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The Best Running Shoes Of 2022

When embarking on a running kick, the one piece of kit it’s worth putting some time into selecting is a top-notch pair of running shoes.

You can, of course, run in any old shoes, but that could well put you on the fast track to injuries, sluggish times and an unpleasant experience. In contrast, the right pair of shoes will help you find the motivation to get out there and pound the pavements.

What makes for the perfect pair depends on an individual’s aims, speed, running style and even fashion sensibilities. Don’t disregard the last factor – you want to feel good in these shoes if you’re going to be covering hundreds of miles in them.

Our recommendations are based on running at least 50km in each pair

Below you’ll find our favourites in different categories, the vast majority being road running shoes. We’ve included a trail-running shoe, but if you’re planning to do most of your running off-road, we have lots more recommendations for different kinds of terrain in our round-up of the best trail-running shoes.

Everything is based on our experience of running at least 50km in them, and we’ve tried such a range of shoes that we’re confident in calling out pairs that have something special about them with an Editor’s Choice badge. 

All the same, different runners will get different things from every shoe, so make sure to factor in your own experience when picking your new kicks. But hopefully somewhere on the list is a pair that’s set to carry you to PBs across every distance.

The Best Running Shoes

Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 running shoesEditor’s Choice 2021 Award Logo

(Image credit: Saucony)
Best all-round running shoe

Specifications

RRP: $160 / £155
Weight: 8.1oz / 231g (UK 9)
Stack: 35.5mm heel, 27.5mm forefoot
Drop: 8mm

Reasons to buy

+
Smooth and efficient ride
+
Almost as fast as a carbon shoe
+
Comfortable enough for easy runs

Reasons to avoid

-
Outsole can slip on slick surfaces

The Speed is billed as the training partner to Saucony’s Endorphin Pro 2 carbon-plate racer, but we found it the best do-it-all trainer going, comfortable enough for easy runs while still snappy enough for fast training and racing.

That’s down to the combination of Saucony’s PWRRUN PB responsive foam and a nylon – rather than carbon – plate in the midsole, which makes for a more comfortable ride. It’s slightly slower than the carbon Endorphin Pro, but only slightly, and the extra comfort of the Speed makes it far more versatile.

The differences from the first Endorphin Speed are negligible, mostly consisting of minor changes to the upper. So if you see a great deal on the original Endorphin Speed, snap it up. There is also a Runshield version of the Endorphin Speed 2 that has a water-resistant upper with a thermal layer, which makes it more enjoyable to use in the winter, though it does cost more than the standard Speed 2.

Read more in our Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 review


Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)
Best beginner running shoe

Specifications

RRP: $120 / £109.95
Weight: 8.1oz / 231g (UK 9)
Stack: Not given
Drop: 9.6mm

Reasons to buy

+
Good value
+
Comfortable and versatile
+
Great outsole

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the softest or bounciest ride
-
Heavy for speedwork

If you’re new to running and unsure which shoe to go for, Nike’s Pegasus line is always a safe bet, and that’s true of the 39th edition of the shoe, which offers a comfortable and versatile ride for a reasonable price (and is often in sales). 

The Pegasus 39 is lighter than the 38 with a more breathable upper. It also has a redesigned midsole that uses two of Nike’s Air Zoom pods encased in durable React foam to create a ride that may not be the most bouncy or exciting in the world, but is stable, protective and speedy enough to work well for a variety of runs.

Read more in our Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39 review


Hoka Mach 4 running shoeEditor’s Choice 2021 Award Logo

(Image credit: Hoka)
The best all-rounder that’s a bit more affordable

Specifications

RRP: $130 / £125
Weight: 8.3oz / 236g (UK 9)
Stack: 35mm heel, 30mm forefoot
Drop: 5mm

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable and fast ride
+
Versatile option for all your training
+
Lightweight

Reasons to avoid

-
Lack of a full outsole reduces durability 

The Endorphin Speed is an excellent shoe, but it’s also expensive and, worse still, often sold out for long periods. The Mach 4 is cheaper, nearly always available and just as impressively versatile. The soft but speedy ride of the shoe is ideal for handling all your training, and it’s also suited to racing half marathons and beyond. It doesn’t have the top-end speed of the Endorphin or a pure racer, and lacks the propulsive effects of a plate, but it is more comfortable and responsive enough that it won’t let you down on race day if you’re a runner who gets by with one pair of running shoes.

