How to Pick the Best Running Shoes for You – New York Magazine

How to Pick the Best Running Shoes for You – New York Magazine

Photo: JOE LINGEMAN

You’ll also want to think about the type of running you’ll be doing in the shoe. For easy, long-distance, recovery-type runs, you might prefer something with marshmallowlike cushioning in the midsole. For tempo runs or intervals at a fast clip, consider something a bit firmer — with lighter, bouncier foam. And if you’re looking for something to help you shave a few seconds off your 5K time, there are performance shoes, which come decked out with propelling carbon-fiber plates and extra-responsive foam. Use the categories below to determine which type of shoe you’re looking for and then try on a few within that category to see which one is most comfortable for you. So if you’re shopping online, make sure you choose a retailer with a generous return policy.

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38 (Women’s)

$120

$120

Buy at Nike
Buy

$120


at Dick's Sporting Goods

Buy


Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38 (Men’s)

$120

$120

Buy at Nike
Buy

$120


at Dick's Sporting Goods

Buy


The Pegasus has been a dependable part of Nike’s running lineup ever since it was introduced nearly four decades ago. Its cushioning comes from a generous layer of Nike’s proprietary React foam in the midsole. Olivia Young, founder and owner of the Soho fitness studio Box + Flow, runs in the Pegasus and says, “They have just enough support, are balanced between soft and structured, and allow me to run like the wind.”

Asics Gel-Cumulus 23 (Women’s)

$120

$120

Buy at Zappos
Buy

$120


at Asics

Buy


Asics Gel-Cumulus 23 (Men’s)

$120

$120

Buy at Zappos
Buy

$120


at Asics

Buy


Like the Pegasus, the Asics Gel-Cumulus has been around for decades and continues to be a favorite among runners. Along with lightweight foam, the Gel-Cumulus features a pod of Asics’s signature gel in the heel for shock absorption. If you tend to land on your heel (most people do) and like the slightly firmer feel of gel (compared to straight-up foam), it’s likely a good match.

Mizuno Wave Rider 24 (Women’s)

$130

$130

Buy at Zappos
Buy

$130


at Mizuno

Buy


Mizuno Wave Rider 24 (Men’s)

$130

$130

Buy at Zappos
Buy

From
$130


at Mizuno

Buy


While Asics shoes stand out for their gel components, Mizuno shoes can be easily identified by their wave plates. Inserted into the mid-foot underneath the heel, the wave plate is designed to distribute impact shock throughout the foot. Older versions were made from hard plastic, but today’s plates are composed of Pebax, a thermoplastic elastomer that’s become increasingly popular in running shoes because it’s exceptionally light and helps with energy return.

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 (Women’s)

$130

$130

Buy at Zappos
Buy

$130


at Brooks Running

Buy


Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 (Men’s)

$130

$130

Buy at Zappos
Buy

$130


at Brooks Running

Buy


Hoka One One Clifton 7 (Women’s)

$130

$130

Buy at Zappos
Buy

$130


at Hoka One One

Buy


Hoka One One Clifton 7 (Men’s)

$130

$130

Buy at Zappos
Buy

$130


at Hoka One One

Buy


After the barefoot-running craze of the early 2010s (remember the notorious Vibram FiveFingers toe-shoes?) Hoka One One’s maximal Clifton felt like a breath of fresh air when it launched in 2014. Still one of the brand’s best-selling models, it packs lots of soft EVA foam cushioning into a surprisingly light package. Ali Feller, marathoner and host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast, has been running in the Cliftons since 2015 and says, “They make me feel like I’m running on a springy cloud or the moon.’”

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11 (Women’s)

$150

$150

Buy at Zappos
Buy

$150


at New Balance

Buy


New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11 (Men’s)

$150

$150

Buy at Zappos
Buy

$150


at New Balance

Buy


Following Hoka’s success, other running brands introduced shoes with thick midsoles. New Balance calls its proprietary lightweight EVA Fresh Foam, and the 1080v11 is one of its cushiest options. Brian Metzler, a running journalist and the author of Kicksology: The Hype, Science, Culture and Cool of Running Shoes, explains that many runners appreciate extra cushioning during long-distance runs, when their form tends to break down, so this may be a good shoe to try if you’re regularly logging runs of ten miles or longer.

