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Best Beginner Running Shoes Reviewed & Rated

last updated Apr 05, 2019

If you are thinking about taking up running, or have just begun, you may be overwhelmed by the abundance of gear you have to choose from. It is a great way to get and stay in shape, but you need to make sure you have the right gear for it. Running shoes utilize a number of specialized shoe technologies from cushioning to support to traction and fit. These technologies protect you and encourage you to keep going, as they reduce foot fatigue by absorbing shock and supporting each and every step you take.

Athletic gear can be quite expensive, but that should not be a turn-off for you. A good pair of shoes truly are worth the investment. The list below features the ten best models for beginners looking to get their first pair.

In a Hurry? The test winner after 14 hrs of research

icon
Adidas Ultraboost
98.4/100 our score
Support
96
Shock Absorption
100
Outsole
98
Flexibility
99
Breathability
99
Adidas Ultraboost
Why is it better?

PrimeKnit Upper

Boost Cushioning

StretchWeb Outsole

Molded Heel Counter

Lightweight

10mm Heel to Toe Drop

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Adidas Ultraboost
Test Winner: Adidas Ultraboost
Researched Sources
16
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
2390
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
14
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
16
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
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By AndrewDJ:

The latest update to this article replaces two items to give you the latest models of running shoes suitable for all levels, from beginners to pros. Other improvements include a completely new look to the entire page, as well as a re-organized Criteria for Evaluation section, helping you find the most important information more easily.

Sorting Options
Support Shock Absorption Outsole Flexibility Breathability By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98.4
Support
96%
Shock Absorption
100%
Outsole
98%
Flexibility
99%
Breathability
99%
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.04.19)
$165.19
$179.95
See Deal
$179.95
See Deal
#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95
Support
95%
Shock Absorption
96%
Outsole
94%
Flexibility
94%
Breathability
96%
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.04.19)
$42.99
#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.8
Support
95%
Shock Absorption
88%
Outsole
93%
Flexibility
94%
Breathability
94%
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.04.19)
$62.97
$89.95
See Deal
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92
Support
93%
Shock Absorption
89%
Outsole
95%
Flexibility
91%
Breathability
92%
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.04.19)
$46.12
$69.95
See Deal
#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91
Support
90%
Shock Absorption
90%
Outsole
92%
Flexibility
90%
Breathability
93%
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.04.19)
$52.79
$59.95
See Deal
#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.8
Support
87%
Shock Absorption
93%
Outsole
94%
Flexibility
88%
Breathability
92%
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.04.19)
$80.99
#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
89
Support
83%
Shock Absorption
90%
Outsole
91%
Flexibility
88%
Breathability
93%
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.04.19)
$49.98
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.8
Support
88%
Shock Absorption
82%
Outsole
86%
Flexibility
88%
Breathability
90%
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.04.19)
$50.13
$69.95
See Deal
#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.4
Support
88%
Shock Absorption
84%
Outsole
88%
Flexibility
84%
Breathability
88%
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.04.19)
$69.95
See Deal
$70.00
#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82.4
Support
86%
Shock Absorption
82%
Outsole
90%
Flexibility
82%
Breathability
72%
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.04.19)
$52.44
In Depth Review Top 10
  • Adidas Ultraboost
  • Saucony Cohesion 11
  • Asics GT-1000 6
  • Asics GEL-Venture 6
  • Under Armour Dash 2
  • Skechers GoRun Ride 7
  • Nike Revolution 4
  • Asics GEL-Excite 6
  • UA Micro G Assert 7
  • Puma Tazon 6 FM
Table of contents
  • Criteria Used for Evaluation
  • Other Factors to Consider
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Sources

Top 10 Picks

1. Adidas Ultraboost

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
98.4
Adidas Ultraboost
Support
96
Shock Absorption
100
Outsole
98
Flexibility
99
Breathability
99
best offer for today
more shops
$165.19
$179.95
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$179.95
See Deal
Pros:

PrimeKnit Upper

Boost Cushioning

StretchWeb Outsole

Molded Heel Counter

Lightweight

10mm Heel to Toe Drop

Cons:

Expensive

Runs Narrow

This is a flagship running sneaker by a leading brand, so you can expect to receive the absolute best if you decide to make this investment. Recently released, the Ultraboost is one of adidas’ most cushioned sneakers made for neutral runners who need a daily driver for road conditions. Compared to last year’s model, this one features more PrimeKnit in the upper for an improved fit, as well as a midsole with considerably more energy return that you’re bound to love, especially if you plan on going for longer runs.

