, we suggest the Nike Metcon 4 XD—it’s flat, making it flexible for various movements.
  • Instead of multi-directional movements, running shoes allow for heel-to-toe actions. Watch the Brooks Launch 6 Running Shoe, and you’ll see that the heel drop is much higher, which optimizes support and cushioning. Running shoes are for high-impact exercises, such as running and jump rope.
Nike Metcon 4 XD Men's Training Shoe Sequoia/Desert Moss-Nightshade 8.5
  • Haptic print provides durability and stability.
  • Flywire technology delivers a locked-down fit.
  • Drop-in midsole provides a stable fit and feel.
  • TPU heel counter provides stability for lateral movements like side lunges and shuttle drills.
  • Tri-star pattern helps provide traction for multidirectional movement.
Brooks Womens Launch 6 Running Shoe - Black/Primer/Bel Air Blue - B - 8.5
  • SHOE SIZE: "B" = Medium width
  • THIS SHOE IS FOR: This is a great option for neutral, efficient runners who don’t like a super soft shoe. It has just-right spring and is light enough to be a race shoe for longer distances like the marathon.
  • ENERGIZED FEEL: Delivers a responsive and springy ride to add extra lift to your stride without compromising support or speed.
  • SPRINGY CUSHIONING: BioMoGo DNA midsole cushioning and rebounding rubber create a springy feel underfoot.
  • LIGHTWEIGHT FIT: The one-piece mesh upper and internal bootie are so light and breezy, they feel like they’re not even there.


Watch this video for a visual explanation.


Can You Run in a Training Shoe?

Training shoes are quite versatile—they’re suitable for multiple purposes. But, are explicitly made for wearers who engage in sports and physical activities.

Training shoes are a reliable piece of equipment, regardless of whether you’re pursuing weightlifting, HIIT (high-intensity interval training), cycling or aerobics. While such footwear possesses many features runners look for, they also include some details that aren’t ideal for running.

To best answer the question, we have to look at some differences:

  • Cushioning is the main aspect that makes training shoes unsuitable for running. Although they include padding, it’s not enough to protect from the high impact aspect of running, especially long-distance.
  • The soles on training shoes are much broader and more stable than what you’ll see on running footwear. This combination provides support for lateral movements as well as traction.
  • The last difference is the weight. Running shoes must be as light as possible, whereas training shoes must support different movements, so they’re sturdier and significantly heavier.

In conclusion, training shoes aren’t suitable for serious runners who jog on a regular basis or train long-distance. If you’re just doing the occasional treadmill exercises, you might get away with it.


Can You Wear Training Shoes Casually?

compare between Training Shoes vs Running Shoes

At its core, training shoes are casual footwear. They’re available in various designs, making them quite stylish to pair with something other than gym clothes.

They’re excellent for running daily errands if you want a comfortable shoe that won’t leave your feet aching. And because of the many stylish options, you can pair them with almost any attire, whether it’s casual or even professional.


How Should Training Footwear Fit?

When fitting training shoes, look for a comfortable and flexible upper and midsole, allowing for multi-directional movements. The heel drop should be low and close to the ground, providing support as you swivel and push off.

At the front, you need to be able to fit a thumb’s width between your longest toe and the front of the shoe. This ensures that there’s plenty of space for your toes to move.

An exceptional training shoe is the Nike Metcon 5 X Training Shoe. It’s flat but has a flexible sole that aids movement and breathability. If you love this shoe as much as we do, check out our article comparing Adidas and Nike sizing here.


Pro Tips

  • When you’re trying on the shoes, walk around and perhaps try to do some stretching. Performing a squat or two can give you an idea of how the fit will be.
  • Try to bend the soles in your hand—go back and forth to get a feel of the flexibility.


Can Running Shoes Be Used for Gym?

Training Shoes vs Running Shoes which the best

You can use your running shoes in the gym, especially if you’re working on the treadmill or engaging in other high-impact exercises. However, if they’re your exclusive gym shoe, be prepared that you’ll wear them out quicker.

Because running shoes are light, manufacturers slightly compromise on durability. When taking part in exercises such as cycling, aerobics and even weightlifting, you’re moving your feet and ankles, stretching the shoe. In contrast, while running, your feet, ankles and knees remain aligned, which has less impact on your footwear.

Another issue you’ll face is soft cushioning. This isn’t ideal if you’re doing weightlifting as it doesn’t support excessive weight or the upper part of your foot. In a worst-case scenario, you could injure yourself severely.

The last reason why you should avoid using your running shoes for the gym is that it can damage the padding. Because of the extra weight, you’ll compress the cushioning, rendering them pretty much useless for running.


Why Are Running Shoes Best for Running?

Training Shoes vs Running Shoes for runner

The technology involved in running shoes is quite amazing. If you’ve ever been running in sneakers or tennis shoes, you may have noticed how sore your heels, ankles and knees felt afterward. This is because they don’t include the same padding that running shoes do.

As you’re running, your feet are pounding against the pavement repeatedly. With every step, shock waves gush through your muscles, which can quickly lead to injuries if you don’t protect yourself.

The thick heels in running shoes contain a special shock-absorbing foam that minimizes impact on your leg muscles and ligaments. Proper cushioning enables you to run for longer, optimizing your performance.

This video explains in more detail the effects of heel depth.


