Buy the right running shoes
So, you've decided that this is the year you take on a marathon, a half marathon or maybe you're just thinking about getting in shape. Whether you're tackling a road marathon or a just a normal run, the first thing you need to do is find a decent pair of running shoes.
From Nike and Saucony, to Salomon and Asics, with so many brands and styles to choose from, finding the perfect pair for your running style can be a challenge. It's vital that you work out what's best for you.
How to buy the right running shoes?
Here are three tips from T3's resident ultra-runner to help you whittle down your options:
1. Get your gait tested
Drop into a shop like Sweatshop.co.uk or Vivobarefoot stores and you can get a full gait analysis test done that'll help you identify the type of running shoes and support that's best for your style. You'll also get some handy hints on how to improve your technique along the way.
2. Think about your terrain
Where you plan to run is important.
3. Racing versus training
In a lot of cases you might want to choose a training shoe for longer mileage and a race shoe that's lighter but better used for shorter periods of time, like a four-hour race. Either way, it's important that you've worn your shoes in before you hit race day, or put in the longer runs.
Now that you know your style, it's time to choose. Every pair of shoes on our list has been worn, tested and put through its paces. Leaf through the list of the latest tech-filled trainers for your perfect running shoes.
- Why not also check out our list of the best trail running shoes?
Punted as Asics' best shoe yet with four new patents and five new technologies, the MetaRun is made for anyone that takes running seriously. This shoe is aimed at long distance runners and performs brilliantly for fit, stability, weight and cushioning. Three years in the lab has produced a FlyteFoam light midsole, AdaptTruss carbon reinforced stability, Sloped Duomax for adaptive motion, an optimised glove-like upper, MetaClutch exoskeleton heel and X-Gel comfort. And with only 60,000 pairs made worldwide you'd better hurry if you want the £200 kicks.
£200 | Asics
These Swiss made running shoes are built for comfort but also offer stability and are impressively lightweight. All the essentials then. They feature the company's CloudTec system that offers Zero-Gravity foam, they're not able to let you fly sadly, but they are light enough to avoid weighing you down. The Cloud name extends to the brand new soul design that sport innovative cloud shapes, placed intelligently where they're needed to mould to the foot on the move. These aim to adapt to personal running styles, making a positive impact whatever your gait.
£130 | ON Running
Nike Air Zoom Odyssey
The tagline for these is "So fast, you should buckle up” and they are built for speed, whether that's explosive sprints or for longer distance running at pace. The main help comes from using Nike cushioning that springs back fast thanks to pressurised air combined with internal fibres. A triple density midsole and Dynamic Support platform should mean excellent stability while also slowing pronation through foot strike. The breathable Flymesh upper and heel clip support should make sure there's plenty of comfort no matter how far you run.
£130 | Nike
These are specialist-running trainers. They don't have goat in the name for nothing. As masters of mountains, goats are the ideal namesakes for these runners. You get 4mm Vibram rubber lug laden softer EVA midsoles to take on the varying terrain of off-road running. There's a ground-rubber toecap for protection with lightweight no-sew SpeedFrame construction for comfort and fit. The balance meta-rocker geometry should make multi-terrain more ankle friendly while the trail-specific outsole will flex thanks to grooves made for stability.
£110 | Hoka
Best for: High mileage
The Swiss are best known for watches, cheese, great tennis players and now tech-filled running shoes can be added to that illustrious list. The CloudCruiser weighs less than 200g and aims to offer excellent cushioning while adding significant impact protection.
It’s all down to the special Cloudtech cushioning on the sole that cushions vertical and horizontal forces. The chief benefit here is that it should help reduce the impact on the body and help create a more barefoot running style with the more natural takeoff. That should also mean putting in some speedier running times as well. All while still offering plenty of protection when your foot hits the concrete.
Other features include an easy-entry lacing system so you're not fiddling about with it pre or during a race plus there’s a woven band to add better protection for the all-important heel area.
