No one is saying running isn’t hard. It is. But running also improves heart health, cardio fitness, and strength, while reducing stress and mental health fatigue. To get those benefits, you need to put the work in — but you can’t put the work in without the right gear.
What you need to get you there — quite literally, in fact — is a great pair of running shoes. Because you can’t pull on any old trainers and reap the health benefits. In fact, hitting the track with shoes that aren’t purposely built for running will only make it harder — and could leave you picking up injuries.
The first thing you’ll notice when shopping for running shoes is just how many options there are. It can be totally overwhelming. That’s why lists like this exist. We’re here to help (yeah, we’re nice like that). Which is why we’ve condensed all the essential information and best options available.
What are the best running shoe brands?
You’re likely to come across a lot of big names, like Adidas and Nike. These brands have a wide range of running shoes for every budget, with some exceptional examples that make the cut in this roundup. We’ve also included running shoes from lesser known brands like Hoka and Saucony. There is something for everyone.
What are neutral running shoes?
If you’re new to running — or even just a casual runner — you might not be aware of the technical jargon. Neutral running shoes are for runners who have a neutral gait — which means they don’t overpronate when they run (more on that below). A neutral running gait means the outside heel of the foot makes the first contact with the ground and heel then smoothly rolls in, so the rest of the foot makes contact with the ground. The foot then pushes off with all the toes at once. Roughly half of all runners have a neutral running style and most running shoes, unless stated otherwise, tend to be neutral.
What is pronation?
This is when you roll your foot inward, so a runner’s feet are never entirely flat on the ground. The inside of the foot touches the ground and they push off with the big toes. This is overpronantion. It’s also possible to underpronate, where the outer foot makes contact. If you’re prone to pronation, look at getting a pair of stability running shoes. These are designed to give support and offset pronation. They improve comfort and reduce the risk of injury.
What are the most important features in running shoes?
There are lots of factors to consider before buying a pair of running shoes — all of which will determine the kids of features you need. For instance, what surface will you be running on? What kinds of distances will you be taking on? Does your gait require something more specialist? Some basic features to look out for include:
The midsole — This is built into the sole and provides cushioning and shock absorption.
The upper — The top section of the shoe. It’s typically made out of high-performance mesh to keep air circulating around your feet.
The heel counter — This is the molding at the back of the shoe that keeps your foot secured.
The medial post — A stabilising mechanism found in stability shoes.
The toe box — The bit where you toes go. (Yes, that one’s self explanatory.)
We’re not expecting you to thoroughly investigate every shoe on the market, but it’s useful to have these things in mind when making your selection.
What are the best running shoes?
We’ll level with you: there isn’t an objectively superior running shoe that we’re going to recommend above all the others. Everyone is different, with a different set of requirements and preferences. To find a running shoe that works for you, it’s important to properly consider the fit, support, style, and of course, price. The options highlighted below should be a good place to start.
So, on your marks…. these are the best running shoes in 2022.