Whether you’re an experienced runner or a total novice, we help you pick the best running shoes with bite-size reviews and a buying guide
Picking the best running shoes for you can make an extraordinary difference. A good pair of running shoes from the likes of Nike, Asics and Saucony can reduce your risk of injuries, set you up for faster times and, above all, make the whole experience more comfortable. The problem is that everyone runs differently, both in terms of actual gait and physical ability.
Finding a shoe that matches your needs can be difficult, but we’re here to help. Below, we explain all the key features you need to look out for and pick our favourite running shoes for everything from a 5km park run to a marathon. If you’re on a strict budget, you can also check out our best cheap running shoes list.
Best running shoes: At a glance
|Best for beginners||New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11 (~£140)||Check price at SportsShoes|
|Best all-rounder||Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 (~£165)||Check price at Saucony|
|Best under £100||Puma Velocity Nitro (~£60)||Check price at Sports Direct|
|Best cushioned shoes||Brooks Glycerin 19 (£140)||Check price at Start Fitness|
How to choose the best running shoes for you
What kind of surface are you going to run on?
The main thing to consider when selecting your running shoes is the type of running you’re likely to be doing, not only in terms of distance but also terrain.
- Track/treadmill: If you plan to run only on the track or the treadmill, you can mostly ignore factors such as the amount of traction on a shoe’s sole.
- Trails: Of course, if you plan to head off the beaten track and regularly run on trails, picking a shoe with better ankle support and a specialised sole will be much more important. If you are more of a trail bunny, we have an article for you dedicated to the best trail-running shoes.
What is “pronation” and how does it affect shoe choice?
There are three types of foot strike:
Neutral: Where the foot lands on the outside of the heel and rolls a little inward to absorb the shock. Neutral runners should be comfortable in most shoes, although neutral shoes are most suitable (unless your BMI is 27+, in which case some extra support might be advisable)
Underpronation: Also known as “supination”, is where you land on the outside of the heel and don’t roll inward enough. Underpronators should look for a lot of cushioning on their shoe.
Overpronation: As you would expect, this is where the foot rolls too much from the outside of the heel to the inner edge of your foot, rather than the ball. Overpronators will likely be best off with stability running shoes.
Any runner can get injured, but over and underpronation can lead to more problems if you don’t opt for the right shoe. All running shops will offer similar advice, but it’s also important to remember to listen to your body. If a shoe feels comfortable when you’re running, it’s likely the right shoe for you, even if it doesn’t follow the prescribed type of shoe you’ve been recommended.
What is gait analysis and is it worth doing?
Basic gait analysis involves a few minutes of jogging on a treadmill at your natural pace, while an expert casts his eye over your running style. This will be done for free at many specialised running shops such as Sweatshop and Run and Become.
The aim is to analyse how your foot lands in terms of pronation, which will inform your choice of shoes. It’s a speedy process that’s well worth doing if you plan on spending big money.
How long will shoes last and how do I know when it’s time to get new ones?
In general, brands advise that running shoes will last 500 miles or so, but they’re not going to fall apart at that point, so unless there are clear signs of disrepair, there’s no need to move on immediately. Signs to watch out for are when the cushioning starts to feel squishy, rather than firm, and the grip on the sole being eroded.
Also if you suddenly start picking up injuries when you haven’t changed your running routine, it could be a sign that your shoes are no longer providing the support needed.
How much do I need to spend?
We advise you to pay attention to last year’s model in the more expensive (£110 to £160) lines – they will invariably cost less and offer near enough the same features. Of course, if you must have the latest thing, that’s okay too.
There are also good budget running shoes to look at, which cost £40 to £90 – you will find those on the best cheap running shoes list.
READ NEXT: Best trainers for men and women
The best running shoes to buy in 2023
1. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11: Best running shoes for beginners
Price when reviewed: £140 | Check price at SportsShoesThe New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11 is a comfortable shoe with plenty of cushioning, which will help protect your body from the impact of running when you first start out in the sport. Don’t let the ample cushioning fool you into thinking this is a slow shoe, though, because the 1080v11 will help carry you to your first few PBs if you do start racing, and it’s a great option for long-distance events like the marathon in particular.
In the midsole, you have New Balance’s Fresh Foam cushioning, which delivers a stable ride that’s the right level of firm to be comfortable without becoming so squishy that you lose speed with each stride.
At £140, some beginners might consider the 1080v11 a little pricey for a first shoe, but it’s a durable option and, if you stick with the sport, you will get your money’s worth out of it. Moreover, it’s a long-running line and you can often nab a previous version in sales, with the 1080v10 being very similar to the next edition.
