Running Shoes vs. Training Shoes: How Different Are They?

Running shoes and training shoes might be similar and have the same features However, there are some distinct differences between the two that can come into play next time you’re out on your feet. 

Whether you spend your days running or training at the gym—or even both—wearing the right footwear will greatly support the work you put in and allow you to achieve your best results. 

So, how can you tell apart running shoes and training shoes, and how do you know which is the right type of shoe for you? Keep reading as we break down running shoes vs training shoes.

What is a Running Shoe?

As the name implies, running shoes are made for just that: running. They absorb the shock whenever you take a step as you run, as well as to cushion your feet and joints.1 

Running shoes are usually lightweight, which helps to support your forward movement as you run. This way, you can soar down the road, around the track, or on the treadmill. 

Runners also need additional arch support and midsole cushioning. Why? 

These features help prevent potential injuries, like shin splints, stress fractures, and more.

So, what are the other benefits of wearing running shoes aside from the obvious? 

  • You’re running on different terrains, like a road, a pathway, a trail, or a treadmill
  • You’re running longer distances, such as over a mile
  • You require extra arch support, cushioning, and shock absorption 

What is a Training Shoe?

While running shoes typically aid with one style of movement, a training shoe is a little more versatile. Essentially, training shoes are built to support a wide range of movements that can come from performing various exercises.2 

For example, if the workout you’re doing or the sport you’re playing involves fast directional changes, lateral movements, or even motions like squats and lunges, a training shoe is going to provide optimal support.  

In most instances, a training shoe will be flat with a heel-toe drop to provide more flexibility than other types of shoes. Their design and functionality also create a higher level of stability for the movements that require it. 

What are some different exercises and movements that can benefit from a training shoe?

  • Weightlifting and strength training exercises 
  • Agility training
  • CrossFit
  • High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
  • Bootcamp workouts 
  • Plyometrics 
  • Certain sports, like tennis, basketball, and volleyball
  • Certain aerobics classes

What to Look for in a Running Shoe

Even though many running shoes are designed for the same primary purpose, there are still certain features and feels to look for, depending on your unique needs. So, when shopping for a running shoe, consider factors such as: 

  • Cushioning – If you’re running longer distances regularly, a running shoe with a higher level of midsole cushioning can be helpful. More cushioning will help absorb shock and increase stability the longer you run.
  • Comfort – This might be one of the most important aspects to consider. When trying on running shoes, you want to have enough room for your toes to wiggle a little bit, but you also want the heel to be tight enough that you won’t slip or slide out of them. 
  • Traction – The last thing you want when you’re running is to not have enough grip. If you typically run on a treadmill or an outdoor road or sidewalk, most running shoes will provide a good level of traction. However, if you’re running on trails or uneven surfaces, look for a shoe with durable uppers and deeper trends to ensure traction and safety. 

What to Look for in a Training Shoe 

The most important aspect to keep in mind when searching for the right training shoe is the activity or sport you’ll be doing, as some training shoes are designed specifically for certain activities or sports. 

However, across the board, you’ll want to consider the following features when shopping for your training shoe: 

  • Durability – Since certain activities can cause more wear and tear than others, you want your training shoe to withstand the tests of time. So, it’s helpful to look for shoes that are designed with protective, durable materials. 
  • Stability – Jarring movements—like those required for plyometrics, tennis, and agility training—can put added pressure on your feet and joints. Choosing a shoe that’s a little wider with thicker outsides will provide the stability you need for these movements.
  • Arch support – Do you have a high arch or flat feet? Finding a shoe with the right amount of cushioning in the arch will help support your feet as you perform your activity. This will not only keep you comfortable for longer periods of time, but it can also reduce the possibility of injuries. 
  • Comfort – Training shoes that are too small or too big won’t provide the support, cushioning, or stability you need. Always ensure that your toes can move around a little bit, but that your heel stays locked in place, so you don’t slip. 


Types of Running Shoes 

Although running shoes are designed for the sole purpose of running, there are still different types to consider. Finding the right running shoe will improve your ability to run efficiently and reduce the possibility of injury. 

After all, there’s nothing worse than getting all laced up, putting on your favorite playlist, and making it a few miles down the road only to have your feet start cramping or to start feeling pain. 