How Should Running Shoes Fit?

With running shoes, you want to look for a high heel drop, which means more cushioning. Some recommend buying one size bigger than your casual shoe size. This is because you need ample wiggle room for your toes.

As you’re standing with the shoes on, check the width and length by using your thumb to press down. Do this around the toes and next to the ball of your foot. For the best fit, feel for a space about half to a full thumb’s width.

A fantastic running shoe is the Adidas Energyfalcon X Running Shoe. The option includes ample cushioning and is very lightweight.

adidas womens Energyfalcon X Running Shoe, Linen/Grey/Tech Copper, 8.5 US
1,605 Reviews
adidas womens Energyfalcon X Running Shoe, Linen/Grey/Tech Copper, 8.5 US
  • Regular fit
  • Lace closure
  • Mesh upper with TPU cage and heel counter
  • Durable Adiwear outsole, Textile lining


Pro Tips

  • Don’t fall for the myth that a snug shoe will give. Not all shoes do this, and for running, you want the best fit possible. Make sure that it feels comfortable from the outset.
  • Wear your running socks while trying on the shoes. You want to make sure that they fit, even if there’s an additional layer inside.
  • For the best support, look for one that has torsional strength (one that doesn’t twist easily).


Potential Risks of Not Wearing Proper Footwear

While wearing training shoes on the occasional jog might not be a big deal, if you’re clocking up a few miles daily, issues can quickly arise. Trying your best to wear the proper footwear is essential—here are some potential risks:

  • Wearing the wrong type of footwear often leads to discomfort—this also includes poorly fitted shoes. Discomfort has many faces—it can be blisters, soreness or aches and pains. If worn continuously, it may put you out for a few weeks.
  • Lowered performance is a frequent issue when wearing incorrect footwear. For example, using running shoes while engaging in plyometrics could prevent you from turning quickly enough, and you’ll have less traction.
  • Injuries caused by wearing the wrong footwear are plenty—knee and ankle injuries are common when using running shoes during gym workouts. Stress fractures, Achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis (heel tissue inflammation) can quickly occur without sufficient cushioning.

If you do suffer from injuries, we have two helpful articles about best insoles for Achilles tendinitis here and best insoles for shin splints.


What Are Cross Training Shoes?

Training Shoes vs Running Shoes for men

Cross-training shoes are a bit different. They’re a hybrid, mixed with the qualities of other athletic shoes.

Cross-training footwear may include a cushioning heel, lateral stability and forefoot padding. Most are quite flexible around the toes and through the sides. They come in various materials, ranging from leather to EVA, as well as exciting designs.

This hybrid shoe is excellent for typical gym-goers—one who takes part in both  running and weightlifting but doesn’t stay committed to one activity.

However, because cross-training shoes don’t specialize in one particular discipline, they aren’t ideal for specific people. For example, if you’re an avid runner, this type of footwear won’t provide enough support. The same applies if you’re solely into weightlifting, it won’t suffice.

Two outstanding examples of cross-training shoes are the New Balance FuelCore Nergize V1 and Reebok Men’s Nano 9 Cross Trainer. Both include flexible, yet cushioned soles and support for the arches. If you’re curious about New Balance, we’ve got an in-depth article about their overall fit, here.

New Balance Women's FuelCore Nergize V1 Sneaker, Fiji/White, 5
  • These shoes have a performance fit. We recommend ordering a 1/2 size bigger than your typical NB size.
  • Midsole Cushioning: These New Balance sneakers feature a REVlite midsole that delivers incredibly lightweight cushioning and provides a responsive ride for comfortable all-day wear
  • Underfoot Comfort: With an NB Memory Sole Comfort Insert that offers a plush feel with every step, this everyday shoe for women was made for wearing anywhere and everywhere
  • Sleek Design and Supportive Fit: Stay comfortable and stylish as you go about your day with the contemporary bootie design. The bootie upper construction hugs your foot for a snug, supportive fit
  • Lightweight Feel: The modern, eye-catching upper on these cross-trainers uses mesh and synthetic materials for a super lightweight feel that helps keep you light on your feet

Another type that’s gaining popularity, and is frequently confused with cross-training footwear, is the CrossFit shoe. These are specifically designed to support the wearer through activities such as jumps, runs and weightlifting. 

They’re incredibly durable and flexible, excellent features for cardio exercises. However, some are quite heavy, but usually provide more protection than a running shoe. One example is the Reebok Crossfit Nano 8.0 Flexweave Sneaker.

Reebok Men's CROSSFIT Nano 8.0 Flexweave Cross Trainer, Black/Alloy/Gum, 12 M US
  • Synthetic
  • Imported
  • Rubber sole
  • Shaft measures approximately low-top from arch
  • Reebok Shoes


Training Shoes vs Running Shoes

When it comes to training shoes vs running shoes, it’s essential to know the differences. Training shoes are for general exercises such as weightlifting, body weight, aerobics, cycling, among others. Running shoes, however, are for high-impact activities, including running and jump rope.

Running shoes have a high heel drop, meaning that they provide cushioning for the feet as you’re running. Training shoes have almost flat heels with a little padding, but offer more support for the ankles during heavy lifting and pivoting. Recognize which footwear you need to avoid discomfort, lowered performance and even injuries.

We hope you found the answer you were looking for. We’d love to read your comments, questions and tips below.


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