Let’s start with a fun fact about me: I have areas of my gym, a home closet, my garage, underneath my bed and even under our family’s living room sofa dedicated to housing all my footwear. To say that I enjoy shoe shopping would be an understatement! While others scroll social media, you will find my finger scrolling through my favorite online shoe retailers (even if I know I’m not going to purchase anything). Having admitted my shameless secret to you, I know a thing or two about the right kind of shoes.

So often I see new clients walk into the gym wearing the wrong type of shoes. Training shoes and running shoes support different types of movement, so knowing the distinction is essential to getting the best results from every workout and reducing the risk of injury to your feet, ankles, knees, hips and back. As your personal trainer, I also advise bringing both your training shoes and running/cardio shoes every time you come to the gym so you’re always ready.

Training Shoes

Training shoes support a wide range of movements, from lateral plyometric moves to weighted front squats to high-intensity interval training (HIIT). These shoes offer a flat and stable sole, with a lower heel-toe drop.

What to look for in training shoes:

  • Comfort and fit: Make sure you can move your toes, your heel doesn’t slip and your foot doesn’t stretch out the upper. Go for the pair with the best initial feel instead of relying on a break-in period.
  • Arch support: Choose shoes with enough cushioning to support your arch, reducing the chances of a sprain.
  • Stability: Wide, thick outsoles will keep your foot in place when you move side to side.
  • Firm heel support: This helps provide ankle stability during weightlifting.
  • Durable and supportive uppers: Look for materials that provide extra support and protection.

CK’s Top Training Picks:

  • Nike Metcon – best gym shoe in my opinion that are built to last!
  • Reebok Nano – built to last and the medial side of the shoe is outfitted with Rope Pro+ technology for ultimate rope grip.

Running Shoes

Due to the repeated impact of your feet hitting the ground, running shoes are designed to provide shock absorption and support forward movement while remaining lightweight so you can fly across the road or track. They offer more midsole cushioning and arch support than training shoes, which can help protect against overuse injuries, such as stress fractures.

What to look for in running shoes:

  • Comfort and fit: Make sure to try on your running shoes toward the end of the day in your typical socks. The toe box should be roomy enough for you to wiggle and stretch, and the heel collar shouldn’t rub or slip on your heel. They should feel just right from the get-go; don’t rely on a break-in period.
  • Cushioning and responsiveness:Aim for a shoe with plenty of midsole cushioning, especially if you’re running long distances.
  • A lightweight feel: You don’t want your running shoes to slow you down, so choose a pair with a lightweight construction.
  • The right heel-toe drop: If you tend to strike aggressively on your heel, then you will want to look for a heel-toe drop of 10mm or more. Conversely, if you strike more with your mid or forefoot, or if you have chronic knee problems, opt for a lower heel-toe drop.

CK’s Top Running Picks:

  • Brooks (Ghost or Adrenaline GTS) – both offer great stability, comfort, but mostly, these shoes are built to last!
  • Asics – great stability comfort and durability
  • Saucony – good comfort and stability
  • Hoka – although lacking stability compared to the others, this shoe offers great cushion support, making it comfortable and my suggested shoe for clients who are more than 40 pounds overweight.

Where to shop for running shoes?

As a San Diego small business owner, myself, I love supporting local. Milestone Running is a running shoe store run by runners. They are service-oriented and everyone who works there is extremely knowledgeable…because they are all runners themselves. They have two locations in North Park and Pacific Beach; and offer some pretty cool running events, creating an awesome sense of community. If you’re not sure which shoe to go with, head to Milestone Running and let them provide you with their comprehensive fitting to find the right shoe for you.