Read more in our Hoka One One Mach 4 review


Puma Velocity Nitro 2Editor’s Choice 2022

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)
Best value running shoe

Specifications

RRP: $120 / £100
Weight: 9.5oz / 271g (UK 9)
Stack: 33.5mm heel, 23.5mm forefoot
Drop: 10mm

Reasons to buy

+
Great value
+
Bouncy, comfortable midsole
+
Outsole grip is excellent

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as stable as other shoes
-
Upper can make your foot hot

The Velocity Nitro 2 could have its pick of several titles: it’s perhaps the best cushioned shoe, the best value shoe and the best beginner shoe all rolled into one. We’ve settled on value because the price stands out in today’s running shoe market. Keep an eye out in sales and you’ll probably be able to get the Velocity Nitro 2 for a lot less than $120/£100.

The key to the shoe’s success is the bouncy Nitro foam used for the top layer of the midsole, which creates a lively and comfortable ride that’s great for cruising through daily training but has the pace for speedier stuff as well. The outsole is terrific, with Pumagrip material that grips well on roads and light trails, and lasts a long time. 

The only concerns we have about the shoe are that some runners may find it slightly unstable compared with the more traditional ride you find on something like Nike’s Pegasus 39, and that the upper can leave your feet feeling warm on hot days. 

Read more in our Puma Velocity Nitro 2 review


Brooks Glycerin 20 running shoe

(Image credit: Brooks)

Brooks Glycerin 20

Most comfortable cushioned shoe

Specifications

RRP: $TBA / £150
Weight: 11oz / 314g (UK 9)
Stack: 34mm heel, 24mm forefoot
Drop: 10mm

Reasons to buy

+
Exceptionally comfortable
+
Long-lasting outsole

Reasons to avoid

-
Bit heavy and awkward for fast running
-
Better value elsewhere

The Glycerin has long been our top pick for runners who value comfort over everything else, and so we were a little worried about the 20th edition because Brooks opted to update the midsole with a new version of its DNA Loft foam. The DNA Loft v3 foam used in the Glycerin 20 is a nitrogen-infused material designed to be lighter and bouncier than the cushioning on past Glycerins, while still being just as soft.

Fortunately the changes made only improved the Glycerin. The shoe is still a comfort-first cruiser, but we noticed that the ride was a little more energetic and bouncy on long runs in particular, and it’s a shoe we loved to put on any time we had an easy run scheduled. It doesn’t feel so good if you try to up the pace, and the high price might be hard for some to swallow. But if you’re all about comfort, the Glycerin remains the best in the business.

More of the best cushioned running shoes


Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit

(Image credit: Nike)
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A big stack of premium foam gives this easy run shoe the biggest bounce

Specifications

Weight: 10.5oz / 297g (UK 9)
RRP: $180 / £164.95
Stack: 36.6mm heel, 27.6mm forefoot
Drop: 9mm

Reasons to buy

+
ZoomX foam gives a soft and springy ride 
+
Comfortable for easy training runs
+
Versatile

Reasons to avoid

-
Not stable thanks to soft midsole
-
Expensive

The Invincible’s midsole is made of Nike’s ZoomX foam, which is the lightweight, springy material used in the Vaporfly and Alphafly racing shoes. However, this shoe is built for easy training runs, with a soft, cushioned ride thanks to that huge stack of ZoomX foam. To ensure the high stack doesn’t make it unstable the Invincible has a wide base, plus a plastic heel clip that runs around the back of the shoe. 

These measures make it stable enough for regular training and in general we were impressed with how the shoe performed. It’s more versatile than it looks and can handle tempo running in addition to easy efforts, although it’s far from an out-and-out speedster. However, it is expensive for a daily trainer and we worry that it might not be as durable as Nike’s own Infinity Run or New Balance’s 1080 line.

Read more in our Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit review


On Cloudmonster

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)
A cushioned shoe with a firmer ride

Specifications

RRP: $169.99 / £150
Weight: 10oz / 284g (UK 9)
Stack: 33mm heel, 27mm forefoot
Drop: 6mm

Reasons to buy

+
Impressive cushioning to protect the legs
+
Good-looking design
+
More stable than many max-stacked shoes

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as soft as alternatives
-
Lacks versatility

The Cloudmonster is something new from Swiss brand On, which has generally produced firm, relatively low-stack shoes in recent years. The Cloudmonster lives up to its strange name by being huge and offering a fairly soft ride. It’s still a little firmer than many max-cushioned shoes, but that’s not a bad thing here, since it is still comfortable and the firmer feel makes it more stable.

