What Is The Difference Between Cross Country Shoes And Running Shoes?


Running cross country is not the same as sprinting on a track. Cross country is a type of athletics that refers to medium and long-distance running on unleveled courses such as grasslands. A cross country running distance is usually between 5 to 10 kilometers long. It is not a track on the road; it’s an unpaved, ups and downs race, sometimes over logs and puddles.

In cross country running, the important thing is to have a good grip on any ground to avoid losing efficiency. 

Cross country shoes are significantly different from other types of running shoes. When running over rough terrain, the muscles and joints are not as dense as the feet in contact with a softer (ground) surface like asphalt; thus, you must pay attention to the kind of shoe you purchase for cross country running.

Characteristic of running shoes

Running shoes are usually cushioned. Popular manufacturers of quality running shoes indicate the presence and position of cushioning inserts. Cross country shoes, on the other hand, have less cushioning.

  • Running shoes have good breathability; this means that they allow water vapor to escape from them
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  • It has a removable insole and can be replaced with an orthopedic one
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  • It weighs less than 400 grams
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Characteristics of cross country shoes

The following are some features of a cross country running shoe.

  • Cross country shoes are always tighter than running shoes
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  • A cross country shoe is about 5 ounces lighter than running shoes
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  • Cross-country shoes have more spikes than the running shoes because of the greater distance that will be covered
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Two types of cross country shoes exist; the flat and the spikes cross country shoes. A spike shoe allows you to screw tips under them; those without spike spaces are called flat cross country shoes. There are several points of cross-crossing spikes, such as 9, 12, 15, etc.

The spike points to be chosen depends on the cross country course. On the slightly uneven and slightly oily ground, you can opt for a 9 mm point spike. The more greasy, muddy, or humid the soil, the more you will tend towards longer points (25mm, for example). 

Spikes function to provide traction for the athlete and are found underneath the shoes. The flat shoes, on the other hand, possess rubber nubs that serve for traction.

To ensure more comfort, you can mix the tips’ sizes; put more extended tips at the front for better grip and shorter tips at the back. Flat cross country running shoes are suitable for races that involve more pavements.

How to choose a cross country shoe

Just because a shoe is useful for running doesn’t mean it’s suitable for cross country sports. There are several factors to consider when purchasing a shoe for running cross country.

  1. A right cross country shoe must be lightweight and water-resistant. This is necessary to reduce the risk of an injury as well as to keep your feet dry in all kinds of terrain.
  2. Choose models with many spikes. Numerous tips will help you grip firmly to the ground. The more cleats you have under your shoe, the more aggressive your grip will be and the more efficient the stride you make.
  3. A cross country shoe must fit snugly to your feet to prevent foot movement. It must also be comfortable to wear and run with.

Also see how to find a shoe that fits

How to choose the right running shoe?

[LIST- N] (Choose running shoes that are designed for your step)

The way you step is decisive when choosing an ideal running shoe. Your step falls under one of the three footstep categories namely; neutral step, supinated stepping, pronated step. Various shoe models are designed for different steps.

[LIST- N] (Consider the type of drop)

The drop in running shoes is another point you need to evaluate if you want to use the product in the long term. Drop refers to the height difference between the front and the back of the shoe.

Two types of drops exist; there are high drops and low drops. The high drop is recommended for those who want to train steadily and need a good muscle response. The low drop is the most popular among runners on duty. Running models with low drop are the most suitable for those who want to achieve high performance and lightness during training; the lower the drop, the greater the feet’ momentum during movements.

[LIST-N] (Pay attention to the closing system)

The closing system of a running shoe also needs to be considered when choosing a model that will best suit your needs. There are two closure systems: the shoelace and the elastic. If you are a high-performance runner, laces are your best alternatives as they provide excellent stability and comfort. The elastic sneakers, though they have a fascinating look because of the practical closure, are not very reliable for the practice of physical exercises, including for running. Choose elastic sneakers if you are looking for a sports model to use daily.

How to care for your cross-country shoes 

The key to keeping your cross country shoes for a long time is proper maintenance. Cross-country terrain will not spare your spiked shoes but will put them to the test. It is indeed not uncommon to no longer distinguish the initial color of your shoes at the arrival of a very muddy cross. It is therefore imperative not to neglect cleaning to guarantee their longevity. Be sure to wash them with water on the day of your race. Remember to unscrew the spikes under the shoes when not in use; this will prevent the tips from rusting. Also store your cross-country shoes in a safe place.


One remarkable difference between a cross country shoe and running shoes is that they have more spikes than a running shoe because a greater distance is involved in running cross country. Aside from providing traction to the athlete, spikes also help runners to transit from practice to racing. Aside cross-country running, several other sporting competitions‘ exist.