The best running shoes: my five favorite pairs


A round-up of my favorite running shoes! I vary my shoes depending on the type of run — easy run, fast run or long run — and shared when I wear which!

I often get asked what shoes I run in after I share a post-run selfie or running watch picture (a “wristie” if you will!). And I’m always asking my running friends what shoes they are running in. I think most runners are constantly searching for the “perfect” shoe. Or, they’re in the other camp where they only buy one brand/model over and over. I fall somewhere in the middle.

The main thing to remember when you’re shopping for running shoes is that there are so many different types and brands out there, and what works for one person may not work for you. So, it’s important to pay attention to how a pair feels on your feet and while running. Comfort is key. (And don’t buy for looks alone!!!) If you want more details about how to evaluate running shoes and pick the best ones for you, there’s a video in my running course on exactly that.

I have six shoes in rotation right now and explain below when I use each and what I like about them (and a few dislikes!). I also have a post dedicated to the best running shoes for pregnancy if that fits your life stage!

I have multiple pair of running shoes since my body craves different things on different days, and different types of runs require different types of shoes. Additionally, rotating shoes is one way to help make running shoes last longer.

Tips to Become a Better Runner

My Running Shoes

My favorite all-around pair: New Balance Beacon

The New Balance Beacon is soft like the Brooks Launch, but responsive like the Nike Pegasus. I keep grabbing them over my other options, which is a good indicator that they’re my favorite. I also just bought a second pair since I keep grabbing them and I try not to run in the exact same pair of shoes for two days in a row. (Giving them a little time to recover helps ensure the cushion has rebounded enough to provide support on the next run.)

Shoes

Pros

Forgiving Toe Box

I don’t exactly have a wide foot, but it’s definitely not narrow. The toe box is forgiving without being too large. The stretchy upper material helps with that! My toes never felt cramped and while they touch the side of the toe box material, it never rubbed.

Lightweight upper

My feet can get VERY hot with the humid Southern summer temperatures. These are very breathable, which helps keep my feet cool.

VERY lightweight

I couldn’t believe how lightweight these are! I love my Nike Pegasus and Adidas Bostons, but by comparison, those now feel heavy.

Cushioned but not too soft and not heavy

You know how some cushioned shoes are too soft, too mushy? And some cushioned shoes start to feel like you just can’t get any forward momentum? These are NOT that way. They’re cushioned, but I don’t feel like they absorb all my energy. And you know how some cushioned shoes can be really heavy? Again, these are NOT that way.

Versatile

I have done easy pace runs, strides and short tempo work in these. It performed great for all of them. I haven’t used them for a super long run, but I imagine they’d be a GREAT long run shoe.

Cons

Not incredibly responsive

That is not to say that they aren’t responsive. They certainly are, especially considering the cushion they pack. They just aren’t as responsive (e.g. that feeling like they propel me forward and help me push off the ground) as some other shoes I own. But, I wouldn’t use these for a track workout or anything like that so it’s not a big deal.

Read my full review here. I first got them while running during pregnancy and they were fantastic. That’s a pretty solid endorsement if they can make running while 40+ weeks pregnant more comfortable!

Similar tank | Similar shorts | Shoes

Second favorite: Nike Air Zoom Pegasus

I got the Nike Pegasus in attempt to find something to replace the Nike Zoom Elites, which I LOVED but have been discontinued. At first I hated the Pegasus since they felt heavy compared to the Adidas Bostons, but now I choose them over Adidas Bostons most days! I’m on my third pair so it’s safe to say they’re one of my favorites! But they’re a runner up for one key reason, noted below. You can read my Nike Pegasus review here.

Leggings | Shoes (newest version, the 37s)

Pros

Lightweight with cushion

They are lightweight, but provide a lot more cushion that the Adidas Bostons.

I don’t feel beat up after a long run in them, like I often do with the Adidas Bostons. I did most of my easy-pace long runs when training for the Boston Marathon last year in these.

