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CrossFit is a sport that combines different tests of fitness from weightlifting to gymnastics to running. Hence, shoe manufacturers came up with a shoe that is supposedly able to handle the activity requirements of CrossFit athletes. But are running shoes good for running?
I’ve used different brands and versions of CrossFit shoes over the years and I’m in a good position to talk about how they perform when it comes to running.
Crossfit shoes can be used for short runs, however, they are not good for long runs. They feel heavy, stiff, and flat making them undesirable for longer distances. In addition, they have very little cushioning which makes them hurt after just a few miles.
Ahead, we will discuss what a Crossfit shoe is and why it isn’t good for running. I’ll also give you some ideas on what to wear on different types of WOD done in Crossfit. At the end of the article, I will give you 3 recommendations of my favorite CrossFit shoes that can be used for running.
What is a CrossFit shoe?
A Crossfit shoe is an all-around shoe. It is used by Crossfit athletes who perform a mix of functional movements from different practices performed in high intensity.
Crossfit shoes are intended to be used for a WOD or a metcon which contains anything from weightlifting, gymnastics, plyometrics, and running.
And since these are performed under time pressure, it’s very unlikely for Crossfiters to use the same shoes for all movements. Hence, they use Crossfit shoes.
Crossfit shoes have protective and durable uppers intended to handle abrasion and protect your foot when sliding down during a rope climb.
It also has a flat and stiff platform which promotes balance and stability for the various lifts that Crossfiters do.
Why it’s not good for running?
Since running is a part of CrossFit and you see them most of the time in between lifts, most of us use Crossfit shoes to run. However, I wouldn’t consider them a good running shoe for the following reasons:
It’s very flat
Crossfit shoes need to be flat to promote balance and stability for the lifts. But because of that, you’ll start feeling discomfort a few minutes into the run. In addition, it’s not energy efficient at all. You’ll feel like you have to exert a lot of effort into the transition just to propel yourself forward.
That’s not the case for every CrossFit shoe. When was using the Reebok Nano 6, I felt okay with the run. I even used it to run 5km once. It’s not great, but it’s decent. However, when the Nano 7 came out, I immediately noticed how stiff it felt. The same goes for the Reebok Nano 8,9 and X.
As a result, I never wear them for anything that involves running longer than 500m because the pain in my foot arch quickly becomes annoying. Instead, I use my No Bull trainers or my old Nano 6 when it involves lifting and running more than 500m.
Compared to running shoes, Crossfit shoes are heavy making them less desirable for running.
It’s hardly cushioned
In running, you need a cushion to absorb the impact of every stride. It helps protect your joints and create a smoother ride. Crossfit shoes, on the other hand, hardly even have a cushion. They have just enough to absorb a little impact, but not enough for what is desirable for long-distance running.
Furthest distance recommended for CrossFit shoes
The photo above is taken at the 2016 ASIA Championship. I was doing a WOD that involves running 100m back in forth to do heavy snatches and rope climbs. I used my favorite Reebok Nano 6 and everything went well.
Needless to say, at some workouts, you’ll still gonna have to use Crossfit shoes for running. After all, it’s better to suffer a little on the run than be unstable on the lifts.
I’ve used several Crossfit shoes and exhausted their performance on all fronts. Some shoes feel better for running while others just hurt the moment you cross a certain distance.
The furthest distance I recommend with a Crossfit shoe is 5km. If you run more than that, I recommend you wear proper running shoes.
Also, it depends on how you feel about running with a Crossfit shoe. If you don’t feel any pain or any discomfort, then you may be able to run longer. However, if for the first few miles you started to feel discomfort, then use a different shoe.
By the way, if you’re looking for a running shoe you can use for your daily training, I recommend the Brooks Ghost 13. It has a great cushion and decent energy return that will make you feel more comfortable on your runs.
What to wear in different types of WOD
If you’re looking for ideas on what you should wear on different kinds of WOD, I’ll be sharing with you my thought process on how I decide what shoe to wear.
Body weights + running: Unless there are rope climbs in the WOD, I automatically wear running shoes for anything bodyweight and running. It just feels more comfortable and light.
300 Air squats
Lifting + running: If there are long runs and the lifts are not that technical or heavy, I might wear running shoes to get a little bit of advantage on the runs. But if I consider the lifts on the heavy side or there are too many Olympic movements, I use Crossfit shoes.
40 DB snatches 50/35
30 wall ball shots
20 goblet squats 50/35 lbs
15 snatches at 135/95 lbs
9 snatches 135/95 lbs
6 snatches 135/95 lbs
Heavy Olympic lifts + long runs: If there’s 1 long continuous run before a lift, I’d consider switching up my shoe. But if the arrangement is run/lift/run/lift, I’d stick with Crossfit shoes.
10km run immediately followed by heaviest clean and jerk.
Shoes: Switch up running and weightlifting shoes
5 rounds for time
5 front squats
Weight: 225/135 lbs
Related post: Can Running Shoes Be Used In The Gym? I Tried
Best Crossfit shoes for running
If you’re looking to buy a Crossfit shoe that does a decent job for running, here are my top 3 picks.
Inov-8 F-lite 245
Probably the least popular in the list but many consider the Inov-8 F-lite 245 to be the best for running among all CrossFit shoes (including me). A user even claimed to run with it for 17km without experiencing any problem. It’s also a very light shoe, even by running shoe standards. It weighs only 245g or around 8 oz. The only downside is that it’s not as stable as the other shoes when it comes to heavy lifts. You can buy them on Amazon.
Reebok Nano 6
Old but gold. The Reebok Nano 6 is the oldest model on this list, however, it’s one of my favorite Nano iterations because of its comfort and versatility. Unlike the Nano 7, 8,9, and 10, the Reebok Nano 6 doesn’t hurt my arches when running.
I love it so much that even though I have newer pairs, I still come back to Reebok Nano 6 for workouts with lots of runs, burpees, and double under.
Reebok Nano X1
The Reebok Nano X1 is something that excels in both worlds. Unlike its predecessor (Nano X), this shoe is a little softer, more responsive, and almost 2 oz lighter too. Thanks to the switch to Floatride energy foam midsole which is similar to what they use in their running shoes.
It’s a little less stable than the Nano X though, but I’d choose to sacrifice a little stability to get a little more responsiveness and cushion from the shoe.
Crossfit shoes are great shoes. But they aren’t made for running.
Sure, you can use them for short runs up to 5km, but investing in a proper running shoe will pay off if you’re running often and longer. It will make you feel more comfortable, faster, and efficient on the run.