Don’t have access to a gym? Try going for a run! There’s no special equipment required, and all you really need to start is a pair of good-quality running shoes.
Even if you know which sneakers you like best, it’s important to change them out every 300 to 500 miles.
So, here’s more about some of the recent favorites for different foot types, running goals, and of course budgets.
How we chose
The following shoes are highly rated for things like quality, comfort, and affordability.
Many of them are made by brands that runners have trusted for years. In fact, some of these shoes have been around for decades. Other companies are newer to the game, but they bring some impressive new features to the market.
We also call out brands that have the Seal of Acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). This means that APMA recognizes the brand for providing products that support foot health, comfort, and safety.
The price for each pair of running shoes is indicated using these symbols:
- $ = under $100
- $$ = $100–$150
- $$$ = over $150
It’s important to note that even the best-rated shoe might not be the right fit for you. If you have specific foot issues or other biomechanical considerations, you may want to head into a running shop. This way, a professional help you choose the best shoe for you.
Be sure to also make an appointment with a podiatrist if you have new or old injuries you need to address.
Best for cushioning
Best for long distance running
Weight: 10.4 ounces
Key features: If you’re looking for lightweight cushioning to carry you for miles upon miles, check out the Ghost by Brooks. These shoes are suitable for long distances on roads, treadmill running, and even cross-training days. Reviews say that this shoe is comfortable for people with high arches and supination issues (your foot rolls outward when you step). Plus, it’s light enough that many people say they can wear it on speedwork days and long run days alike.
Considerations: Many people complain that the fit is small and narrow, so you may need to size up. Others say the durability could be better and that the nylon tends to break easily after only a couple of months.
Best for stability
Weight: 11.1 ounces
Key features: If you’re an overpronator (your foot rolls inward when you step), you may want to try a stability shoe like the Gel-Kayano 26. This shoe offers a firm midsole and arch support for flat feet. In fact, the manufacturer explains that the combination of materials in the midsole can help reduce the risk of bunions. Reviewers say that this shoe is suitable for a variety of runners and offers lightweight cushioning for comfort. Others note that they’re durable and have been recommended by their podiatrist for use after surgery or when dealing with plantar fasciitis.
Considerations: A few longtime Kayano fans say that this latest version may have less cushioning than previous ones. Other runners share that the fit has changed (smaller, narrower), so you may need to order a size up from your usual. And a couple of people say they don’t like the laces that come with the shoes.
Best for wide feet
Best for high arches
Weight: 9.6 ounces
Key features: Mizuno’s Wave Rider 23 is a longtime favorite with people who underpronate and have high arches. This new version offers the company’s shock-absorbing Cloud midsole and a soft knit upper, which has a sock-like fit and moves with your foot. Reviewers say this is a great shoe for running all distances. Others share that the knit upper allows their feet to breathe well, which is especially helpful on longer runs and for keeping the shoes free from bad odors.
Considerations: Several reviewers suggest sizing down with this shoe. In particular, they mention that the toe box is wider in the Wave Rider 23 than in older versions. Another person mentions that if you’re a longtime wearer of the Wave Rider shoes, this version doesn’t feel as flexible as previous versions.
Best for speed
Weight: 10.1 ounces
Key features: Altra is known for its wide toe box and zero-drop design — meaning there’s no height difference between heel and toe. This allows you to run with a more natural foot motion. The Torin 4.0 Plush offers these hallmark features with a hefty dose of cushioning to boot (it’s called Plush for a reason). One reviewer even declared that wearing them is like “walking on pillows.” In particular, reviewers like this shoe for running longer distances, like a half-marathon and marathon. This shoe has the APMA Seal of Acceptance.
Considerations: A few runners say that the arch support is lacking on these shoes. Others say that the shoe tends to feel tight across the top of their foot, sometimes even causing blisters. And some reviewers who have worn Torins in the past say that the 4.0 Plush fits tighter than previous versions.
Shop for the updated Altra Torin 4.5 Plush running shoes.
Best for trails
Tips for care
Running shoes can seem like quite an investment. If you take care of them, they should last you many months and keep you running comfortably and confidently. Still, you can take some steps to care for your shoes and ensure you get your money’s worth.
