The Difference Between Cross-Training Shoes and Running Shoes

Choosing sports shoes
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As a person that trains, it can be challenging to decide which shoes are ideal for you. Most training today mix different activities from cycling, running, weightlifting, and so on. You want a pair of shoes that can support you in the various activities you do rather than buy shoes for each. All the while, you also want a pair of shoes that not only feel but look good.

If you were to go to the nearest shoe store, you would find such a vast variety of shoes that it would make your head spin. However, for those that train, you can narrow your search down to two different types of shoes the cross-training and running shoes. Even if you search between these two varieties, you will find hundreds of different choices. So, knowing what each shoe entails and your requirement, you can narrow your search down a bit further.

What Are Cross-Training Shoes

Cross-training shoes are versatile and worn for different types of exercises and activities. They are considered to be the "all-in-one" pair of workout shoes. They eliminate the problem of having to keep different shoes for different activities, making your life a lot easier while saving you some cash also. The shoes enable and support a wide range of movements from immediate stopping, jumping, lateral, to cutting and changing directions. They have exceptional traction so you can quickly move around without slipping.

The Design of Cross-Training Shoes

The build of cross trainers is more rugged, for use in more than running. They tend to have less absorption when compared to runners but offer more lateral support. When running, you generally tend to go forward with little to no side movement. Training is entirely different and requires motion in all directions. Therefore, the support is necessary. 

Cross trainers have more cushioning on the forefoot of the shoes instead of the heels. Most activities in training rely on the forefoot over the heels, think of jumping ropes and sprinting. The cushioning system is firm, so your feet have a stable platform which makes them great for lifting weights also.  When squatting or performing deadlifts, the cushion remains supportive, not giving in to the pressure and allowing your feet to sink into the shoes. This support enables performance of such exercises with proper stability.  

Cross-training requires a lot of movement in various environments be it indoor or out. The material employed for cross trainers is more durable than running shoes. The fact that the shoes are used for different reasons from cycling, sprinting to weightlifting, ruggedness is critical for the shoes to last an extended period. Each activity impacts the shoe, so ruggedness is vital. There is a price to pay for the ruggedness, the extra material adds to the weight of the shoes, which some users may not like. 

Training in Cross-Training Shoes

  • Boot camps and gym classes: The shoes have the cushioning needs for high-intensity running and training.
  • Weightlifting and strength training: The cushioning support is perfect for exercises such as squats providing your feet with a stable platform.
  • Agility training: The outsole traction pattern makes it perfect for agility movements that require a change of directions and sudden stops.

Cross trainers are also well-suited for running on treadmills and cycling.

Running Shoes

As the name suggests, running shoes are perfect for running. They are designed to ensure you get the cushioning and support you need as you jog or run. It has a system that provides you get the comfort required as you pound your feet on pavement, a trail, or any other terrain. 

Running shoes are designed to provide heel support as you rely heavily on your heels when you run. You will find that the shoes tend to have more cushioning on the heels than the forefoot. It is essential to provide foot support for longer runs, so the shoes are more shock-absorbent than cross trainers. They are also designed keeping forward and backward motions in mind. When you run, you either go forward or backward with little to no lateral movement. 

Use of Running Shoes

  • Running: Especially for long distance, so your feet get proper heel support and cushioning. 
  • Differences Between Cross-Training and Running Shoes

    There are numerous differences between the two, which you should have already picked up. Running shoes are suitable mostly for running while cross-training shoes can be used for different training activities and even running as long as you don’t need to run more than 3K.

    • Cushioning system: The cushioning system in cross trainers is more forefoot focused within running shoes it is heel focused. Running requires a lot more support in the heels and the cushioning system tends to be easily compressed as compared to cross-training shoes. In cross-training shoes, you get a harder cushioning system so when you perform heavy lifting, and your feet don't go too far into the shoe and cause instability. 
    • Material: The upper of running shoes tends to be lighter because it is less rugged. Running shoes are supposed to weigh as little as possible, and cross-training shoes are supposed to be sturdier. For this reason, running shoes are lighter than cross trainers. 
    • Traction: Cross-training shoes focus more on traction than running shoes. While traction is vital for all shoes, you will find a more detailed outsole on cross trainers than running shoes. Because cross training requires multi-directional movements and sudden stops, and running does not, traction is needed. 

    Injuries That Can Occur if You Select The Wrong Shoes For the Wrong Activity

    There is a reason why cross-training shoes are good for cross-training while running shoes are ideal for running. Here are some injuries you risk incurring by using the wrong shoe for the wrong activity:

    • Ankle sprains: If you decide to do activities that require lateral movement in running shoes you increase the chances of an ankle sprain due to the higher heel drop of the shoes.
    • Knee or ankle injury: If you perform plyometric workouts with running shoes you risk putting more strain your knee and ankle due to the extra support and cushioning on the shoes.
    • Plantar fasciitis: Running in cross-training shoes increases the chances of plantar fasciitis, which pain in your heels.
    • Stress fracture: If you run for an excessive amount of time in cross trainers then you risk experiencing stress fracture in your feet. The shoes don’t have the shock-absorbing technology or the support for longer runs. The constant stress on your feet will lead to a stress fracture which can be painful.
     When choosing your shoes, keep in mind the activity for which you will be using them. If you do a bit of cross training and a lot of running, then it is recommended you get one pair of each type of shoes. The last thing you want is to risk an injury to save a couple of bucks. 

    About the Author

    I’m a fitness enthusiast and a part time personal fitness trainer and nutritionist residing in Elmhurst, IL. Over the past 11 years I've spent a lot of my time trying to stay in shape by doing both cardio and strength training.

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