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The upper of the Ultraboost comprises of ¾ of their premium PrimeKnit material that will perfectly conform to your foot, and allow maximum flexibility so that you can go about your running session without any constraints. Being made to be soft and flexible, it’ll cause less irritation than traditional textile and mesh, and is suitable even for barefoot wear. An external midfoot cage will help securely lace the model up for a fit that won’t allow for movement, thus lowering the likelihood of blistering or rubbing.

The outsole of the Ultraboost is made to resemble a web, with a high number of sections that all adapt to the runner’s foot, providing one of the best grips of the surface underfoot. Combined with the Boost cushioning that features over 3k blown TPU pellets, you get one of the best energy returns in the market, as well as super-soft cushioning you’ll definitely appreciate, regardless of whether you strike with the heel, midfoot, or lean towards the balls of the feet.

2. Saucony Cohesion 11

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95
Saucony Cohesion 11
Support
95
Shock Absorption
96
Outsole
94
Flexibility
94
Breathability
96
best offer for today
$42.99
Pros:

Wave Grid Heel Cushioning

Memory Foam Footbed

Open-cell Mesh Upper

Synthetic Overlays

Flex Grooves

Cons:

Unsuitable for Rain

Neutral Pronation Only

Made for all day, every day running in all kinds of environments. The Cohesion 11 brings you high-tech features that are made for your hardest workouts with active fashion style that can be worn on your most casual days. Looking for your next favorite running shoe? This pair surpasses all of your expectations.

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This awesome technology using filaments constructed with Hytrel to help center the heel of your foot during impact. While other running shoes use the most basic systems of cushioning, the Cohesion 11 uses a system that provides superb cushioning and stability.

The outsoles are constructed with rubber and are made with durability in mind. Very responsive, you’ll have protection from any abrasions and slips. Also, it helps with any shocks from impacts and to give you a good bounce back.

3. Asics GT-1000 6

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.8
Asics GT-1000 6
Support
95
Shock Absorption
88
Outsole
93
Flexibility
94
Breathability
94
best offer for today
more shops
$62.97
$89.95
See Deal
Pros:

Rearfoot GEL Cushioning

SpEVA Midsole

Breathable Lining

Mesh Upper

Impact Guidance System

Cons:

Narrow Toe Box

Unsuitable for Long Distances

If you’re ready to go from beginner to advanced, the 1000 6 provides multiple amazing features to help the transition. The Guidance Trusstic System with Guidance Line enhances gait and structure, the I.G.S. (Impact Guidance System) improves the heel to toe transition, and the Rearfoot GEL Cushioning System attenuates shock absorption. With all those systems in place, you’ll have an easy and supportive experience leveling up your run to greatness.

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A lot of sockliners are built-in but this sockliner is removable for easy cleaning. The ComforDry construction provides you with a moisture wicking material. Your feet will be cool, dry, and healthy from sweat based bacteria.

An enhanced version of the traditional EVA midsole, SpEVA is a combination of EVA and rubber. You’ll have an increase in rebound, responsiveness, and bounce plus any breakdown of the materials is greatly reduced.

4. Asics GEL-Venture 6

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92
Asics GEL-Venture 6
Support
93
Shock Absorption
89
Outsole
95
Flexibility
91
Breathability
92
best offer for today
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$46.12
$69.95
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Pros:

Rearfoot Gel cushioning

Rugged Outsole

Removable Sockliner

AHAR Outsole

Reversed Lugs for Traction

Breathable Mesh Upper

Supportive Overlays

Cons:

Runs Narrow

Cushioning Limited to Heel

The Asics GEL-Venture 6 is an excellent all-around running shoe. It features a gel cushion in the heel for added comfort. The Venture 6 is a versatile shoe, equally suited for pavement or trail running. The outsole has special lugs designed to promote traction and ASICS uses their patented AHAR technology to increase the durability of your shoe.

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The Asics Gel Venture is the most comfortable shoe in this review, without doubt. It comes with a gel cushion for the rear of your foot which makes heel strike barely noticeable.

The Venture 6 looks stylish, plain and simple. It has great design and beautiful lines to compliment the great fit. Add to that a wide selection of color combinations, and you have a shoe that's built to be noticed.

