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If you lace up and run on most days, good running shoes are prob top of mind for you.
But the truth is that finding running shoes that don’t mess up your form or contribute to shin splints, ankle strain, or bloody or blackened toenails (so hot, we know) can be trickier than it sounds. And a good pair isn’t always cheap, so it pays to think about sneaks beyond their look.
So much goes into determining the right running shoe. You have to think about the type of running you do, what surfaces you run on, your gait and foot strike, and even your unique anatomy (hi, hammertoes, bunions, and calluses). All this can be a real pain in a$$.
Don’t fret — we know how tough it can be to find the right pair of shoes, so we took a look at all the best brands and products out there to bring you this list of the 15 best running shoes.
We’ve done the research and compiled the best running shoes based on your feet and how and where you run:
- Foot considerations. We included picks for wide feet, flat feet, pronated feet, supinated feet, and everything in between.
- Running type. Whether you’re racing, trail running, hittin’ the pavement, or running a marathon, we made sure to include picks that’ll help you go the distance.
- Reviews. We focused on shoes that reviewers praise for specific features and crowdsourced to find the longstanding favorites of runners, ranging from those who log a handful of miles per week to those overachievers who train for and race trail ultramarathons.
- Vetted. We only include products from brands that pass a thorough vetting process that checks for unsupported health claims, shady business practices, or lawsuits involving their products.
Best running shoe for beginners
- Price: $$
There’s really no such thing as a “beginner” running shoe. But if you’re new to running or you’re getting back into it after a long hiatus, you’ll want to lace up something that’s equal parts supportive and responsive.
The Brooks Ghost 13 has earned praise for its excellent shock absorption, seamless upper, and forefoot flexibility. Reviewers say it has good arch support that’s not as high as the Ghost 12. And yes, we know that there’s already a Ghost 14, but Brooks made enough changes to it that it’s not a fan favorite like the 13.
Whether you’re doing your first Couch to 5K plan or you’ve been running for decades, this shoe is a solid choice.
Best all-around daily trainer
- Price: $$
Sometimes cushioning can make a shoe feel like you’re hauling around bricks on your feet. That’s not the case with the Saucony Kinvara 12. These shoes are lighter than their predecessor (Kinvara 11) but still provide the right amount of bounce and snap in a lightweight design. They’re a great choice for everyday runs but could also do well for race day because of their light weight.
One downside, according to reviewers, is the grippy tread. The tread is great, but it grabs dirt and holds on to it. So basically, they get dirty fast.
Best cushioned running shoe
- Price: $$$
The Hoka One One Bondi 7 is one of the most praised maximalist shoes on the market. It gives you serious cushioning without adding a bunch of weight to your run. Hoka shoes are known for their floaty, cushy feel, and the Bondi is the brand’s “fluffiest” model to date.
Although these shoes are made for everyone, taller and larger-bodied runners like that the cushion doesn’t collapse upon foot strike. And folks with plantar fasciitis appreciate the padding for tender soles.
The downside is that some reviewers report faster-than-normal wear. So if you fall in love, you may have to replace these more often, and they def cost a pretty penny.
Best long-distance running shoe
- Price: $$
The Mizuno Wave Rider 24 is designed to get you through those double-digit mileage days. This shoe is best for distance runners who have a neutral gait and are looking for a supportive yet responsive ride and a soft, cozy, breathable upper for all-around comfort.
It’s made using the company’s new Enerzy foam, giving it a mid-sole that’s super soft and responsive — though the shoe itself feels a little firm on the first run or two. The Enerzy also gives it more flexibility that the Rider 23 lacked.
The shoe does well on shorter runs, but distance is where it shines because it supports the foot even as it tires.
Best running shoe for overpronators
- Price: $$$
If you need a shoe to fix your foot roll, the Asics Gel-Kayano 28 has your back. From strike to toe-off, these shoes aid in motion control without sacrificing weight or flex. It provides excellent foot lockdown for stability — a must if you’re one of those rise-before-daylight diehards or you hit the streets after dusk.
The Gel-Kayano 28 is on the bulky side, but it’s great whether you’re an occasional runner or you wallpaper your home office with race bibs.
Best running shoe for supinators
- Price: $$$
So you’ve learned you’re a supinator. No worries! The Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 2 offers motion control while maintaining smoothness. As a bonus, this shoe has great traction and an improved upper from the original version.
And don’t let the “knit” in the name fool you — the upper is durable and secure, though some reviewers find it a bit loose.
