This question comes up quite often – Can I run in Vans shoes?
There are several parts to this answer, but the quick answer is: Yes, you can run in Vans shoes.
The Classic Vans Shoe
These days there are many types of Vans shoes, the photo above is the classic Vans shoe that I’ll be talking about here.
What’s the Difference Between Vans Shoes and Any Other Running Shoe?
First, let’s see what is different.
The biggest difference is the lack of cushioning in the sole and especially the heel.
Long distance running shoes are typically very good at absorbing impact. But not every runner is the same.
There are three main types of runners: heel strikers, midfoot strikers and toe strikers.
The lack of cushion in the shoe is not a major problem for toe strikers. Toe strikers can go short distances in properly fitted Vans shoes without having issues.
Running a Long or Short Distance in Your Vans Shoes
I do not recommend running long distances in your typical Vans shoes.
Running long distances while toe striking, is not sustainable for most people.
If you’re running a long distance in Vans shoes, you are getting most of the impact from the surface you’re running on. This is bad for all sorts of things. The tissue on the bottom of your foot gets damaged faster and your ankles, knees, hips and spine all feel the impact. This could lead to a quick injury.
Injuries suck and take you out of the game for a while. Avoid them if you can.
When It’s Okay To Run in Vans Shoes and When It Isn’t
If I had to give a blanket recommendation, I would give the following guidelines.
It is not okay to run in Vans shoes:
- If you can’t maintain a perfect toe strike
- If you are planning on running long distances
- If you have severe over or under pronation
- If you are overweight
It is okay to run in Vans shoes:
- If you can maintain a perfect toe strike
- As part of a sprint in a circuit training workout
- Over short distances
- If you don’t have excess weight
- If you have a neutral stride or are close to it
The potential issues you would run into are from impact and injuries from an imperfect gait.
Now, let’s go into what is meant by an “imperfect gait.”
Before There Were Shoes
Before there were shoes, it was just bare feet on uneven ground.
Now we have “uneven feet” on flat ground.
See, back in the day, it didn’t matter if your walk or run wasn’t perfect. The ground was never perfectly flat so if you tended to under pronate or overpronate when you stepped, it was lost in the fact that every step was different than the last.
This matters in modern times because if you are off by just a little bit (95% of us are) then the stressed area gets worse and worse with each step.
Having a stride that is slightly off is a problem with runners because they log way more steps than your average person.
Vans Shoes Are Neutral Shoes – What Does That Mean?
Neutral shoes don’t correct for over- or underpronation.
This type of shoe is just flat. It doesn’t correct for anything. Most of your Nike shoes are also neutral. But most Nike shoes have more cushioning than Vans shoes.
What is funny is that only about 5% of the population has a neutral stride.
So does that mean that we are going to mess up our bodies if we run in a neutral shoe?
Here’s a safe way to go about it…
Get Your Stride Analyzed
Any good running shoe store will have a treadmill with a camera facing it from the back.
An even better running store will have a professional that has you walk back and forth and watches your step.
Either way, the store should have a way to figure out which running shoe is right for you. Go to several different stores and you’ll get an idea of where you are on the scale.
I need only slightly corrective shoes. After seeing what five different stores said about my feet, they all recommended shoes that corrected “slight overpronation.” I was very satisfied that they were so consistent.
So get yourself tested. Ask the person whether or not a neutral shoe would work for you for running over short distances, like as part of a CrossFit workout where you run 400 meters in between other exercises.
If you are massively over- or underpronating, then maybe running in Vans is not a good idea. Maybe you could get away with it by putting an arch support in your shoe. Ask the shoe guy or girl what they think.
And then get multiple opinions.
By the end of your research, you’ll have a good idea of whether or not you can run in Vans shoes.
I used to only do Olympic weightlifting in my Vans. I didn’t like the amount of cushion and instability introduced by your average running shoe.
But I’m also a personal fitness trainer and I ended up wearing them most of the day (about 14 hours) on hard floor. I ended up getting plantar fasciitis. It went away, but it was annoying while I had it.
The problem I encountered was from slamming my feet flat into the floor repeatedly – and from being on my feet so much throughout the day. And when I say “slamming”, I mean it. There was no “let’s be gentle to my feet while I’m lifting” attitude going on.
As far as running, I didn’t really run in them. I am not a good toe-striker so I didn’t get much into it.
This can be done in a stupid manner, or it can be approached with intelligence.
You can take a very bad situation, such as major overpronation, and put an uncushioned, neutral shoe (such as Vans) on and mess yourself up. Run several 10K runs like that and you’ll be hurting.
Or, you can check to see that you are a neutral runner (or not far from neutral) and learn proper toe-striking techniques. You’ll be fine then for short distances in Vans if you’re not overweight and have great form.
Seek the advice of those who put shoes on many, many people and you’ll find out what is best for you.