5. Under Armour Dash 2

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91
Under Armour Dash 2
Support
90
Shock Absorption
90
Outsole
92
Flexibility
90
Breathability
93
best offer for today
more shops
$52.79
$59.95
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Pros:

TPU Cleats

Breathable Mesh Upper

EVA Sockliner

EVA Midsole

Padded Mesh Tongue

Padded Collar

Cons:

Runs Small

The Under Armour Dash 2 is an impressive looking sneaker. Under Armour products have a look that makes them stand out in a crowd. At 9.45 oz, this is one of the lighter shoes in this review. It comes with soft padding on the tongue and collar and with a full-foot EVA footbed and midsole unit for added comfort.

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To improve the traction of this shoe, Under Armour uses thermoplastic polyurethane cleats in the outsole. These sturdy cleats give your feet extra grip so you won’t slip and fall.

The mesh upper on this shoe allows air to flow in and out freely. This mesh is teamed with supportive synthetic overlays to provide you with a safe, dry step.

6. Skechers GoRun Ride 7

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.8
Skechers GoRun Ride 7
Support
87
Shock Absorption
93
Outsole
94
Flexibility
88
Breathability
92
best offer for today
$80.99
Pros:

Knit Upper

3D Printed Overlays

FLIGHT GEN Midsole

High Traction Outsole

Lightweight

6mm Heel to Toe Drop

Cons:

Runs Small

Slightly Expensive

Skechers athletic footwear is a great choice for any enthusiast who is starting out, seeing that it provides the perfect balance between affordable price and great tech that’s meant to feel and perform just like any other model that’d cost twice or more the price. The GoRun Ride 7 is their latest edition of running gear, made for those who want something lightweight yet cushioned, with an upper that will even work well for casual everyday wear.

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The upper of the GoRun Ride 7 is made with a two-tone knit fabric that’s nearly seamless and will perfectly hug your feet while still providing a good amount of flexibility and breathability. 3D printed overlays ensure a heightened level of support and stability, while a traditional lace system gives you that locked-in feel that will keep these securely on your foot. Additional features include a lightly padded collar, a pull tab for easy on and off, as well as reflective details for night time runs.

Made for neutral runners, the GoRun Ride 7 is perfect for those with a medium arch who do not need any added stability features. The FLIGHT GEN midsole is in charge of providing you with shock absorption, and it is focused on maximum protection while maintaining excellent responsiveness. A Midfoot Strike Zone is also integrated in the midsole, encouraging runners to strike with the midfoot that results in a quicker pace and less weight on the heel.

7. Nike Revolution 4

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
89
Nike Revolution 4
Support
83
Shock Absorption
90
Outsole
91
Flexibility
88
Breathability
93
best offer for today
$49.98
Pros:

Back Zipper

Phylon Cushioning

Single Layer Mesh Upper

Zoned Outsole

Padded Tongue and Collar

Cons:

Squeaky

Collects Lint

Simple in its construction, the Revolution 4 has a responsive but comfortable structure. The mesh upper is single-layer for breathability and the vamp underlays plus toe-tip underlays give structure and support. There are molded pods on the outsole for traction on multiple surfaces and the outsole itself is rubber for durability. The midsole gives cushioning that is lightweight but still responsive.

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The rubber outsole has pods that are molded to give you multi-surface traction for different kinds of running conditions. When an impact is made, the pods flatten to absorb the impact and shock but during toe-lift, the pods spring back with a piston-like effect to provide responsiveness.

Multiple-layer mesh in the upper can give better fit and lock but can generate excessive heat and sweat. With a single-layer mesh, you have greater breathability and flexibility but your foot stability will still be in place with the shoe’s other stabilizing features.

8. Asics GEL-Excite 6

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.8
Asics GEL-Excite 6
Support
88
Shock Absorption
82
Outsole
86
Flexibility
88
Breathability
90
best offer for today
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$50.13
$69.95
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Pros:

Fabric Upper

Rubber Sole

Amplifoam Midsole

Rearfoot Gel Technology Cushioning System

Ortholite Sockliner

Cons:

Runs Narrow

The Gel Excite 6 by ASICS is the latest edition of the Gel-Excite line and is a great shoe for anyone that is just starting to run. The breathable fabric mesh upper is perfect for keeping your feet cool and dry when hitting the pavement. The comfort of the 6 cannot be understated and we highly recommend this runner to anyone with foot or joint issues.

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With a rubber sole for extra traction and grip, the synthetic make of the outsole means this shoe can last you up to two years, depending on how often you run. A cushioned midsole is engineered to keep its shape, even at softer densities. Considering the midsole is usually the first thing to wear on a running shoe, this is a great feature.

