The best running shoes 2017: top trainers to get you road fit

The best runners need the best running shoes… and so do average to middling ones. These are the best trainers for 5K to Marathons and beyond

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Whether you're tackling a road marathon or you’ve just discovered your local 5k Park Run, the most important piece of kit you need is a decent pair of running shoes. Right after a vest and a tiny pair of shorts of course.

Finding the best running shoes for you can be the difference between slogging out heavy miles and feeling free and easy on your feet. 

But with so many brands and styles to choose from, finding the perfect pair for your running style can be a challenge. Luckily, T3.com’s resident runners are here to help you sort your zero-drop minimalists from your much bouncier Boosts.

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, Runner's Needs or Vivobarefoot stores and you can get a full gait analysis test done. This will help you identify the type of running shoes and support that's best for your running style. You'll also get some handy hints on how to improve your technique along the way.

The difficulty in recommending running shoes is that, while some are better than others, the 'best' shoe for you also has to suit how you run. In particular, if your gait shows an excess of pronation or supination (inward and outward rolling of the foot as it strikes and pushes off from the ground), you will need a shoe or insole that addresses this.

2. Think about your terrain

Where you plan to run is important. Road, trail, or a mixture of both. In general, trail running requires more support and road requires more impact protection, but again this can also be affected by how you run, and what you find comfortable.

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.

Unfortunately we can't provide the motivation to hit those wintery pavements, but a good shoe is a step in the right direction.

How we selected the best running shoes

Every pair of shoes on our list has been worn, tested and put through its paces. 

As noted, recommending a running shoe is not like picking out a running watch or toaster, because running depends on the physiology of the wearer. In extreme cases, a shoe that's perfect for us might lead to you getting shin splints.

With that in mind, although we've picked out our favourite shoes for road running: ON Cloudflash, closely followed by New Balance Vazee Pace v2 – we're also recommending shoes specifically for light weight, cushioning, and running across both tarmac and off-road.

The remainder of the shoes on our list are all top quality performers, and we've indicated what we feel each is best for. And now, it's time for our marathon list of the best running shoes. And then perhaps a nice lie-down.

1. ON Cloudflash

Best for speed

Reasons to buy
+Traditional racing design with added comfort
Reasons to avoid
-Unusually costly-Lemon meringue styling
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Built for speed but comfortable over distance too, the brand new Cloudflash combines the flat design of a traditional racing shoe with the added benefit of the Swiss company’s unique CloudTec cushion in the sole

Also along for the ride: a unique Speedboard torsion bar for added propulsion and some seriously minimal uppers.

There are 14 of On’s patented ‘Clouds,’ 8 of which are coated in rubber for added traction. At just 220g, it’s the firm’s lightest runner, a stat boosted by an upper construction that’s so thin, it’s translucent. 

Ideal for speed sessions on the track but with a fit snug enough to wear for a half or full marathon, these are perfect for runners with personal bests in mind.

2. New Balance Vazee Pace v2

Best for road running. A real runner's running shoe and our top pick

Reasons to buy
+Comfort and speed, mile after mile
Reasons to avoid
-Requires - and rewards - technique
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If you want to go fast and keep that up for a long time then these are the shoes for you. 

The Vazee Pace is an ideal marathon shoe with plenty of road-running support geared to midfoot striking, great responsiveness and the ability to just keep giving over long distances. 

This is also a light shoe, which will be appreciated as the miles clock up. As such some might call the foam a little thin but if your technique is correct it won’t be an issue. This trainer, in effect, encourages you to run right… And rewards you for doing so.

3. Inov-8 Roclite 290

Best for tarmac to trail

Reasons to buy
+Great in multiple environments
Reasons to avoid
-Not fully waterproof
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A decade in the making, the Roclite 290, named for its 290g weight, is the lightest in the range and promises support and comfort over multiple terrains. 

If you’re the kind of runner who likes to mix up their terrain, then this is nearly perfect, although it's not fully waterproof. Well, it is summer. 

It is, however, designed to withstand wet mountain rock, but is equally at home on tarmac or muddy grass. 

Shaving off weight means this model has one eye on speed, but there are heavier models in the range, like the Roclite 305, that deliver more support and protection.

