With today's running shoes coming in different shapes, sizes, and levels of stability, it can be difficult to choose the right pair for you. You'll find shoes that provide almost no support to those that are designed to provide maximum support.
All of this can be overwhelming for a beginner looking for the best running sneakers. To help you figure out the right choice for you, check out our following guide.
How do Your Feet Move?
Neutral/Pronation - This type of runner's feet turn slightly inward as they hit the ground. Basic pronation is actually a good thing as it's a trait of neutral, biomechanically efficient runners. This allows your body, particularly your knees, to absorb shock.
Overpronation - This type of runner's feet roll too far inward, which means the foot and ankle cannot properly stabilize the runner's body. This type of running gait can leave a runner at risk of knee pain and injury as shock is not efficiently absorbed.
Overpronators typically have low or flat arches and the best shoe for them are typically either a stability shoe or a motion control shoe depending on the severity of their overpronation.
Supination - Instead of rolling inward, the runner's feet roll outward which causes the impact of the heel striking the ground to be concentrated on a smaller portion on the lateral side of the foot. Supinators typically have high arches.
The best shoe for a supinator are neutral cushioned shoes.
Types of Running Shoes
Running shoes fall into the following main categories - minimal, neutral, stability, and motion control.
Minimalist shoes, also known as barefoot shoes, have the least support and cushioning. They allow your feet work naturally, encouraging a midfoot strike unlike traditional running shoes which encourage a heel strike.
The main difference between barefoot shoes and minimalist shoes is the drop or difference between the height of the heel and the height of the toe. Barefoot shoes have a zero drop from heel to toe, where as minimalist shoes have a heel drop of 4 - 8 mm.
Neutral shoes are designed for runners with neutral pronation as well as supination. These shoes are often lighter than other models, have midsole cushioning, with little to no medial support. Supinators will want a neutral shoe with maximum midsole cushioning to provide additional shock absorption that's lacking for a pronation gait.
Stability shoes usually have some medial support as well as good midsole cushioning which allows the shoe to support the foot, ankle, and arch to prevent overpronation when running.
Motion control shoesare designed for runners with severe overpronation. These shoes provide maximum cushioning and have a dual density midsole to provide extra support on the medial side. These shoes are also good for heavier runners who are looking for extra support and durability.
Running Shoe Categories
From running and hiking to Crossfit and cycling, running shoes can fall into the following categories:
Road shoes are generally lightweight to encourage speed and responsiveness while running on pavement or surfaces with slight irregularities. The treads are usually thin as the need for tractions while hitting the pavement is minimal.
Trail shoes are typically heavier than road running shoes and designed to support and protect the foot on rugged terrain. These shoes usually feature durable soles with aggressive treads for stability and support while you run over rocks, roots, sticks, and other outdoor obstacles.
Cross-training shoes are built around providing stability to the ankle for better protection during forward and lateral movement. These shoes are for the gym and cross-fit enthusiast, looking to seamlessly transition from doing a light jog on the treadmill to squatting and lunging.
Best Women's Running Shoes for Beginners
Defyance 5 is a neutral shoe with a good amount of cushioning and flexibility, making it the perfect shoe for a beginner looking to protect their feet.
Mizuno Wave Inspire 11 is a stability running shoe, making it good for runners with moderate overpronation. It has a no-sew breathable upper mesh with stiched-on overlays for structural support. The shoe is lightweight and provides great shock absorption due to the U4ic (pronounced euphoric) midsole and the wave plate technology
Ryka Illusion 2 has a memory foam footbed and soft cushioning to help beginners ramp up their mileage.
Saucony Triumph ISO is a neutral shoe that will have you feeling like you're running on air due to its signature PWRGRID+ technology which provides some plush cushioning and maximum impact protection.
Saucony Kinvara TR2 is a lightweight, minimalist shoe that is great for the neighborhood park or for going off road on novice trails. The TR2 features nubs near the heel to help grip the earth for tighter navigation and traction on tricky trail terrain. While there isn't a lot of padding, the FlexFilm upper is stretchy and forgiving.
Best Men's Running Shoes for Beginners
Nike Zoom Vomero 9 is a good beginners shoe for neutral and supinators. There are mesh panels in the upper for breathability and a heel crash pad for impact protection. Lightweight and responsive cushioning makes these great for the road.
ASICS Gel Kayano 21 comes with ASICS GEL-Cushioning technology to help with shock absorption as well as DuoMax in the midsole to help with stability and support. The Heel Clutching System will help keep your foot in place, making this perfect for mild to moderate overpronators.
Merrell Mix Master 2 is great for anyone looking to get into the minimalist movement while running on trails. It has a thinner midsole to keep your foot to the ground while providing extra cushioning in the heel. They have great ventilation to let the heat out as well as let the shoe dry out quickly after running through some puddles.
Inov-8 F-lite 195 is a very lightweight and flexible shoe, while still providing incredible stability via the Met-Cradle webbing along the medial and lateral arches. The shoe also comes with a shred-resistant rope tec outsole to face any extreme fitness challenges you may encounter while doing cross-fit.
Saucony Triumph 11 is a neutral shoe equipped with a full-length PowerGrid midsole for cushioned comfort. There's a breathable upper mesh that comes with HydraMAX moisture-wicking collar lining to reduce any sweaty stank. With a very thick outsole rubber, this shoe is sure to last quite a while.
Investing in a quality sneaker will help keep you comfortable, injury-free, and ready to transition into heavier mileage, whether that's on the road or on a trail.
We surveyed the web and scoured the recent The Running Event for the most unique and practical gifts for the runner in your life. Yes, shoes, shirts, and shorts are all great gifts for runners, but use this list to find unique running gadgets!