To determine what type of running shoe is right for you, first consider the following: 

  • The type of running you do
  • Your individual foot type and gait
  • Your training goals
  • The surface you’re going to be running on

With this information, you’ll better understand what type of running shoes you need. Types of running shoes include: 

  • Motion Control – If you have a low arch or a flat foot, motion control shoes can provide additional comfort since they’re built with a bit of a wider sole. This helps reduce excessive motion and can prevent your feet from rolling inward. 
  • Lightweight – There’s less cushioning and support in a lightweight running shoe to allow for a more natural motion of the feet. Lightweight running shoes can be perfect if you regularly do sprints or other workouts focused on quick speed. 
  • Trail – Trail running shoes are designed with the trail runner in mind. This means they often have better traction control, enhanced ankle protection, and additional support so that you can tackle uneven and rugged terrains.
  • Cushioned – If you need better absorption and shock protection, then cushioned shoes are designed for you. They’re usually recommended if your feet have high arches, as the shock dispersion features can help limit the stress on your joints. 
  • Stability – Stability running shoes can help prevent injury by limiting your foot’s ability to pronate. They usually offer a higher level of ankle support and arch support, as well.
  • Heel Drop – Heel drop is how thick the shoe’s heels are. If you prefer better support, then look for a running shoe that has a thicker heel drop.

Types of Training Shoes 

As we mentioned earlier, the type of training shoe you choose is going to depend on the activity you’re doing. Different activities are going to have different movements and may require varying levels of support or functionality. 

That said, some common types of training shoes you can explore include: 

  • Cross training shoes – If you regularly do weightlifting, strength training, or high-intensity interval training (HIIT), cross-trainers will provide the level of support and durability you need. This is because they’re designed to offer extra stability for side-to-side movements. 
  • Tennis shoes – Tennis shoes are designed with greater flexibility and stability to support the jarring forwards, backward, and side-to-side motions that happen during tennis matches.
  • Basketball shoes – Similar to tennis, basketball regularly sees quick stops, starts, and side-to-side movements. However, basketball shoes are also designed with high tops for greater ankle support and stability. 

The best training shoes have added features, like additional cushioning.

What Type of Shoe is Better: Running Shoes or Training Shoes?

When comparing running shoes and training shoes, it’s impossible to say that one is better than the other as they’re both designed for different purposes. However, if you’re trying to determine which shoe is better for you, in particular, you’ll have to consider the activity you’re doing, the sport you’re playing, and your individual needs.

Are you going for a long-distance run? If so, then a running shoe with the proper cushioning and stability will likely be your best bet. 

Are you taking part in regular HIIT classes or strength training workouts? In this case, a training shoe with the right amount of durability and arch support will keep you exercising for longer and with fewer injuries. 

Essentially, running shoes are better if you’re looking for:

  • Breathability
  • Extra cushioning in the midsole area of your feet
  • More support for forward movements 

On the other hand, training shoes are better if you need:

  • An added layer of durability 
  • A more firm-level of cushioning 
  • Extra support for more than one movement, like forwards, backward, and side-to-side movements

Take Your Shoe Game Up a Notch with Vionic

With so many shoe options out there, it can sometimes feel difficult to know what’s the right shoe for you. Fortunately, by understanding the differences between running shoes and training shoes, you can better determine the type of performance shoes your feet need. 

Then, once you decide on running shoes vs training shoes, visit Vionic to find your perfect pair. All of our performance shoes offer varying levels of cushioning, stability, and arch support, so you can find the pair that help you run that extra mile or go that extra minute in your workout. Aside from running and training shoes, we also have walking shoes for men and walking shoes for women. If shoes aren’t your thing, you can take your pick from our orthopedic sandals for men. We also have footwear accessories, like arch support inserts.

No matter what you’re searching for, you can take your shoe game to the next level by shopping for active shoes for men and women at Vionic.  


Reviewed  by:

Dr. Jacqueline Sutera is a surgically trained doctor of podiatric medicine specializing in the prevention and treatment of foot pathology. She graduated from Fordham University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Philosophy. She later attended the New York College of Podiatric Medicine where she earned the degree of Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM).

Dr. Sutera received her postgraduate residency training at the busy level-one trauma center at Jamaica Hospital in Queens, NY and Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn, NY. During her time there, she served as chief surgical resident and received and completed training in all aspects of podiatric medicine and surgery. Dr. Sutera is Board Certified in Foot Surgery and is a Fellow of the American College of Foot & Ankle Surgeons.

She is also a proud member and spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association and the New York State Podiatric Medical Society. As one of NYC’s premier podiatric physicians, she is a caring, conscientious and extremely personable doctor who prides herself on being holistic in her approach to foot care. Where other doctors treat feet only locally, she has a unique gift of being able to link some foot problems to other underlying conditions taking place in the body.



  1. Running Shoes vs. Training Shoes: Are They the Same? Asics. 
  2. Training Shoes vs Running Shoes: The Definitive Guide. Finish Line. 
  3. Training Shoes vs. Running Shoes: What’s the Difference? Nike. 
  4. The 5 Main Types of Running Shoes. Runner’s Blueprint. 
  5. What Are the Different Types of Athletic Shoes? WebMD. 
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