Does the kind of shoe you wear for training matter? It most certainly does! My whole life I have had a slight obsession with what shoe/cleat to wear. Depending on the sport or activity, I would spend numerous hours researching and comparing different brands to find the absolute best shoe or cleat. That being said, it’s time I offer some advice about what shoes you should wear or should not wear when you are training.
The first thing I want to address is that a running shoe is very different than a training shoe. I would say roughly 90% of athletes that train with us do so wearing a running a shoe. This is not wise or safe in my opinion. Running shoes are meant for the athlete to be moving in a linear direction, not side to side. If you are only training linearly than you may be able to get away with it, (but I would still advise against it, I will touch on that shortly). But if you have any lateral movements in your training, a simple running shoe will do you a disservice. Running shoes usually have a flexible meshy upper portion, and when you perform a lateral movement or change directions quickly, your foot will slide and move around way too much, causing a very unstable, unsafe, and unFAST movement.
The second reason a running shoe isn’t good for training is that most running shoes have a big pillow like heel on them. This pillow heel encourages athletes to land on that soft portion of the shoe while they sprint. I can’t tell you how many athletes I have had to coach away from heel striking. Heel striking is guaranteed to make you slower! Fast people have legs that are very springy, and when you land on your heel first, you are taking away the springy action that you calf muscle has to offer, thus making you not springy, and not fast.
So what makes a good training shoe? Most importantly, It must have good lateral support. The upper portion of the shoe can’t be made of a flexible, meshy material, but of something that doesn’t have much give to it.
Next a good training shoe must have good traction. Little nubs on the bottom of the shoe do wonders for traction. It’s hard to improve speed and quickness when you are constantly sliding around because of lack of traction.
And last, I like a shoe with a lower heel. I could write a whole blog post on the subject alone, about all the various problems a shoe with a high heel can create. A shoe with a lower heel will help the athlete understand how to strike ground correctly, and train them to be way more springy when they sprint.
Nike finally got it right with their latest training shoe. The Nike Zoom Speed Trainer 3 is the best training shoe I have every seen. It has all the components I mentioned, and it looks sweet too! The Nike Metcon is also great training shoe, and so is the Nike Free Trainer 3.0