In addition, ASICS licensed Ortholite technology to wick away moisture and give you a great run without smelly and wet feet. With cool colors like Indigo Blue or Steel Grey, the Gel-Excite is as functional as it is stylish.

9. UA Micro G Assert 7

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.4
UA Micro G Assert 7
Support
88
Shock Absorption
84
Outsole
88
Flexibility
84
Breathability
88
best offer for today
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$70.00
$69.95
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Pros:

Durable Rubber Outsole

Micro G Foam Midsole

Removable EVA Sockliner

Mesh Upper

Leather Overlays

Cons:

Runs Narrow

Lacks Responsiveness

Affordable for the first time runner, the Assert 7 has an EVA sockliner that is soft with a comfortable step-in ability. The leather overlays are durable and stable and help to lock-in your midfoot and the mesh upper provides breathability. The midsole is Micro G for additional comfort the rubber outsole is lightweight but high impact absorbent.

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This is the padded foam mesh your feet stands on in the shoes and the Assert 7 sockliner is constructed with EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate). EVA is durable and lightweight and provides great cushioning.

Positioned between the upper and the outsole, the midsole provides comfort, cushioning, fit and support. With the Micro G, you have a lightweight midsole that keeps your feet closer to the ground to give you better lateral stability.

10. Puma Tazon 6 FM

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82.4
Puma Tazon 6 FM
Support
86
Shock Absorption
82
Outsole
90
Flexibility
82
Breathability
72
best offer for today
$52.44
Pros:

Suitable for Cross Training

Grippy Rubber Outsole

Supportive for Weightlifting

SoftFoam Sockliner

Synthetic Leather Upper

Cons:

Runs Narrow

Lacks Breathability

When I think of the brand Puma, I think of soccer cleats. But Puma makes all sorts of athletic shoes, and the Puma Tazon 6 FM is an excellent all-around athletic shoe. It is advertised as a running shoe, and it can certainly fill that need, but I consider it to be more of a cross-training shoe.

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The Tazon 6 FM is a great shoe if you like to run, but also need a shoe for the gym or the occasional pickup basketball game. It provides the support needed for any physical activity and has durability to withstand wear and tear from cross-training.

The EVA Heel Pod in the Tazon 6 FM absorbs and disperses shock, which reduces foot and leg fatigue and it reduces the occurrence of foot, leg, and back pain.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Support

Support is a very important feature in running shoes. Pronation problems can increase your risk of injury and supportive features in running shoes can reduce that risk. If you over or underpronate or hyper or hyposupinate, then you especially need to find a pair of running shoes that will help correct your gait and promote healthy pronation and supination.

  • Pronation - Pronation is a natural phenomenon that occurs when you walk. When you take a step, generally your heel strikes the ground first and then rolls forward to your toes, which you then use to push off the ground to propel yourself forward. Pronation is the inward rolling of your foot during that natural forward motion. However, some people pronate too much or too little. The best way to determine which, if either, of these you do is to inspect the bottoms of the shoes you use the most often. If there is excessive wearing on the inner sides of your shoes, you likely overpronate. However, some people have the opposite problem: they underpronate. This would result in excessive wear on the outer sides of your shoes.
  • Supination - Underpronation can also be referred to as hypersupination. Supination is the natural outward rolling of your foot after you push off the ground and bring your foot back around to strike the ground again. If someone underpronates, it means that there isn’t enough inward rolling and too much outward rolling. This results in added pressure on your feet, ankles, legs, and even your back! Similarly, when someone overpronates, it means the opposite: there is too much inward rolling and not enough outward rolling to compensate for that. This is referred to as hyposupination.
  •  

    Now, just because you have normal pronation and supination doesn’t mean that you don’t need support. Shoes form a protective barrier between your vulnerable feet and the outside world. They provide protection against painful rocks, prickly thorns, and hot concrete. Furthermore, when you are running, your risk of tripping, stumbling, slipping, and falling increases, because you’re moving much more quickly than if you were walking. Support helps to stabilize your step to reduce your risk of fall-related injuries.

    If you are going to be running in an environment that has flat terrain where the ground isn’t slippery and you don’t have pronation or supination problems, then you don’t need nearly as much support as if you were going to be running on a hiking trail or in the woods somewhere. However, even if you don’t have pronation or supination problems, you still need support.

