Should You Use Running Shoes For the Gym? If Not, Why?

Last Updated: June 1, 2022

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You’ll find that a lot of regular athletes choose to use the same pair of shoes for their runs and their gym training sessions and think nothing of it. But is this really the best way to train?

Running and performing gym training are two vastly different activities that involve very different kinds of movement. It goes without saying that running and training shoes are designed differently, even though they may appear similar visually. 

So, we’re going to take a look at whether or not you should be training with your running shoes, as well as some of the major differences in these shoe types. 

Running Shoes – How Do They Perform?

Athletic running shoes are specially designed to be used on a variety of different surfaces, depending on the type of running shoe that you have.

Trail running shoes are designed to be used on rough dirt trails, while standard running shoes are meant to be used on tarmac and pavements

Either way, running shoes are flexible and light, and are designed to cushion your feet as well as stabilize them on hard surfaces and during repetitive strides. They generally feature a higher heel drop that makes it more comfortable to run long distances while also adding some additional protection to your feet. 

What’s more, running shoes are much lighter than training shoes, which allows for a more comfortable running experience. The majority of running shoes have a maximum lifespan of around 300 – 500 miles before they need to be replaced.

How Training Shoes Perform

As you may already have guessed, training shoes are specially designed for gym training sessions where you will be making contact with the ground more frequently than you would if you were running. Like their running counterparts, training shoes are lightweight and highly comfortable, and are designed to allow for easy and efficient movement. 

They can effectively be used for strength training, weightlifting, high intensity gym classes, agility training, and light cardio. Training shoes are far more suitable for gym wear, since they are more versatile and allow for a greater range of movement.

Where running involves forward and backward movements that put pressure on those areas of your feet, gym training involves a more diverse range of motion, like jumping, stopping, and changing direction quickly. This makes training shoes ideal for multidirectional activities that require a certain degree of balance. 

You’ll find that, generally speaking, running shoes are more elevated, while most gym exercises are better performed when wearing more flat shoes that don’t have as much of a heel drop. 

Working Out in Your Running Shoes

Working out in your running shoes is not all bad – in fact, there are actually a number of benefits to doing so. Let’s take a look at some of the most prominent advantages and disadvantages to doing gym training in your running shoes.

Advantages

  • If you plan on both working out at the gym and going for a run after, you’ll save yourself some time. You can go straight from your gym training session to your run without having to worry about changing shoes. 

  • You’ll save money, since you won’t have to purchase two separate pairs of shoes. Of course, your shoes might wear out quicker because of this, so this might not actually work out cheaper in the long run. 

  • Carrying one pair of shoes is logistically simpler than having to carry two pairs of shoes around, especially if you enjoy gym training and running. 

  • You’ll only have to look after and clean one pair of shoes rather than two.

Disadvantages

  • Running shoes can prevent you from performing your best in certain gym activities, such as plyometrics, as they won’t have the appropriate traction, grip, and flexibility that a training shoe provides. Basically, you may not be able to get as much out of your workout with running shoes.

  • Working out in your running shoes can cause a level of discomfort. You might feel muscle soreness, aches, pains, and blisters if your shoe is not the right kind for the type of workout that you are doing. 

  • You will wear your running shoes out much quicker if you are using them both at the gym and during your running sessions. Wearing your running shoes while performing high impact, heavy lifting or lateral movements will only end up compressing the foam in the shoe, eventually making them unwearable. 

  • Running and training shoes provide different kinds of support that prevent certain injuries, and not wearing the right shoe can increase your chances of injury during your workout sessions. The extra support that is provided by running shoes might be great when you are making repeated hard impacts with the rough ground, but will not be as effective when you are working out in the gym. 

  • Running shoes are simply not designed for heavy lifting. They are made to be flexible, and are built using flexible uppers, soft cushioning, and a soft platform. They are not meant to hold your feet in place under heavy loads, which means that your feet are not going to be well supported if you are performing heavy lifting. This could spell a serious injury if you’re not careful. 

The Verdict

As you can see, the cons far outweigh the pros when it comes to wearing your running shoes to the gym. Running shoes are designed with a specific purpose in mind, as are training shoes, and it’s important that you keep those purposes in mind when choosing which shoes to wear to which activity.

We know that it can be quite inconvenient to have to invest in two different pairs of shoes, but trust us, down the line, you’re not going to regret it. If you’re compromising and working out in your running shoes, you are putting yourself at risk of some nasty injuries, such as sprained ankles, muscle soreness, and joint pains. 

So, do yourself a favor. Use your training shoes to train, and your running shoes to run!

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