£125 I On Running
Nike Free 3.0 Flyknit
Best for: Barefoot runners
Call it barefoot, minimalist or just plain old natural, the Free 3.0 Flyknit is Nike’s lowest-profile, shoe to date. The combination of the hexagonal split-grid sole and the flexible Flyknit uppers aim to give you a running shoe that allows your foot to move any way it wants, while still providing the cushioning and support it needs.
If you’ve got a fantastic running style and you’re used to running in more minimal shoes it does that, however, Nike admits newbie runners and the less experienced might want to start with a Free 5.0 or a 4.0 rather than jumping straight into these. Lovely as they are, they do requires a certain level of running poise to put these to their best use.
If you like a snug sock-like fit then the Flyknit Free 3.0 will be right up your street. The single-sheet woven uppers hug the foot for comfort but also leave a decent amount of wiggle room in the toe box to let your toes do their natural thing and splay to build strength.
£125 I Nike
Brooks Glycerin 13
Best for: A cushioned ride
This brand of running shoe will be more familiar with our friends Stateside, but that doesn’t mean you have to rule them out as the next pair you lace up. The new Super DNA midsole design is the key ingredient here providing 25% more cushioning than its predecessor.
The adaptable material used can alter when you demand differing levels of cushioning during a run. Think of it as tailored cushioning. It also harnesses the company's IDEAL Pressure Zone technology that creates an outsole to evenly distribute the pressure from the heel strike through to the forefoot. This should provide great stability in and better body alignment to get the most from your running style.
Brooks is sticking with its seamless upper and 3D print design for that custom fit while a woven mesh and new colour combinations will have fellow runners staring down at your feet in envy.
£130 I Brooks Running
Pearl Izumi EM Road M2
Best for: Road runners
The EM Road M2 as the name suggests, is a running shoe built for those who spend more time on concrete than hitting the trail. Especially if you’re not putting in those big runs on a regular basis. The EVA Energy Foam in the heel and forefoot provide the necessary cushioning for initial impact, absorbing the energy and sending it back to the runner.
That’s coupled with the rubber forefoot and carbon rubber crash pads around the sides of the shoe, which also aids overall cushioning. The 3D print upper helps to reduce the overall weight of the shoe and a more hugging fit, while the Transfer Dry mesh throughout the design helps keep things cool. The inside of the shoe is not neglected here either with a high-density design that’s built to help control pronation and ultimately improve stability.
£90 I Pearl Izumi
Adidas Climachill Cosmic Boost
Best for: Higher mileage
When you cherry picking the best features from the Adidas running shoe range, you get the Cosmic Boost. A shoe that provides comfort and keeps you cool for those long hot runs in the summer. From Boost, you get that cushioning midsole technology and grippy outsole to promote a more efficient running style.
When you move to the upper, you’ll find that Primeknit design, which along with the bootie construction gives you that snug fit. Last and by no means least is the climachill tech. You’ll find this built into the mesh on the front of shoe with its perforated fabric offering all-round ventilation and quicker drying when you plunge into that random puddle.
If you want something that fits like a sock and can actually pass as an everyday pair of trainers, then the Cosmic Boost ticks all the important boxes. You can get certain styles of it pretty cheap now, too.
From £54 I Adidas
Nike Zoom Air Performance Vomero 11
Best for: Cushioned ride and higher mileage
The Vomero 11 aims to offer something for everyone. It promises a shoe that’s light but also with enough cushioning for those heavy impact runners. It sounds like the impossible, but Nike believes it’s found the perfect balance. That’s mostly down to the innovative Lunarlon foam midsole, which provides enough cushioning for your running stride all without adding considerable bulk to the design.
The rubber outsole aids that comfort and offers a little extra grip for those slightly slippery surfaces. The softening of the impact your heel and forefoot makes with the ground should ultimately kick up running speed, utilise the energy more efficiently and encourage a more neutral running style overall.
To aid comfort, the Flymesh upper provides more breathability, while the Flywire cables are integrated into the laces for an extra layer of durability. When you slip your feet into the Vomeros, there’s an internal boot to help give you that snug sock-like fit.