    Supportive Features in Shoes

    Shoe manufacturers realize that the burden is on them to provide their consumers with shoes that provide enough support to help protect their consumers from fall-related injuries. As such, considerable progress has been made in the shoe industry in terms of supportive features built into running shoes. These supportive features can be found in the upper, the heel, the arch, the insole, the midsole, and the outsole sections of the shoe. Not every running shoe is the same! Always check the support features of your prospective running shoes to confirm that they offer the support where you need it and don’t provide support in areas that you don’t need it in! Supportive features that support areas of your foot that don’t need to be supported can result in injury and discomfort, too.

  • Arch Support Features - If you have weak arches or have pronation problems, then you need a pair of running shoes that offers arch support. Arch support features include midfoot saddles, midfoot thermoplastic polyurethane shanks, and foam wedges. Some running shoes even come with customizable arch support features that you can adjust for your specific needs! Arch support features can be found in the sole, which consists of the insole, midsole, and outsole regions of the shoe.
  • Heel Support Features - If you have heel pain or pronation problems, then you may also need heel support features. Heel support features include thermoplastic heel rings with foam centers, foam wedges, air pockets built into the heel, heel cups, and TPU shanks. As with arch support features, heel support features can be found in the sole from insole to outsole.
  • Insole - The insole, also known as the sockliner or insert, is the footbed of the shoe and the only part of the sole that touches your foot directly. Insoles are most commonly associated with cushioning, but insoles can also provide support. Some manufacturers use specialized foam insoles that provide regions of support. The firmness and thickness of the insole can affect how supportive the insole material is for your feet. If you need a lot of support, look for firm insoles that still offer the shock-absorbing benefits of cushioning. If you were Goldilocks, would you want to wear these running shoes? Are the insoles too soft, too hard, or just right?
  • Midsole - Midsoles are the monarchs of cushioning and support. Wedged between the insole and the outsole, the midsole is the location that commonly provides the most support in a running shoe. Foam wedges, heel rings, shanks, and the like are almost always located in the midsole region of the shoe. Many support features are found in the midsole region because support features are usually hard and possibly painful if you expose your foot directly to it. The insole cushions your foot to protect it from the firm, supportive materials in the midsole. As the outsole is exposed to the environment the most and experiences the most wear over time, it is usually not the location that has the most supportive features built in. Placing supportive features in the midsole location increases their longevity and effectiveness as a result.
  • Even though the midsole has a layer of cushioning between it and your foot, it provides effective support that you can feel without discomfort if the support is located in an area that needs support. Every manufacturer of running shoes uses some form of midsole support technology and each has its benefits, so do some research before you invest in a specific shoe to confirm that it has the support features you need in the amounts that you need.

  • Outsole - The outsole is supportive by default in running shoes because outsole materials are generally rubber or synthetic, which provides both cushioning and firm support without sacrificing flexibility. Supportive outsole features can include firm treads in high-impact locations and firm air pockets to elevate regions of your foot and provide support. If you are looking for a running shoe, never invest in a running shoe with a fabric, leather, or crepe outsole, because fabric and crepe are not supportive enough for running and leather does not provide the traction you need even though it is firm enough in terms of support.
  • Upper Support Features - The upper can be supportive, too. However, you don’t want to go all out with the support and create an inflexible cage for your foot. Too much support can be a problem, too! The best upper support features are strategically placed to reduce your risk of rolling a foot or ankle, usually in the form of supportive overlays made from leather or synthetic materials. Some uppers in running shoes are entirely made with leather or firm synthetic materials, but unless there is some form of ventilation and cushioning built into the upper, this can become hot and uncomfortable quickly. Too much firmness in the upper can result in shock-related injuries.
  • Vamp Height - How high the running shoe climbs up your ankle also matters. Excessively low vamps, such as those found in ballet flats and dress shoes, provide very little ankle support. Excessively high vamps, such as those found in hiking boots and dress boots, can provide too much support, which reduces your running performance. Wearing dress shoes or hiking boots on a run is also uncomfortable in general because these shoes are not designed for running and provide either too much or too little support in all areas, not just the ankle.
  • Shock Absorption

    Shock-absorption is essential to reducing your risk of shock-related injuries. Cushioning is used to reduce and absorb the shock and force generated by running. The best running shoes provide ample cushioning to absorb and disperse shock effectively without compromising on support and flexibility. Cushioning in a running shoe can be found in the upper, insole, midsole, and outsole regions of the shoe. It can take the form of a gel cushion, air pockets, padding, and foams, including high-density, multilayered foams.