Adidas Ultraboost 21 (Women’s)

$180

$180

Buy at Zappos
Buy

$180


at Adidas

Buy


Adidas Ultraboost 21 (Men’s)

$180

$180

Buy at Zappos
Buy

$180


at Adidas

Buy


Adidas shook up the shoe world with the introduction of its Boost technology in 2013. Made from thermoplastic polyurethane, these capsule-like pods are soft like traditional foam but with more bounciness to help you conserve energy. Available in dozens of colorways (including a few designed by Stella McCartney), the Ultraboost is also one of the most fashion-forward options.

On Cloudstratus (Women’s)

$170

$170

Buy at On
Buy


On Cloudstratus (Men’s)

$170

$170

Buy at On
Buy


More cushioning doesn’t always mean more foam. On shoes, like the Cloudstratus, utilize open tubes of rubber on the outsole (the brand calls them “clouds”) that compress upon impact and bounce back when you take off.

Responsive shoes

For tempo runners, racers, and anyone who prefers a firmer shoe that lets them feel the ground underneath their feet, these zippy pairs bounce off the ground and have a speedier feel.

Brooks Hyperion Tempo (Women’s)

$150

$150

Buy at Zappos
Buy

$150


at Brooks Running

Buy


Brooks Hyperion Tempo (Men’s)

$150

$150

Buy at Zappos
Buy

$150


at Brooks Running

Buy


“The lighter the shoe is, the better your performance will be,” says Cristine Agresta, a physical therapist and assistant professor of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Washington. The Brooks Hyperion Tempo manages to be lightweight, without sacrificing cushioning, by using a proprietary type of nitrogen-injected foam that’s both bouncy and responsive. “I eat up miles wearing these and feel light on my feet doing it,” says Men’s Health associate fitness editor Brett Williams.

Saucony Endorphin Speed (Women’s)

$160

$160

Buy at Zappos
Buy

$160


at Saucony

Buy


Saucony Endorphin Speed (Men’s)

$160

$160

Buy at Zappos
Buy

$160


at Saucony

Buy


Drawing inspiration from racing shoes with carbon-fiber plates, the Saucony Endorphin Speed has a nylon plate that makes you feel like you’re springing off the ground. Nylon is slightly heavier than carbon, but also cheaper, so it’s a good way to get that fast feel in an under-$200 shoe.

Skechers GOrun Razor 3+ (Women’s)

$120

$120

Buy at Zappos
Buy

$147


at Skechers

Buy


Skechers GOrun Razor 3+ (Men’s)

$120

$120

Buy at Zappos
Buy

$135


at Skechers

Buy


It’s taken a while for Skechers to be considered a serious running-shoe brand (it didn’t hurt when Meb Keflezighi won the 2014 Boston Marathon in a pair), even though it has been churning out shoes with some of the latest technologies for a few years now. The GOrun Razor 3+ has a layer of cushioning that feels similar to the light and springy Adidas Boost pods, plus Goodyear rubber on the outsole for added traction.

Under Armour UA Flow Velociti Wind (Women’s)

$160

$160

Buy at Under Armour
Buy

$160


at Dick's Sporting Goods

Buy


Under Armour UA Flow Velociti Wind (Men’s)

$160

$160

Buy at Under Armour
Buy

$160


at Dick's Sporting Goods

Buy


To really slim down the Velociti Wind, Under Armour removed the rubber outsole and created a thin upper layer that wraps around the foot like a second skin. Running-data nerds will appreciate that a sensor in the shoe connects to the MapMyRun app for seamlessly tracking your metrics.

For tempo runners, racers, and anyone who prefers a firmer shoe that lets them feel the ground underneath their feet, these zippy pairs bounce off the ground and have a speedier feel.

