Choosing the best running shoes for you
Your running shoes are the most important piece of running kit that you will buy.
Whether you call them trainers, sneakers, runners, running shoes or anything else it is your running shoes that are protecting your feet from impact, helping to deal with rotational forces generated as you run, giving you grip and keeping you comfortable.
But runners are not all the same. The best running shoes for one runner will not be the best running shoe for another runner. For this reason women’s running shoes are not just the same as men’s but in a different colourway - they are very different. To find out more about women’s running shoes see here.
But there are not just gender differences. There are biomechanical differences, differences in runner weights, different surfaces and different types of use and the best running shoes for you will be affected by all these factors.
Shoeguide.run is designed to help you find the best running shoe for your individual needs.
When your foot lands on the ground it will probably land on the outside of the heel before then rolling to be flat to the ground. This rolling movement is called 'pronation'. Pronation absorbs shock and gives you balance as you run.
But it is common for a runner to have their foot roll too far as they run and this is called 'over-pronation'. To work out whether you over-pronate is quite straight forward and there is no need to worry if you find you are an 'over-pronator'. It is a very common trait and there are plenty of running shoes for over-pronation, these running shoes are designed to help manage your footstrike, keep you comfortable and help you avoid injury.
The old shoe test
You should take a look at your old running shoes to see what kind of running shoe is best for you.
Stand your running shoes on a level surface and look at them from behind the heel.
If you over-pronate your running shoes will have a slight inward lean to the upper. Imagine a line drawn from the heel tab to the middle of the outsole and this will have an inwards lean. In this case you need support shoes or motion control running shoes.
Do not make the mistake of looking at wear on the outsole at the outside of the heel of your running shoe and thinking you don't over-pronate. This wear is caused on landing and as most people land on the outside of their heel it does not relate to pronation.
Under-pronation is when a runner's foot does not roll far enough. If you under-pronate your running shoes will show a slight outwards lean. Choose a pair of neutral running shoes. Correct pronation means there won't be any lean. Your feet are said to be neutral. You should choose neutral running shoes.
A final thing to consider. If you have run in support shoes in the past, not had injury problems and your running shoes show no signs of inwards lean it probably means you do need support shoes but the shoes have successfully prevented the over-pronation in the past. Stick with them!
The wet foot test
An alternative way of being guided as to what type of shoe you'll need is the wet foot test.
With damp feet leave a barefoot print on a tiled floor (don't use a soft floor or carpet).
If you have a 'flat foot' it shows you have a low arch. Your foot print will show almost the whole sole of your foot with the band between heel and forefoot virtually the full width of your foot. Low arches usually indicate your feet are prone to over-pronation. So the best shoes for a low arches are usually support shoes.
If you have a normal arch the band between heel and forefoot will be around half the width of your foot. There is less likely to be a problem with over-pronation. The best running shoes for a regular arch are neutral running shoes.
If you have a high arch you will see only a narrow band, or even no band at all, between the forefoot and the heel on your wet foot print. This indicates a high likelihood of under-pronation. You too should choose a neutral shoe as these are the best running shoes for high arches.
We can divide running shoes into the following categories:
- Neutral running shoes - These trainers are for runners who are neutral or under-pronate. Some running shoes in this category may also be suitable for mild over-pronators. Under-pronators should look for a flexible pair of well cushioned neutral shoes.
- Supportive running shoes- These still have the same kind of cushioning technologies as neutral shoes but in addition to this they have features to give extra support and guidance to slow and reduce over-pronation.
- Motion Control shoes- People who over-pronate more severely and heavier runners who over-pronate can choose these shoes that provide extra support and guidance.
- Trail running shoes - specifically designed for off road running.
- Lightweight running shoes - for use in fast training or racing. Less protection than regular training shoes. These shoes are also either neutral or supportive.
- Racers– These are road racing shoes or very fast training (eg track work). These running shoes are very light but offer limited protection. Some offer some support for over-pronators.
To find out all about the shoes in each of these categories see our running shoe guide where we review the trainers to let you know what is suitable for which uses.
You can use the different search functions at Shoeguide.run to help you find the right shoes for you.
The shoe wizard is a very good way to find the best running shoes for you. By answering a series of questions which mean that you can then be given a list of the best running shoes for your needs. The search shows the running shoes that fit the criteria you have given that have been given the best scores and the shoe wizard takes account of the surfaces you are running on as well as factors such as over-pronation.
If you need more information on how to answer the questions which help you choosing running shoes see this article - Guide to choosing running shoes
To find the best running shoes by the 'Shoe Wizard' click here
Find by type
This allows you to search for running shoes by shoe category. Running shoes are split into Neutral shoes (which are also called cushioning shoes), Support shoes, Motion Control shoes, Trail shoes, Lightweight shoes, Natural shoes and racing shoes. All the running shoes reviewed on the site in the category you have chosen will be shown when you click on one of these options.
To find out more about what the categories mean see our Guide to choosing running shoes and trainers.
To find the best running shoes by the 'Shoe type' criteria click on
- Neutral running shoes
- Support shoes
- Motion Control shoes
- Trail running shoes
- Lightweight running shoes
- Natural running shoes
- Road racing shoes
Find by weight of runner
Many running shoes are suited to runners of different weights. Some running shoes will suit a range of different weights. Some are running shoes for heavy runners, others are suited to lighter runners. Getting the best running shoes for your weight will help keep you comfortable. You can choose from running shoes for heavier runners, shoes for runners of regular weight, or running shoes for light runners.
Our search tools will call out all the running shoes that are best for someone of your weight.
To find the best running shoes by the 'Running surface' criteria click on Light, Regular or Heavy
Find by surface
We all know runners run on different surfaces. Treadmills are very different to trails. This search tool will show you the running shoes designed for the surface that you run on.
To find the best running shoes by the 'Running surface' criteria click on Road, Light Trail, Trail or Severe Trail
Find by off-road use
Not all off road events are the same. If you are heading for an off-road race this search tool will show you the running shoes that are best for the off-road event that you have planned.
To find the best running shoes by the 'Off-road use' criteria click on Short Trail, Long Trail or Adventure
Most Popular Running Shoes
This tool calls up the best running shoes in each category - it gives you the headlines on the top scoring running shoes on the site. The list is limited to currently in-line products, although you can often find cheaper running shoes by buying shoes that have dropped out of line. Sometimes these are just a different colour, other times the shoe has had a technical update too. Also check out our Best Running Shoes of 2018 article.
To find the best running shoes by the 'Most popular' criteria click here
Find by brand
This does exactly as you would expect. It allows you to call up all the running shoes made by each of the running brands feature on shoeguide.run.
To find the best running shoes by the 'Running brand' criteria click on the brand you wish to see:
- adidas running shoes
- Altra running shoes
- ASICS running shoes
- Brooks running shoes
- Columbia Montrail
- Hoka running shoes
- Inov-8 running shoes
- La Sportiva running shoes
- Mizuno running shoes
- New Balance running shoes
- Newton running shoes
- Nike running shoes
- On Running running shoes
- Puma running shoes
- Reebok running shoes
- Salomon running shoes
- Saucony running shoes
- Scott running shoes
- Skechers running shoes
- Under Armour running shoes