Save them for only the run
The experts at Running Warehouse suggest not using your running shoes for any activities besides running. This means that if you go out and mow the lawn or just play a game of cornhole, you should slip into some older sneaks instead.
The same goes for other athletic activities you might enjoy. For example, cross-training that requires a lot of side-to-side motion may wear out the soles unevenly and make your running shoes unfit for their intended purpose.
Unlace them every time
You should also take some extra time when putting your shoes on and taking them off. Forcefully shoving your feet in and out of the shoes may affect how they fit in your heel.
Over time, your shoes may stretch out or even lose their shape, making them uncomfortable or causing rub spots and blisters.
And if you run often or log high mileage, you might consider getting a second pair of running shoes so you can alternate wears. This way, if the cushioning is compressed on one run, it will have time to rebound before the next.
Cleaning your shoes
Rotating shoes keeps them dryer and, well, less smelly inside. You can also keep your trainers sparkling clean by washing them the right way.
- Air them out. Shoes will smell fresher longer if you air them out often. After a run, remove the sock liners and let them dry outdoors, if possible. Already stinky? Try sprinkling some baking soda under liners to keep bacteria at bay. Too late? You can always replace the liners with a fresh pair.
- Spot-treat. Dirty uppers should not be run through your washing machine. Instead, you’ll want to spot-treat them using mild soap and water. A toothbrush or other soft brush can help get into the crevices. You can also remove laces to wash separately or replace entirely.
- Use dish soap. Midsoles or outsoles get the most exposure to the outdoor elements. Still, resist the urge to put them in your washing machine. You can wash these areas using dish soap and a toothbrush or other brush.
- Avoid the dryer. Air-dry shoes instead of putting them in your dryer. High heat can damage the glue that holds the shoes together or can even shrink some types of uppers.
How to shop
If you’re still not sure which pair strikes your fancy, you might try making a list of the features you need, the ones you want, and any others that would be nice to have.
- If you’re a trail runner, look for a trail shoe with a firm, grippy outsole for added stability and protection from slipping.
- If you like running lots of miles, you may need more cushioning or room in the toe box for swelling feet.
- If you like to race short distances, you’ll likely need something lightweight and responsive.
- Love all sorts of running and terrain? You may want a couple different pairs for different purposes.
Once you get a better idea of what you’re looking for, consider connecting with a running-specific store in your area.
The people who work at running shops have a wealth of knowledge about how individual shoes fit and perform. They may even have an indoor track or treadmill and let you try out shoes before you buy them.
Things to look for in a shoe include:
- Sole thickness. In general, a thick sole tends to mean a shoe has more cushioning. You may want added cushioning if you plan to run many miles at one time. A thinner sole or “barefoot” shoe, on the other hand, is intended for more natural or minimal running.
- Shoe weight. Shoes with more cushioning or stability features may be heavier — but that’s not always the case. Still, if you’re looking for a racing shoe, you may want to choose one that is lightweight so you won’t waste energy when trying to shave seconds off your PR.
- Materials. Depending on the time of year, the climate you live in, and your intended use, you may want to choose shoes made from different materials. Some are made with mesh that breathes well in hot weather. Others may be waterproof for trails or knit for a sock-like fit.
- Tread. Again, you’ll want a nubby sole to use on trails or uneven surfaces where you need more grip. If you’re running on paved roads, a flatter tread will do just fine.
- Offset. The heel-to-toe drop measurement is another thing you may notice listed under a shoe’s features. This just refers to how high the heel is compared to the toe. Like to strike the ground with your heel and roll onto your toe? Choose shoes with a larger offset. If you prefer a more “natural” foot strike, look for a smaller offset or even a zero-drop shoe.
Learn more: Is it better to go running in the morning?
No matter what shoe you choose, make sure to buy from a store that has a good return policy.
While shoes may feel great just out of the box, running a few miles in them is another matter. And even if you’ve run in the same model of shoes for years, the fit can change with different versions.
It may take some time to find the running shoe that works for you, but it’s well worth the effort. In the end, the best shoe should be comfortable and keep you motivated to move your body mile after mile.