When embarking on a running kick, the one piece of kit it’s really worth putting some time into selecting is a top-notch pair of running shoes.
You can of course run in any old shoes, but that could well put you on the fast track to injuries, sluggish times and a generally unpleasant experience. In contrast, the right pair of shoes will help you find the motivation to get out there and pound the pavements.
What makes for the perfect pair depends on an individual’s aims, speed, running style and even fashion sensibilities. Don’t disregard the last factor – you want to feel good in these shoes if you’re going to be covering hundreds of miles in them.
Below you’ll find our favourite running shoes. Everything’s based on our experience of running in them but different runners will get different things from every shoe, so make sure to factor in your own experience when picking your new kicks. But hopefully somewhere on the list is a pair that’s set to carry you to PBs across every distance.
Best All-Rounder Running Shoes
Our pick: Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo
A good all-rounder needs to be cushioned enough to be comfortable on easy runs, but responsive enough when you step up the pace during tempo efforts and races, and the Pegasus Turbo ticks all those boxes with a flourish. The ride is on the softer side for an all-rounder, especially compared to the standard Pegasus 35, but the cushioning is so bouncy and lightweight that it doesn’t stop you pushing the pace whenever you need to. The only major downside is the cost – the Pegasus Turbo is an eye-watering £159.95. It’s an excellent shoe, but there are other great all-rounders out there that don’t hit your wallet so hard.
Buy from Nike | £159.95
Saucony Ride ISO If you like the idea of the softer ride of the Pegasus Turbo but aren’t so keen on its high price, then the Saucony Ride ISO may suit you down to the ground. It’s plushly cushioned but you can still hold a quick pace for long periods. £120, buy on saucony.com
New Balance Zante 4 For a firmer all-rounder look no further than the New Balance Zante 4. It’s doesn’t provide such a comfortable ride on easy runs, but when you pick up the pace it’s very responsive. £100, buy on newbalance.co.uk
Adidas SolarBoost This trainer/racer combines the bouncy feel of Adidas’ Boost foam, but offers more support than its stablemates the Boston or Adios shoes. £139.95, buy on adidas.co.uk
Best Road Racing Running Shoes
Our pick: Adidas Adizero Boston 7
The Boston has slightly more cushioning than a full-on racing flat but for amateurs, that will only help carry you through races at speed without your legs tiring, and also makes the Boston a comfortable shoe to wear for training runs too. You can go all the way up to marathon distance comfortably in the Boston, though some might prefer an even more cushioned shoe for the full 42.2km.
Buy from Sports Shoes | £107.95
Adidas Adizero Adios 3 Even lighter and snappier than the Boston, the Adios is a great choice for featherweight runners looking for all-out speed. However, it lacks a little in cushioning for longer races and you’d probably only want to bring it out for track and tempo sessions when training. £69, buy on runnersneed.com
New Balance 1400v6 Another lightweight shoe that will help you shine on race day. The 1400v6 has slightly more grip on the outsole than many racers, making it a great choice for runs where you move between tarmac and light trails – did someone say “parkrun PB”? £85, buy on newbalance.co.uk
Best Marathon Running Shoes
Our pick: Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%
It’s very expensive and difficult to get hold of, but the Vaporfly 4% has earned rave reviews since it launched in 2017. There is even research backing up its claim that it will make you run 4% faster. We haven’t managed to get hold of a pair ourselves yet, but the universal acclaim from elsewhere means the Vaporfly 4% earns the marathon running crown. However, you may need to find an alternative plan, because the 4% is rarely in stock anywhere.
Buy from Nike | £199.95
Nike Zoom Fly The Vaporfly’s little sibling might not have the carbon plate and ZoomX foam that makes the 4% what it is, but it’s still an excellent marathon racer with a stack of stiff foam that helps propel you forward over long distances. £109, buy on runnersneed.com
Adidas Adizero Boston 7 Our pick for the best road racer is a strong contender for lighter, speedier runners who will be more comfortable taking on the full marathon in it. £107.95, buy on sportssshoes.com
Saucony Kinvara 9 This is a lightweight, low-offset shoe that runs a lot faster than its slightly bulky frame might suggest. The Kinvara 9 is a shoe that can handle the rigours of most training sessions as well as impressing over 42.2km come race day. £115, buy on saucony.com
Best Highly Cushioned Running Shoes
Our pick: Hoka One One Clifton 5
If you’re on the hunt for a supremely cushioned shoe, Hoka One One are always likely to spring to mind. The massive chunk of cushioning on the Clifton 5 makes for a very soft ride over any distance, but the shoe is still lightweight enough to handle some speedier running if required, even if it’s undoubtedly at its best on easier days.
Buy from Runners Need | £115
Brooks Glycerin 16 A plump stack of cushioning and a plushly padded upper mean that the Glycerin 16 offers an extremely soft ride. It’s a great shoe to slip on when you’re looking for the utmost comfort on your run. £135, buy on runnersneed.com
Saucony Triumph ISO 4 You can log endless miles in comfort in the Triumph ISO 4, but it’s also one of the more responsive highly-cushioned options around thanks to the energy-returning Everun midsole. £140, buy on saucony.com
Most Stylish Running Shoes
Our pick: Adidas Ultraboost Parley
There’s no need to be ashamed of wanting running shoes that you can also wear when you’re not running. Frankly, given the cost of running shoes these days you’ll want to get as much wear out of them as possible. The Ultraboost is the ideal all-rounder, with plenty of Boost cushioning for your runs and a stylish knit upper. We’ve picked out the Parley version because it’s made from recycled plastic and environmentalism is so hot right now. Also, it looks terrific.
Buy from Adidas | £149.95
Nike Epic React The durable React foam in the sole means that the Epic React should last you 1,000km without falling apart, and the unfussy design means you can divide that distance up between running and strolling around town. The lightweight React is an excellent running shoe that can handle all kinds of training and is a decent bet for longer races too. £129.95, buy on nike.com
Our pick: Asics Gel Kayano 25
As the name suggests, this is the 25th iteration of the Kayano line, which should give some idea of how popular it is with runners who are looking for extra support to avoid over-pronation when running. The medial support system will stop your foot rolling too far, while the Flytefoam in the sole will help you bounce through long distance runs at speed.
Buy from Asics | £155
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18 Another long-term favourite with stability-shoe-seeking runners, the Adrenaline GTS 18 has a diagonal roll bar in the midsole to stop the foot over-pronating upon landing. £120, buy on brooksrunning.com
Saucony Liberty ISO This is a great pick for those who only over-pronate a little and feel uncomfortable in a full-on stability shoe like the Kayano or Adrenaline GTS. The Liberty ISO is relatively lightweight for a stability shoe and a good pick for longer road races. £150, buy on saucony.com