    Shock, Force, and Motion: The Impact of Impact on Your Foot

    Think back to a time when you were running. Imagine going through the motions associated with running right now. You push against the ground with your forefoot and propel yourself forward. Your foot supinates and rolls outward as you bring it back around heel-first for the heelstrike. Your heel connects with the ground and your foot rolls inward just a bit as it rolls forward. The process repeats as long as you are running.

    Now, imagine two cars traveling at a high speed slamming into each other headfirst. What happens to the cars? The drivers? The fronts of the cars get crushed and the drivers are jarred inside their vehicles. The drivers develop pain and discomfort from injuries they sustained in the accident.

    Sir Isaac Newton discovered three laws of motion, but the third one is the most relevant to running. Newton’s third law of motion states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The two cars barrelling towards each other slammed into each other with equal and opposite force, which halts their progress and causes damage to both cars. The equal and opposite force generated by the ground as you run allows you to propel yourself forward, but that’s not all it does.

    Energy is required to run. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed according to the law of conservation of energy. The energy you use to run gets transformed from one form to another during the process of running. There are byproducts of this transformation of energy. These byproducts include sound, force, and shock. When you run, your feet make noise, but this doesn’t release all of the energy generated by the impact between your foot and the ground. Force is generated each time you go to take another running step, which is met in kind by an equal amount of force pushing back on your foot by the ground. That force transforms into shock, which is the jolting of your foot, ankle, leg, hip, and back resulting from the hard impact between your foot and the ground, just like how the two drivers were jolted during their car accident. The shock generated from each running footstrike can also cause injuries, just like the shock generated by a car accident.

  • Insoles - Most commonly, the best running shoes for beginners use foam insoles or footbeds. Foam insoles are responsive, soft, and great at absorbing shock to reduce the impact of running on the rest of your body. Some companies use gel insoles for shock-absorption, which are also effective, but not as commonplace.
  • Midsoles - The midsole is the Most Valuable Player of the shoe technology team. It provides support, flexibility, and cushioning! Midsole cushioning units can come in full-foot lengths or be localized. The localized midsole units are placed in the forefoot or heel areas, but sometimes midsole cushioning units are also placed in the arch of the shoe to support the arch and absorb shock.
  • Outsoles - Ironically, the outsole absorbs more shock than the insole usually does. The outsole is your foot’s first layer of protection against the outside world. Good running shoes almost always have a rubber or other synthetic outsole, because it provides good traction and excellent shock absorption.
  • Padding - When you’re running, you need padding around the collar and in the upper of the shoe, including the tongue, because the padding will reduce painful rubbing so you won’t develop blisters or other injuries due to rubbing against a hard surface. The padding also protects your foot from some minor impacts, so be sure to consider the padding in the shoe before you invest!
  • Outsole

    When you’re running, you absolutely need to have good traction. A good outsole in a running shoe has patterns and grooves in it that allow water to escape from beneath your shoe. For example, a shoe with grooves that end before the edge of the outsole would trap water beneath it and, like a car, you can hydroplane, fall, and get hurt. So, you want the grooves to make it to the very edge of the outsole so the water has somewhere to go.

    Some outsoles have lugs, which are grooves in the shoe designed specifically to grip the ground whereas others have reverse lugs, which are protrusions in the outsole. Both lugs and reverse lugs promote traction and grip. The more lugs and/or reverse lugs the shoe has, the more effective the traction will be, but outsoles with fewer and larger lugs will also be effective.

    Ultimately the only running shoe outsoles you should avoid are narrow, incredibly small lugs or nearly flat outsoles. These shoes offer very little by means of traction and grip, so you’d be more likely to slip and fall. You should also avoid any running shoe that has an outsole made of leather or crepe. These materials do not offer good traction and usually, don’t absorb enough shock to be effective in a running shoe.

    Flexibility

    Flexibility is another important safety feature to consider when you are looking for your first running shoes. Shoes which are too rigid and don’t bend and flex naturally with your foot can result in injury due to poor shock absorption, which jars the foot, ankle, leg, and your back.

    It should be noted that any of the previously mentioned criteria is good only in moderation in that it doesn’t negate the effects of the others by drowning out the effect. You can have too much of a good thing, even in running shoes.

    Flexibility can be fostered in a running shoe in a few ways. The upper, insole, midsole, and outsole can all be designed in ways that would foster flexibility without sacrificing support, cushioning, and traction.