£120 I Nike
Adidas Ultra Boost
Best for: High mileage
Adidas calls the Ultra Boost the 'greatest running shoe invented' and now it’s making its cutting-edge runners available in a host of new eye-catching colours. Whether you go for the Solar Red or the female-friendly Flash Pink, you’ll get of the same benefits including the extra cushioning thanks to the small individual foam pockets in the midsole.
These pockets of cushioning not only absorb more energy than traditional foam-packing trainers but should help give you a more efficient running style so you’re making best use of the energy. The Primeknit upper adds further support to aid that more natural running style, while the stretch web outsole can help accommodate the natural expansion when you’ve been getting through a fair few miles. For that fit like a glove feel, there’s also a sock liner just in case you fancy leaving your pair behind.
£130 I Adidas
ASICS Gel DS Trainer 20
This runner is crammed full of advanced materials so no matter your effort levels, it'll add more. Thanks to a blown AHAR rubber outsole and lighter Solyte midsole, weight should not be an issue when getting these up to speed. Comfort is also taken care of thanks to a rear and forefoot gel cushioning system and removable anti-microbial sock liner.
Then there's performance. These running shoes have a vertical flex groove and new DuoMax system to help improve gait, plus the propulsion trussic and impact guidance system for the perfect foot roll. They're getting cheaper now, too.
From £54 | Asics
HOKA Clifton 2
The first Hoka Clifton won awards and has since been updated with more positives than ever. Firstly there's a softer, lightly padded tongue for protection and comfort across the foot. Secondly, structural overlays offer more support for the mid-foot.
The outsole is made for the road with strategically placed rubber pods that are included to improve durability on the tough tarmac terrain. At a total weight of 235g and a full-length compression moulded EVA midsole, these are real road eating runners.
£110 | Hoka
Saucony Kinvara 6
Best for: Road-to-track
If you’re a road-runner or spend a fair bit of time on the track, the Kinvara 6 should be well suited to your running exploits. Building on the features packed into the Kinvara 5, these also inherit design traits from the other shoes in the Saucony range to help improve stability when you’re putting in the miles. The biggest changes are that it’s an all-round lighter shoe to run with and with a new breathable mesh built into the upper, your feet should be better ventilated. You’ll still find the same great Pro-locking lacing system, to provide a more secure mid foot fit. The midsole has been tweaked as well improving the crucial transition of energy from the heel to the toe. The improved Flexifilm upper should make the Kinvara 6 more comfortable to wear as well. Bottom line, if you liked running the Kinvara 5, then all of the tweaks and changes here should make them an easy shoe to upgrade to.
From £93 I Saucony
Asics Gel Kayano 22
Boasting a whole load of tech, this pair of running shoes is more akin to a computer than a fitness accessory. First off is the Impact Guidance System, which helps your toe strikes, while FluidRide cushions the foot and improves durability. A multitude of gel, both at the front and rear, keeps the foot comfortable too, even on a long run.
From £80 | ASICS
Puma Mobium Elite Speed v1.5
Made specifically for midfoot and forefoot strikers who run at speed, the second generation Mobium Elite boasts the Night Cat reflective print for improved visibility when sunlight is nowhere to be found. The fit has also been improved and a new elasticated band added to move in time with your tendons.
From £72 | Puma
Saucony Triumph ISO2
Triumph by name, triumph by nature. These Saucony runners do everything you could want except pushing you out the door to put in those training miles. Saucony Everun Topsole is a tech these trainers use to provide a cushioning that offers more responsive feedback while being thinner than ever for greater weight advantages. But it doesn’t stop at the underside, there's a new tri-flex outsole, Isofit upper and welded bottom eyelit for top comfort levels on the run too.
From £102 | Saucony
Adidas Energy Boost 2
Designed for all types of weather, the Boost tech built into these shoes retain energy when you run and then returns it to the foot. The Techfit upper gives a natural, comfortable fit, that almost feels like a sock and the molded overlay increases foot support no end. It’s miCoach compatible, too.
From £60 | Adidas