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12 best men’s running shoes to help you smash your personal best

Enhance training and performance with trainers from the likes of Nike, Asics and New Balance

Jon Axworthy
Thursday 24 June 2021 17:04
<p>They need to be be comfortable, cushioned and secure to  prevent minor niggles turning into blisters </p>

They need to be be comfortable, cushioned and secure to prevent minor niggles turning into blisters

Whether you were a religious runner before the first lockdown or you began pounding around your local park to stave off boredom and try to stay fit, you will know that the shoes on your feet shouldn’t be an afterthought.

They can increase your enjoyment and decrease your injury risk, all of which will make you more motivated to lace up and smash your training goals.

A comfortable, cushioned and secure fit is paramount, as the repetitive nature of running can turn any minor niggle with a shoe into a major issue in no time. The best running shoes also provide a stable base on which to land each time. In our round-up, we looked for an upper that locks the foot into position, so you don’t have to worry about blisters or chafing.

The best shoes will do this without compromising on the dynamism needed to keep moving you forward, offering a discernible energy return from the materials used in the midsole and outsole.

Ultimately, the right shoe will help develop your passion for running, so if you don’t think you’ve found the right match quite yet, or you’re looking for an update on your current favourites, here are the kicks to consider next for your running rack.

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The best men’s running shoes in 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Saucony men’s endorphin speed: £154.99, Sportshoes.com
  • Best for flat feet – Asics novablast: £130, Asics.com
  • Best for keeping the foot in place – Under Armour men's flow velociti wind running shoes: £140, Underarmour.co.uk
  • Best for long distances – Adidas ultraboost 21: £160, Adidas.co.uk
  • Best for speed and stability – Hoka One One men’s mach 4: £125, Hokaoneone.eu
  • Best for running on tarmac – Nike react infinity run flyknit 2: £140, Prodirectrunning.com
  • Best for runners who overpronate – On cloudswift: £135, On-running.com
  • Best for cushioned support – Brooks glycerin 19: £140, Brooksrunning.com
  • Best for heel and achilles support – New Balance fresh foam 1080v11: £135, Newbalance.co.uk
  • Best for recovery runs – Saucony endorphin shift: £130, Saucony.com
  • Best for MapMyRun users – Under Armour men’s HOVR machina 2 colorshift running shoes: £140, Altonsports.co.uk
  • Best for indoor training and road running – On cloud X: £130, On-running.com

Saucony men’s endorphin speed

Best: Overall

  • Weight: 221g
  • Heel/toe drop: 8mm
  • Type: Neutral shoe

This is what is called a “takedown” model, put together with similar specs as Saucony’s much-loved endorphin pro, but swapping out some of the more expensive materials. What does remain is the very responsive midsole and outsole, which provides generous amounts of bounce underfoot and the curvature of the sole. This is something Saucony refers to as “speedroll” and really adds to the momentum of a run.

The mesh upper was comfortable and secured the footwell. Even with all these features, the endorphin speed is still a lightweight shoe at 221g, which means it’s very versatile and performed just as well when we tried to turn on the speed with some interval work as it did when we took it out for a long haul. 

Asics novablast

Best: For flat feet

  • Weight: 263g
  • Heel/toe drop: 10mm
  • Type: Neutral

If you run a little flat-footed and are looking to get more bounce into your runs, then the novablast, which uses the brand’s “flytefoam” in the midsole, will launch each foot and really put a spring in your step. Considering the 10mm of extra foam that Asics have added to the shoe, they still offer good stability, minimal weight (263g) and we didn’t feel like we were teetering around when we were out running. On the top of the foam is a nicely designed, cradling upper and on the bottom an outsole that grips well on the roads, even in wetter conditions.

Under Armour men's flow velociti wind running shoes

Best: For keeping the foot in place

  • Weight: 241g
  • Heel/toe drop: 8mm
  • Type: Neutral

The first thing you’ll notice when lacing up is the glove-like mesh upper, which does a great job of allowing the foot to find its optimum position in the shoe and hold it there throughout the run. The flow’s midsole is bursting with energy and no matter what pace you’re at the shoe is always willing you to go faster, which is a treat at any level of experience.