Like many cushioned shoes it lacks a little in the way of versatility, even though it’s lighter than most of its rivals owing to On’s holey midsole design, but the Cloudmonster is a comfortable easy run shoe that can handle most of your daily training too.

Read more in our On Cloudmonster review


Reebok Floatride Energy 4

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)
Best bargain running shoe

Specifications

RRP: $110 / £75
Weight: 8.8oz / 250g (UK 9)
Stack: 26.5mm heel, 17.5mm forefoot
Drop: 9mm

Reasons to buy

+
Great value
+
Versatile ride
+
Lighter than predecessor

Reasons to avoid

-
Not ideal for speedwork
-
Some may prefer a softer ride

The Floatride Energy 4 makes a mockery of its £75 price by offering a versatile ride that’s easily the match of daily trainers that cost £130 or £140. The Floatride Energy foam in the midsole does a good job of protecting you from the impact of pavement pounding and while it’s not the bounciest or most exciting foam, it feels responsive when you up the pace.

Compared with the Floatride Energy 3 the main change on the 4 is the new upper, which is lighter and holds the foot better. The drop in weight is significant and actually changes the feel of the shoe, making it more enjoyable to use for speedy runs. If you’re just looking for the best bargain available, it’s without doubt the Floatride Energy 4, especially since Reebok often has codes available to bring the price down further.

Read more in our Reebok Floatride Energy 4 review | More of the best budget running shoes


Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% running shoeEditor’s Choice 2020 Award Logo

(Image credit: Nike)
The best marathon racing shoe

Specifications

Weight: 8.2oz / 232g (UK 9)
RRP: $275 / £259.95
Stack: Not given
Drop: 4mm

Reasons to buy

+
Fast, springy ride
+
Protective over long races
+
Improves running efficiency

Reasons to avoid

-
Not very stable
-
Expensive
-
Heavier than some carbon shoes

In news that will surprise no-one, the consumer version of the shoe Eliud Kipchoge wore to run a sub-two-hour marathon is an incredibly good road running shoe. While it largely follows the Nike Vaporfly blueprint – soft, light and springy ZoomX foam paired with a carbon plate – the Alphafly makes a few crucial changes.

One is simply that there’s more ZoomX foam – the stack is very high – but the more important one is the addition of two Air Zoom pods in the forefoot of the shoe. These are firmer and more responsive than the ZoomX foam, resulting in a more punchy toe-off, which gives it the edge for setting fast times.

We’ve now logged half marathon and marathon PBs in the Alphafly, and have found it surprisingly good for shorter races too. However, in 5K and 10K events there is a case for using the Vaporfly NEXT% 2, because it is lighter and more stable when taking turns at the faster paces of those shorter races. It’s also very close between the two Nikes for half marathons and marathons, so the fact that the Vaporfly 2 is cheaper might make it a more attractive option to many runners, even though we think the Alphafly just outperforms it.

Read more in our Nike Alphafly NEXT% review | More of the best marathon running shoes


Nike Vaporfly NEXT% 2Editor’s Choice 2021 Award Logo

(Image credit: Nike)
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Nike Vaporfly NEXT% 2

Best road racing shoe

Specifications

RRP: $250 / £224.95
Weight: 7.3oz / 207g (UK 8.5)
Stack: Not given
Drop: 8mm

Reasons to buy

+
New upper is more comfortable
+
Springy ZoomX midsole with carbon plate
+
Great for races of any distance

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Some runners find it unstable

The Vaporfly 2 offers the same incredible ride as the original NEXT% – bouncy and lightning-quick – while tweaks to the upper have made more room in the toe box. It’s a supreme racing option for races from 5K to the marathon, with the efficiency gains from the carbon plate and springy midsole foam having helped runners of all levels to set PBs and world records in recent years.

There is stiff competition from other carbon shoes. We love the Alphafly and rate it as the better shoe for marathons – but there’s really not much in it, and the Vaporfly is cheaper and more versatile in that it’s more stable around corners when pushing the pace over 5K and 10K distances.

