Before taking up running as a new hobby many of us open our shoe storage to check what footwear we have already available to us, leading to the common question ‘are Converse good for running’?
Converse sneakers are a shoe staple and found in homes across the world. Being able to use them for running before you can get your hands on a proper pair of running shoes would be a great second use for the casual-wear sneaker, however knowing how they will actually perform is essential.
In this article I’ll be providing my own test of whether Converse are good for running or not (BOTH high tops and low tops), including photos of me in my own Converse and a video to help you get the full picture before using your own pair for this purpose.
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Are Converse Good For Running
Converse are good for running short distances of no more than 2 miles on flat terrain. You can run in Converse if you are in a pinch and don’t have proper running shoes to hand, however they won’t provide the necessary arch support, breathability and shock absorption needed for regular running.
I’ll be breaking down each feature of Converse sneakers and how they hold up when running, from breathability to the arch support and even the weight-feel.
Here is a video of me testing out running in Converse on the Wearably Weird YouTube channel:
It’s important to know what running in Converse will be like in different weather conditions, over time and for different lengths of runs, which you can find answers to in my own 30 Day Test section later in the post.
Design and purpose
The original purpose for the Converse sneaker design was for playing sports. They are designed for use on indoor and outdoor sports courts, with a textured gum rubber sole with an anti-skid diamond tread pattern.
With this in mind you’d think that would mean they would be perfect for running, however this isn’t exactly the case. Let’s look at each part of the Converse sneaker design and discuss how good it is for running.
Converse are made with springy gum rubber soles that offer good slip resistance on flat terrain in good weather. In rain or snow the soles won’t hold up as well.
Gum rubber is a high quality material that adds a bounce to your step, making for a pleasant running experience (when tackling short distances of no more than 2-3 miles).
Converse are made with canvas, which isn’t a great material for a running shoe. Canvas can rub with excessive motion, even when properly softened and broken in.
When wet canvas will rub quite badly which may lead to blisters.
It’s also not a great material for running on dirt paths, as it stains easily with mud and debris.
Cushioning and arch support.
In terms of cushioning and arch support, this is where Converse fall short as running shoes.
Converse soles are flat, providing little arch support. With the added addition of a runners insole this can be improved.
Converse aren’t the most breathable shoes for runners, as their canvas upper is a tightly woven fabric, meaning not much air passes through the material.
They do feature little eyelets that allow for some breathability, but for sweaty runner’s feet this won’t be enough. For normal use their breathability levels are fine.
Converse don’t have much bendability, especially when compared to proper running shoes.
Flexible shoes are important for shock absorption, especially on rugged terrain. Due to the low level of flexibility, this may cause some issues if you are running for long amounts of time in Converse.
Flat surfaces for short, low impact runs should be fine.
Converse are a similar weight to running shoes, which makes them an okay alternative. When running the weight of the shoes really factors in for comfort.
My own pair of Low Tops weigh 254 grams per sneaker, which is very light (I’m a UK women’s size 6, US size 8).
30 Day Test Running In Converse
To truly find out if Converse are good for running I decided to put my own pairs of Low Tops and High Tops to the test.
One run wasn’t going to cut it, so I settled on a 30 day test period, where I ran in my Converse for short distances of around 20 minutes in length most days (I’ll be honest I skipped a few days, I’m only human, but I kept it up for the majority of the month in all weather).
I chose to run on two different types of terrain – concrete and a dirt path to show how Converse fare on both.
Here are my results!
As you can see in the above photo my Low Top Converse are fairly new – only a few months old. They are broken in, but aren’t as soft on the feet as my high tops.
During my 20 minute runs this week I found that the soles do feel quite springy when running which is nice. However, I would prefer a thicker sole.
One issue I found when wearing my low tops is your heels can slip out of the sneaker with exertion, especially on rugged terrain/a rocky dirt path. On concrete this isn’t so much of a problem, but on a dirt path I found my heels felt like they were slipping out.
In my second week I focused on wearing my High Tops, to see if this would help heel slip. Good news – it did! It seems obvious, but I wanted to test them out to make sure. All the extra Canvas on the High Tops did pose a problem though…
I found breathability to be an issue when running in High Tops. The air didn’t circulate as well around my foot as with the Low Tops, despite both Converse designs featuring the little eyelet holes to enhance air flow in the sneakers.
What I did like though is the extra canvas on the High Tops kept my ankles warm.
Week three was tough as the weather was quite wet. I switched back to my Low Tops and kept my runs close to home so I could dart inside if it rained to protect my Converse.
I tried hard to avoid rain this week, only heading out during dry spells as wet canvas can cause blisters. Keeping your Converse dry is key to a more comfortable run without rubbing.
My conclusion – Converse aren’t good for running in wet weather. You’ll get soggy feet and sore heels from the abrasive wet canvas. Plus the rain may damage your Converse by weakening the bonds in the glue that is used to attach the soles.
At the end of the month period my arches were starting to hurt. Converse don’t have the best arch support and nearly daily running (albeit only short 20 minute sessions) started to take a toll.
Of course you could add insoles to increase their arch support which would add some comfort when running. It’s best to choose insoles designed for runners.
The bottom line is long term I wouldn’t recommend them, but for short occasional runs there’s no harm if you have ‘normal feet’ without any issues.
Those with ‘wide feet’ may find them a bit too narrow for running and this may cause rubbing.
Thank you for reading this ‘are Converse good for running’ answer post. I hope you feel confident to take your own pair of Converse for a short run, following the tips in this article.
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Lorna is a footwear geek and the founder of Wearably Weird. She created a YouTube channel in 2021 for fellow footwear fanatics, dedicated to detail-rich footwear reviews and info. She has a fashion media qualification (awarded in 2011).