Under Armour has eschewed the traditional rubber sole and instead etched a tread into the midsole, which has kept the weight of the shoe down to 241g, without compromising on the confidence you get from each foot strike. All this is underpinned by Under Armour’s excellent connectivity, which pairs your shoes to the Map My Run app and feeds back all kinds of useful data, from cadence to ground contact time, which can help you improve your form and stay one step ahead of any injuries.   

Adidas ultraboost 21

Best: For long distances

  • Weight: 340g
  • Heel/toe drop: 10mm
  • Type: Neutral

The latest ultraboosts weigh 384g and manage to combine sustainability and suppleness into an upper made from recycled ocean plastic. The upper does a good job of creating a sock-like fit, helped by a lace closure that finishes the job of moulding the shoe to the foot. The midsole, which packs in the brand’s “boost capsules” under the heel, infuses your stride with more energy and bounce, and cushions the foot for long run days. This isn’t just a reboot of a popular shoe; a lot of thought has gone into the redesign to make this a solid upgrade on a running classic.

Read our full Adidas ultraboost 21 review here.

Hoka One One men’s mach 4

Best: For speed and stability

  • Weight: 232g
  • Heel/toe drop: 5mm
  • Type: Neutral

If it’s speed and stability you’re after for your eventual return to competitive running then Hoka has come up with a terrific update. The brand has made the already comfortable upper even more breathable (handy for when you’re hammering out a PB) and tweaked the midsole foam to up the responsiveness you get when you need to turn on the afterburners towards the end of a race. At 232g, it’s lightweight, while also managing to combine plenty of dynamism and just the right amount of cushioning to be comfortable, without feeling that you’re running through a bog.  

Nike react infinity run flyknit 2

Best: For tarmac and road running

  • Weight: 302g
  • Heel/toe drop: 9mm
  • Type: Road

Nike has beefed up the cushioning of this update, while also increasing the “react foam” underfoot to enhance the geometry of the shoe, which gives your foot a smooth transition between heel and toe and adds momentum every time you hit the ground. The design is effective, and we really enjoyed the way it seemed to smooth out our strides and speed up our cadence, while keeping our feet securely positioned in the updated flyknit upper. Breathable, stable, versatile and, for just 302g, the weight of the shoe doesn’t detract from the energy it produces.  

On cloudswift

Best: For runners who overpronate

  • Weight: 252g
  • Heel/toe drop: 7mm
  • Type: Road

The first thing you’ll notice about these shoes from the Swiss manufacturer is the striking cloud pods that make up the outsole, providing superb cushioning while keeping the weight of the shoe to just 252g. This is a support shoe, so will interest anyone whose running style isn’t entirely neutral, as the pods do a great job of guiding a runner whose feet roll inward as they run (otherwise known as overpronation) and support them at every stride. The meshed upper is very well padded, almost slipper-like, but just because they’re a support shoe doesn’t mean they wouldn’t suit most running styles given the excellent energy return from the cloud pods.

Brooks glycerin 19

Best: Cushioned support

  • Weight: 289.2g
  • Heel/toe drop: 10mm
  • Type: Neutral

Glycerins have always been a well-cushioned trainer, but with the 19, Brooks seems to have streamlined the other elements to make it feel like a shoe that is more than capable of achieving good times and distance, while protecting you from the ravages of the road. As expected, the brand’s “DNA loft foam” gave a supremely cushioned ride, and this comfort translates to the upper too, while we never had any problems with the traction offered by the outsole.  Lightweight at only 289g and durable, this is an excellent update that really moves the shoe forward.

