Running and training sneakers may look similar, but the differences are in the sneaker, in sole flexibility and heel drop.
Running sneakers are built for heel-to-toe movement and the higher heel drop in running sneakers comes from added support and cushioning. The heel drop is the difference in the amount of material under the heel and the amount of material under the forefoot of a sneaker. These types of sneakers protect your feet when pounding the pavement or trail over and over again. Running sneakers also provide more cushioning and support for your foot and ankle, which often translates into a higher heel drop. This makes for more comfort during long distance runs when you need lots of shock absorption. Take these sneakers on tracks and runs.
Training sneakers are for multi-directional movement, especially lateral (side-to-side) movement. You can usually tell a sneaker is a training one by how much flatter it is. This makes a training sneaker versatile and good for many different types of workouts. You can think of training sneakers as your all-in-one gym shoe. Activities like high-intensity gym classes and outdoor boot camps, strength training, and agility training are best done with a training sneakers. You can even do short distances on a treadmill. Anything longer than a 5K is usually better with running sneakers for shock absorption.
Running and training sneakers provide specific types of support to your foot and ankle to prevent injury. Here are some of the ways a mismatch of sneaker to workout may increase your chances of injury:
Running sneakers for lateral movement: higher heel drops make for a higher chance of ankle sprains during lateral movement.
Running sneakers for plyometric workouts: the extra cushioning and support from running shoes can keep you from landing properly and can increase your chances of a knee or ankle injury.
Running in training sneakers: without the cushioning and support of running sneakers, you can increase your chances of getting plantar fasciitis.
Not enough running support: stress fractures can occur from running without proper support, which can happen when using minimalist sneakers lacking cushioning to absorb shock.
The wrong type of running sneakers: tendonitis can happen when you aren’t wearing the running sneaker for your pronation type – whether it’s an over-pronator needing a more structured sneaker or a neutral runner wearing a shoe with too much arch support.
Lifting weights in cushioned sneakers: it’s best to do lifting in foot wear with little cushioning. Too much cushion can put unnecessary stress on foot and ankle joints.
Don’t forget shoe size! Too small of shoes can cause your toenails to turn black from bruising and fall off. You should be sizing up at least a half size to account for the natural movement and swelling of your feet during workouts. You may also need to find the right shoe width for your comfort.