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The best running shoes for every kind of runner

Parkrunner or marathon pace-setter, find your perfect footwear with our pick of the best running shoes to buy in 2019

The best running shoes for every kind of runner

People up and down the country are looking to start running. Parkrun is booming and fitness has grown as a popular lifestyle choice. If you want to get involved, a new pair of trainers is a good place to start.

With a massive selection of running shoes available, and plenty of technology most will have never heard of, the choice isn’t simple. We checked out the latest shoes on the market and took them for a spin.

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We’ve tested shoes from adidas, Brooks, Nike and Asics, as well as other top running shoe brands.

The Shortlist: The best running shoes for every kind of runner

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1. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19

£120
View now at Amazon

The go-to-shoe (GTS) for many runners over its 25-year life span. This latest generation offers plush cushioning to absorb impact, guiderails to keep the foot steady and a seamless upper for a great fit. The support works well for a wide range of runners and makes the shoe a versatile option and an excellent overall choice.

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2. ASICS Gel Nimbus 21

£155
View now at Wiggle.com

Packed with the brand’s famous GEL cushioning, this shoe is its premium-cushioning model. It feels good from the very first stride, but in an increasingly competitive market its price has crept up a little quicker than its performance. A great shoe, but there’s probably better value to be found in the slightly lower-priced models.

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3. Saucony Jazz 21

£100
View now at The Running Outlet

The Jazz blends modern styling with proven performance for great value for money in a ready-to-go package. The lightweight, flexible cushioning provides everything beginners need and, with a seamless upper design, there’s very little here to disagree with. The shoe delivers all the essentials at an affordable price.

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4. adidas Solar Drive ST

£120
View now at Amazon

When adidas launched the Boost cushioning technology that’s used in these shoes it was a revelation in running, the soft springy feel being like nothing that came before it. This model offers a more stable ride that makes it usable to a wider audience of runners, especially those that prioritise performance over image.

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5. Under Armour HOVR Infinite

£120
View now at Under Armour

Linking to a smartphone app, these clever shoes record your stride length, cadence and speed. You can even get feedback as you run via your headphones if you so wish. Fortunately, the shoe matches the tech and provides lots of cushioning and a springy ride to give what the brand call a ‘zero-gravity’ ride. They’re well made and very durable, so provide good value from a brand that’s less well known for its running.

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6. New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v3

£125
View now at New Balance

Fresh Foam feels like the reinvention of traditional cushioning – it’s light and springy, made with a process that gives it a feeling so smooth it’s like running across deep filled feather pillows. The breathable mesh upper uses a 3D print to provide support and adds to the shoe’s easy-to-get-along-with nature.

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7. Mizuno Wave Rider 22

From £59.55
View now at Amazon

Another long-established shoe that’s remained true to its design throughout its history. It’s light, well cushioned and has a feel to it that almost encourages you to go quicker. The Wave system used in the brand’s shoes offers a stable platform that keeps weight down and performance up.

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8. ON Cloudswift

£135.00
View now at On Running

Running on clouds is how the brand describes its shoes and this new model perhaps encompasses that feel more than any others in the range. The combination of a new foam cushioning and cloud-shaped design gives the shoe a soft yet supportive feel. As a Swiss brand, the engineered upper fits with the precision of a luxury watch and should help you keep good time on race day.

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9. ASICS Metaride

£225
View now at Amazon

The latest and greatest shoe from the Japanese brand, this model is packed with technology that aims to help you run while expending less energy. The deep cushioning has a rocker shape once you get into your stride and this really does feel like it’s pushing you down the road. A great shoe but the price is too prohibitive to be a serious contender.

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10. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 35

£104.95
View now at Nike.com

Another shoe which has a large digit following its name – signifying the number of versions in its history. The Pegasus is without doubt one of the best-selling shoes of all time and has many loyal fans. Its famous Air cushioning provides a relatively soft ride, but in this incarnation we felt it’s just a little too soft and unstable. Good for lighter, faster runners but for most there are better options in this line-up.

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11. Hoka Clifton 5

£115
View now at Amazon

A relatively new name known for its oversized cushioned shoes, the Clifton is the epitome of everything the brand stands for – light, maximal cushioning. Ultra-distance runners love them for that soft cushioning, but for new users they require a little getting used to – the low drop heel means the foot sits relatively flat to the ground within the shoe.

