Controversial subject, I know. I might as well have titled it, “My Opinion on Gun Control,” but I’m much more well-versed in the similarly-heated topic of running shoes. In this post, not only will I share with you my favorites in each category of neutral, stability, and minimal shoes, but I will also give 3 very important tips on how to tell which running shoes are right for you.
I attest much of my running knowledge to the time in which I worked at Fleet Feet after graduation. It was overwhelming the amount of information I was taking in during my 5 weeks of training, but I’d never been more excited to learn about a subject in my life.
The most important thing I learned was how to “fit” people for their shoes, which is something that Fleet Feet has down to a science. It makes me cringe thinking of how some people go to big box stores and grab a pair off the shelf without first being measured and analyzed for the right pair.
How to Look for a Running Shoe
- Shape of your foot
Each brand of running shoe is generally shaped differently. For example- Asics and Addidas tend to run narrow where as New Balance runs wide throughout and Saucony and Brooks are typically more spacious in the toe-box. If you don’t have a Fleet Feet or a specialty running store around you, start by looking at your feet to determine if they are particularly wide or narrow. You don’t want the upper of the shoe blousing, but you definitely do not want to be spilling over the sides either. If your big toe is about the bust the inside seam, it’s not a good sign of compatibility.
Do you need a neutral or a stability shoe? This could be a blog post in itself, but in order to find the right shoe for your gait, you need to know if you over-pronate, supinate, or stay pretty neutral. If your ankle rolls in when you walk (most common), then you pronate. This certainly isn’t a porblem, but if you over-pronate then you probably need a stability shoe or maybe a neutral with an arch support to keep that navicular bone and cuneiform from collapsing inward. If your ankle rolls to the outside then you supinate. The worst thing you could do in this case is buy a stability shoe that would push you even more to the outside. Here I would suggest a neutral shoe and possibly an insert after consulting with a professional. If your gait is neutral, you’ll wear a neutral shoe. See, you’re catching on.
- Purpose/Specific Need
This is where you really to think about what you will be using the shoes for and what you want out of them. If you carry extra weight or are on your feet all day, you probably want a shoe with more cushioning. You can tell how much cushioning a model has by the price. The softer, the more expensive. If you are using your shoes for the track or racing, you might find that too much cushion is heavy and could slow you down. In this case, I would look at a light weight trainer or minimal shoe.
Once you define these, you can begin looking in the right category, brand, and design of your shoe.
There is so much information out there on running shoes and it can be difficult to decipher between what is truly best for you and what someone is just trying to sell you. For this post, I will be using affiliate links, but in no way am I being paid to advertise for these companies. These are a list of my favorite shoes based on my experience and my personal opinion. I don’t have a shoe on here that I’m not a fan of or that I haven’t run in.
ASICS Gel Nimbus 17
Asics’ Gel-Cushioning is amazing and this shoe has it both in the heel and a good amount in the forefoot, making it extremely comfortable. It falls under the high cushioned category, but right below it is the Cumulus if you want something more light weight. I’m on my feet all day at work and love it for an everyday shoe, but it’s a little much for me to run in.
Adidas Energy Boost
This shoe is c o m f o r t a b l e. Adidas’ new “boost cushioning” is like walking on clouds, but is also very light and responsive so it’s versatile. It lasts longer than any shoe I’ve tried and I love how it fits snug on the upper.
Mizuno Wave Rider
Okay, so these are not my personal favorite, but there’s no denying that they are consistently a great shoe. Sure, they’ve had some bad versions, but people (including my sister and my past self) go crazy for these things. They are light, responsive, and have a pretty spacious toe box. I’ve done a couple of tests runs in them recently and can see why people love them more than their children.
Saucony Triumph ISO
I love Saucony because they use an 8mm drop so if you are used to minimal shoes you appreciate it, but if you aren’t you won’t even notice. This is a very light shoe despite it’s generous cushioning. I also love how they have a wider toe box so you are less likely to get blisters or black toenails regardless of the shape of your foot.
From my experience, the Launch is pretty similar to the Saucony Ride, but it’s arguably even lighter. Reps describe it as Brook’s middle child of the Ghost and the Pure series. It has a slightly lower drop than a standard, but is lighter in weight.
Just because I don’t love the way Nike fit on my feet, doesn’t mean that I don’t think they make great shoes. I’ve worn the structure on many occasions and it is actually my favorite of all of their models. It’s not too much in stability and it’s very responsive.
Brooks Adrenaline GTS
I have a good friend who has worn the Adrenaline’s and nothing but the Adrenaline’s since they first came out and with good reasoning. What I love about Brooks is they are very thoughtful about their updates. If they put a model out that doesn’t do as well, they are very intentional about fixing the problems, but they stay true to the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Thank goodness they practice what they preach for these.
New Balance 1260
Okay, okay so I have never actually run in a pair of New Balance longer than 5 miles, but I would be remiss to discredit them. One guy that I worked with only wore these and literally hated every other brand. You just have to find what’s right for you. The only issue I have with is that they have a plastic bridge under the arch, which feels weird to me, but some people love it for the support. This shoe has a very significant stability wedge so it’s great for those who need more correction.
The Guide is much like the Saucony Ride being as though it has that 8mm drop, but this is lighter in cushioning (still soft) and it also provides a moderate amount of support in the inside with a stability wedge.
Cue one of the most popular shoes on the planet. Chances are, if you don’t own a pair of these, you probably know someone who does. Like the Cumulus, they have a little less cushioning in the forefoot, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t plush, just less weight to carry. They have a smaller stability wedge so it’s not too much correction.
Newton specializes in efficient running and is perfect for the runner who either has a mid-foot strike or would like to adopt it. The Gravity is extremely light weight and responsive and lasts forever. I personally wear it for speed work and racing because it makes me feel extremely fast. Note: I’ve worn both the Gravity and the Distance and felt no difference.
Here’s where I get a little bias. I’ve owned at least 15 pairs of these and if Brooks ever stopped making them, I’m afraid I’d have to stop running. That was dramatic, but I love them. They are so cushioned for a minimal shoe, but still extremely light weight.
Like all Saucony shoes, these are light weight, but have less cushioning because they are fast. I’ve wanted to wear these for a long time, but the toe-box always bloused over on my narrow foot, but in the latest update, they tapered in the upper and now they’re great!
Pearl Izumi EM Road N 3
The sole of this shoe feels a little thin, but it is very light and unbeatably responsive. I like them because they have a wide toe-box and a soft, comfortable upper. I have a lot of friends who wear the trail version of this shoe and swear by them.
Hoka One One Conquest
Yes, this is shoe is actually maximal, but it still has the low drop. If you haven’t been exposed to Hoka’s before, the initial impression is usually along the lines of “moon shoes,” but the second you put them on you can’t deny how comfortable they are. They are titled “maximal” shoes due to their maximal cushioning, but they have a very minimal heel to toe drop like others in this category.
Feel free to message me with any questions, and I hope this helps!
This post contains affiliate links, which means I get a small percentage if you order something through these links!