Ready for your daily jogging routine? The beauty of running is that it is a particularly accessible sport. It can be practiced anywhere, anytime, and with minimal equipment. In fact, the only thing that is really important to consider is the pair of shoes that you will be wearing. Finding a good pair is essential, not only to improve your performance but also to avoid injury in the short or long term.
With so many models to choose from, how do you choose just one?
First and foremost, you should know what kind of running you will be using your shoes for: road running or trail running? The difference is quite noticeable and will greatly influence your experience. Road running shoes are lightweight and breathable. They allow a fast and smooth stride, suitable for flat terrain. Trail running shoes are designed to support your ankle. Above all, they have a stronger sole to protect your feet against obstacles found on uneven terrain that you may encounter.
Once you’ve identified the type of running you’ll be doing, start shopping and check out our top picks to help narrow your search.
Soft cushion, but not too soft. A mesh upper that breathes but stretches to fit. Details like the padded collar, a crash pad, and a 12mm drop. All this combines for one of the most comfortable rides you'll ever take on the road. The Ghost 13 by Brooks is almost the perfect shoe for everyone - from beginners trying out the sport to seasoned vets.
- Balanced cushion
- Air mesh upper
- Not the best for high-level competition
If you’re excited to hit the pavement but don’t want to break the bank, we suggest the Saucony Stretch & Go Glide running shoes. Even at the comparatively low price point, it’s got both performance and comfort features that give them some serious value.
The VERSARUN cushioning reduces impact, while the REACT2U memory foam sock liner adapts to your foot shape. The Stretch & Go shoes are laceless, which makes them easy to slip on and off, but reduces your control over tightness.
- Good value
- Comfortable construction
- Breathable Mesh
- Slip-ons not for everyone
Best Stability Shoe
The Saucony Guide 14 running shoes are the perfect road shoes if you’re looking for something with a lot of stability. The FORMFIT technology keeps your foot secure and comfortable, while the PWRRUN foam is both responsive and soft. The 80’s vibe doesn’t hurt, either.
- Exceptionally comfortable
- Stability without the bulk
- Enhanced heel fit
- Not for trail running
You have to go with the king of cushion HOKA ONE ONE when talking plush, soft landings with that marshmallow feel. The Clifton Edge defies expectations by providing ample cushion and being very lightweight. And besides, bringing back Meta-Rocker tech helps with your natural stride and take-off.
- Amazing cushioning
- Innovative design
- Midsole prone to wear
Best for Race Day
The Adizero Boston 9 running shoes from ADIDAS are impressively versatile. For many runners, it’s their go-to for a wide range of activities, from jogs and tempo runs to sprints and marathons. Despite their versatility, this shoe is also an excellent choice for when race day rolls around.
The combination of the Lightstrike cushioning and Boost midsole effectively increases shock absorption and propels your foot forward. In terms of stability, the Continental Rubber outsole offers plenty of grip, while the mesh upper does a great job of supporting your ankle.
- Good traction
- Could be lighter
Best for Long-Distance Running
For nearly three decades, the Gel-Kayanos have been a footwear staple in the long-distance running community. Now back with the Gel-Kayano 27 Lite Show running shoes, ASICS has managed to further refine a near-perfect runner.
In this year’s iteration, we see improved breathability in the mesh upper, proprietary Space Trusstic technology for improved stability, and reflective logos to stay visible in low-light conditions. Additionally, the Kayanos feature Flytefoam Propel material and GEL technology cushioning for increased bounce and reduced impact.
Though they work well as an everyday trainer, they excel as long-distance running shoes.
- Increased stability and cushioning
- Highly breathable
- Reflective materials
Best for Running in the Rain
Beloved by the ultralight hiking community, Altra now brings us the All-Wthr Low Trail Running Shoes. These shoes are specifically geared towards trail runners who don’t mind pushing through a downpour.
The All-Wthr Lows feature a weather-resistant eVent bootie construction, a responsive Altraego midsole, and a grippy MaxTrac outsole. It’s a lot of fancy jargon, but all that is to say that the shoe sheds water, ventilates heat, and reduces slippage like a champ. As usual, the wide toe box gives each step a more natural feel.
Perfect for a rainy day run.
- Good grip
Best Trail Running Shoe
Super steady and as smooth as you can get on the trails, the Norvan LD 2 shoe by Arc'teryx is an off-road mainstay. In fact, it's so impressive, we don't hesitate to name it our top trail running shoe.
The all-season Vibram Megagrip outsole incorporates LITEBASE technology for a ride that's both lightweight and grippy. The new midsole is also noticeably lighter, stronger, and breathable, while the cushion is just enough to absorb impact but let you feel the ground's contours. Going uphill or down is not an issue with aggressive lugs.