Best running shoe for big feet
- Price: $$
Finally, a brand that understands big feet aren’t always just longer or wider. They can be, well, just bigger! The Karhu Ikoni 2021 accounts for larger or higher insteps as well as width. Plus, they’re kind to flat feet. 💓
They offer a smooth transition from strike to toe-off and just the right amount of stability and flex. Petite feet, move along — nothing to see here.
Best running shoe for flat feet
- Price: $$
If you have flat feet, the right support is key. The New Balance Fresh Foam 880v11 lives up to its name, with foam in all the right places where flat-footed runners put pressure.
Generous arch bolstering prevents fatigue and aches. Plus, the knit upper molds around your foot, holding everything in place. A smooth and secure ride is what you get. And heel strikers will appreciate the shock absorption.
Best running shoe for wide feet
- Price: $$
Sometimes what you care most about in a shoe is the toe box real estate. The Topo Phantom 2 gives you plenty of room for those downstairs digits to spread out. Plus, your feet will enjoy a comfy, springy midsole to help you bust through your miles.
Best running shoe for racing
- Price: $$
Whether you’re looking for a speed-training shoe or just something that’ll help you beat your running nemesis in the next 10K, the On Cloudflow will give you an edge.
These flats are meant for shorter-distance speed sessions or races, but they can also serve as everyday running shoes or as racing flats for any distance if you’re used to a minimalist shoe. Plus, they just look dang cool.
Best minimalist trail running shoe
- Price: $$$
The Arc’teryx Norvan SL is a trail shoe, but you won’t be breaking any rules by wearing it wherever you want.
These puppies boast good grip for technical terrain, and they dry quickly after sloshing through creek beds or mud. Plus, you can squish them down for easy packing, and they’re so lightweight you won’t even know they’re in your bag.
They’re a little pricey, but with their sleek look and neutral color options, they can double as wear-around-towners. Keep in mind that these are mega minimalist shoes and best for midfoot or forefoot strikers, so they won’t be your thing if you prefer a little cush.
Best budget trail running shoe
If you dislike trail shoes that feel like hiking shoes, the Merrell Trail Glove 5 will let you feel the trails beneath your feet while still protecting your feet and toes with its rock plate.
This zero-drop beast works just as well on paved paths if you’re a midfoot or forefoot striker who craves a minimalist style for the road. Plus, several parts are made of recycled materials.
The antimicrobial materials and seamless, breathable lining allow you to run sockless. Just toss the shoes in the wash when they get gritty or gross.
The Trail Glove 5 is often on sale, which is a bonus for replacing these shoes when the uppers wear out.
Best trail running shoe for wide feet
- Price: $$
Trails can be mean to toes, especially if you’ve got a wide forefoot. Altra designs their shoes to follow the natural shape of the foot. Plus, toe spread is important for navigating technical terrain.
If you want a shoe that lets you actually use your toes for stability rather than locking them up, check out the Altra Lone Peak 5. These shoes have canted lugs placed right under the metatarsal for better traction and toe-off.
Best distance trail running shoe
- Price: $$
Longer-distance trail runners may want a seriously robust, supportive, and protective shoe to tackle tricky or slippery terrain.
The Merrell Agility Peak Tactical offers arch support for flatter feet and a grippy outsole for going over mossy rocks or busting through those mud run adventure races. This shoe is also a great toe protector on rocky routes.
Best planet-friendly running shoe
- Price: $$
One thing about running shoes is that they’re generally not all that eco-friendly. Allbirds solves that problem with the Tree Dasher. Made with eucalyptus tree fiber, other natural ingredients, and post-consumer recycled laces, this shoe will make you feel good about what’s on your feet.
The gold standard has long been to replace running shoes every 300 miles. If the uppers or treads aren’t worn, minimalist shoes might last a bit longer because you’re not at risk of losing cushioning.
But the ideal number of miles is really up to every runner. You might find that your shoes maintain good function for 500 miles.
Unfortunately, shoes don’t have an odometer. The easiest way to keep track of your mileage is by using a running app. Apps like Nike Run Club can give you a quick, easy-to-find overview of your running history so you can keep track of how much damage you’re doin’ to your shoes.
But if you aren’t into using an app, you can figure out your average miles per week and then determine how many weeks it will take you to reach 300 (or whatever number works for you). You can also monitor your shoes for wear and loss of function.
Things to look out for:
- worn down upper or treads
- new foot pain, soreness, or blisters
- new aches and pains elsewhere in your body (shins, knees, etc.)
- a hardened sole — the sole of your shoes should have a springy feel to it
When trying on a new running shoe, think about the basics of foot feel.
