Training Shoes vs Running Shoes

 Finding the perfect pair of kicks that support your workout goals can be the equivalent of hitting a physical stride. When it comes to exercise, people use to go for either of the two: training shoes or running shoes. With that said, people also confuse these two and think they are perfect substitutes. Don’t be people! Learn the differences and judge for yourself. Keep reading to see Training Shoes vs Running Shoes battle.

There’s always the common issue of navigating through the seemingly endless array of choices the market has to offer. Getting the right shoes will assist you to soar through another mile of marathon training or give you the edge in box jumps and squats.

Lacing up running shoes when training shoes are your best option, and vice versa, will leave you vulnerable to a world of injuries. So before you throw your training shoes into your gym bag, know why experts say some sweaty occasions ask for layers of cushiony support whereas others require you to be almost barefoot.

We’ll be breaking down training shoes vs. running shoes – because your feet deserve that minimum level of care and consideration.

The Key Differences Between Training and Running Shoes

Photo By: Malik Sydsgaard

While they might look similar, there are a few major differences between running and training shoes. 

  • Heel drop – The easiest way to tell if a shoe is made for training is by noticing how flat it is. It’s called “heel drop,” – the length between toe height and heel height. Running shoes feature extra cushioning and support, which gives them that added heel drop.
  • Sole flexibility – Made for heel-to-toe movement, running shoes do just as the name suggests – provide support to runners. Training shoes are best for multi-directional movement, lateral (side-to-side) motion in particular. They’re naturally more flexible for improved range of motion.

History of Training Shoes

Photo By: Victor Freitas

Training shoes were introduced to the market in the mid-1980s by a researcher who discovered there was a need for shoes that were good for all kinds of sports. Interestingly enough, the researcher worked for athletic footwear industry leaders, Nike.

Training shoes delivered maximum comfort and stability to the wearer. Challenging exercises need extended lateral movement of the lower part of the part, and training shoes were designed with extra emphasis on support along the sides.

They encourage a wide range of movements, including breaking, cutting, stopping, and altering directions, so naturally, they’re much versatile. In addition, they’re quite durable, meaning they can be used for many physical activities.

For example, training shoes are the best choices for:

  • Weight lifting – Added heel support for jumping and squatting.
  • Outdoor boot camps – Lightweight so wearer can perform quicker movements.
  • Gym workouts – Cushioning in the forefoot is necessary for high-intensity training.
  • Light running –  Training shoes support the foot for shorter distances on tracks or on a treadmill; but, anything over the 5k mark is better to be left to the experts – running shoes.
  • Agility training – They feature outsole patterns and grooves for much-needed traction in multi-directional motion.

The History of Running Shoes

Photo by: Joseph Barrientos

Running shoes excel in offering protection all around the feet, and running requires the feet to hit the ground continuously.  As they were specifically tailored to be more inclined towards cushioning and support, running shoes are best for this purpose.

In terms of design, they’re lighter for forward motion, in contrast to training shoes which accommodate lateral movement. The intricate threadwork transmits energy from the runner’s legs to their feet, allowing them to move faster more efficiently. Running shoes are also much more flexible at the toe and have a higher heel drop, allowing the wearer to experience utmost comfort during long distance runs when shock absorption is a necessity.

Wrongly wearing running shoes instead of training shoes could put your feet in a bunch of risks. For instance:

Many people incorrectly try to wear their training shoes for running, which runs a higher risk of:

  • Injuries – The higher the heel drop, the more chances of a sprained ankle during running. Plus, without adequate cushioning, it would be more difficult to stick the proper landing when running, eventually setting the scene up for a knee injury.
  • Discomfort – Aches, blisters, soreness, or pains are more frequent when you’re wearing the wrong shoes.
  • Decrease in performance – Unlike other kinds of shoes, running shoes absorb the feet’s impact. You also need the traction and grip to perform your best.

If your footwear allows you to perform repeated, intensive physical workouts without causing issues (pain or performance reduction), that’s when you know you have the right kind of shoes.

Contribution of Material

In training shoes vs. running shoes, materials and makeup contribute for a large part of the whole feel.


Running shoes feature breathable and lightweight uppers for maximized comfort during the exercise it was created for. But, training shoes come with more robust uppers to maintain sustainability and high quality – usually a leather construction.


In comparison to running shoes, training shoes have stiffer and harder soles while the other kind in question is arched upwards facing the shoe tip. Running shoe soles also come with a stickier rubber construction that established better grip over the pavement, and for increased sturdiness there’s the thicker heel.

Moreover, the non-marking soles of training shoes say they’re for indoor use where they help the wearer make better lateral movements.


Sometimes, running shoes come with added support on midsoles to make up for any sort of foot misalignment, and generally have an ultra-soft cushioning. On the other hand, training shoes’ midsoles are stable and stiff to be able to tolerate the variety of motions and movements.

Final Thoughts

If you were wondering if there is a winner in training shoes vs. running shoes, there is none. They are simply ideal for two unique scenarios, thus, you must figure out which one is better suited for your needs.

You can also read: When to Replace Running Shoes

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