The 5 Different Types of Running Shoes

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Running Gear & Apparel
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Written by :

David Dack

Looking to learn more about the different types of running shoes?

Then you have come to the right place.

When it comes to your running gear, your sneakers are the most important piece.

But, finding the right sole-mate is easier said than done.

The whole process can be unnerving and might leave you feeling overwhelmed, especially when you are just starting out and/or don’t know what type of kicks works the best for you.

Fret no more. This full guide to different running shoe types will get you started on the right foot.

Sounds great?

Let’s get started.

The Importance of Running Shoes

When it comes to preventing injury and improving training efficiency, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of proper shoes.

By getting ill-fitting shoes, you’re predisposing your body to pain and injury.

And you don’t want that.

Not to mention that it’s also a complete waste of your time and money.

On the other hand, finding the right shoes is like a dream coming true.

A suitable pair can help you run comfortably and increases your efficiency, which is something all of us runners want, regardless of our training background and goals. Here’s the full guide to running shoes anatomy.

Here are more resources on the history as well as the impact of running shoes on your performance.

What Running Shoes Type Do I Need?

Many factors affect shoe selection.

Things like your weight, unique biomechanics, training surfaces, training goals, personal preferences, and your foot type and gait should be accounted for when purchasing a new pair.

That’s why today, dear reader, I decided to teach you about the many types of running shoes out there.

The 5 Different Types Of Running Shoes

In my opinion, there are primarily five types of running shoes you need to be familiar with.

You’ve got the stability, the cushioned, the support, the performance/speed, and the trail running shoes.

This classification is based on structure, form, and function.

Every shoe type is different and designed to serve different objectives—both biomechanical and training wise.

So, are you excited?

Then here we go

1. Lightweight Shoes

If you do a lot of speed work or race, then you will need lightweight trainers.

Also known as racing flats, or cross country spikes, these are ideal for speed workouts, like sprints, intervals, fartleks, and competition.

Lightweight shoes are built with less foam and cushioning features under the foot, allowing for more natural and dynamic motion for the feet.

But there is a downside to the lightweight shoe.

In general, these do not offer the same degrees of cushioning and shock absorption as regular road shoes classified in the neutral or stability categories.

That’s why they should not be used for general training.

If you are just starting out, the last thing you’d want to get is a racing flat.

You don’t need them that early in your training program.

Note – Looking for the best Beginner’s Guide To Running?
Then Check my Runners Blueprint System Here.

 Types of Running Shoes

2. Trail Shoes

Trail runners have to maneuver across mud, dirt, rocks and other off-road obstacles, therefore, they require the best in support, stability, and protection.

And with over 6 million trail runners in the U.S alone, trail shoes sales have surged in the last few years.

Trail shoes, as the name implies, are built for trail running.

These shoes are designed for running surfaces that are undulating and have a wide range of terrain, from mud to grass, road, and hard packed paths.

Think of trail shoes as a mix of running sneakers and hiking shoes.

They offer enough protection around the ankle and the tongue to protect your feet against all the roots and rock found on rugged and rocky terrains.

Not only that, these also provide superior grip for better traction and control on softer, often uneven, and slippery surfaces—typically achieved through aggressive soles and stickier rubbers.

The incredible grip that trail shoes provide also makes them a popular option for wearing while playing disc golf, according to Reaper Disc Supply.

Additional resource – Here’s the full guide to running shoe anatomy.

3. Stability Shoes

Stability running shoes are usually recommended for runners with a normal arch or neural feet.

These athletes tend to require shoes with a good mix of midsole cushioning and good support.

There is nothing wrong with pronation—it’s, in fact, part and parcel of human movement.

Pronation, simply put, refers to the inward rolling of the foot upon impact.

But too much pronation might be problematic.

Stability shoes can come in handy as they can help prevent, or at least reduce, excessive pronation, by offering more arch and ankle support throughout the gait cycle.

Additional Reading  – Your guide to the heel to toe drop.

4. Motion Control Shoes

As previously stated, pronation is part and parcel of the body’s natural movement.

But not all runners pronate equally.

Some of them do it to excess.

That’s why they might need a pair of shoe to help them limit, or even prevent, this.

Motion control shoes are usually recommended for runners with low arches and moderate to serious over-pronation, which is the excessive inward rolling of the foot following a foot strike.

Motion control shoes are usually more rigid than the average sneaker and are built with a wide sole to limit excessive motion throughout the gait cycle.

These are also ideal for heavy individuals looking for shoes that provide high stability and durability.

Additional Resource – Here’s your guide to running shoes for flat feet.

5. Cushioned Shoes

In general, cushioned shoes are made with extra cushioning for a plush feel, but without a lot of corrective or supportive elements.

Most cushioned shoes are built with shock dispersion features in the outsole and/or midsole portion of the footwear—typically in the heel or forefoot regions.

Cushioned shoes are typically recommended for runners with little to no pronation as they offer both shock absorption and protection with little to no extra support throughout the gait cycle.

These shoes are also called “neutral padded shoes”.

These are designed to counteract supination.

Typically, cushioned shoes are recommended for runners with high arches—what’s known as supinator, or underpronators in the running circles.

Additional resource – Here’s the full guide to supination running.

Making Sense of The Different Types of Running Shoes – Experiment

The best way to find the “perfect” sneaker is to do a lot of digging yourself and experiment with a lot of brands and designs (as well as different types of running shoes).

That’s the trial and error process at its finest, and you can’t do without it when selecting the right sole-mates.

Once you have a rough idea of what you’re looking for , then you hit the nearest specialty running store where you can have your foot mechanics assessed by the knowledgeable staff.

Want to make the most out of your sneakers?

Here’s how to make your running shoes last longer.

Additional Resources


There you have it. Today’s article provides plenty of information on the different types of running shoes out there. Now it’s up to you to choose the type of running shoes that works the best for you. The rest is just details.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.

Keep Running Strong

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2 thoughts on “The 5 Different Types of Running Shoes”

  1. I have extreme pain in the balls of my feet. This is partially due to the fact that one of the bones behind or in my toes in each foot is a quarter inch too short. My podiatrist was shocked when we seen the x-rays. Since the bones are not the correct length’s pressure is put on points on the entire the ball of my feet that were never supposed to have that type of pressure on those bones. I’ve also always walked strange, because I lean forward while walking, and my heal barely touches the ground. So that puts even more pressure on the ball of my foot. I walk a fair amount too. What would be the best, most comfortable shoes in the ball of my foot area for a person like me?

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