Make sure you aren’t experiencing any heel slippage, either, which could quickly cause blisters. The shoe’s arch should mold to yours, but the toe box should stay out of the way of your piggies.
For fit, use the thumb test. You should have enough room between your big toe and the tip of the shoe to press your thumb down on the upper. Your feet increase in volume when you’re running, thanks to all that oxygen and blood flow, so try on shoes later in the day when your feet have naturally swollen a bit.
Beyond foot feel and fit, you have lots of other considerations:
You’ll find two general types of running shoe structure: traditional and minimalist.
- Traditional styles are built up, meaning they have more cushioning, stability, and support.
- Minimalist shoes have little to no cushioning — they’re lighter and have more flexibility to move with your foot.
The debate rages on about which type is better. Some studies show that experienced runners may develop greater running efficiency and speed in a minimalist shoe. But research also shows a correlation between minimalist footwear and injury.
If you’re going minimal for the first time, ease into it with low mileage on soft surfaces.
Deciding which shoe style you like, traditional or minimalist, also comes down to your running style.
If you’re pounding out miles on paved roads or running paths, you might prefer more cushioning. If you’re dashing short distances and going for speed in a race, a lighter-weight shoe might be to your benefit. But if you’re busting through long runs while training for a full or half marathon, you may prefer more padding and stability.
Some runners are willing to forego cushioning for the natural flex and feel of a minimalist shoe — especially when navigating roots and rocks on trails.
The type of shoe you need will also depend on how you run. Runners typically land in one of three ways: on their forefoot, midfoot, or heel. You might even have a split strike, where you land differently with each foot.
If you have a heel strike, you’ll likely prefer a shoe that has a heel drop, meaning there’s more cushioning at the heel and less toward the toes. If you have a forefoot or midfoot strike, you’ll want less of a drop or maybe even a zero-drop shoe, where cushioning is the same throughout.
In addition to foot strike, figure out your pronation type. Pronation refers to foot roll after the strike.
If you overpronate, your feet roll too far inward, putting more weight there. If you supinate (also called under pronating), your feet roll outward, putting more weight on your foot’s edge. If you have a neutral gait, you land on the outer edge and roll inward with even weight distribution.
If you pronate or supinate, running can place excess force on various parts of your ankles and feet. That’s why finding a shoe with motion control is crucial. If your gait is neutral, you have a lot more shoe options.
Your anatomy (such as flat feet or high arches) can play a part in your pronation and, therefore, in the type of shoe you need. Plus, other variations will determine whether you need a more generous toe box to avoid bruising your nails from too much banging.
Considerations include wide feet or a Morton’s toe, which is when your second tootsie is longer than your big one.
Materials, color, attitude
Style and taste may matter to you too. The “dad shoe” look might be your thing. Or maybe you want a bit of color and sass or something simple you can wear on errands. Maybe you prefer shoes with eco-friendly materials.
Let’s not forget the cash factor. Sneakers can be pricey, with some reaching into the double hundreds. But you don’t have to shell out big bucks to find running shoe bliss. Plenty of lower-priced models get great reviews, while high-ticket pairs sometimes get blasted.
Base your decision on finding a shoe that fits your needs and is your price range. We think the sweet spot ranges from $70 to $150.
If budget is a big concern for you, keep in mind that brands often mark down the previous version of a shoe once they release a newbie model. New models are often released in the spring and sometimes in the fall.
The markdown might happen on a brand’s website, but you can also check running shoe retailer sites for even deeper discounts.
Fit and feel matter more than shoe gender. Sure, men’s and women’s feet typically have some anatomical differences, and brands account for this with variations in shoe design.
But even if you identify as a woman, you can still buy a running shoe in men’s sizes, and vice versa. It purely depends on your feet and what fits you best.
Your choice of which “shoe gender” to buy might also come down to color. Some manufactures offer neutral colors for men but only highlighter colors for women, and that may not be your thing. If the shoe fits and you like it, buy it.
You don’t have to do a lot to keep your shoes in good shape. Just don’t keep them in a hot car or a muggy gym bag. When you’re not running, store your shoes in a dry, well-ventilated spot. Keep ’em clean too: Brush off the mud or dirt after your trail runs, you filthy animal!
Ah, running. It seems so simple — just lace up and go, right? But so much more than size and color goes into finding the right running shoe.
It might even take a little trial and error (and a few blisters) before you feel properly shod. But we wish for you the perfect shoe match and a whole lotta happy trails out there.