Small pleasures such as running have become hugely important in recent weeks. Strapping on a pair of running shoes can make you feel like the world is your oyster, and even in today’s world of restriction and lockdown, a surprising amount of freedom can still be attained by stepping out your front door and heading off on a jog.
What should you look for?
It’s important to get running shoes that feel right for you and support you, especially if like most of us you’ll be running on hard tarmac around the streets of the UK’s cities. Road running especially can take its toll on your legs and knees, so it’s important to find running shoes that offer a good amount of cushioning, but it’s worth remembering that extra foam adds weight so if you’re getting started and not expecting to run longer distances, you might want to forgo the extra foam padding for a lighter, speedier feel.
It’s worth finding out what your running style is, and also finding out whether you need neutral running shoes (for ‘regular’ runners – about 60 per cent of people), or shoes with a bit more support depending on whether you run underpronate or overpronate (more on one side of foot than the other). Neutral running shoes provide almost all of their support on the heel.
Hoka Hoka One One Mach 3 – best for everyday running
HOKA have form when it comes to designing excellent running shoes, and the One One Mach 3 is part of the brand’s performance range. We found it to provide an excellent balance of cushioning and weight – it’s a lightweight shoe that still feels like it’s got a bit of heft to it, so we’d recommend it for those who want a slightly firmer feel. They fit well but we did find them to be slightly tight, so perhaps worth ordering half a size up to avoid those familiar new shoe blisters.
New Balance 1080v10 – best for comfort
New Balance have introduced a number of upgrades to this year’s flagship shoe, the 1080v10, and the improvements are noted. We found that the FreshFoam sole provided excellent bounce and comfort during regular exercise and the sole’s integrated, and accentuated, rocker gives some ‘lift’ which helps to bring your foot up quicker whilst road running. Although great for regular everyday running, we’d also happily recommend this shoe for longer distances, regular club running or marathons.
Salomon Sense Ride 3 – best for trail running
Although road running is great and during lockdown it’s likely that it’s all most of us are doing, trail running may still be an option for some and when we’re able, many will enjoy the feeling of being able to hit the hills. The Salomon Sense Ride 3 has used road running technology and implemented it into trail running shoes, with full rubber Contagrip® outsoles providing all-terrain grip, comfort and protection. We also liked its effective Quicklace system, too.
On Cloudswift – best for new technology
You may not have heard of Swiss company On before, but this young sports company is quickly making a name for themselves and have set up with a team of sports scientists, world-class athletes and designers to create a range of running shoes full of features. The Swiss-engineered Helion™ foam is featured in the Cloudswift and provides a comfortable run as well as adding durability and lifespan to the shoe.
361 Feisu 2 – best for speed
This shoe from ‘One Degree Beyond’ is focussed on speed, the QU!K Flex 4Foot engineering providing a natural and balanced toe-off and enhanced ground contact for better acceleration. They’re a comfortable fit, and soon feel moulded and streamlined to your foot.
Asics Gel Contend 6 – best value buy
I’ve personally been running with Asics shoes for a number of years, and currently use the Gel Contend 6 as my go-to everyday shoe that I can wear casually around the house as much as I can running. That’s not to do their pure running capabilities a disservice however, as they are a very comfortable and breathable shoe made for casual and low-distance runners looking for dependability and a platform to build upon.
New Balance FreshFoam 880v10 – best neutral shoe
The New Balance FreshFoam 880 is now on version 10 – it comes from a long line of shoes that pioneered running shoe cushioning technology, and happily the 880 is as reliable as ever. We would recommend the 880v10 as a good neutral shoe, so if your feet have a tendency to roll to one side or another then you may find more success with a more heavily supported shoe. Having said that, the 880v10 feels just at home running high miles as it is short springs and if purchased is likely to be a go-to for many years.
Saucony Guide 13 – best for stability
Cushioning on the Saucony Guide 13s is distributed evenly across the forefoot and the heel, but with a 8mm offset, allowing the shoe to move more naturally with the comfortable movement and the contours of your feet when running. The shoe feels balanced and composed, and provides a reliable, stable platform for everyday, routine road runs.
Nike Zoom Turbo Pegasus 2 – best for high-mileage
The Nike Zoom Turbo Pegasus 2 have dropped 14g on their previous incarnation, and this famous running shoe is proving as popular as ever amongst long distance and high-mileage runners thanks to its high-tech foam, snug fit and bounce. The design has been given a bit of an upgrade too – the shoe has lost its ‘go-faster’ stripe and comes in a range of very attractive colours.