Key specs – Terrain: Road; Arch support: Neutral; Best used for: Training; Weight: 269g (UK 9); Heel-to-toe offset: 8mm
Originally designed as a high-performance alternative for those who don’t get on with the firm, rigid feel of shoes with a full-length carbon plate, the Saucony Endorphin Speed has been one of our favourite do-it-all runners since it first launched.
With the third model in the series, Saucony continues the theme while introducing some big improvements. It has extended the width of the shoe’s nylon plate, improving stability over the Speed 2, added 0.5mm of foam in the midsole and redesigned elements of the shoe’s upper, widening the toe box for a more roomy feel among other things. And it’s still cheaper and longer-lasting than more celebrated carbon-plated rivals.
The heel doesn’t feel as planted as other shoes we’ve tested, so runners who overpronate and/or focus on slower runs may want to look elsewhere. However, its light weight, propulsive feel and generous amount of cushioning (thanks to Saucony’s PWRRUN PB foam) make it a superb all-rounder, particularly for longer, faster-paced runs, where its springy feel excels.
Our only complaint with the Endorphin Speed 3 is that the heel cup might cause some irritation for those with narrow feet as it’s quite thin and lacks padding. Overall, though, this is one of the best all-rounder running shoes you can buy and can be used for everyday training as well as faster runs.
Key specs – Terrain: Road; Arch support: Neutral; Best used for: All-rounder; Weight: 229g (UK 9); Heel-to-toe offset: 8mm
3. Puma Velocity Nitro: Best running shoes under £100
Price when reviewed: £60 | Check price at Sports DirectPuma slipped off the road running shoe radar in recent years, but has come back in a big way in 2021 with a line-up of shoes for all occasions. The Velocity Nitro is the everyday trainer in the range, offering comfort and durability, as well as plenty of grip thanks to the PUMAGRIP outsole, which we found had no trouble finding traction on wet pavements.
However, the Velocity Nitro is more than just a comfortable training shoe. The nitrogen-infused EVA foam used in the midsole is also responsive and light, and the shoe is surprisingly fast as a result. It would be a solid trainer/racer option for most runners, and would work well for longer races in particular.
It’s one of the most impressive shoes we’ve tested all-round, and that’s before you take into account its relatively low price. The Velocity Nitro has an RRP of just £100, and the even better news is that it’s often on sale, especially now the second version of the shoe has been released.
Key specs – Terrain: Road; Arch support:: Neutral; Best used for: Training; Weight: 276g (UK 9); Heel-to-toe offset: 10mm
4. Asics Gel-Kayano 28: Best stability running shoes
Price when reviewed: £155 | Check price at AsicsThe Gel-Kayano has been a go-to for stability-seeking runners for almost three decades, and Asics has generally kept the year-on-year updates it makes to the shoe small in order to avoid offending long-term fans. However, that evolution-over-revolution approach can create the risk of the shoe getting stale and falling behind the competition, so we were pleased to see that Asics has made some significant modifications to this 28th iteration of the shoe.
Of these changes, the biggest is the addition of Asics’ bouncy FF Blast foam into the midsole. This is a softer cushioning that you would typically get on a stability shoe, and it delivers a lively and springy ride. In order to ensure the Kayano 28 is still stable, Asics has also used firmer materials in the rear half of the midsole and updated the heel counter to cradle the foot better upon landing. The updates make the Kayano 28 a more energetic, enjoyable shoe than its predecessor while still retaining the stable, comfortable ride that has made the line so popular.
Key specs – Terrain: Road; Best used for: All-rounder; Weight: 308g; Heel-to-toe offset: 10mm
5. Saucony Ride 15: Best running shoes for daily training
Price when reviewed: £130 | Check price at SportsShoesFor 2022, Saucony completely revamped its everyday training shoe, the Ride 15. The new model has an overhauled upper, a lighter, squishier PWRRUN foam in the sole and 3mm more stack height. And it’s lighter than its predecessor, the Ride 14, too.
The result is a super comfy ride that strikes a great balance between protection and responsiveness. The Ride 15 might not be the springiest, fastest shoe around, but it is a great shoe for laying down those training miles.
Perhaps the best part of the Ride 15, is the fit of the upper. It’s quite thin and lacks padding compared with a lot of other running shoes, but the lacing system keeps things secure and comfortable. Inherited from last year’s Saucony Endorphin Pro, its “A strap” runs from the sole around the sides of the midfoot and to the upper laces, giving your foot an impressively stable, locked-in feeling.