New Balance fresh foam 1080v11

Best: For heel and achilles support

  • Weight: 263g
  • Heel/toe drop: 8mm
  • Type: Neutral

With the brand’s “fresh foam X” running along the entire sole of the shoe, the v11 will give you plenty of bounce, with a honeycombed midsole taking the blows and keeping your feet from suffering any bumps in the road. The upper has also been tweaked from the v10 to protect and secure the heel and achilles, while also allowing just enough movement when you run to make things comfortable without having to worry about chafing. At 263g, they are lightweight enough to keep legs fresh for a variety of runs.

Saucony endorphin shift

Best: For recovery runs

  • Weight: 286g
  • Heel/toe drop: 4mm
  • Type: Neutral

If you’re after shoes to specifically see you through your day-to-day training, and maybe some recovery runs, then the shift entry in Saucony’s endorphin range could be ideal, as they were one of the most comfortable shoes that we trialled. The upper was loaded with cushioning and comfort, but our feet didn’t feel cramped, and as it only tips the scales at 286g, it didn’t weigh the shoe down. The brand’s “speedroll” sole is great at encouraging good running economy, which could also really benefit rookie runners.

Under Armour men’s HOVR machina 2 colorshift running shoes

Best: For MapMyRun users

  • Weight: 283g
  • Heel/toe drop: 8mm
  • Type: Neutral

This shoe features a mesh upper with a comfortable fit allowing for plenty of foot flexion, and a HOVR foam midsole that tends to get better with every run, as the shoes mould to your feet without losing bounce or energy. At 283g, they won’t weigh you down, and like the Under Armour flow velocitis, they connect to MapMyRun to give you a complete debrief on each running performance.

On cloud X

Best: For indoor training and road running

  • Weight: 240g
  • Heel/toe drop: 6mm
  • Type: Neutral

Combining On’s innovative cloud pod outsole with a more rigid speedboard means that you still get comfort and cushioning with every stride, but also a real dynamism that will transfer lots of energy into your next one. The breathable upper is giving without ever feeling loose, and the fact that everything inside is seamless meant we were never troubled by rubbing niggles, even when we were out for over an hour.

Men’s running shoes FAQs

How to choose your perfect running shoe

First things first, it’s worth considering the surface you are running on – do you mainly run on the road? Or do you prefer trails and gravel paths? Secondly, have you had your gait analysed? The best running shoe for you will depend on your foot shape, pronation and personal preference. It’s particularly important to ascertain whether you overpronate as it means you can choose a shoe that has extra support for your heels and achilles, for example.

Similarly, if you’re training for a marathon you’ll need a shoe tailored towards long-distance running, as you’ll likely need extra cushioning. Whereas if you’re going on shorter and faster runs a more flexible shoe is better.

When should I buy new running shoes?

There are no real set rules for when you should buy new running shoes, but it's recommended that you retire your old treads once you’ve run between 300 and 500 miles in them. The wide range is owing to the fact that different runners shoes will wear depending on their running style.

What are the three types of running shoes?

There are three categories of running shoe support, these are:

  • Neutral A shoe ideal for neutral runners or those who overpronate (roll outward), these provide plenty of cushioning but have no motion control features and are lighter. These type of shoes have been designed to encourage faster movements and feel soft underfoot
  • Stability These shoes provide stability to help prevent pronation, and often provide a little extra support to control side-to-side motion. A stability shoe is best for those who mildly or moderately overpronate
  • Motion support – As the most stable running shoes, motion control trainers work to counter moderate or severe overpronation in runners. Designed to reduce or control excessive rolling of the foot, they tend to be the most rigid type of shoes and provide additional shock absorption

Do I need special shoes for running?

Whether you’re new to running or a seasoned pro, having the right pair of shoes tailored towards running is beneficial for performance and injury prevention. This is particularly important if you overpronate, as the trainers you choose will work to provide additional support to your foot and ankle.

The verdict: Men's running shoes

Runners of every experience level are looking for a compromise between comfort and performance, and the Saucony endorphin speed ticks both boxes, imparting control and cushioning when running, while responding well when it's pure speed you’re after.

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For more running gear to help you pick up the pace, read our review of the best running watches

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