Brooks Hyperion Tempo (Women’s)

$150

$150

Buy at Zappos
Buy

$150


at Brooks Running

Buy


Brooks Hyperion Tempo (Men’s)

$150

$150

Buy at Zappos
Buy

$150


at Brooks Running

Buy


“The lighter the shoe is, the better your performance will be,” says Cristine Agresta, a physical therapist and assistant professor of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Washington. The Brooks Hyperion Tempo manages to be lightweight, without sacrificing cushioning, by using a proprietary type of nitrogen-injected foam that’s both bouncy and responsive. “I eat up miles wearing these and feel light on my feet doing it,” says Men’s Health associate fitness editor Brett Williams.

Saucony Endorphin Speed (Women’s)

$160

$160

Buy at Zappos
Buy

$160


at Saucony

Buy


Saucony Endorphin Speed (Men’s)

$160

$160

Buy at Zappos
Buy

$160


at Saucony

Buy


Drawing inspiration from racing shoes with carbon-fiber plates, the Saucony Endorphin Speed has a nylon plate that makes you feel like you’re springing off the ground. Nylon is slightly heavier than carbon, but also cheaper, so it’s a good way to get that fast feel in an under-$200 shoe.

Skechers GOrun Razor 3+ (Women’s)

$120

$120

Buy at Zappos
Buy

$147


at Skechers

Buy


Skechers GOrun Razor 3+ (Men’s)

$120

$120

Buy at Zappos
Buy

$135


at Skechers

Buy


It’s taken a while for Skechers to be considered a serious running-shoe brand (it didn’t hurt when Meb Keflezighi won the 2014 Boston Marathon in a pair), even though it has been churning out shoes with some of the latest technologies for a few years now. The GOrun Razor 3+ has a layer of cushioning that feels similar to the light and springy Adidas Boost pods, plus Goodyear rubber on the outsole for added traction.

Under Armour UA Flow Velociti Wind (Women’s)

$160

$160

Buy at Under Armour
Buy

$160


at Dick's Sporting Goods

Buy


Under Armour UA Flow Velociti Wind (Men’s)

$160

$160

Buy at Under Armour
Buy

$160


at Dick's Sporting Goods

Buy


To really slim down the Velociti Wind, Under Armour removed the rubber outsole and created a thin upper layer that wraps around the foot like a second skin. Running-data nerds will appreciate that a sensor in the shoe connects to the MapMyRun app for seamlessly tracking your metrics.

Performance shoes

Thanks to innovations like carbon-fiber plates and finely engineered geometry, these fast shoes are helping professional runners smash world records — and the rest of us shave a few seconds off our 5K times.

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% (Women’s)

$275

$275

Buy at Nike
Buy

$275


at Running Warehouse

Buy


Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% (Men’s)

$275

$275

Buy at Nike
Buy

$275


at Running Warehouse

Buy


Elite Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge was wearing a prototype of these shoes when he became the first human to break two hours in the marathon. With a carbon-fiber plate that essentially propels you forward with each stride and a midsole loaded with a proprietary ultraresponsive Pebax foam, Nike’s studies demonstrate that the shoe can increase running performance by at least 4 percent. It’s a competitive advantage so significant that the shoe was nearly banned from the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

Asics Metaspeed Sky (Women’s)

$250

$250

Buy at Asics
Buy

$250


at Running Warehouse

Buy


Asics Metaspeed Sky (Men’s)

$250

$250

Buy at Asics
Buy

$250


at Running Warehouse

Buy


After the Zoom Alphafly came out, nearly every other major running brand has introduced shoes with carbon-fiber plates and their take on springlike midsole cushioning. Pro runner Sara Hall finished second in the 2020 London Marathon (the first American woman to make the top three in the race since 2006) wearing Asics’s version: the Metaspeed Sky.

Puma Deviate Nitro (Women’s)

$160

$160

Buy at Puma
Buy


Puma Deviate Nitro (Men’s)

$160

$160

Buy at Puma
Buy


Puma makes up only a tiny slice of the running-shoe market, but the newly released Deviate Nitro — with a carbon-fiber plate and nitrogen-infused foam — is a worthy contender in the speedy category.

