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The 21 Best Running Shoes For Every Kind of Run

We took a look at 21 new and recent shoes and broke each down into their ideal use: long runs, recovery runs, tempo runs, runs while you travel, and more. Take a look at our top picks (and honorable mentions) for every run under the sun.


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Though we can’t all be lucky enough to have a mountainous pile of shoes waiting at our front door, shoe reviewers get to wear more shoes in more types of situations than anyone else. And while you don’t need a special pair of shoes for each type of run you do (though there’s nothing wrong with that either!), there’s value in knowing which model shoe works best for what type of run. Maybe you rotate two pairs? Maybe your tempos haven’t been as speedy as you’d like. Maybe you’re in the market for a new pair of race-day shoes for an upcoming Ironman, but don’t understand the difference between race flats, long-run shoes, and the ideal long-course race-day shoe.

Read on below for our top picks and honorable mentions for each type of run. Not interested in one of our recommendations? Take a look at our guide to choosing the right shoe for the right day.

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Long, Slow Runs

Our Pick: HOKA Rincon 3

$115, hoka.com, 7.7 oz

38 mm heel/24 mm forefoot

The Rincon 3 is right on the mark for long training runs, all in an outstandingly lightweight package. HOKA improved the third version with a vented mesh upper that features an asymmetric tongue and enhanced high-abrasion rubber coverage for durability. The midsole foam features dramatic cutouts of what was already super light full-compression EVA sculpted for a revised early-stage rocker shape that embraces the foot, providing full ground contact and a smooth yet quick acceleration to toe-off.

Our Pick: On Running Cloudstratus

$170, on-running.com, 10.9 oz

28 mm heel/20 mm forefoot

Via the application of a double decker version of the brand’s loops or “Clouds” made of a lightweight foam material, this is On Running’s most cushioned shoe . The cushioning is connected to a rigid plastic speedboard for protection, energy return, midsole longevity, and control. The forefoot is wider than other On models so your feet can splay out, and the fit is better for higher volume feet. The polyester upper is 75% recycled material and is quite durable.

Honorable Mention: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22

$150, brooksrunning.com, 10.4 oz

27 mm heel/ 17 mm forefoot

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Long Tempo

Our Pick: New Balance FuelCell Rebel v2

$130, newbalance.com, 7.3 oz

26 mm heel/ 20 mm forefoot

The FuelCell Rebel’s reincarnation was a full rebirth, as round two is completely different from the original with a prominent outrigger and responsive plate. Version two features generous cushioning without compromising responsiveness for a fluid, yet propulsive ride. The asymmetrical construction and wide forefoot work with the foot’s natural motion in a breathable and comfortable upper that neither pinches nor chafes. The high-rebound FuelCell midsole is soft but not so much that the road protrudes into your foot and matches the outsole in terms of durability.

Our Pick: Saucony Endorphin Speed 2

$160, saucony.com, 7.9 oz

39 mm heel/ 31 mm forefoot

Saucony didn’t mess with the success of the first Endorphin Speed, but instead mildly tweaked the upper, while leaving this quasi-super shoe as-is—retaining its outstanding semi-flexible nylon plate. Round two features the same midsole PWRRUN PB foam as the Endorphin Pro to help it act as the performance trainer that it is, complete with a soft, smooth, and slightly bouncy ride. It remains versatile enough for effective running at faster paces for tempo workouts, fartleks, and intervals—as well as moderate paces for long runs.

Honorable Mention: Under Armour Flow Velociti Wind

$160, underarmour.com, 8.5 oz

33 mm heel/ 25 mm forefoot

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Speedwork

Our Pick: Brooks Hyperion Tempo

$150, brooksrunning.com, 7.2oz

31 mm heel/ 23mm forefoot

This shoe uses a nitrogen-infused midsole foam for a smooth, energy-returning and comfortable ride. The Tempo responds quickly when accelerating and holds up well over a variety of distances, shining without a carbon plate or a massive stack of cushioning. The upper is breathable, pliable, and featherlight. It weds nicely to the flexible, bouncy midsole and outsole made of minimal carbon rubber—strategically cut out and placed on the heel, forefoot, and in front of the toes to reduce weight and enhance flexibility while improving durability in high-wear areas.

Our Pick: Topo Cyclone

$120, topoathletic.com, 7.9 oz

28 mm heel/ 23 mm forefoot

Topo keeps its formula of a naturally-fitting, anatomically-wide toe box with a low heel-toe offset and applies it to this clean design, using an energetic EVA midsole and ZipFoam core. The Cyclone is smooth riding, stable, and quick off the ground with a bonus that the ZipFoam is less prone to compacting than traditional midsoles. With a moderate stack height the neutral Cyclone remains light and nimble, and the engineered seamless mesh upper is airy.

Honorable Mention: Asics Metaracer

$200, asics.com, 6.7 oz

24 mm heel/ 15 mm forefoot

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Recovery

Our Pick: Brooks Aurora-BL

$200, brooksrunning.com, 8.5 oz

37 mm heel/ 31 mm forefoot

These smooth-flowing trainers are highly-cushioned and feel natural-yet-resilient at a wide variety of paces. They use wholly decoupled heel and forefoot midsole components for independent, natural motion and “Glide Roll technology” engineered for fluid heel-toe transitioning. The nitrogen-injected DNA Loft v3 cushioning was integrated for lighter, softer, more responsive underfoot action, using a large-cell foaming process to manufacture the compound without compromising durability.  The Aurora-BL is an energetic, soft, and fun shoe that serves well for dead legs—providing TLC on recovery runs.