4. Saucony Freedom ISO

Best for resisting wear and tear

Reasons to buy
+EVERUN midsole offers longer-lasting cushion
Reasons to avoid
-Colour options won’t be everyone’s cup of Gatorade
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Freedom ISO aren't any too pretty to look at but when a brand like Saucony dubs a release its “most technologically advanced shoe” ever, we listen. 

Built for racing, the Freedom ISO weighs just 255g and 'literally' hugs your foot thanks to the ISO-Fit technology. 

A Crystal Rubber outsole gives increased durability as well as traction, while the EVERUN midsole also promises to return 83% of the energy absorbed and last three times longer than standard EVA (the stuff most running shoe soles are made of). 

Talk about an extra spring in your step…

5. ASICS DynaFlyte

Best for neutral pronation

Reasons to buy
+Continuous cushioning, soft landing
Reasons to avoid
-Too much sole for some
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Ideal for neutral pronation, on fast-paced runners looking to go any distance, this is Asics’ most cushioned shoe and also its lightest overall. 

That's down to the full-length FlyteFoam in the midsole, which is 55% lighter than industry standard EVA foam.

The fruit of over 300 prototypes, FlyteFoam promises continuous cushioning with foam that bounces back to its original shape after each run. 

The tech bonanza doesn’t end there, as the DynaFlyte also has an Impact Guidance System that matches your foot’s natural movements.

6. Adidas PureBOOST

Best for urban running

Reasons to buy
+Great for fast changes in direction
Reasons to avoid
-Don’t always feel fully connected to the ground
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Everyone’s running track is different, and if yours involves buzzing around a busy cityscape after work then Pure BOOST could be the shoe for you. 

When you need maximum agility to navigate fellow commuters and sharp corners, Pure BOOST offers a wider forefront and a circular knit that adapts to your movements.

Elsewhere, a leather accent at the heel and a ruggedized BOOST cushion help you to survive the landscape’s rougher elements. 

7. Brooks Ghost 9

Best for a well cushioned run

Reasons to buy
+Superb comfort and support
Reasons to avoid
-Horrible appearance
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These Brooks are by absolutely no means stylish, but when it comes to comfortable running, the Ghost 9's smart cushioning is in a league of its own.

These trainers offer 30 percent more cushion than typical thanks to the BioMoGo midsole which Brooks claims 'adapts to your stride'. 

The upper mesh provides support but stretches for comfort while the sole features a segmented crash pad and flexed grooves for a smoother run.

8. Nike LunarEpic FlyKnit 2

Best for ultra lightweight comfort

Reasons to buy
+So light+Spectacular design and colours
Reasons to avoid
-Still too much shoe for real minimalists
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Built for lightweight comfort and cushioning over any distance, the boot-fit LunarEpic FlyKnit 2 offers the same raised silhouette as the 2016 design, only this time Nike has completely integrated the tongue into a single piece of fabric, giving these an even more glove-like fit. 

That distinctive, pressure-mapped outsole and laser-siped Lunarlon midsole that we saw on the first generation LunarEpic remains and is complemented by the ultra-lightweight Flyknit technology and Flywire support. 

This offers an additional layer of security through the midfoot, without weighing you down.

9. Altra Escalante

Best for encouraging a natural foot position

Reasons to buy
+Altra Ego cushioning
Reasons to avoid
-Daunting-for-some zero drop
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The Altra Escalante is made for runners who favour a natural ride. For a start they’re zero drop, putting your heel and forefoot the same distance from the ground, designed to encourage a lower impact running form. 

A spacious, engineered knit upper and a ‘footshape’ toe box also gives your pinkies room to behave more naturally, another big factor in encouraging good from from the ground up. 

To complete the free-running feels, there’s also a brand new Altra Ego midsole been created using a new compound that combines soft comfort with a fast, springy reaction in a lightweight package. 

10. ON Cloudflyer

Best for comfort and fun

Reasons to buy
+Augments your running style
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks a bit of grip in the wet
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The clue is in the name. On’s finest offerings are built on the 12 ‘Clouds’ in the sole that’ll have you flying. They distribute cushioning to exactly where you need it, while complementing your natural gait and keeping you stable. 

As such, the Cloudflyer works in tandem with your running style rather than forcing you to adjust. Constructed from Zero Gravity foam, the CloudTec still enables the 'flyer to come in at just 280g.