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Types of Running Shoes

Short guide to

Types of Running Shoes

This page provides a brief overview and guide to the main subgroups or types of running shoes available at Run4It, to help you find shoes most suitable for the terrain you will be running on as well as the type of training you do - be it road or trail running; distance training, speed training, or simply running to relax and enjoy being outdoors.

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Road shoes are made with different levels of cushioning and support, from very soft to very firm, and neutral to stability, to suit a range of individual needs, purposes and paces. The product information on our website is designed to help you select shoes that best fit the bill. For additional guidance, please read our shoe advice page or, if you live in Scotland, head to your nearest Run4It shop for +runlab analysis.
Carbon plate running shoes

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Neutral or Stability?

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From The Run4it Journal

What's the difference between road and trail running shoes?

There are several key differences between road running and trail running shoes, as running on road is whole different experience to running off-road. On road...

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Selecting the right pair of running shoes to match your running style and the terrain you are running on might appear to be a daunting task. Our short guide to the different types of running shoes is designed to help you narrow down your search to the styles of running shoes that might be best for you. 

If you are running on concrete or a treadmill, we would always recommend road running shoes as it should be possible to find the best pair of running shoes for the distance you are covering and the speed you are running at. Simply put, you want the cushioning and support offered by a shoe to help you to enjoy and get the most out of your run. Road running shoes are generally divided into two categories: neutral and stability. Sometimes, we hear people refer to neutral running shoes as having no support. That’s very rarely - if ever - true; the vast majority of neutral running shoes will offer some amount of support for your feet. A difference between neutral running shoes and stability running shoes is that stability options have additional support built into them, so that they can provide extra support for your feet and legs - in addition to what might be offered by neutral shoes.

Another key consideration when choosing running shoes is the principle of matching your anticipated effort levels and pace to the anticipated end use that shoe designers were thinking about when creating a pair of running shoes. That might sound more complicated than it's meant to. What we mean is that for steady paced runs with the goal of improving fitness levels in mind, running shoes such as the Nike Pegasus, which - at the time of writing - are on their 39th edition and have been around for decades, might provide a great blend of cushioning and responsiveness. However, if you are running in a race and want your running shoes to help as much as possible, then you may be interested in a pair of carbon fibre plated running shoes that might provide the spring and responsiveness to help you run your best time. 

Trail running shoes can be the perfect tool to help you discover the physiological and psychological benefits of running offroad. Some of the shoes in this category can almost be thought of as hybrid running shoes in that they provide the same or almost identical levels of cushioning as some road shoes, and are therefore ideal for getting from the roads to the trails, however, they will have better grip on soft and uneven terrain in comparison with road shoes. As a general rule, the softer the ground gets and the more uneven the terrain becomes, the more need there is for increased pronounced rubber lugs as part of the outsoles of trail running shoes. 

If you are entering cross-country races and need cross country running shoes, some very grippy trail running shoes (those with pronounced rubber lugs on the outsole) can be used for this purpose, although if there are no hard sections of ground to cross, then cross-country running spikes may be most appropriate.

When it comes to training and competing on the track, we would recommend wearing track running spikes that are purposefully designed for such use. 


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