Read more in our Nike Vaporfly NEXT% 2 review | More of the best carbon plate running shoes


Adidas Adizero Takumi Sen 8 running shoes

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)
Lightweight speed for shorter races

Specifications

RRP: $180 / £170
Weight: 6.8oz / 194g (UK 9)
Stack: 33mm heel, 27mm forefoot
Drop: 6mm

Reasons to buy

+
Very light
+
More stable than carbon shoes
+
Fast ride for racing

Reasons to avoid

-
No carbon plate
-
Almost as expensive as carbon plate shoes

Several brands have brought out low-stack super-shoes like the Takumi Sen 8 of late, offering a lighter, more stable ride that’s better for short events than high-stack options like the Vaporfly and Adios Pro 2. We’re not entirely convinced by this argument – the Vaporfly remains the top short-distance speedster for us – but the Takumi Sen 8 is still an outstanding shoe that shines in races where there are lots of twists and turns, or when you’re running on cracked or uneven roads.

We’ve tested it in races from 5K to a half marathon and it’s become our go-to option for track workouts. It’s a hard sell when it only costs a little less than a proper carbon super-shoe, but if you mainly stick to shorter races and find a good deal on the Takumi Sen 8, it’s well worth purchasing.

Read more in our Adidas Adizero Takumi Sen 8 review


Skechers GoRun Speed Elite Hyper

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)
Best racing flat

Specifications

RRP: $200 / £165
Weight: 6.3oz / 180g (UK 9)
Stack: 23mm heel, 25mm forefoot
Drop: 4mm

Reasons to buy

+
Very light and snappy
+
More comfortable than classic racing flats
+
Legal stack height for longer track races

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as bouncy as many carbon super-shoes
-
Firm ride makes it best for short races

As a low-stack, moderately firm carbon plate racer, the Speed Elite Hyper is a fairly niche shoe, since most runners will find it too minimalist to use for racing and training. However, it excels in its niche, being a little more protective and propulsive than a traditional racing flat while not as high and soft as modern super-shoes like the Vaporfly.

It is incredibly light and feels fantastic when running all-out, and the relatively low stack makes it one of the few carbon shoes that’s legal for track races over 800m. The actual plate is carbon-infused and is positioned only under the forefoot, so it doesn’t deliver the pop of a full-length plate, but the Speed Elite is still very fast – just better suited to shorter events than anything over 10K.

Read more in our Skechers GoRun Speed Elite Hyper review


Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 2.0 running shoe

(Image credit: Adidas)
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Best value carbon racing shoe

Specifications

RRP: $220 / £180
Weight: 8.1oz / 231g (UK 9)
Stack: 39mm heel, 30.5mm forefoot
Drop: 8.5mm

Reasons to buy

+
Cheaper than many carbon shoes
+
Fast, efficient ride
+
Improves running efficiency

Reasons to avoid

-
Midsole cut-out leads to instability
-
Not as good for short races as some carbon shoes

It might be a sign of how much carbon shoes have skewed the market that £180 can be considered good value, but that is where we are, and the Adios Pro 2 offers a genuine super-shoe experience for a lot less than most of its rivals. The Lightstrike Pro foam in the midsole isn’t as soft as the ZoomX and FuelCell foams used by Nike and New Balance respectively, but the Adios Pro 2 does deliver a propulsive ride enhanced by the five carbon EnergyRods that run under the forefoot.

A notable feature on the Pro 2 is the cut-out on the inside of the midsole. This reduces the weight of the shoe but can make it feel unstable when you’re not running at fast paces, so we wouldn’t advise using this for a lot of training as well. In our experience, the Adios Pro 2 is at its best for longer races, but it still has the pace for 5K and 10K as well. We still rate the Nike super-shoes and the Asics Metaspeed Sky ahead of it, but when the Adidas offers a this much of a saving, that’s a tricky choice to make.

