Nobull Running Shoes
Lifestyle

Forget a Mid-Gym Shoe Change—NOBULL Runners Might Be the Answer

How the NOBULL Runners stacked up to a month’s worth of runs, lifts, and everything in between.

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When the NOBULL Runners hit my doorstep, I was eager to see how they stacked up.

As a self-proclaimed hybrid athlete, I’ve been through all the gym shoe phases: Lifting in my running shoes because it’s all I had and ever knew in college. Switching to gym shoes (like the NOBULL Trainers and Reebok Nano X3) and loving my lifts but merely surviving through my post-strength miles. And finally, leaning towards cross-training shoes that are slightly more geared towards running and everyday wear (but still fine for lifting) like my trusty On Cloud X trainers—which have been a staple through three years of gym workouts, trails, grocery shopping, and everything in between.

Though beloved, my trainers were in desperate need of a refresh (like a year ago). The NOBULL Runners are the company’s stab at a hybrid shoe that promises to transition from the gym floor to the treadmill and road running without a snag. Here’s everything you need to know.

NOBULL RUNNERS

Pros
  • Versatile
  • Lightweight
  • Stylish
Cons
  • Lack of arch support
  • Tight toe box
  • Not good for long-distance running
  • Lack durability

Why Trust Me?

As a former Track and Field athlete—I competed as a high jumper for over ten years, trained with post-Olympic athlete coaches, and even snagged a handful of state and national titles. Alongside jumping, there was loads of cross-training, including sprinting, running, plyometrics, and lifting.

While training, I obtained a Kinesiology degree, my NASM personal training certification, and corrective exercise certification; and, learned a ton about how the human body should move in the process. Since, I’ve trained dozens of clients, dabbled in CrossFit, pushed my limits in the weight room, and even ran half marathons.

I ran in the NOBULL Runners four plus times a week—doing a variety of sprints, one- to four-mile efforts, and warm-ups and cool-downs—for the past month. I also did a handful of circuit workouts (including explosive plyos like jumps and throws), lifted weights, and wore them for every dog walk and errand run.

What Are the NOBULL Running Shoes?

Since NOBULL shoes hit the market in 2015, they’ve caused quite a stir in the CrossFit Community. They uprooted Reebok to steal the sponsor title for the CrossFit games in 2021. And they have an impressive roster of sponsored athletes including CrossFit superstars Tia-Claire Toomey and Justin Medieros.

NOBULL has gained a cult following for its simple, streamlined designs and classic colors which go with nearly everything in your closet. The NOBULL Trainers are by far the brand’s most popular shoe, which reigns supreme when it comes to cross-training shoes that lean towards lifting.

The NOBULL Runners, on the other hand, are the brand’s stab at a cross-training shoe that’s more geared towards running. The lightweight design, cushioned foam sole, and higher heel drop are adjustments that contribute to a more natural running stride when compared to the NOBULL Trainers. They also make the shoe feel a bit more dynamic for circuit workouts where you’re transitioning between quick cardio pushes, lifts, and plyos.

I should note, the NOBULL Runners come in a few different styles. The original NOBULL Runners are available in three different uppers, including Mesh ($139), Knit ($159), and Ripstop ($139). They also offer the Runner+ ($179) which is designed for long-distance mileage and race day efforts, not workouts on the gym floor. I decided to opt for the Ripstop Runner, which NOBULL markets as its most durable option of the standard Runners, and good for a mix of activities.

NOBULL Runners on a treadmill
I used my NOBULL Runners nearly everywhere, but I put in the most miles on my trusty treadmill. The grip on the base of the shoe is a solid match for the slick surface.

What’s Good About NOBULL Running Shoes?

Versatile

I’ve been searching for the next pair of shoes that would take over as my “everything” shoe, which, as a runner, includes everything from errands and dog walks to gym workouts and runs. Lifting shoes tend to be too stiff and clunky during runs, while cushy running shoes (like my Hoka Mach 5’s) are too squishy for lifting.

