No matter what type of workout you favor, you’ll eventually need to move faster than a walk—and for that, you’ll need to have a go-to pair of running shoes.
But not all kicks are created equal. Whenever you head out for a jog, you run the risk of developing knee, leg, and foot problems and getting hurt. It doesn’t matter if you’re a once-in-a-while, around-the-block-guy or a shirt-off racer who logs 50 miles a week and keeps pacing notes. As many as 79 percents of distance runners have sustained a lower-extremity injury, a Dutch review revealed.
“Most injuries are caused by faults in the foot and leg strength, imbalances, and movement problems,” Jonathan Beverly, former shoe editor at Runner’s World magazine, told Men’s Health. “But running in the wrong shoe can also cause problems.”
You can and should take action to prevent running injuries. One of the simplest countermeasures? Running in the right shoe for you. Canadian research indicates that the right shoe can help you run with less effort. People who ran in shoes they deemed comfortable consumed up to 2 percent less oxygen, increasing their running economy as a result.
To help you find your perfect pair, we compiled a list of some of the best road runners on the market. The shoes might not make you run any faster—but if the right pair can help to keep you on the road, you’ll be in good shape.
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Do I need a lot of cushioning?
Heel and forefoot cushioning determine 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.
adidas Pulseboost HD
You’ve probably seen Adidas’ Boost technology everywhere—but the foam isn’t just popular because it looks cool. The bouncy material is beloved for its energy return, and this Boost HD update is designed to make the foam even more stable. Combine that with the enhanced grip system on the sole and a comfortable, stylish knit upper and you have the ultimate urban running shoe.
Weight: 12 oz
Jordan Trunner NXT React
You won’t be running any marathons in this trainer, but the Trunner NXT gives sneakerheads a chance to rock a pair of Js for their next 5k. Nike reacts cushioning provides the comfort and energy return, while the style is all Jordan.
ASICS GEL-Kayano 26
Asics’ annual update to its flagship running shoe is a high-energy cushioned, stability-focused powerhouse. The 26th edition of the GEL-Kayano features an updated jacquard mesh upper, energy return system, and overpronation control, perfect for your longest mileage sessions.
Weight: 13 oz
Brooks Ghost 12
The Brooks Ghost toes the line between comfort and performance to find just the right balance of cushion and support. The 12 is the latest version of the perennial Runner’s World Editors’ Choice winner, which keeps the dual cushioning system that made the 11 so solid while adding a new-look 3D Fit Print.
Weight: 10.4 oz
Drop: 12 mm
NOBULL Ripstop Runner
This CrossFit-first company just launched its second pair of runners, a light, no-nonsense shoe with a thin, breathable polyester upper. These won’t be for everyday runners logging long sessions, but weekend warriors adding some miles to their WODs will appreciate them.
Weight: 10.2 oz
New Balance FuelCell Rebel
These flashy neutral runners from New Balance are built for speed, centered around the a brand new FuelCell propulsive foam. The kicks are super light at only 8 oz., and the fitted bootie construction makes them feel like you’re barely wearing anything at all.
Weight: 8 oz
The Swiss brand’s goal is to make you feel like you’re running on clouds. This shoe, with its double-layered CloudTec cushioning system, gets you additional energy return and propulsion for your long runs to pair with the next-level comfort.
Weight: 12 oz
Nike Free RN 5.0
The truly barefoot feeling of the old Nike Frees returns with the redesigned Nike Free RN 5.0. This shoe is a blast to run in—light enough that it lets you feel fast, with an ultra-flexible sole that moves with your foot and lets you feel the ground, while still offering stability and comfort. Breathable mesh material keeps your foot cool and comfortable, completing a package that’s great for any and every short run.
Weight: 9 oz
Drop: 6 mm
Hoka One One Carbon X
Feeling fast? You will with this super speedy road shoe from Hoka, which features a carbon fiber plate and lightweight foam to propel you forward through your run.
Weight: 8.7 oz
Drop: 5 mm
Under Armour UA Hovr Sonic 2
Under Armour’s proprietary HOVR foam purports to give a “zero-gravity” responsive experience to mitigate impact with the pavement. The neutral shoe also offers an optional connected experience via sensor with the popular MapMyRun app, so stat-trackers will never miss out on logging a run.
Weight: 13 oz
Reebok Forever Floatride Energy
Reebok’s super-comfortable runner has the energy return you want—but you won’t have to break the bank to get it. Forever Floatride Energy’s midsole delivers bouncy rebound with every stride, along with the cushiony comfort you’d expect from a thick-soled shoe. It does so while being a tremendously versatile shoe, with traction that can thrive on the track or trail alike.
Weight: 9.2 oz
So pick yours today and have fun with them!!