  • Upper Design - Some running shoes have uppers that are completely firm leather or synthetic materials, but the best running shoes have mesh uppers, specifically mesh uppers with supportive overlays. A mesh upper is like a net for your foot with very tiny holes so that it can protect your foot. You can compress and stretch out a net to make it the size and shape that you need it to take and the same goes for a mesh upper in a shoe. Mesh uppers can be made of textile or synthetic materials which are stretchy and breathable. These uppers don’t bind your foot in one position and allow your foot to move naturally by giving just enough without compromising the fit.
  • Padding - Padding doesn’t actually make a shoe more flexible. It does just the opposite. Too much padding in the upper of the shoe can make it more inflexible and that can be just as bad as having an inflexible unpadded upper. It would absorb shock, but it would reduce your foot motion, which could result in injury on a run. So make sure that the shoe isn’t too padded when you’re shopping for the best running shoe for you.
  • Insole and Midsole - Insoles and midsoles are primarily cushioning and supporting units in the shoe, but they also contribute to flexibility. Look for shoes with soles that bend and flex easily and for shoes that utilize insole and midsole technologies that offer flexibility as a benefit. Many shoe manufacturers have specialized technologies they use in insoles and midsoles to promote flexibility, which is usually detailed in the description on the site you are purchasing them from. If you’re in a shoe store shopping for shoes, you can usually look at the shoe and the box to identify specific shoe technologies that are used in it. For example, New Balance’s ABZORB cushioning is labeled as “ABZORB” directly on the shoe.
  • Outsole - You want an outsole that is firm enough to support you but flexible enough to bend with your foot as you pronate and supinate naturally. Solid rubber outsoles offer some flexibility, but flex grooves and multi-section outsoles offer more, so look for good running shoes with these features built in. Remember that an inflexible outsole is just as dangerous as not wearing shoes at all because flexibility helps divert and disperse shock to prevent painful jarring of your feet, legs, and back.
  • Breathability

    No one wants to run with wet, hot feet. It’s uncomfortable and unhealthy for your feet to be enclosed in a damp, hot space for prolonged periods of time. Damp, warm, closed spaces are prime locations for the development of foot fungi and to promote bacterial growth. Fungi and bacteria also produce foul odors, which are unpleasant. Temperature management features in a running shoe can reduce and combat the development of fungi and bacteria in your shoes. Shoe manufacturers manage temperatures in shoes in a number of creative ways.

  • Breathable Mesh Uppers - Mesh uppers allow air to pass through freely through the entire shoe. These are the most effective for keeping your feet cool and dry.
  • Ventilating Perforations - If you prefer or need a sturdier, more supportive shoe, then shoes that are made with firm materials like leather or synthetic leather can be adjusted to allow for better temperature management. Ventilating perforations in the firm upper allow air to pass through, which keeps your feet cool and prevents blisters because it also keeps them dry.
  • Moisture-Wicking Materials - Moisture-wicking materials repel moisture and move it away from the surface it’s on. In this case, the moisture wicking materials in a great running shoe could be built into the upper or in the insole. These materials pull moisture away from your foot and towards the edges of the shoe where the breathability features allow air to pull the moisture out of the shoe.
  • Expert Interviews & Opinions

    Most Important Criteria (According to our experts opinion)
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    Beginner Running Tips

    If you're just starting out in running, a few tips can help you start to build a solid base.
    1) Find your own pace. There will always be someone faster, or slower that what you're comfortable running at pace-wise. Start off figuring out just where you feel good!
    2) Decent shoes will last you 300-600 miles. Head into a local runner shop and get your foot shape and arches evaluated, to understand what level of support or cushion you need in a running sneaker.
    3) Train smart. Increase mileage by no more than 10% distance per run. So, if your longest run during the week is 5 miles, you'd increase that next week to 5.5 miles. This helps prevent injury and overuse!

    Motivation In Racing

    There is nothing more motivating that running with fellow enthusiasts! Even if you're not super competitive, running at a race event makes it fun, rewarding, and entertaining. Many times, races will have sponsors that supply race swag and freebies, post race festivities, music, food, and other great bits. It makes for a great day of fun for everyone!

    Other Factors to Consider

    Bottom Line

    The environment you will be running in matters when you are shopping for a pair of running shoes. If you will be running on mostly flat terrain, then a shoe with a low vamp, or the closure area of the shoe with the tongue, and low collar would suffice, because these shoes have little ankle support. Ankle support is a little less important when you're running long distances in more or less a straight line on smooth terrain. Shoes designed for running on rocky, bumpy or otherwise hilly terrain have higher collars which protect and support the ankle to prevent falls resulting from rolling or twisting an ankle.