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The Expert's View

135
Hours Tested
55
Products considered
1
Experts Consulted
2
Shortlist best buys

We’ve covered at least 100 miles in each pair over the last month to see how they fare in terms of cushioning, support and value for money.

Ultimately we think the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19 offers the best combination of features to suit most runners from the moment they pull them on. When it comes to bang-for-buck budget-friendly footwear, the Saucony Jazz 21 set the pace.

Best value and best overall running shoes

Best Value
Best Value
Saucony Jazz 21
£100
A great choice for runners of any ability, the Saucony Jazz 21 is a comfortable shoe that provides cushioning and flexibility at a great price.
View now at the Saucony
At just £100, the Saucony Jazz 21 is a great value running shoe that provides pretty much all you need. It offers a nice, balanced combination of cushioning and flexibility that makes it a comfortable shoe that’s suitable for a wide range of runners of any ability. Whatever your level or the surface you run on the Saucony Jazz 21 is a good choice.

Best overall
Best overall
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19
£120
Suitable for beginner and experienced runners alike, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS adapts to a runner’s style to control movement and offer comfort that is second to none.
View now at Amazon
From beginner to accomplished marathoner, the latest generation Brooks Adrenaline GTS provides everything runners require. Its clever guide rail support system means most runners will find the shoe adapts to their running style and gently guide the foot to the most efficient and natural position. This shoe helps control pronation movement, where the foot roll inwards. Top quality build means its step-in comfort is second to none.

Author Bio

Paul Freary
Paul Freary
Paul Freary has a lifetime experience in running. With around 40 years and almost 100,000 miles under his belt he knows a thing or two about running and shoes. A 4-minute miler and former British Half Marathon Champion, he has also worked with many of the top brands as well as being the Product Editor at Athletics Weekly magazine. He’s running and shoes through and through as his Instagram name suggests, @therunningshoeguru.

How we selected the running shoes on test

We started by looking at the most popular models from the leading running shoe brands. These are the shoes you’ll find lining the walls of specialist running stores.

We also tested shoes at a wide range of prices, from £100 to £225 RRP. At the bottom of the scale, most brands have a pair of perfectly good shoes that often boast some flagship technical features even if they don’t use their premium materials.

Meanwhile, the shoes that hit £200 and above, like the Asics Metaride, represent the very latest research and technology. They may be too expensive for many, but they provide a glimpse of the future and tend to come with big promises about performance.

The best running shoes for every kind of runner

The most competitive price in the market right now is around £120, and running shoes in this area tend to offer a great combination of cushioning, support and value for money. Brands also regularly include their key technologies in these shoes, too.

For example, Asics, Adidas and Nike, some of the biggest-name manufacturers, use their GEL, Boost and AIR features respectively to give you the edge in terms of cushioning and indeed bounce from their shoes.

We considered over 30 pairs of shoes from various manufacturers before we arrived at this list, and tried to include models from all the major brands including Asics, Adidas, Nike, Mizuno, New Balance and Brooks.

A good running shoe should instinctively feel comfortable. Regardless of the price, technology or marketing boasts, if it doesn’t feel right, move on.

A shoe should feel secure around the foot – not tight, but snug with no movement, particularly around the heel when you run.

Next it’s a question of stability, and a specialist store can help you here with video gait analysis, a process where they film you running to see if the foot rolls excessively from side to side. Don’t become over analytical with this, though – essentially the shoe should control any excessive roll but still remain comfortable. Above all, comfort is key.

How we tested the running shoes

Our small team of testers varied in age, weight and experience, although all have previously run for at least two years with some having completed several marathons.

We wanted to find shoes that were comfortable, required little to no breaking in and remained as comfortable at the end of a run as they did at the start. We simply wanted to find the best no-nonsense, easy-to-get-along-with running shoes for the average runner.

The best running shoes for every kind of runner


Each runner’s test runs varied but they all covered around 100 miles in one or more of the shoes. Some of the marathoners among the group wore several pairs of the shoes.

Runners ran predominantly on the road and firm surfaces, although there was the occasional off-road, Parkrun and multi-terrain route to thoroughly put the shoes through their paces.

Running shoe reviews: The test results


We asked the testers to score each shoe in terms of cushioning, comfort and value for money. We averaged these scores below and awarded an overall score.