Key specs – Terrain: Road; Arch support: Neutral; Best used for: All-rounder; Weight: 260g (UK men’s 9.5); Heel-to-toe offset: 8mm
A lot of highly cushioned running shoes feel super comfy but usually lack the spring or energy return of lighter, carbon plated race shoes. The Nike Invincible 3, with its abundance of ZoomX foam in the midsole is different. It feels incredibly responsive and bouncy at slow and medium speeds, even compared to some lighter racier shoes, and yet it comes with a huge amount of foam at the heel (40mm) that should give your joints and muscles protection on those long road runs.
Despite that big wedge of foam, which means the shoe feels a little cumbersome and wobbly when you first lace up, this is actually a shoe that feels pretty stable once you get up to running speed with that sense of instability vanishing pretty quickly to be replaced with a sense of forward momentum. That’s something that’s also helped by the relatively dramatic 9mm heel to toe drop, although despite this, there’s still a massive 31mm under the forefoot.
It isn’t without its flaws. I have very narrow heels and bony ankles and I sometimes had to make a couple of attempts at securing the laces to prevent slippage. And the soles, which look like they’ll last the lifetime of the shoe, are hopeless in slippery, muddy conditions. You’ll need to stick to the pavements and gravel paths with these.
However, with such an energetic spring to them, once you’ve run a few miles in these, it’s hard to imagine going back to other, less lively shoes. If highly cushioned running shoes are your thing, the Nike Invincible 3 are easy to recommend.
Key specs – Terrain: Road; Arch support: Neutral; Best used for: All-rounder; Weight: 310g; Heel-to-toe offset: 9mm
7. Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% 2: Best short distance racing shoes
Price when reviewed: £225 | Check price at SportsShoes
The Nike Vaporfly NEXT% 2 delivers the same level of performance as the original NEXT%. Given how great the original was, that’s a very good thing, even if it might disappoint anyone who was expecting a bigger update with the second edition.
All of the changes made to the shoe are found in the upper, which is now a more breathable knit compared to the Vaporweave material used on the original NEXT%. The toe-box is roomier and more comfortable on the second edition and, aside from some mild heel rub concerns, the upper is an improvement.
Underfoot, the shoe is the same as the original NEXT%. Key to the Vaporfly’s success is the ZoomX foam in the midsole, which is lightweight, soft and springy. That foam is paired with a carbon plate to stabilise the midsole and add even more pep to your step when you’re aiming to set PBs.
The Nike Alphafly is now our favourite long-distance racing shoe, but the Vaporfly edges it out over 5K and 10K events because it’s lighter and more stable, with that extra stability being very useful when rounding sharp corners at 5K pace. The Vaporfly is also a terrific long-distance racer, so you could just save yourself £50 and opt for it over the Alphafly even if you’re lining up a marathon.
Key specs – Terrain: Road; Arch support: Neutral; Best used for: Racing; Weight: 206g (UK 9); Heel-to-toe offset: 8mm
8. Brooks Glycerin 19: Best cushioned running shoes
Price when reviewed: From £140 | Check price at Start FitnessIf you’re looking for pure comfort on your run, then Brooks’ Glycerin line can’t be beaten. The upper, collar and tongue have plush padding, and the soft DNA LOFT cushioning makes every step you take in the shoe a joy. It’s a great option for new and heavier runners concerned about the impact of the sport.
That’s more the case with the latest update to the Glycerin line than ever, because Brooks has added more of that plush DNA LOFT foam to the midsole of the 19th version of the shoe, making for an even more cushioned and comfy ride. The weight also has dropped, which makes it a little better for speedier running, but it’s still very much best used for easy outings where you’re not trying to crack any PBs.
Key specs – Terrain: Road; Arch support: Neutral (stability version available); Best used for: Training; Weight: 289g; Heel-to-toe offset: 10mm
9. Under Armour Flow Velociti Wind 2: Best smart running shoes
Price when reviewed: £140 | Check price at Under Armour
The Under Armour Flow Velociti Wind 2 is first and foremost a great fast training shoe, with a firm and snappy feel underfoot. It’s also gorgeous, thanks to the comfortable Warp upper that comes in an even more enticing array of colours with the second version than it did with the original. Then, on top of all that, it’s also a smart running shoe, with the tech in the midsole helping to track your runs and provide info on your running technique via its connection with the MapMyRun app.
You will get stats on your cadence, footstrike angle and stride length via the app, and it can even coach you in real-time to help you adjust your cadence if you’re aiming to do so. This app connection also makes it very easy to track how many miles you’ve run in the shoe, so you know when it’s starting to get past its prime.
