Cross Training Shoes vs. Running Shoes – What’s the Difference?

When it comes to choosing workout shoes, you have two main choices – cross training shoes and running shoes.

Both look similar, but knowing the difference between running and cross training shoes is important.

The shoes you wear can have a big impact on your workout. Not only will the right shoes be more comfortable, they’ll help you train harder, perform better, and even have fewer injuries.

Cross training vs. running shoes – what’s the difference?

In this article, you are going to find out! We’ll also reveal some of the best shoes for running and cross training.

Running Shoes

The easiest way to decide which type of shoes is right for you is by examining the difference between running and cross training shoes.

Let’s start with running shoes…

As their name suggests, running shoes are designed for running. You can use them for other types of exercise, and they look good paired with jeans for that casual look, but running shoes are made for runners and running.

Running is a high impact activity. When you run, your feet hit the floor with three-times your bodyweight. This means that running shoes are designed to be very shock absorbent.

Without this sponginess, all that impact could result in injury. That’s one of the main reasons that running shoes have a built-up heel.

They are also supportive and you can choose running shoes according to your running style. For example, if your feet roll inwards, called pronation, there are shoes that can help correct this.

There are also shoes specifically for people whose feet roll outward, who have flat arches, or who run with a pronounced heel strike. In short, running shoes can help fix any foot fall issues that might otherwise cause you injury.

Running shoes are also very light. After all, who wants to carry extra weight when they are running?

Any extra weight would soon make you tired, and running is hard enough already!

If you are a regular runner, and especially if you run outdoors, your best shoe choice is running shoes. They offer everything you need for comfortable training, and may even prevent you from suffering running related injuries.

Running shoe feature summary

Can you use running shoes for cross training?

Because they are light, comfortable, supportive, and cushioned, running shoes look like they might be perfect for cross training too.

But, before you lace up your runners and hit the gym, stop and reconsider!

Cross training involves a wide variety of training activities – from jumping to lifting weights to riding a bike to circuit training.

While you could use running shoes for all these activities, they might not be your best choice.

For starters, all that cushioning can mean that your running shoes will compress when you are lifting weights. This can make you unstable – not a good thing when you are under heavy iron.

Running shoes are also designed for forward movement, and not side to side movement. If your workouts involve a lot of side to side movements, such as agility exercises or group exercise classes, your running shoes may not be up to the task.

Finally, consider that running shoes are only really good for about 500 miles of running. After that, they start to lose some of their cushioning and support.

Cross training in your running shoes will make them wear out faster.

Cross Training shoes vs. Running Shoes – What’s the Difference?

Running shoes and cross trainers might look similar, but they are actually totally different. If you are serious about your workouts, you should be serious about your choice of shoes too, and buy the right shoes for the job.

After all, you want the best shoes for running and cross training, right?

If you run regularly, run long distances, or tend to run outdoors rather than on a treadmill, it’s running shoes you need.

Light, supportive, corrective, and cushioned, running shoes will cradle your feet for a comfortable, safe workout.

However, if your workout is usually gym-based, and involves things like lifting weights, jumping rope, cycling, and just a small amount of running, cross training shoes are your best choice.

They’ll provide you with the cushioning and support you need, but will be able to cope with the demands of your workout much more easily.

But I Run AND Cross Train – What Should I do?

If you do a lot of different types of training, and you can afford it, the best option is to buy running shoes and cross trainers, wearing different shoes for each type of workout.

This might seem like an unnecessary expense but might actually end up saving you money because your running shoes will last longer, and you’ll get fewer running-related injuries so less money on doctor’s bills!


Cross training shoes vs. Running shoes – what’s the difference? Now you know, and you should have no problem choosing the right shoes for your workouts.

Remember, if you are a regular runner, then running shoes are best for you. But, if your training involves lots of different types of workout, cross trainers are what you need.