    Shoes meant for flat and level terrain also have different kinds of grooves and lugs than running shoes that are meant for cross-country style running. The amount of cushioning in a running shoe varies depending on the environment the shoe is designed for, as well! While you search for a shoe, determine where you will be doing the most of your running and choose a shoe appropriate for that environment based on the rest of the criteria in this guide.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    q: Can I use my running shoes for other athletic activities?
    a:

    Yes, but it’s recommended that you only use your running shoes for running. This will increase the longevity of your running shoes, which will save you money in the long run.

    q: How can I prevent blisters?
    a:

    First of all, wear shoes that fit properly. Shoes which are too loose can slide around on your foot, which causes friction that results in blisters. Shoes which are too tight can be abrasive, too, producing blisters from painful rubbing.

    Secondly, wear socks that wick moisture away from your foot. Cotton socks absorb so much moisture, which will keep your feet hot and sweaty. Wet feet develop blisters more easily, so moisture-wicking socks can help reduce your odds of developing them.

    Thirdly, wear shoes with temperature management features, such as breathable meshes or ventilating perforations to allow airflow. The passage of air in and out of the shoe will dry and cool your feet, reducing your risk of blisters. Moisture-wicking sockliners and uppers are also effective for helping to dry your feet.

    q: How can I avoid athlete’s foot and the development of odors in my shoes?
    a:

    Foot fungi like athlete’s foot can be prevented in the same ways that you can prevent blisters. The culprits responsible for the development of foot fungi are moisture, darkness, and heat- all of which are commonly found in athletic shoes, especially running shoes. Temperature management shoe technologies and moisture-wicking socks will go a long way towards preventing athlete’s foot.

    Foul odors can be produced by foot fungi, but they can also be produced by bacteria living in your shoes where it’s warm and wet. Some running shoes come with antibacterial and antimicrobial technologies built into the insole and upper of the shoe, which prevents some fungi, bacteria, and odor development.

    q: How can I prevent heel pain?
    a:

    Wear a shoe that offers heel cushioning and support. Also, know your feet: if you have pronation or supination problems, you may be more likely to develop heel pain than other people, so look for stability and motion control features to correct your pronation or supination problems.

    q: How can I make the shoes I’ve bought more comfortable?
    a:

    If you’ve bought running shoes that turned out to be uncomfortable, you can sometimes remedy this by using custom orthotic inserts and custom orthotic pieces, like heel pads and arch supports. Full orthotic inserts will only help if the shoe has removable insoles. Custom orthotic pieces can sometimes be applied to the original insole to give you the cushioning and support you need, but sometimes this won’t work. If the shoe has too much support built in, then adding custom orthotics may not help, so keep that in mind before you invest in some inserts and orthotic pieces.

    q: Do I need to buy custom orthotics?
    a:

    No. Ideally, the best running shoe for you will come with the appropriate amounts of cushioning, support, and flexibility so that you won’t need custom orthotics. Sometimes, though, you may need them. If your medical professional recommends custom orthotics, always listen to your doctor and do what they recommend.

    q: What kind of socks should I wear with my new running shoes?
    a:

    Nylon, lycra, and other moisture-wicking materials would be best. Whatever you do, don’t wear cotton socks, because these insulate your foot and keep them hot and sweaty. They also absorb moisture, so your feet will stay wet during your run.

    q: Do I have to waterproof or stain proof my shoes?
    a:

    Not necessarily. It depends on the type of materials used in the shoe. If the upper is made of leather or leather overlays and did not come pretreated, then you may need to waterproof or stain proof your shoes. However, if you will rarely be exposing your shoes to water, this isn’t something you should concern yourself with. Similarly, you wouldn’t need to stain proof your shoes if you will only be wearing your running shoes on an indoor track or on a treadmill.

    q: Are my shoes machine washable?
    a:

    Some running shoes are machine washable. However, many of them are not. It’s important that you check the manufacturer’s instructions and information about how to clean and maintain your running shoes before you toss them in the washing machine or the dryer.

    q: When do I need to replace my running shoes?
    a:

    When the sole is crushed, the cushioning has become ineffective, or when the midsole can be seen through the outsole, it’s time to replace your running shoes.

    q: Where can I buy a good pair of running shoes?
    a:

    You can buy a good pair of running shoes at any shoe retailer or at any website that sells shoes. Just be sure to shop around for the best price to make sure you get your money’s worth!

    Sources