Read more in our Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 2.0 review


Asics Metaspeed Sky+

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)
One of the best carbon racers

Specifications

RRP: $250 / £225
Weight: 7.4oz / 209g (UK 9)
Stack: 39mm heel, 34mm forefoot
Drop: 5mm

Reasons to buy

+
Lighter than most carbon shoes
+
Bouncy and comfortable cushioning
+
Carbon plate for added propulsion

Reasons to avoid

-
Not enough rubber on outsole
-
Best suited to a certain running style
-
Low drop won’t suit everyone

The Metaspeed Sky+ is an absolutely terrific carbon plate racing shoe and we rate it as the best available option not made by Nike. We chalked up a half marathon PB in the Metaspeed Sky+ in our first proper run in it, and it’s light enough to make a great 5K and 10K racer while still having the support and comfort required to take on full marathons as well.

We have a couple of small qualms with the Sky+, the main one being that the outsole rubber doesn’t extend back far enough, so heelstriking runners will damage the exposed foam quickly and reduce durability. The other is that the 5mm drop is lower than most racing shoes and it’s one reason the Sky+ suits bounding runners better than those with a shuffling style, who might want to look at the Metaspeed Edge+ instead.

Read more in our Asics Metaspeed Sky+ review


New Balance Fresh Foam X 860v12

(Image credit: New Balance)
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New Balance Fresh Foam X 860v12

Best stability running shoe

Specifications

RRP: $134.99 / £125
Weight: 11.4oz / 323g (UK 8.5)
Stack: 34mm heel, 24mm forefoot
Drop: 10mm

Reasons to buy

+
Subtle stability features
+
Comfortable midsole foam
+
Great grip

Reasons to avoid

-
A bit heavy for fast running

The 860v12 is the definition of reliability on the run, providing a stable base with features like a medial post, a moulded heel counter and the structured upper helping to counter overpronation and gently guide your foot into a neutral position on the run. The Fresh Foam cushioning is firm enough to be stable, but still comfortable and protective, and the 860v12 is a great option for racking up easy miles. Although fairly heavy, it’s a decent tempo shoe, even if the heft of the 860v12 does start to tell on longer runs. The thick outsole grips well on roads and light trails, and is undoubtedly built to last – if anything we’d like to see a little of that rubber shaved off the bottom of the shoe to bring the weight down a touch.

More of the best stability running shoes


Saucony Fastwitch 9

(Image credit: Saucony)

Saucony Fastwitch 9

Best stability racing shoe

Specifications

RRP: $100 / £105
Weight: 6.8oz / 193g (UK 8)
Stack: 19mm heel, 15mm forefoot
Drop: 4mm

Reasons to buy

+
Offers stability features
+
Very light
+
Good value

Reasons to avoid

-
Firm ride 
-
Lacks the efficiency gains of carbon plate shoes

Most stability shoes are pretty hefty numbers, with the anti-pronation features added to the midsole adding more weight than is ideal for race day. The Fastwitch 9 bucks that trend, offering a touch of extra stability while still being a bona fide race shoe, weighing under 200g and providing just a little cushioning to help protect your legs in events like the marathon while remaining lightweight and nimble.


Hoka Speedgoat 5 Running Shoes

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)
Best trail-running shoe

Specifications

RRP: $155 / £130
Weight: 10.5oz / 299g (UK 9)
Stack: 33mm heel, 29mm forefoot (M), 31mm heel, 27mm forefoot (W)
Drop: 4mm

Reasons to buy

+
Smooth and comfortable ride
+
Grips on almost any terrain

Reasons to avoid

-
There are lighter options from other brands
-
Toe box is narrow

In general the right trail-running shoe to choose will depend greatly on both the terrain you run and the kind of running you do on it – but if there’s one shoe that works for almost everything off-road, it’s the Hoka Speedgoat 5. It’s very comfortable, and the rocker design and lightweight EVA foam in the midsole creates a smooth ride that’s enjoyable for running at almost any pace, bar perhaps all-out speed in short races.

The Speedgoat 5 is best known as an ultramarathon shoe, and it’s an excellent option for that, but even if you have no plans to take on a mega-distance event and just enjoy cruising around a variety of trails, it’s the shoe to put at the top of your list.

Read more in our Hoka Speedgoat 5 review


Asics Novablast 2

(Image credit: Asics)

Asics Novablast 2

A bouncy cushioned running shoe that’s lighter than others

Specifications

RRP: $130 / £130
Weight: 10.9oz / 310g (UK 10)
Stack: 30mm heel, 22mm forefoot
Drop: 8mm

Reasons to buy

+
Soft and bouncy midsole foam
+
Enjoyable and comfortable ride for easy runs
+
More stable than the Novablast 1

Reasons to avoid

-
Still not very stable
-
Quite heavy and large for fast running

This shoe retains the high stack of bouncy FF Blast foam in the midsole from the original Novablast, but Asics has made some welcome adjustments to ensure the second version is a little less wobbly. The more stable ride makes it great to use for easy runs, and there’s enough bounce in that midsole for the Novablast 2 to perform well on tempo runs as well. 