Tempo shoes 

They work for tempo work. They’re very responsive, and while they aren’t as lightweight as the Adios (below), they’re still a speedy shoe. If I’m doing long tempo work or doing tempo in the middle of a very long run, I favor these over the Adios to help give my feet and body a little more cushion

Thin tongue

The latest models have very thin tongues which is nice since the Pegasus 34 had a super thick tongue, which took up a ton of space and put pressure on the top of my foot. It also made the shoe laces nearly too short to tie!

Easy to find

The latest or last Pegasus model is always easy to find. They’re never sold out and I even find them at Nordstrom on crazy sale sometimes. They’re also really cute! I’ve gone through three pairs now and when I retire them from running, they’re my go-to’s for walking, hiking or just wearing with jeans! I often take these when I travel too.

Cons

Inconsistent model

They model is inconsistent from year to year so I get nervous to buy them. I first had the Nike Pegasus 33 and LOVED them. But then I hated the Pegasus 34s! I was iffy on the Pegasus 35 and but I LOVE the Pegasus 36! (That’s what’s pictured below.) I hope the Pegasus 37 is good – I haven’t had a chance to try it. Because of the inconsistencies, I make sure to buy them from a place with a good return policy now!

 

best running shoes Nike Air Zoom Pegasus

Boston jacket (sold out but you could potentially find on Poshmark) | similar orange shorts | Shoes (the 36’s)

Adidas Adizero Boston

If I look back at allll the running shoes I’ve had over the last 5 years, the Adidas Adizero Boston is the shoe I’ve purchased the most often. It looks like they’ve been replaced with Pros, so I’ve linked those here. You can still find the Boston’s on other retailers if you’re searching for them!

How to recover from a hard workout

Tank | Leggings | Shoes and Pros

Pros

Super versatile.

They’re snappy enough for speed work and supportive enough for long runs. I ran the 2018 Boston Marathon in them! (Read my race recap here!)

They keep getting better

Many times when companies rework shoes with the newest model, the new model isn’t as good as the previous. But I’ve liked every version of these better than the last.

Good looking

Some running shoes just don’t look cute (cough, Hokas). I often take my Adidas on trips since I can use them for a run and then with jeans for exploring. (Full disclosure: I typically NEVER use my running shoes for anything but running. But for travel, I take an older pair that can serve multiple purposes.)

Cons

A little narrow

For my foot, but that’s a me issue, not a shoe issue.

Not very cushioned

I never felt like I needed much cushion until my mid-30s. Now I like something that is a little softer, but still not heavy. The Bostons are very lightweight but don’t have as much cushion as some of my other pairs.

Read my full review of the Adidas Boston running shoes here!

best running shoes Adidas Adizero Boston

Shoes

Shoes for faster workouts: Adidas Adizero Adios

I got the Adidas Adios when training for the 2019 Boston Marathon for my tempo days or speed work days.

Pros

Lightweight

They are noticeably lighter and more minimal than the Adidas Adizero Bostons, which I expected. That is definitely nice when I’m trying to pick up the pace!

Good looking

I also like the way they look on my foot!

Cons

Feel slightly cheap

They almost felt cheap. But, to be totally honest, it could have just been the adjustment to less shoe that made me feel that way. Overall, I DO like them.

adidas adios review

Shoes

My easy run shoes: Brooks Launch

I got the Brooks Launch during marathon training when I needed something with a lot more cushion than the Adidas Bostons and Nike Pegasus. They felt SO heavy, clunky and slow to me. And when I told my running coach that, he said “GREAT. That’s the point.” He wanted me to run slower on my easy days and wanted a shoe that helped my body truly recover. I wore them for easy days, but always reluctantly.

Shirt | Shorts | Shoes

Shoes

Pros:

Feel supportive

Coming back from an injury (a posterior tibial tendon tear), this is the pair I grab most days because they just feel good to run in! It feels nice to have a little extra support and cushion.

They’re not overly soft, but they’re definitely softer than the Adidas or Nikes!

Wider toe box

I love the wider toe box so my toes has a little more wiggle room. (That may be a con if you have narrow foot.)

Cons:

Need to be broken in

The first model of Brooks Launch I tired a few years ago gave me HORRIBLE blisters on my heel. That has NEVER happened with a new pair of running shoes, even right out of the box. People had all sorts of hacks to fix it but I don’t believe that running shoes should need to be broken in. They need to work right out of the box. I hope that’s not an issue in the future. It hasn’t been an issue since I got a newer model!

