Jeff Dengate, Shoes & Gear editor of Runner’s World, Emmaus, Pennsylvania. He is a lifelong runner who has a personal-best marathon time of 2:54. www.RunnersWorld.com
Finding the right running shoes isn’t easy. The technology is constantly changing. Bottom Line/Personal interviewed Jeff Dengate of Runner’s World about the best running shoes, ranging from the ones that offer the most protection to the ones that offer the most performance.
What you need to know now…
Protective running shoes put the emphasis on avoiding foot and leg injury and pain. They provide plenty of cushioning under the foot, and they often feature particularly dense foam under the arch for added support.
Top choice: Brooks Ravenna 4 provides lots of stability and cushioning while still feeling light and flexible—the men’s version weighs just 10.8 ounces…the women’s, 9 ounces. It’s relatively affordable for a running shoe of this quality ($110, www.BrooksRunning.com).
Alternatives: Other running shoes that emphasize cushioning and support without being too heavy include Saucony Hurricane 15 ($140, www.Saucony.com)…and Asics Gel-Kayano 19 ($150, www.AsicsAmerica.com).
These are a bit lighter than protective running shoes to boost running speed, but they still supply a reasonable amount of cushioning and foot support.
Top choice: Nike Flyknit Lunar1+ features a seamless, one-piece upper (the top part of the shoe) that is knitted like a scarf, not sewn or glued together from multiple pieces of fabric as most shoes are. This knitted upper conforms to the shape of the foot and does a wonderful job of holding the shoe in place as you run. It’s so comfortable that you could wear this shoe without socks if you wanted to. The sole provides reasonable cushioning, yet the upper is so light that this shoe weighs just 8 ounces for men’s, 5.7 ounces for women’s. It is relatively pricey, though ($160, www.Nike.com).
Alternatives: Adidas Energy Boost features an advanced thermoplastic polyurethane material in its midsole that’s springier than the foam found in most running shoes. This provides a little energy back from each stride without sacrificing cushioning ($150, www.Adidas.com)…and New Balance 890V3 is a straightforward, reasonably priced running shoe featuring good cushioning, flexibility and relatively low weight ($110, www.NewBalance.com).
These lightweight shoes typically provide limited cushioning. To avoid subjecting their feet to unnecessary pounding, some runners use performance shoes only on race day.
Top choice: Asics Gel-Lyte33 2 makes you feel fast. It’s flexible and light—but at 8.5 ounces for men’s, 7 ounces for women’s, it’s far from the lightest performance shoe on the market. Yet it still provides a fairly soft ride. Some runners with narrow feet complain that it’s not snug enough around the midfoot ($90, www.AsicsAmerica.com).
Alternatives: Brooks PureDrift is an ultralightweight shoe—5.6 ounces for men’s, 5.1 ounces for women’s. It has a larger toe box than most running shoes to allow the toes to spread out as you push off for a natural running feel that some runners like ($100, www.BrooksRunning.com). Skechers GOrun 2 is a very flexible, lightweight running shoe—just 6.6 ounces for men’s, 5.2 ounces for women’s ($80, www.Skechers.com).