Should you wear your running shoes to the gym?
Many athletes wear the same pair of shoes for both training and running – and may think nothing of it. But is this really the best way to train? Training at the gym and running are two quite different activities that involve very different types of movement. And training and running shoes are designed very differently, even though they may look quite similar. You can wear your running shoes to the gym – but should you? Read on to find out.
How running shoes are supposed to perform
Athletic running shoes are specifically designed for use on pavement and packed surfaces with slight irregularities. They are light and flexible and work to stabilise and cushion your feet during repetitive strides on even, hard surfaces. They provide shock absorbency for pavement pounding and minimise injuries. They usually have a higher heel drop to make long distance running more comfortable and protect your feet. Running shoes are much lighter in weight than training shoes, allowing for a more comfortable running experience.
Most running shoes have a maximum lifespan of around 800km before they need replacing.
How training shoes are supposed to perform
Training shoes are specifically designed for gym or CrossFit workouts where you will have more contact with the ground than you would running. Training shoes are lightweight and comfortable for efficient and easy movement. They can effectively be used for weightlifting, strength training, agility training, high intensity gym classes and small amounts of cardio.
A training shoe is more suitable for gym wear as it is more versatile for different types of workouts and allows for a larger range of movement, from simple to complex. Running involves mostly forwards and backwards movements, which puts pressure on those areas of your foot; whereas gym training applies more pressure to the sides of your foot. Training shoes support a wider range of movement, such as jumping, stopping and quickly changing direction, making them much more suitable for gym workouts. They are ideal for balance and multidirectional activities. Running shoes are usually more elevated, while most gym exercises can be performed better when wearing a flatter shoe with less heel drop.
Advantages of working out in your running shoes
- It’s cheaper than buying two separate pairs of shoes, as you can make one shoe fulfil two purposes (although your shoes may wear out quicker, so this may not actually work out cheaper in the long run).
- It saves time between workouts if you’re going to be doing both running and gym training. You can go straight from running to training with one less step to worry about.
- It’s logistically simpler to only have to carry one pair of shoes with you when preparing for your workout. And you only have one pair of shoes to look after and clean.
Disadvantages of working out in your running shoes
- Running shoes are not designed for heavy lifting, such as deadlifting or squatting. Running shoes are designed to be flexible and are built with soft cushioning, flexible uppers and a soft platform. They are not designed to hold your foot in place under heavy loads, meaning that your feet are not well supported if you’re doing heavy lifting. This could potentially lead to injury as the shoes are not optimal for the task you are performing.
- Running and training shoes provide specific types of support to help prevent injuries; and a mismatch in shoe and activity can increase your chance of injury. The extra support and cushioning of running shoes can prevent you from landing properly and increase the chances of an ankle or knee injury. Ankle sprains are a possibility during lateral movement in running shoes.
- You’ll wear your running shoes out quicker. Wearing running shoes while performing heavy lifting, high impact or lateral movements will only compress the foam in the shoe, thus making it useless for running.
- Discomfort is a possibility when working out in your running shoes. You may experience muscles soreness, blisters, or aches and pains if your shoe is not quite right for the workout you’re doing.
- Running shoes may also keep you from performing your best in activities such as plyometrics, as they won’t have the grip, traction and flexibility that a training shoe provides. You might not get as much out of your workout as you could.
The final verdict will depend on your budget, your resources, the time you have available and your workout habits, so it’s a highly individual choice.
For serious runners or gym goers
If you’re doing serious heavy lifting at the gym, running shoes are not ideal. And if you’re serious about your running, you’re not going to want to risk ruining your shoes by using them at the gym.
If you want to get the most out of your running training and gym workouts, it’s probably worth investing in shoes specifically for running and shoes specifically for training. This will help you to be more comfortable when exercising, avoid injury, and improve your performance.
For recreational runners or gym goers
For some people, having multiple pairs of exercise shoes is not practical or feasible. If you can’t make it work financially, it’s still entirely possible to work out in your running shoes. But it’s probably not the best option.
If you’re just going to the gym to do light workouts or cardio, you’re probably fine to wear your running shoes, however. And if you’re a weekend only runner, you might not see the need for specialised pairs of shoes.
A good way to get around the situation is to make your gym shoes your most recently retired pair of running shoes. That way you’re not ruining your running shoes by wearing them to the gym, but they’ll still mostly serve the purpose you want for them.
Is it time to update your running or training shoes? Have a look at Intersport Bennett’s fantastic range of athletic shoes here.