Whether you’re just starting out or on your tenth marathon, finding the perfect running shoe can seem like finding a needle in a haystack. With so many on offer, it can be hard to whittle down your choices. With the help of Runner’s World commissioning editor, Kerry McCarthy, we’ve managed to knock it down to a list of 10 comprising the most lightweight, protective and comfortable shoes currently on the market. As with any running shoe, a proper gait analysis is recommended before you buy.
Analysing the way your feet land as you run will help determine what style shoe is best suited to your own individual needs. You could be an overpronator (your feet roll in), an underpronator (your feet roll out), or you could have a neutral running style. Neutral pronators are safe to wear a wide variety of shoe while overpronators should look for maximum support or structured cushioning shoe and underpronators need lots of cushioning to avoid impact injuries. If in doubt, it’s best to check with consult a specialist retailer.
Stay tuned for our round-up of the best running shoes for men.
1. Adidas Ultra Boost: £130, Adidas
Having no separate tongue, the knitted upper on shoe is designed to wrap around the foot like a sock, meaning zero irritation. A great neutral running shoe, it’s comfortable yet responsive and strikes balance between energy return – thanks to the effective “boost” foam – and cushioning for longer road runs.
2. Saucony Kinvara 7: £110, Millet Sports
Saucony’s best seller, this neutral running shoe fits snugly, breathes well and features an EVERUN heel insert, its patented foam gives the cushioning you need on those gruelling long road runs.
3. Asics Gel Nimbus 17: £135, Asics
One of the most cushioned shoes on the market, it’s built for a woman’s foot shape – smaller bones and wider hips mean our feet land at a different angle when we run – and uses softer foams and more heel lift to support the Achilles tendon. Gel padding in the midsole extends further forward to cushion even your outside toes. A plastic heel counter locks the rear of the foot in place without constricting or adding unnecessary weight.
4. Skechers GoRun Ultra R: £89, Skechers
The lower price point makes this is a great choice for anyone looking to try a proper running shoe for the first time. The upper toebox is roomy while the midsole is a nice balance of soft cushioning with a responsive ride – perfect for neutral runners.
5. Nike Lunar Tempo 2: £100, Nike
Lightweight yet supportive, the Nike patented Flywire support cables wrap your foot, tightening as you tie the laces, for a super-snug fit that moves with you and adds no extra bulk or weight, making it an ideal choice for overpronators.
6. Brooks Ghost 8: £110, Brooks Running
The virtually seamless upper on this allows for an extremely comfortable sock-like fit. Stable, cushioned and comfy, you can expect exceptional protection from this neutral shoe. Available in eight different colours and designs.
7. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080: £115, New Balance
This neutral shoe offers cushioning – which provides excellent shock absorption – but isn’t heavy. The blown rubber outsole keeps things light but gives great traction and stability when out on the road.
8. Brooks Adrenalin 16: £115, Brooks Running
The cushioning here hardens or softens according to the weight of impact on it, meaning it adapts to the person running in the shoe for a personalised ride – great for road-running overpronators who need the stability. Comes in four colours.
9. On-Running Cloudsurfer: from £117.65, Amazon
Suitable for any type of gait, this shoe is unusual looking due to the cushioning pods or “Clouds” on the outsole. Designed to disperse impact forces and provide energy return, they help your foot push off the ground quicker and with less effort. The EVA midsole absorbs shock, minimising impact, while breathable mesh lining provides crucial moisture control.
10. Hoka One One Clifton 2: from £81.34, Amazon
A hugely comfortable shoe, it works for all runs but is particularly good for neutral-style road runners due to the perfectly placed rubber pods on the outsole, which ensure great durability out on the tarmac.
Finding a running shoe is all about finding something superbly comfortable and they don’t come more smooth and soft than the Adidas Ultra Boost. Expect your expectations to be met and then surpassed. However, your perfect shoe will depend on your gait above anything else, meaning that suitability will vary.
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