Now that summer is in full swing, chances are high that you’ve been spending a lot more time outdoors than usual. If you’re like my family, some days the great outdoors is just too hot or too humid to play comfortably in, and we’d rather get our sweat session on with some lovely air conditioning behind us!
Regardless if you have been spending most of your summer exercising indoors or outdoors, we cannot overestimate the importance of dressing appropriately for your workout. Sometimes the right attire — clothing and shoes that fit your body well and that respond adequately to your body’s needs while exercising — can be the difference between an exercise that actually transpires and one that you put off for “tomorrow,” if you catch my drift.
In particular, I want to spend just a little bit of time elucidating the difference between running shoes and training shoes and help you decide what should be on your feet this summer. I’ll describe the differences between these two types of footwear below.
Perhaps this goes without saying, but if you’ll be spending most of your exercise time actually running — or jogging, or walk-jogging, or jog-walking — you should likely be wearing running shoes. Running seems to be enjoying a huge boost in popularity right now, which is great for you, as a consumer, insomuch that it means you have choices.
The most important detail to remember when you’re on the hunt for running shoes is to search for shoes that fit your feet well and that respond well to your stride and gait. So many runners often go to a running store — or simply go online, hoping for the best — and pick out a shoe based on its appearance. This couldn’t be more detrimental!
Instead, take the time to go to a specialty running store in your community, one that is presumably staffed by avid runners who have been trained to professionally fit people for running shoes that are good for their body. By going to a local store, not only will you be supporting local business — which is good for the soul — but more importantly, someone who has a lot of experience in the business will be able to watch you run and help assess and determine which type of shoe would be best for you.
Be sure to share with the shoe fitter what type of running you plan to be doing — lots of long, slow mileage each week; trail running; all-out sprints on the track; or some combination therein — because that can also determine which type of running shoes will be best for you.
In contrast to running shoes, training shoes — often called “trainers” or “cross-trainers” — are often designed to be used for a variety of activities and exercises. If you think that you’ll be exercising by walking, weightlifting, cycling, taking some exercise classes, using the elliptical, and maybe doing a tiny bit of running, then training shoes will probably fit the bill for you.
In general, the more specific an activity you’re doing — and the more often you’re doing it — the more likely you will want to invest in that type of specialty shoe. If you envision yourself exclusively running or exclusively cycling, then it’d make sense to get shoes that are designed specifically for those activities. If, however, you think that you’ll be doing an assortment of different activities, it’s more financially prudent to buy a pair of shoes that can handle and respond to a variety of different activities and stimuli.
As is the case with purchasing running shoes, you may find it worthwhile to take the time to go to a local store that sells trainers so that you can try them on for size. It’s hard to base a decision solely off online reviews and word of mouth, and there’s really no replacement for actually putting a shoe onto your foot to see how it feels.
When the shoe fits
After you’ve secured a pair of shoes for your exercise this summer, have at it! Remember: you can extend the life of your shoes by wearing them only when you’re doing the particular exercise for which you have purchased them. In other words, though it may be tempting, I’d discourage you from wearing your running shoes or trainers around all day, every day, even during the times when you’re not exercising. In doing so, you’ll be taking time off their life and may find that you have to replace them sooner.
Have a safe and healthy summer, and let your feet take you places! You’ll be glad you did.
AUTHOR’S BIO: JANE GRATES
A certified fitness guru, hiking enthusiast and co-owner of Rockay. Making at the intersection of design and purpose to craft experiences both online and in real life. She also writes reviews and recommendations on Runnerclick, ThatSweetGift, NicerShoes and GearWeAre.