Newton Motion, $175
Lace ’em up: If you want protection and support without sacrificing speed
Find another: If you aren’t accustomed to a low-profile heel (or the hefty pricetag)
Although Newton categorizes the Motion as a stability shoe, it qualifies as a racing flat by typical standards because of its “comfortable, flexible and responsive ride,” said one tester. Its pronation resistance is subtle, and the shoe’s external actuator lugs—the four rectangular pieces of rubber that stick out of the shoe’s midsole—are made to return the energy back to you. Our testers found this unique construction demands a mid-foot or forefoot gait, which they deemed perfect for fast training days and races. After several runs, the lugs felt natural.
Pearl Izumi W Streak II, $115
Lace ’em up: For the perfect balance of structure and lightweight freedom
Find another: If you want the lightest shoe possible
Responsive, snappy, agile and flexible are some of the words testers used to describe the Streak II. Although other shoes in this review drew similar praise, none of those also boast adjectives such as supportive, structured and resilient. The Streak II finds the “ideal balance” between a fast and free racer and a training shoe that shares the burden of running on tired legs. With just a tiny bit of arch support, they’re great for long, hard runs and 5K burns. Testers found the fit to be on the small side, tightly securing the heel and forefoot, which further adds to the responsive feeling.
Nike Free Run+ 3, $100
Lace ’em up: For a liberating yet comfortable cushioned racer
Find another: If your feet struggle to support themselves
Although the shoes are roomy, they securely connect with the foot, even when running on soft surfaces. “It’s almost like the shoe molds to your foot when you put it on,” said one tester. If you’re a mid-foot striker, you’ll notice that the Free Run+ 3 “provides just the right amount of support for your arches,” according to one tester. The famous Free sole offers more than just flexibility. “Its combination of responsiveness and cushioning makes it something you could be confident wearing if you wanted to PR in a sprint race or for a half-Ironman,” raved one wear tester.