I found the dense cushioning of the NOBULL Runners offered stability during deadlifts and squats and the flexibility to stand up to a mile or two on the treadmill or sprints. Like other cross-training shoes, I wouldn’t want to run more than three to four miles in these because they lack arch support and ample cushioning—features that add needed comfort to long runs. But they’re fine for short runs on the treadmill or road.

The NOBULL Runners are also perfect for kicking around town. They slipped into coffee runs, last-minute errands, and dog walks with no complaints from my feet. I can’t say the same for other gym shoes like the NOBULL Trainers.

Lightweight

Like the NOBULL trainer, the NOBULL Runners feel super light on your feet. The NOBULL Runners also feature less rigidity in the upper, which makes them better for explosive movements like burpees, cuts, and box jumps. During my shorter runs, my feet felt light and snappy, and I was able to keep my cadence up.

Stylish

Most of my gym shoes (and running shoes, for that matter) don’t deserve to be seen outside of the gym—they’re often bulky, flashy, and just plain uncomfortable for walking around in. My inner minimalist sings at the simple design, and practical color range of the NOBULL Runners. They go with nearly everything in my closet. And I found myself wanting to wear them.

GEAR UP

What’s Not Good About NOBULL Running Shoes?

Lack of arch support

If you do prefer a shoe with some arch support, the NOBULL Runners aren’t it. The company’s claim that the shoe has a “molded anatomical insole” technically isn’t a lie. The insole is ergonomically shaped in that it offers a slight curve at the arch. However, take it out and play around with the floppy, bendy, lightweight layer of foam, and you’ll realize it isn’t doing much. Like any running shoe, you can take this bad boy out and put a more supportive insert in—which might be worth doing if you’re prone to overpronation (i.e. your arches collapse inward when you run).

Tight toe box

The toe box on the NOBULL Runners is too tight for my liking. Narrow shoes can cramp your toes, which can cause nagging injuries like bunions from walking or running. The ability to spread your toes and grip the ground can also increase stability and reduce point pressure on just one aspect of your foot while lifting. Since my NOBULL Runners already have a little slippage at the heel in the back, and a thumb’s width of space between my toe and the end of the shoe, I’d be hesitant to go up a half a size just for a bigger toe box. But, it might be worth it if you plan to run or walk in these shoes religiously.

Not good for long-distance running

Running shoes vary heavily in their ideal use. For example, I have a pair of HOKA Mach 5’s for longer runs, a pair of Nike Vapor Flys for speed work, and a few pairs of cross-training shoes like the On Cloud X which can only handle a few miles but are better for transitioning to other activities. Since NOBULL Runners fail to stack up to high mileage, but are also fine for sprints (just not ideal like a carbon-plated running shoe), I think they’re closer to a cross-training shoe than a running shoe. They’re decidedly better for running than the NOBULL Trainers or Reebok Nano X3, but I wouldn’t buy them exclusively for running.

Lack durability

The NOBULL Trainers are notorious for their rigid and durable upper, which makes them a solid bet for rope climbs and other CrossFit feats that might be the end of a lesser cross-training shoe. If you’re looking for a similarly durable shoe for CrossFit purposes that’s better for running, I’d hesitate to recommend the NOBULL Runners. While the less rigid and more breathable upper make the NOBULL Runners a better option for running, the material is quite thin so they aren’t the best match for rope climbs. Considering I tested the Ripstop, which is the most durable option, I’d assume the Knit and the Mesh versions are even worse.

The Bottom Line

The NOBULL Runners are a great pair of cross-training shoes that cover a combination of weights, cardio, and HIIT in one do-it-all shoe. The dense cushioning offers stability during lifting, and comfort while running. They’re a lightweight shoe that’s a great match for quick moves like speed skaters and box jumps, and short runs. However, the lack of arch support and tight toe box might be hard on your feet if you plan to run more than three plus miles. The upper also isn’t as durable as the original NOBULL Trainers, so you might want to leave these runners at home for rugged CrossFit activities like rope climbs.