When it comes to getting sweaty, running is a pretty polarising choice of exercise. Fact is, you either love it—and we mean, really love it—or you hate it. If you’re here though, chances are you’re a fan of clocking up those kms of the Nike Run Club app. Or maybe you’re running-curious, like most of the world post-2020 thanks to lockdowns and extended gym closures.
Whatever your vibe, choosing your perfect running shoe is a really important step in your running journey. Not all running shoes are created equal, and how you seek to chase the runner’s high, as well as the intricacies of your own foot, should determine which shoe is best for you—and which shoe is best for the run you’re setting out on today.
Running shoe tech has come a long, long way—and with more and more of us realising (at last!) that running is a great way to get fit, not to mention its benefits for mental health, more and more slick kicks are popping up, which can make finding your dream pair pretty mystifying.
That’s where we come in. Here we’ve got a round-up of the best running footwear in 2021, from the best shoes for beginners, to the shoes that will go the distance for 5km or a marathon, and shoes to spice up your tempo if it’s speed you’re looking for.
The Best Running Shoes For Beginners
Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 2
Effortlessly bridging the void between performance shoe and lifestyle sneaker, the Nike React Infinity Run dropped into the world at a time when casual jogging was on the rise, offering a good-looking alternative for beginners keen to hit the pavement. The newest Flyknit 2 features the same cushiony-but-springy midsole as the OG. It's roomy and wide under the ball of your foot but has added padding around the upper for some much-needed ankle support. Shop yours here.
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38
The Pegasus is the ultimate all-rounder—making it perfect for walking in the park, jogging, and more serious running too. With the latest iteration of the shoe, you can expect all the goodies the Pegasus has become known for, like the extended Nike React midsole and added Air Zoom beneath the ball of your foot for energy return, alongside some upgrades like a more personalised lacing fit and wider toe box. Shop here.
Brooks Glycerin 19
Brooks might not have the sexiness of a Nike or adidas drop, but these guys have been major players in the running game for years and they're a favourite with hardcore runners all around the world. The Glycerin series is a soft, cushiony ride, perfect for casual jogging or for anyone keen to get stuck into running and start hitting the pavement on the reg. Shop here.
Best Running Shoes For Middle Distance
When you're ready to upgrade from beginner status and start pushing longer distances—the ASICS Metaracer can take you there. Its ASICS' first foray into carbon plate running shoes, meaning it is built for a little speed, but is also surprisingly lightweight and soft too. Shop here.
On Running Cloudboom
These might look like a spacey soccer boot, but trust us, when you're clocking over 10km of road you'll appreciate the futuristic carbon-fibre infused Cloudboom. Best suited to a slimmer foot and a more experienced runner, it's pitched as a marathon shoe, but actually rocks better for middle-distance being a bit on the firmer side. Shop here.
Brooks Hyperion Tempo
With a bouncy and light nitrogen-infused midsole, Brooks Hyperion Tempo was one of the great running releases of 2020, combining the sturdiness you need to run a bit further, with a little spicy kick for a more competitive pace. Shop here.
Best Running Shoes For Long Distance
3D-printed running shoes might sound a bit gimmicky, but adidas' 4D series is the real deal. Very basically, the midsole is a futuristic-looking 3D-printed design crafted to direct your energy forward, making your gait more of a glide. As well as going the distance with you when you're clocking more than 10kms, these are built for speed too—so you can smash that PB every time. Shop yours here.
Hoka One One Carbon X 2
Hoka's are loved for their deep cushioning and comfort, and the One One Carbon X does not disappoint in this regard. Perfect for pounding the pavement over long distances—these kicks fall into the "super shoe" category making them a top pick for ultramarathon runners. Shop here.
Best Running Shoes For Speed
Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% 2
Nike's NEXT% series made a major splash in 2019, with stacks of copycats entering the market shortly after. The ZoomX Vaporfly has been called the "best racing shoe" thanks to its full-length carbon plate delivering maximum energy return. The 2021 rendition hasn't changed all that much (the OG didn't need much improvement), but it is ever so slightly cheaper. Wear these when you want to dial up the pace on your long runs. Shop here.
Saucony Kinvara 12
With seamless tech to deliver a snappy, quick ride—the Kinvara 12 is a bit on the kaleidoscopic side colour-wise, but we're kind of into it. These are perfect for beginners hoping to speed up and pros looking to top their PB. Oh, and if the colourway is a bit much for you, they do come in a more simple black and white too. Shop here.
Ready to recover after your run? Check out the best yoga mats to shop in 2021.
Design credit: Dom Lonsdale
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