- Very stable fit and feel
- Great lugs, traction
- New responsive cushion
- Not the thickest cushion
Best Racing Trail Runner
Considering a serious trail race? Or how about an ultramarathon through the mountains? You’ll need to be prepared. The Salomon S/Lab XT-4 shoes might just do the trick.
The S/Lab XT-4’s offer wearers an impressive level of stability thanks to the full-length Agile Chassis System (ACS). Meanwhile, the Contagrip outsole compound features aggressive lugs for increased traction on any type of terrain. Best of all, they’re surprisingly lightweight and sleek for their robustness.
- Aggressive lugs
- Ample stability
- Durable through the dirty
- Fits a bit narrow
Customers rave about the entirely vegan Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO shoes with a “barefoot,” design. They wrap around your foot like a glove and are machine washable, which is very practical! The XS Trek rubber sole is perfect for going on the trail or road. Finally, the EVA midsole gives these minimalist running shoes the perfect amount of cushion.
If you suffer from over-pronation, the On Cloudultra Trail Running Shoes are an excellent choice. The outsole is made from Zero-Gravity foam and incorporates CloudTec technology to give superior protection. Thanks to the moulded heel, the fit is precise and the stability is exceptional. We also love the efficient lacing system, which goes the extra mile in providing comfort. Now featuring a Flip Release tool to relieve pressure on swollen feet.
Winner of the 2021 ISPO Award for Trail Running.
Meet the latest entry into the Saucony Kinvara pantheon—the Kinvara 12 running shoes. The stripped-down aesthetic takes the 12's back to their roots, offering wearers a true racing feel as opposed to a standard daily trainer.
PWRRUN cushioning ensures a low-impact, soft step every time, while the lightweight build and more aggressive handling allow for incredible toe-offs and precision. A good choice for experienced runners with an eye on the finish line.
what to look for in a running shoe
Choosing a running shoe means considering a myriad of factors like your running gait, the type of shoe you need, and its essential features.
Sizing & Fit
When it comes to sizing and fit, it’s best to read reviews and ask friends about how shoes usually fit. For instance, some running shoes are true to size, while others run a bit larger than average.
When you try on the shoe, ask yourself, is it rubbing on the skin? Does it feel uncomfortable? If you answer yes to these questions, your shoes are most likely too small and will cause blisters and pain.
Keep in mind that lighter running shoes will help you run faster. The average weight for men’s running shoes is around 9.5 ounces, while women’s shoes tend to be smaller and lighter. Conversely, heavier shoes can provide more support and injury prevention. The choice is ultimately up to you.
To choose the right running shoes, you should understand the basic anatomy of any footwear. Here is a breakdown:
Uppers are the top part of the shoe which holds the foot secure. It’s made of different materials for breathability, protection, and stability. The toe box, laces, and tongue are all part of the running shoe’s upper.
The midsole is between the upper and the outsole. It’s made of a spongy or gel material for your foot’s protection. The outsole is the base of the shoe and is made of both carbon rubber and brown rubber. It also serves for protection against the terrain, and has grooves for traction.
There are many different cushioning systems in running shoes with different technologies. The amount of cushioning will largely depend on how you want the shoe to feel as it hits the ground.
The style of the shoe largely depends on where you plan to run and what activities you intend to do. If you are mostly on pavement, go for a road shoe. If you are mostly off-roading, go for a trail shoe for maximum safety and traction.
Luckily, there is a vast array of running shoes on Altitude Sports to fit any budget. Keep in mind more expensive shoes usually feature more “bells and whistles” or advanced technology. On the other hand, more straightforward shoes can be more affordable yet retain their high-quality.
Please read our guide on how to find the ultimate running shoe for more information.
FAQs for Running Shoes
How long do running shoes last?
Various factors affect the longevity of running shoes, but the weight of the runner and running style are two main variables. As a rule of thumb, running shoes should be replaced after 400 to 500 miles. For minimalist or very lightweight shoes, this metric changes to 300 miles.
What are some of the best running shoe brands?
Brooks is a reputable brand that has been around for ages. They are great for beginners as they offer consistent cushioning and support. ASICS is another reliable brand that many runners have come to know and love. Their shoes are also built to last and have innovative technology.
Can a woman wear men's running shoes?
Some women may find men’s shoes more aesthetically pleasing than women’s shoes. It’s fine to wear men’s shoes, but keep in mind that men’s shoes tend to be slightly wider, so you may want to try a size smaller than you usually wear.