Asics Nimbus

  • Cushioning – 4/5
  • Comfort – 4/5
  • Value for money – 3/5
  • OVERALL – 73%

The best running shoes for every kind of runner

All agreed that the cushioning was excellent and the quality materials used gave the shoe an undeniably comfortable fit from the moment they pulled it on. Testers were less impressed by the high price compared to other models in this line up.

Asics Metaride

  • Cushioning – 5/5
  • Comfort – 5/5
  • Value for money – 2.5/5
  • OVERALL – 83%

The best running shoes for every kind of runner

At the very forefront of technology, this shoe is noticeably different. Designed to almost propel the foot forward it certainly delivers, with our runners being amazed at the ride and highly responsive feel. The only downside is the high price to pay, but if you can afford it you won’t be disappointed.

Adidas Solar Drive ST

  • Cushioning – 3.5/5
  • Comfort – 3.5/5
  • Value for money – 3.5/5
  • OVERALL – 70%

The best running shoes for every kind of runner

While the Boost cushioning initially feels very springy, our testers had somewhat mixed feelings. Some felt the shoe became a little less springy after regular use. The fit is also very snug and again some found it too tight around the foot, with others loving the sock-like fit.

Brooks Adrenaline GTS

  • Cushioning – 4.5/5
  • Comfort – 5/5
  • Value for money – 5/5
  • OVERALL – 97%

The best running shoes for every kind of runner

High-quality cushioning and a smooth, stable ride mean the shoe offers a dynamic ride that adapts to the individual's foot and running style regardless of speed, weight or running surface. The soft, plush upper has a seamless design and all our testers rated the shoe highly. The price point is bang on the sweet spot of the most competitively priced models on sale, making it great value for money and our top choice.

Mizuno Wave Rider 22

  • Cushioning – 4/5
  • Comfort – 4/5
  • Value for money – 4/5
  • OVERALL – 80%

The best running shoes for every kind of runner

Firmly established in specialist running circles as a reliable and high-performance shoe, the 22nd generation of the Rider continues to impress. The cushioning is a little firmer than some models but provides a stable ride and a high quality finish.

Saucony Jazz 21

  • Cushioning – 3.5/5
  • Comfort – 4/5
  • Value for money – 5/5
  • OVERALL – 83%

The best running shoes for every kind of runner

A no-nonsense design that’s light, flexible and reasonably priced. The Jazz is a great option for beginners, offering good value and easy-to-get-along-with styling.

New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v3

  • Cushioning – 4.5/5
  • Comfort – 4.5/5
  • Value for money – 4/5
  • OVERALL – 86%

The best running shoes for every kind of runner

Another shoe that will suit a wide range of runners thanks to its dynamic support features. This means both runners with a neutral gait (the foot rolls forward naturally without any excessive movement) or those that over-pronate (the foot rolls inwards through the arch as you run) will find the shoe equally as effective for their needs.

The soft cushioning welcomes the foot and the broader fitting upper accommodates even those with wider feet. The modern design makes it a nice choice for the style conscious athlete.

Hoka Clifton 5

  • Cushioning – 4/5
  • Comfort – 3/5
  • Value for money – 3.5/5
  • OVERALL – 70%

The best running shoes for every kind of runner

Using a traditional foam-based cushioning material, and lots of it, this looks strikingly different to the others. It was a shoe that very much split opinion – some of our runners liked the soft feel of the cushioning, while others found the way in which the foot sits flat within the shoe not particularly agreeable.

The feel is unique due to the rocker shape, with ultra distance runners flocking to the brand, perhaps due to the more specific shuffling running style adopted in these type of events. It’s certainly a shoe to try before you buy.

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 35

  • Cushioning – 3.5/5
  • Comfort – 3.5/5
  • Value for money – 3.5/5
  • OVERALL – 70%

The best running shoes for every kind of runner

Historically a great shoe, this latest incarnation of the Pegasus offers lightweight cushioning, but it would have been better had it retained a little of the stability that helped make the model one of the most popular of all time.

ON Cloudswift

  • Cushioning – 3.5/5
  • Comfort – 4.5/5
  • Value for money – 3.5/5
  • OVERALL – 76%

The best running shoes for every kind of runner

The beautifully tailored upper of the Cloudswift gives it instant appeal. The new cushioning material, Helion (the brand’s unique foam compound), and cloud design work well, but the shoe still feels a little firm for some runners. Certainly worthy of consideration if only for its stylish appearance.

