Running VS Walking Shoes: Is It Okay To Wear Running Shoes For Walking?
If you have a favorite pair of running shoes, you have likely contemplated if you can wear them for walking, weight lifting and other activities. The question is running vs walking shoes: should your running shoes cross over into other activities? There are reasons for and against this practice.
In order to make a good decision, the first thing to consider is the difference between walking and running shoes.
Running shoes have different characteristics to them than shoes made specifically for walking. Running shoes tend to be lighter than shoes designed for walking. Since runners impact so heavily with each step, a running shoe requires a lot more cushion than a walking shoe.
Running shoes are designed either as minimalist shoes, with cushion or with stability in mind. Running shoes also tend to flex in the forefoot, since runners often strike either on the midfoot or forefoot.
Usually made of mesh, running shoes are a lighter fabric than a walking shoe engineered in this way specifically for flexibility and breathability. The running shoe toe box has room enough for the toes to splay out somewhat as the runner strikes the ground.
Walking shoes, on the other hand, have very different specs. Designed with walking in mind, they are typically a bit more heavily constructed than a running shoe. Walking shoes also tend to have more arch support than running shoes.
Since walkers strike with the heel and the entire foot makes contact with the ground, a walking shoe is flexible in the mid-range of the shoe. This allows the foot to roll with the motion.
Walking shoes are often made of leather. This affords the foot some protection, especially if you plan to take your walking to a trail or “off-road.”
It is important to note that many walking shoes are made more for casual walking and work environments than for fitness walking. For this reason, some fitness walkers opt for a lighter shoe, such as a running shoe.
Is It Okay To Wear Running Shoes for Walking?
It certainly is okay to wear running shoes for walking but there are some things to consider. First, are you currently running in the shoes you would be walking in? The reason this is something to consider is that a mile is a mile. Your average person gets between 350 – 500 miles out of a pair of running shoes. If you also use them for walking, you won’t get as many miles out of the shoes.
You do have to ask yourself the difference between running vs walking shoes and if those differences matter for you. This is important because for some people, a running shoe certainly can do the trick no matter what activity they are engaging in.
You should also ask yourself if you are fitness walking. There is a difference between a purposeful walk with the intention of getting exercise and a leisurely stroll on a Sunday afternoon.
What Constitutes Fitness Walking?
Not your average stroll in the park, fitness walking is a purposeful movement. When fitness walking, you are moving faster than your everyday walk. Done at a brisk pace, your heart rate will elevate some if you are fitness walking.
Many fitness walkers find that a running shoe serves their purpose well as they exercise.
What Are the Best Running Shoes for Walking?
Let’s start out by saying that for every person a shoe choice is a very individual thing. Having said that, there are some running shoes that really seem to cross over great for walking.
The Brooks Adrenaline gets great reviews for its versatility both for runners and walkers. The most popular stability shoe Brooks makes, they provide a nice balance of support and cushion.
Asics Gel Cumulus is another running shoe good for walkers. Built with the Asics Fluid-Ride technology, the cushion gives incredible bounce back that runners and walkers both report loving.
Another great choice is the Mizuno Wave Sky Waveknit. Multiple layers of foam make this shoe comfortable for walkers.
Although many New Balance shoes could make this list, the favorite is the New Balance 1080V9. A plush and comfortable shoe with a fresh foam base, it will leave you feeling as if you could walk forever.
Saucony Triumph is another great choice for walking. Not quite as soft of a ride as some of the others, it affords the runner a bit of a different feel.
Can You Use Old Running Shoes For Walking?
The definitive answer is maybe. The first thing you need to ask yourself is if the shoes have any miles left in them. If the shoes have been retired from running you likely should not be using them for any type of purposeful movement. What does that mean? It means if you are intentionally walking for fitness you should be wearing shoes with miles still in them.
Before determining if a pair of shoes needs to be completely retired you should look at the tread wear on the bottom. If they show clear wear on the bottom they likely should be completely retired.
You also need to ask yourself if your shoes cause injury. If you determine that the shoes have worn out their welcome as running shoes flip them over to check tread. If they aren’t completely worn down you may wish to try walking in them.
As you walk in them do you feel any tweaks and twinges coming around? Do your shins hurt? How about your arches? If your shoes are recently retired and you don’t feel any aches and pains walking in them you are probably okay to stretch some extra miles out of them.
Just be cognizant of the fact that you can get walking-related injuries too and wearing worn-out shoes could be a way that can happen. If you start to get new aches, consider retiring the old running shoes to only lawn mowing duties!
What it really does come down to is you need to do what feels right for you. If your feet are happiest in running shoes, far be it for anyone to tell you that you need a different shoe! Run (and walk!) happy, friends!