Hoka One One Carbon X 2 (Women’s)

$180

$180

Buy at Zappos
Buy


Hoka One One Carbon X 2 (Men’s)

$180

$180

Buy at Zappos
Buy


Proving cushioned shoes can also be fast, Hoka One One’s Carbon X 2 mixes the brand’s signature EVA foam with a carbon-fiber plate and an aggressive rocker design for fast transition from landing to toe-off.

Thanks to innovations like carbon-fiber plates and finely engineered geometry, these fast shoes are helping professional runners smash world records — and the rest of us shave a few seconds off our 5K times.

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% (Women’s)

$275

$275

Buy at Nike
Buy

$275


at Running Warehouse

Buy


Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% (Men’s)

$275

$275

Buy at Nike
Buy

$275


at Running Warehouse

Buy


Elite Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge was wearing a prototype of these shoes when he became the first human to break two hours in the marathon. With a carbon-fiber plate that essentially propels you forward with each stride and a midsole loaded with a proprietary ultraresponsive Pebax foam, Nike’s studies demonstrate that the shoe can increase running performance by at least 4 percent. It’s a competitive advantage so significant that the shoe was nearly banned from the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

Asics Metaspeed Sky (Women’s)

$250

$250

Buy at Asics
Buy

$250


at Running Warehouse

Buy


Asics Metaspeed Sky (Men’s)

$250

$250

Buy at Asics
Buy

$250


at Running Warehouse

Buy


After the Zoom Alphafly came out, nearly every other major running brand has introduced shoes with carbon-fiber plates and their take on springlike midsole cushioning. Pro runner Sara Hall finished second in the 2020 London Marathon (the first American woman to make the top three in the race since 2006) wearing Asics’s version: the Metaspeed Sky.

Puma Deviate Nitro (Women’s)

$160

$160

Buy at Puma
Buy


Puma Deviate Nitro (Men’s)

$160

$160

Buy at Puma
Buy


Puma makes up only a tiny slice of the running-shoe market, but the newly released Deviate Nitro — with a carbon-fiber plate and nitrogen-infused foam — is a worthy contender in the speedy category.

Hoka One One Carbon X 2 (Women’s)

$180

$180

Buy at Zappos
Buy


Hoka One One Carbon X 2 (Men’s)

$180

$180

Buy at Zappos
Buy


Proving cushioned shoes can also be fast, Hoka One One’s Carbon X 2 mixes the brand’s signature EVA foam with a carbon-fiber plate and an aggressive rocker design for fast transition from landing to toe-off.

Salomon Sense Pro 4 (Women’s)

$120

$120

Buy at Salomon
Buy

From
$140


at Amazon

Buy


Salomon Sense Pro 4 (Men’s)

$120

$120

Buy at Salomon
Buy

$140


at Amazon

Buy


Embraced by both serious trail runners and gorpcore enthusiasts, Salomon makes some of the best shoes for running off-roads. Professional runner Rickey Gates, author of Cross Country: A 3,700-Mile Run to Explore Unseen America, calls the Sense Pro 4 “a supportive, light, and not overly aggressive shoe to move onto the trails.”

Altra Escalante 2.5 (Women’s)

$130

$130

Buy at Zappos
Buy

$130


at Altra

Buy


Altra Escalante 2.5 (Men’s)

$130

$130

Buy at Zappos
Buy

$130


at Altra

Buy


With their extra-wide toe boxes, Altra shoes are a favorite among runners with bunions — and anyone else who likes to let their toes splay out as they run. The medium amount of cushioning in the Escalante makes it a perfect everyday trainer.

Newton Running Gravity 10 (Women’s)

$175

$175

Buy at Zappos
Buy


Newton Running Gravity 10 (Men’s)

$175

$175

Buy at Zappos
Buy


The cushioning in most running shoes is concentrated in the heel since that’s where most people land when striding. For mid-foot-strikers, though, most of that soft, impact-absorbing cushioning goes to waste. That’s where Newton comes in. Shaped almost like bicycle cleats, Newton shoes feature rubber lugs under the middle of the foot that act like mini-springboards for mid-foot landings.

Veja Marlin (Women’s)

$180

$180

Buy at REI
Buy


Veja Marlin (Men’s)

$180

$180

Buy at REI
Buy


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