Running is the easiest type of exercise routine to begin, at least according to the popular sentiment. As the truism goes, all you need is a pair of shoes and a road to start.
Failed couch-to-5k experimenters and veteran runners alike will tell you that becoming a runner is not that simple, and not just because you’ll need some real motivation to actually begin pounding the pavement with the consistency required to build up endurance. If the one piece of gear that everyone agrees you need, the shoes, don’t work right for you, you’re less likely to be willing to put in the mileage you need to really jump into your healthy habit.
Starting your running journey with a pair of shoes that doesn’t do it for you could lead you right back to the couch—or worse, play a part in developing injuries that could land you there for extended periods of downtime. While it’s tough to find research that definitively proves whether certain styles of running shoes can either cause or prevent injuries in and of themselves, one thing is certain: a pair of running shoes that fits you properly will feel better on your feet and help you to run more efficiently than a pair of shoes that fits poorly or are worn past their expiration date.
Whether you’re just starting out running, you eat mileage for breakfast, or you just use jogging as a form of cross-training to help with your conditioning to achieve other fitness goals, you’ll need to find the right shoes for you. These pairs are some of the best on the market right now.
Do I need a lot of cushioning?
Heel and forefoot cushioning determines ground feel. Test a range of shoes to find your sweet spot.
What’s the benefit of a woven upper?
Comfort! Still, it’s smart to test the fit of your footwear by running on a treadmill. (And a good store will have one.)
Am I strong enough for minimal shoes?
Can you pull off a perfect single-leg squat? If not, then you lack the core and hip strength to safely run in these.
Should I try “no-drop” shoes?
Footwear that has no differential in height from heel to forefoot is best suited to a more efficient runner. If you’re not sure if you qualify, you should probably avoid the style.
How long has this model existed?
Shoes that are in at least their third update deliver a proven combo of comfort, value, and performance.
Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT%
This training shoe is built for speed. The Tempo has the components of the world-breaking Air Zoom Tempo Alphafly Next%—ZoomX foam, a forefoot Zoom Air unit, and a full-length plate—in a pared down package, so you can log more miles and train as fast as you race.
Skechers GOrun Razor 3 Cloak Hyper
The pattern here might look funky, but you’ll be guaranteed to stand out on your jogs. You’ll be well positioned to go fast, too—these shoes are super light, with Skechers’ celebrated nitrogen-infused Hyper Burst foam for an extra kick.
Saucony Triumph 18
Want a cushioned ride for your long runs? Or just a comfortable, easy shoe for when you’re just starting out? The latest iteration of Saucony’s Triumph line has you covered, with plenty of the company’s PWRRUN+ foam and a fit system designed for your own custom feel.
Adidas Ultraboost 21
The latest in Adidas’ iconic Ultraboost line might be the best to run in in years. We gave the redesigned shoes an in-depth test and loved the propulsive feel on the road.
Puma Calibrate Runner
These high-tech kicks were the first to implement Puma’s Xetic cushioning, which is designed to compress and rebound with each stride. Add a sock-like upper and you have one comfortable ride.
Mizuno Wave Inspire 17
The latest shoe in Mizuno’s Wave Inspire line introduces a new Enerzy foam, which the company says is its most responsive and springy yet.