The overall size and heft of it means it’s not quite as versatile as daily trainers like the New Balance Rebel v2 or Hoka Mach 4, but if you’re looking for a fun, cushioned shoe that’s not quite as heavy as many others then the Novablast is a great pick for easy runs.


Puma Liberate Nitro

(Image credit: Puma)

Puma Liberate Nitro

Another bargain running shoe

Specifications

RRP: $110 / £90
Weight: 6.8oz /193g (UK 9)
Stack: 28mm heel, 18mm forefoot
Drop: 10mm

Reasons to buy

+
Very light and flexible 
+
Fast and “poppy” ride
+
Excellent value

Reasons to avoid

-
Can lose its pop on longer runs
-
Heel can rub the achilles

Like the Puma Velocity Nitro, the Liberate Nitro offers fantastic value. The cheaper shoe has the same nitrogen-infused EVA Nitro foam in its midsole, but is a more stripped-back and lighter shoe than the Velocity, with less cushioning underfoot and barely any padding on the upper. The ride is still pretty comfortable, though, and if you generally stick to runs of up to around 10km the Liberate Nitro is a good all-round option. Its lack of weight makes it great for faster running too.

The Velocity is more comfortable and although it’s heavier it’s still proved a fast shoe in our experience. In fact it gets the nod from us as the better shoe of the two, because we found the Liberate Nitro’s heel design did rub on the achilles when we used it for longer runs.


New Balance FuelCell Rebel v2

(Image credit: New Balance)

New Balance FuelCell Rebel v2

A lightweight and versatile daily trainer

Specifications

RRP: $129.99 / £120
Weight: 7.2oz / 204g (UK 9)
Stack: Not given
Drop: 6mm

Reasons to buy

+
Very light
+
Bouncy midsole foam
+
Versatile training shoe

Reasons to avoid

-
Loses its bounce over longer runs
-
Can be unstable due to soft midsole

If you’re not a fan of training in shoes with a plate in them, the Rebel is right up there as one of the best options, coming in just slightly behind the Hoka One One Mach 4 in our estimation. The Rebel is very light – just over 200g in a UK 9 – but still has a generous stack of New Balance’s soft and springy FuelCell foam in its midsole. As a result it has a comfortable enough ride for your daily training runs, while still light and fast enough for speed sessions.

However, the lack of plate means it feels like you lose a little energy into the foam when running fast. There’s not the same rebound you get in the New Balance TC or RC Elite shoes, which both have a plate sandwiched in the FuelCell foam. The Rebel still gets the job done across a wide variety of runs and it is a lot cheaper than New Balance’s plated shoes. If it sounds right for you, be aware that it is a pretty short shoe – going up half a size might be a smart idea unless you like a very close fit in the toe box.

Running Shoes Buying Advice

We have a dedicated article of expert advice about how to choose running shoes (opens in new tab), but here we’ll run through some of the key terms and types of shoes, as well as explaining why some running shoes cost so much.

Understanding what’s on offer will help you find something suitable for the kind of running you intend to do. It can be especially useful for people new to the sport, helping them to avoid more specialist shoes intended for serious runners who use different pairs depending on the type of run (opens in new tab) they’re doing. 

A running shoe rotation of two or three shoes is obviously a bigger expense up front, but if you’re in it for the long term and have the resources, consider that three pairs of shoes bought all at once will last you the same amount of time as three pairs of shoes bought in sequence (as long as you use them roughly equal amounts). Having dedicated shoes for different parts of a running training plan may also help you perform better in speed sessions and better protect your body through an ever-increasing volume of easy miles. Using different shoes also slightly changes the impact being placed on your body with each run, which – anecdotally at least – can reduce your risk of injury. 

A typical three-shoe rotation would comprise of a well-cushioned option for easy and recovery runs, a speedier training shoe for tempo and interval workouts, and a racing shoe that’s saved for setting personal bests (PBs), since racers are typically less durable than training shoes.