Under Armour HOVR Infinite

  • Cushioning – 4.5/5
  • Comfort – 4.5/5
  • Value for money – 4.5/5
  • OVERALL – 90%

The best running shoes for every kind of runner

Get past the vivid colour scheme and these shoes offer deep, plush cushioning that runs and runs. It surprised us with its durability and comfort, a winning combination that puts it right up there with the big running brands. Scoring highly all round, this shoe is a real contender.

The best running shoe reviewed:

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19

With top marks in all areas, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19 finished number one.

Having been around for a quarter of a century, the Adrenaline is a firmly established model. This latest radically updated incarnation was initially greeted with some trepidation, largely because its new support system that guides the foot was seen as a departure from the traditional design. However, it has quickly become a favourite among longtime Adrenaline fans and new users alike.

Thanks to adaptable support that caters well for varying running needs, our testersfound the shoe easy to get along with.

The best running shoes for every kind of runner


The cushioning is deep, with a plush feel and soaks up every lump and bump in the road, making your ride soft and smooth. Durability is great, too, with testers commenting that even after 100 miles or more the shoes still feel brand new.

A seamless upper uses a breathable mesh and is unrestrictive around the foot. Even across the forefoot there’s plenty of room for the foot to spread, giving most feet adequate space.

The best running shoes for every kind of runner

Traction on all surfaces is good, be it the road or park that your usual running route takes.

There’s stiff competition at this price point for first-time runners’ money, but the Brooks manages to deliver a complete package that looks great and performs even better.

Where other brands have fallen short in one department or another, Brooks has managed to improve on an already popular shoe and give it wider appeal.

The best running shoes for every kind of runner

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19
£120
View now at Amazon
View now at Amazon

Best value running shoe reviewed:

Saucony Jazz 21

While it’s at the cheaper end of the running shoe spectrum, £100 is still a good chunk of cash to spend while still expecting value for money and a shoe that can perform well.

With the Saucony Jazz 21, you get both, with a lightweight shoe that delivers in all the key areas without breaking the bank.

The best running shoes for every kind of runner


Its cushioning is top notch and similar to what you’d have found on the many high-tech models just a couple of years ago. Range topping shoes such as the Saucony Triumph, Asics Nimbus and Brooks Ghost have all previously used this type of cushioning, so these premium materials have trickled down into this price point.

The very flexible forefoot adds to its instantly comfortable fit, which is helped by the wraparound nature of the upper. Again, the upper is inherited from a previous, and much more expensive, shoe. So you get the benefit of cutting-edge technology at a very keen price.

For a beginner or price-conscious runner the Saucony Jazz 21 is a great first step.


Comparing the rest on test

There’s no doubt there are plenty of great running shoes available right now, and the technology incorporated into them is at the cutting edge in terms of design, style and performance.

Whilst we’ve rated our best all-round performer and best value choice, amongst the others a few are worthy of specific consideration dependant on your needs.

The adidas Solar Drive ST features the brand’s Boost cushioning, which is popular with gym goers as well as runners. So if cross training is your game you may welcome the natural bounce this shoe offers.

The best running shoes for every kind of runner


Under Armour is a popular brand with the younger audience thanks to its stylish design, but it’s good to know we found the HOVR Infinite a solid performer and able to keep pace with the rest in terms of cushioning and durability.

If money is no object and you’re looking for a shoe that offers marginal gains, then the ASICS Metaride is a shoe to try. The push off it delivers is almost unreal and will certainly get other manufacturers to up their game.

Any running shoes to avoid?

There are no bad running shoes on our shortlist but not all of these will suit everyone’s tastes. It’s simply a case of finding the best shoe for you, and that’s always a very personal decision to make.

The overall fit and feel is the number one consideration when making your choice, and the shoe should just feel ‘right’. Even top-of-the-range £200 shoes won’t suit everyone.

Watch out for those that have very specific features, such as models from Hoka that have a low heel drop and rocker sole, or the ON Cloudswift with its unique cushioning construction. Both are good options and plenty of runners happily cover many miles in them every week, but make sure you try them first in store to see how you find their unique traits.

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