The second version of the Flow Velociti Wind is largely the same as the original apart from a redesigned heel section that creates a tighter, more secure fit around the back of your foot to avoid any rubbing of the Achilles tendon.
Key specs – Terrain: Road; Arch support: Neutral; Best used for: Training and racing; Weight: 248g (UK men’s 8.5); Heel-to-toe offset: 8mm
10. Saucony Endorphin Pro 3: The mid-range carbon plate running shoes
Price when reviewed: £150 | Check price at SportsShoes
This new running shoe from Saucony left us feeling quick and light-footed, with the fabric upper of the Endorphin Pro 3 outstandingly light and well ventilated, perfect for keeping the feet comfortably cool while running.
During tests, the shoe deftly handled a variety of terrain including road, grass and gravel. Do be minded that the tread on the sole is pretty shallow, though, which could cause problems in very bad weather.
Featuring a thick layer of padding and a curved profile at the toe, the Endorphin Pro 3 really feels as though it’s giving you a boost. Unlike the similar Saucony Endorphin Speed 3, the Pro 3 has a carbon fibre propulsion plate mid-sole (the Speed 3’s plate is made of nylon), which contributes to a notable improvement in acceleration – with our reviewer setting a PB around his local loop running in the Endorphin Pro 3.
Key details – Category/terrain: Racing; Colourways: 4, including Prospect Quartz, Black/Goldstruck; Width(s): Medium
11. On Cloud X: Best running shoes for the gym
Price when reviewed: £100 | Check price at OnWhile soft running shoes with big stacks of cushioning are great for protecting your body from the impact of road running, they’re not ideal for weight training, especially with heavy lifts such as squats and deadlifts when you want more stability. However, if you’re also spending a fair chunk of time on the treadmill in the gym, or doing HIIT workouts that are high impact, you don’t just want to simply use a dedicated weightlifting shoe, either.
If splashing out on both running and gym shoes doesn’t appeal, the Cloud X is a versatile shoe that you can use for both your running and your gym work. It’s a firm, lightweight shoe that offers enough stability for weight training and agility sessions, with the outsole designed to provide support no matter what direction you’re moving in.
The midsole is a mix of On’s signature CloudTec pods and the company’s Helion foam, and while it’s a firm shoe it still provides enough cushioning for regular running. It’s also a pretty quick shoe that’s become popular on race days, especially for shorter events such as 5Ks and 10Ks.
If you’re looking for a versatile option for all your training, including plenty of running and even races, the Cloud X is an excellent choice.
Key specs – Terrain: Road; Arch support: Neutral; Best used for: Training and racing; Weight: 240g; Heel-to-toe offset: 6mm
12. Arc’teryx Norvan LD 3
Price when reviewed: £150 | Check price at Arc’teryxThe superb Arc’teryx Norvan LD 3 trail shoe is ideal for intrepid athletes who like to take their running off the beaten path. We tested the Norvan LD 3 on rough tracks and wet, frosty farmland around West Yorkshire, and found that the shoes stood up to every surface we covered.
The highest compliment we can pay the Norvan LD 3 is that they provided the same feeling of balance and control in a wide variety of conditions – mud, concrete, puddles, frost, uphill, downhill; you name it. There’s enough toughness to the outsides of the shoe to withstand a bit of a bruising from rough terrain, and yet the Norvan LD 3 is light enough for the wearer to run at a good pace.
In a UK size 11, this shoe is a pretty snug fit – which is a good thing when you’re running on rough terrain, where precision is especially important. Plus, the Norvan LD 3 arrives in a number of eye-catching colourways.
Key details – Category/terrain: Trail; Colourways: 6, comprising Labyrinth/Relic, Atmos/Black, Black/Phenom, Kingfisher/Fika, Sprint/Black, Light Forage/Solitude; Width(s): Medium
13. Hoka Bondi 8
Price when reviewed: £150 | Check price at HokaFairly light, highly comfortable and with wide, stabilising soles, the Hoka Bondi 8 is well-equipped to keep you secure and steady on your feet.
We took this shoe for a test run on roads and through woodland trails. The generous support at the outer edges of the sole came in particularly handy when trying to avoid tree roots and changing direction in the woods.
The Bondi 8 is more stabilising than it is speed-boosting, with relatively little bounce compared to other running shoes of comparable quality. The material around the ankle is supremely soft and comfortable – a gift for wearers who have encountered problems with shoes rubbing in that area.
Key details – Category/terrain: All-rounder (especially road); Colourways: 16, including Anthracite/Castlerock, Bellwether Blue/Bluing, Butterfly/Evening Primrose, and more Width(s): Regular (D)