Types Of Running Shoes

Road running shoes vs trail-running shoes The crucial difference here is grip. Take a road shoe on mud, and you will slip and fall. If you are planning on doing a mix of road and trail running, road-to-trail shoes can handle both terrains adeptly.

Stability shoes Most running shops offer free gait analysis that can tell you if you overpronate when running, which means your foot rolls excessively inwards on landing. If so, a shoe with stability elements to counter overpronation can be a worthwhile purchase, essentially to reduce the risk of getting injured. As well as full-stability shoes, you can buy neutral shoes with some extra features to increase stability, like a wider base or a substantial heel counter.

All-rounders Designed for runners who have only one pair, these try to be both comfortable on easy runs and still light and quick enough for faster running, either during training or when racing.

Cushioned shoes For those who maintain a running shoe rotation, a well-cushioned option is used for easy and recovery runs, while runners focusing on comfort over pace in general might find that a cushioned shoe is all they need, especially when first starting out.

Racing shoes Built for setting PBs, racing shoes focus on being lightweight and speedy ahead of durability, grip and comfort. What kind of shoe you go for can depend on the distance you’re racing – marathoners will need more cushioning than those tackling 5K. Whatever distance you race, one key feature to look for in this category now is a carbon plate, usually paired with a soft and springy midsole foam.

Running Shoe Jargon

Stack height The height of the cushioning of the shoe, usually measured at the heel. This is limited to 40mm in road racing shoes by World Athletics.

Heel-to-toe offset Also known as a shoe’s “drop”, this is the difference in the height of the cushioning at the heel and the toe. High-drop shoes usually have an offset of between 8-11mm, while low-drop shoes are under 4mm and barefoot-style shoes are often zero-drop. There is no “correct” drop, it’s about what works for you, so if you find a shoe you love it might be worth noting the drop as something to look for in the future.

Midsole The middle part of the shoe that falls between its upper and the outsole. The midsole provides the cushioning, with other elements like carbon plates usually packed inside it.

Heel counter A firmer section on the upper that runs around the heel to create more stability. Sometimes it will be a plastic clip, but it can also just be a reinforced part of the upper.

How Much Do Running Shoes Cost And What Do You Get For Your Money?

New launches in popular lines of running shoes will generally cost three figures, and  £130-£160 is typical. Top racing shoes with carbon plates are even more expensive, usually between £170 and £230.

You don’t have to spend that much, however. There are many excellent shoes available for around the £100 mark, and several great options that cost a lot less than that. Discounts on running shoes are also frequent, and it’s worth looking at older generations of popular shoe lines because they will cost significantly less than the latest editions while often having minimal differences in performance. We collect a running list of likely candidates on our budget running shoes (opens in new tab) article. 

There are a few reasons for the variation in price. While there is certainly a degree of “paying for the name” of a shoe from Nike or Adidas over a budget brand like Kalenji, there are also more solid reasons. Shoe brands invest big money into researching materials for the midsole foam in their shoes, as well as other technology like carbon plates or stability features, and the shoes that contain the very best stuff tend to cost more. Also, while paying more is generally not a guarantee of better durability, shoes that cost around £20 to £30 will probably not last you as long as most £100-plus shoes, racing shoes aside.

How We Test Running Shoes

Nick Harris-Fry is Coach’s runner-in-chief and writes all the running shoe reviews on the site (with a few exceptions, such as the women’s Adidas UltraBoost 22). Nick is an obsessive runner with PBs of 15min 40sec for 5K and 2hr 29min for the marathon, and logs around 70-110km of running each week for his training. 

That training means a lot of opportunity to test running shoes – more than most other professional journalists – and Nick has run in hundreds of them. That breadth of experience gives him a uniquely informed opinion on whether a new release really is the best option available.

The downside of this approach is that we don’t have a range of runners sharing their opinions on shoes. It’s inevitable that people will have different opinions on a shoe, but Nick does tailor the testing he does for each shoe to its stated purpose, allowing him to give his take on whether it lives up to its billing and is worth the price. 

Nick will also cover around 50km-70km in each shoe to see if its performance changes after a bedding-in period, and do a range of runs in each shoe to see how it handles fast, slow, long and short runs. 

Nick Harris-Fry

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70km-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear

Nick is also co-founder of YouTube channel The Run Testers.

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