Brooks Launch

how to run faster

Visor | Tank | Shorts | Shoes

My race day shoes: Nike Vaporfly

I eyed the Nike Vaporfly 4% for a while but the $250 price point held me back. But when my running coach suggested them, I had to get them, right? Coach’s orders!!! 😉 When they arrived, I put them on and walked around the house in them and within 10 minutes, I could were unlike any other shoe I’ve ever put on. Read my review here. Unfortunatly they’re discontinued, and the NEXT % (newest version) is also usually sold out.

My running friend really likes the Nike Zoom Fly 3 and loves the carbon plate in them.

Pros

They felt as cushiony as the Hokas, but snappier than the Adidas. It was like they propelled me forward. Then, I did my first run in them  and HOLY MOLY, they felt amazing.

I went on to beat my half marathon PR and my marathon PR wearing these shoes. I ONLY wear these shoes on race day or for very key training workouts, e.g. 1-2 runs in a training cycle just to get my body used to the feeling and make sure nothing is off with them. And, to save the miles in them!!

Cons:

They’re hard to find since they sell out quickly.

The sizing is tough. They’re unisex and I couldn’t order my usual size. I had to try 3 different sizes before I got the right ones.

They’re super expensive and you will NOT get a full 250-300 miles out of them like most trainers. But, if you’re okay using them once they’re past their prime (probably at about 100 miles), I think they’d be a great shoe for fast training days. When I hit 100 miles on them, I’ll get a fresh pair for races and move this pair to the training shoe pile!

Nike Vaporfly

Nike Vaporfly

Shoes I’ve retired

I use Strava to track all the miles on my shoes. These are ones that I’ve marked as retired because I don’t wear them often or because they have too many miles on them.

Hoka One One Clifton 1

I originally ordered the Hoka Clifton 5 and HATED them. They felt so heavy and clunky, but a few running friends suggested getting the Clifton 1s. I like the 1s a LOT better than the 5s.

Pros

They are cushy without feeling flat, and I feel like they actually let my body have a break.

Cons

I can only do shorter runs in them since I think I tend to get lazy in them and my form breaks down because it can with all the cushion. And, I’m not running in them right now while my ankle is still in recovery mode and I don’t want any instability given their high stack.

I don’t feel comfortable doing more than 5 miles in them. They just feel too wobbly for me. But people who love Hokas LOVE Hokas, so don’t let my lackluster review deter you!

Oh, and I HATE THE WAY THEY LOOK.  I don’t like the bright colors and I don’t like how big they are on my foot. But I think that’s exactly why some people love them. To each their own.

Women's Hoka One One Clifton 1

Brooks Levitate

I didn’t run in these for too long since they felt way too heavy and bulky to me. But if you like a shoe with more stability compared to the Brooks Launch, the Levitate may be a good option.

Mizuno Wave Rider

These were sent to me from Mizuno a few years ago and while I really wanted to like them for nostalgia’s sake, I just hated them. They felt flat and heavy to me. But, Mizuno Wave Riders were my first-ever “real” pair of running shoes that I got in college while training for my first half marathon!! I’m shocked I still remember that 15+ years later!

New Balance Zantes

I had a few pair of Zantes and really liked them. I ran my first Boston-qualifying marathon in them. I stopped running in them when I was craving a bit more cushion for recovery runs, but from what I remember, they’re pretty similar to the Beacons. The Beacons may be a little more responsive perhaps.

Newton Motion

I tried Newtons in 2015 when I was transitioning out of Vibram FiveFingers, which I ran in for 3-4 years. I always felt clumsy in the Newtons, but I know lots of people LOVE them.

Brooks Pure Connect

This was the next shoe I tried after Newtons when transitioning out of VFF. I LOVED the Pure Connects, but they stopped making them. I think the Pure Flow may be similar?

Saucony Kinvara 8

I got these while training for my first Boston Marathon for recovery runs. Kinvaras have a major fan club, but I wasn’t a fan. They felt super flat and like I was running in giant flippers.

 

If you had to choose only ONE running shoe for the rest of your life, what would it be?

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