Home » Are Cross-Training Shoes Good for Running? No, Here’s Why

Are Cross-Training Shoes Good for Running? No, Here’s Why

A common question that I receive on my cross-training shoe reviews on YouTube is, “Can I run in this cross-training shoe?”. It’s a great question requiring much more context and thought than a simple yes and no can provide.

Technically, you can run in any shoe, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to perform optimally especially when discussing being able to create a high-performance output during your running training.

In this article, we’re going to discuss running in cross-training shoes and if it’s a good idea. I want to dive into the rationale behind why you’ll likely want to skip on cross-training shoes for long-distance running and discuss why these shoes’ construction can actually make them really uncomfortable for running.

can you run in cross training shoes (1)

If you’re on the market for new cross-training shoes, make sure you check out my cross-training shoe calculator to be matched with your ideal models.

Can a cross-training shoe be used for running?

Technically, yes, but I’d recommend limiting their use to shorter runs. Cross-training shoes are often designed to have firm midsoles and outsoles, be slightly heavier, have a low stack height, and possess minimal heel-to-toe drops. All of these construction factors can make cross-training shoes less than ideal picks for running-focused athletes.

Below, we’ll dive into a few main cross-training construction characteristics that make them less than ideal in most running situations.

Cross-Training Shoes Typically Weigh More

Runners will want to limit their overall shoe weight. If you’re running with a heavier cross-trainer, then that’s going to equate to additional weight you’ll have to move over a long duration of time. This point is exceptionally important for runners that compete in races and marathons as your equipment can be a make or break for placing.

 

On top of that, if you’re putting a ton of mileage every week, then the additional cross-training shoe’s weight can add to the fatigue accumulation that’s going to naturally happen. Even if this has a marginal impact on fatigue, the avid runner will want to improve their recovery in every way possible.

Cross-Training Shoes Have Firmer Midsoles and Outsoles

For long distances, you’ll want to find a shoe that provides you with ample feedback from the ground and accommodates your stride. When you’re running with a shoe that has a firm midsole and outsole construction, then you’ll experience two things.

First, the impact you’ll experience in the initial contact phase of your stride will be higher due to the materials having less shock absorption capabilities. Second, you’ll receive less ground feedback which can be a problem for runners that focus heavily on a consistent stride based on where they feel pressure throughout the feet during their running gait cycle.

Cross-Training Shoes Have Less Stack Height

Stack height is interesting because running shoes don’t necessarily need a high stack height to perform really well. Stack height entails the amount of material that separates the foot from the ground. In this context, minimalist-style running shoes have a minimal stack height and work perfectly fine for running.

However, for the more recreational runner that doesn’t have a forefoot strike and a desire to wear minimalist running shoes, then they’ll likely want a shoe that has a moderate stack height to assist with shock absorption and ground reaction force.

Cross-training shoes for this reason with their midsole/outsoles and minimal stack heights can be super comfortable for the recreational runner who’s a mid-foot or heel striker. This would be like playing baseball and instead of using a bat, you use a golf club. Sure, you can do it, but it’s likely going to sub-optimal and pretty uncomfortable.

Cross-Training Shoes Have Minimal Heel-to-Toe Drops

Heel-to-toe drop, or offset, is important to understand for running. Different heel-to-toe drops in shoes will support your running form differently. For example, you can run with a lower heel-to-toe drop, however, if you’re not a forefoot (or mid-foot runner in some cases), then you’ll want a higher heel-to-toe drop.

A higher heel-to-toe drop will help ease the ground reaction force you experience in your landing phase, as the higher heel will make contact with the ground first and help displace stress throughout your leg and kinetic chain. To learn more about heel-to-toe drop, check out my YouTube video below.

 

If you’re confused about what heel-to-toe drop to go with for your running shoes, then I’d highly suggest having your gait analyzed at your local running store. After you do this once, you’ll have a much better idea of what heel-to-toe drop will support your running needs best.

Cross-Training Shoes Vs Running Shoes

As discussed above, there are multiple differences between cross-training shoes and running shoes. The construction differences that you’ll find in cross-training shoes and running shoes stem from the intent in which they’re designed to be used.

training shoes vs running shoes performance differences

As a general rule of thumb, if you’re truly niche in your training, then you’ll want gear to match the demands of the activities you’re performing. For example, if you’re lifting heavy and pulling a lot of milage in every week, then you’ll want two different shoes for tackling each activity.

To learn more about the differences between these two styles of shoes, check out my cross-training shoes vs running shoes article and watch the video below.

 

If you’re truly trying to dive into more dedicated running, then I’d highly suggest visiting your local running store to have your gait analyzed. The specialists there can then recommend the best running shoes for your gait and running style.

Cross-Training Shoes for Shorter Runs

If you are someone who does want to perform shorter runs in their cross-trainers, then I wanted to provide you with some decent options to help you tackle this task. Again, cross-training shoes will likely not be the most comfortable for the task of running, but I do know a lot of athletes and lifters want a pair that can handle running if they choose to do some.

Note, when I say shorter runs, I want to make it clear that these are runs that all fall under the 2-3 mile mark. Generally, I’ll test all of the cross-training shoes I review up to three miles, then cap my distance there.

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If you have any questions about the cross-training shoes I’ve reviewed in regard to running, please feel free to reach out. I also discuss this performance characteristic in all of my individual shoe reviews.

The Takeaways

Cross-training shoes can be used for shorter runs, but they might not be the most comfortable option. If you plan to partake in longer runs, then I would highly suggest being specific with your shoe selection and invest in a good pair of running shoes.

Again, if you have any questions about cross-training shoes and shorter runs, feel free to comment below or reach out via Instagram!

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Jake Boly

I've been in the fitness and strength training industry for nearly a decade. In that time, I've trained hundreds of clients, created thousands of articles, reviewed countless products, and produced a large list of training videos. And truthfully, I'm only getting started! As for my educational background, I have my Masters in Sports Science, Bachelors in Exercise Science, and have my CSCS.

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