While most marathons might have been pushed to Autumn now, as spring hits and the weather becomes oh-so-more inviting, it really does feel like running season has officially begun. With those future miles ahead of you may come the need for a new pair of running shoes to help push you further and faster than you’ve ever been before.
Here we speak to a couple of friends and experts to get their advice on what to look for when buying your next pair of runners, before rounding up ten of the best running shoes breaking records as we speak.
Things To Consider
Running shoes have garnered a lot of attention in recent years thanks to huge advancements in shoe technology. These have been linked to a number of record-breaking runs on the pro circuit, chief of which was Eliud Kipchoge’s sub-two-hour marathon run in a pair of prototype Nikes. But all that fancy tech is useless if you’ve got a shoe that rubs.
“Fit is the most important thing, and fit is not only very personal, but it’s critical for the application,” says Phillip Jackson, co-founder of retail media research startup Future Commerce and an ultra-runner who strides through 60 miles of Floridian hinterland for breakfast. “When I’m doing runs over 20 miles I usually double up on socks, with a thinner Injini sock with individual toe-socks, under a Balega outer sock.
“This can be problematic with my daily trainers, as there’s less room for foot movement. This means my longer-distance shoes are sized up from my dailies. Combine that with road vs trail shoes, and mountain vs mud, with gaiters or without gaiters, and it means I have around six shoes I’m using at any given time.”
A gaiter is a fabric guard above your shoe and covering your ankle, which protects the area from debris. If you’re running through countryside, it might be worth having a look at shoes with one built-in.
For Katy Wilkinson, buying and merchandising manager at The Sports Edit, performance factors are the first thing to consider. “It’s important that a shoe offers the proper support, durability, and weight for our customer’s active lifestyle,” says Wilkinson. “We then consider the design of the shoe. Does it add to a cohesive outfit with the apparel in our stock? It needs to be aesthetically suited for our customer base, and this includes the price too.” In other words, don’t go for the highlighter yellow if your workout gear can’t accommodate the colour pop.
The Best Running Shoes To Buy Right Now
Hoka One One Clifton 7 Shoes
Our first recommendation comes courtesy of Form CEO and co-founder, Damian Soong. “I ran for years in the lightest, flattest shoes I could find,” says Soong, “and have the knee operations to prove it. Getting my stride back after a long hiatus from running I decided to opt for something more cushioned and love my Hoka Clifton 7’s.”
The French footwear brand has swiftly risen to the top of the sneaker tree in its 12-year lifespan, with the comfy Clifton a standout (this is the seventh iteration), thanks to a streamline silhouette, collars to ease pressure on your Achilles, and intuitive pull tabs to easily whip them off.
“Plush and light I’ve not had any issues upping the miles in these,” says Soong. “The only problem is they’re so comfortable I’m wearing them 24/7.”
New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v6 Trail Running Shoes
New Balance is the way to go if you’re looking for a running shoe that’ll see you through the hard miles according to Jackson.
“My favourite running shoes are typically made by New Balance,” he says. “For trail, I prefer the Hierro, now on v6. Unfortunately, they discontinued the model with the built-in gaiter. This was a god-tier shoe: it had their Fresh Foam midsole, and it emptied out water famously well. [The v6] It’s still a great shoe, but I find myself accessorising these days with gaiters.”
The fresh foam midsole has stuck around for the v6 and is joined by a Vibram® outsole for market-leading grip and toe protecting tech to keep your toes safe inside as you churn up dirt and clamber up sharp rocks outside.
Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% Eliud Kipchoge
These are not quite the runners Eliud Kipchoge used to run that sub-two-hour marathon, but in using the same technology, they’re damn close.
The headline components are a full-length carbon fibre plate and zoom air pods, the former helping the latter expand more quickly, returning more energy to the runner while also stabilising the ankle and keeping your toes straight.
A lightweight knit upper only adds to the light and airy feel, although beware of the mud; knitted sneaks are notoriously hard to clean.
Under Armour Flow Velociti Wind Running Shoes
Like a manufacturer stripping a formula one car of any excess weight, Under Armour was looking to simplify. The result is the Flow Velociti Wind, the first shoe without an outsole from the American sportswear brand, replacing the usual rubber bottom, with an extended midsole foam.
The result is a huge cushioning effect propelling you forward and one of the lightest shoes around, although those used to running in wet conditions might want to look for a shoe with enhanced grip.
On Running Cloud Running Shoes
Swiss upstarts On Running have truly been ones to watch in the running shoe world in recent years, becoming a firm favourite among ironman athletes (co-founder Olivier Bernhard is a multiple Ironman Winner). Its Cloud range has been the foundation of its success, with a patented cushioning construction that absorbs both vertical and horizontal impact forces, for an explosive take-off on each stride which will have you flying.
Added to this innovation is an easy lace system and antimicrobial mesh, that might not shave any seconds off your PB, but will save you having to blitz the shoe cupboard with Febreze.
Saucony Endorphin Pro Running Shoes
Y’know that carbon fibre plate we were banging on about earlier? The one Nike put in the shoe that broke the sub-two-hour in a marathon mark? Yeh, that’s not the only place you can find it. US running shoe specialist Saucony also has the secret sauce, making that magic plate a key feature in its headlining Endorphin Pro shoes. At a slightly less expensive price point than the Nike Alphafly, they’re certainly worth checking out then.
To add to the carbon fibre plate, Saucony has also designed a cambered sole profile and a firm foam in the forefoot which will help you roll forward with every stride. Plus, the rave-like colour-ways are also looking to grab attention beyond pure speed.
Asics Gel Kayano 27
The Gel Kayano has been leading the Asics line for years, becoming a firm fan favourite thanks to a range of exciting and unique colourways, and a stable and supportive cushioning system which makes them ideal for long distances.
The latest iteration, the Asics Gel Kayano 27, celebrates 27 years since the Japanese sportswear brand released its first model, updating the upper design while adding its Dynamic Duomax™ technology to support the foot and increase stability for runners whose feet roll inwards too much.
Adidas Ultraboost 21 Shoes
Adidas has been a leader in the eco-trainer revolution of recent years, although when it comes to running shoe prowess it’s often left in the shadow of its big US rival. However, the latest version of the brand’s flagship runner, the Ultraboost, is a good-looking entry into the race.
In terms of weight, this is a far heftier shoe than the Vaporfly, but for those looking for a companion through longer runs and tougher terrains, the added weight and cushioning are welcome. Plus you get six percent more of Adidas’ fabled Boost midsole foam for an added bounce with each step — perfect for coming down the home straight.
Salomon Sonic 4 Balance Shoes
When it comes to trail runners, the shoemakers at Salomon are true masters of the craft. However, the French sports equipment brand has been a bit slow in the road racing field, only releasing its first true road running shoe model, the Sonic, in 2016.
The shoe has come along since, with the Sonic 4 finding a perfect balance between the two disciplines, as a geometric decoupling axis to help you keep your balance teams up with flat, wide lugs for perfect grip on flat surfaces, tarmac, or the path around your local park.
Brooks Glycerin 19 Running Shoes
Seattle-based sports equipment company Brooks Running is right in the heart of the action, with the surrounding Washington state a relative smorgasbord of soaring trails and breathtaking routes. Plenty to cut the teeth of their freshly made running shoes then.
The Glycerin range is the brand’s flagship and one of the most versatile shoes on this list. A plush interior lining is a major plus for those looking to keep these on near-constantly, while the DNA Loft foam offers a smooth ride underfoot whatever the terrain. If you’re a tad confused about the differences between trail and road runners, just buy these and save yourself the headache.