Our Pick: Altra Torin 5 Luxe

$155, altrarunning.com, 9.2 oz

28mm heel/ 28 mm forefoot

The Torin 5 Luxe is like running on a firm mattress, and the Quantic foam and EGO MAX midsole with a 28 mm stack height serves well to soften every step, coddling your feet luxuriously. Even with such a generous serving of cushioning, the Torin remains relatively light and the wide toe box is also a welcome bonus for those with high-volume feet or who like to splay out their toes. The engineered knit upper is supportive and, as with the midsole resilience and general construction, holds up well from a durability perspective.

Honorable Mention: HOKA Mach 4

$130, hokaoneone.com, 8.6 oz

29 mm heel / 24 mm forefoot

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5K, 10K race, Sprint, Olympic-Distance Race Day

Our Pick: Nike Zoom AlphaFly Next%

$275, nike.com, 7.4 oz

40 mm heel/ 36 mm forefoot

Nike tuned these super shoes so the rocker crescendos gradually and then shoots you forward with improved cushioning and running economy. The AlphaFly Next% features the critical components of a full-length carbon fiber plate (for stability and to smooth the transitions), Nike ZoomX Cushioning (lightweight and provides optimal energy return), and side-by-side forefoot Nike Zoom Air Pods (for added cushioning and increased energy return). The underfoot experience is that of the foam compressing and subsequent rebounding explosion, one that feels like running on a trampoline with outstanding forward propulsion. Think: being launched!

Our Pick: Asics MetaSpeed Sky

$250, asics.com, 7.0 oz

33 mm heel/ 28 mm forefoot

Engineered for those with longer strides, the MetaSpeed Sky is designed to extend stride length with consistent cadence. The rocker shape kicks in early, before the ball of the foot, and stabilizes the long strides by setting a sharply-curved, rigid, full-length carbon plate in an energetic midsole foam which also reduces ankle flexion. The engineered mesh upper is quite comfortable and stretchy, breaths well, and is made from 100% recycled polyester.

Honorable Mention: HOKA Rocket X

$180, hokaoneone.com, 7.4 oz

32 mm heel/ 27 mm forefoot

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Half Marathon, Marathon, 70.3, 140.6 Race Day

Our Pick: HOKA Carbon X2

$180, hokaoneone.com, 8.4 oz

32 mm heel/ 27 mm forefoot

Made with the 100km world record in mind and a dual focus of sustainable speed and comfortable performance, HOKA tinkered with the original Carbon X, incorporating a lighter, softer foam midsole and smoothing the gait cycle with a wider forefoot and slightly modified rocker. The engineered mesh upper is also more supple and breathable. More of an ideal iron-distance racing shoe, the Carbon X2 boasts the performance benefits of a super shoe when one might not have the biomechanics or strength required by the mostly-stiff super shoe models that demand runners to be up on their toes before they reap the shoes’ “superness.”

Our Pick: Puma Deviate Nitro Elite

$200, puma.com, 6.7 oz

36 mm heel/ 28 mm forefoot

Puma’s Deviate Nitro Elites are best classified as “semi-super shoes” because they work well for most mortal runners and have some bounce but are neither rigid nor unstable—making them well suited for half and full marathons. The nitro-infused PEBA-based midsole foam is soft but not squishy, with a bouncy, responsive feel from touchdown to push-off. The rocker is present but with a more moderate, rounded curve than the sharp drop-off found on other super shoes. It’s also a bit less rigid, making the Nitro Elite more accessible, but also slightly reducing the propulsive roll and pop.

Honorable Mention: NB FuelCell RC Elite v2

$225, newbalance.com, 7.8 oz

39 mm heel/ 31 mm forefoot

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“Grab Bag Travel Shoe”

Our Pick: Brooks Catamount

$160, brooksrunning.com, 9.6 oz

32 mm heel/ 26 mm heel

Brooks uses its nitro-infused foam midsole, the same bouncy DNA Flash foam that powers the Hyperion Tempo and Elite, in this performance model that fares well on and off trails. It doesn’t skimp on protection underfoot, however, with full-coverage sticky rubber outsole and a ballistic rockplate to block sharp things from poking, together with lively rebounding foam. The simple, breathable, stretchy mesh upper holds comfortably. The Catamount holds its own on roads—despite the stiff underfoot protection—making them a great candidate for long runs where you cross over multiple types of terrain.

Our Pick: Asics GEL-Nimbus Lite 2

$150, asics.com, 9.1 oz

25 mm heel / 15 mm forefoot men’s; 27 mm heel/ 14 mm forefoot women’s

A long-distance neutral lightweight trainer for modern times, the Nimbus Lite 2 brings welcome changes to the still-new model. This version retains its FLYTEFOAM midsole and clean, eco-friendly upper, but re-engineers the design by sculpting the midsole to make it leaner and meaner. The result is a more flexible and performance-oriented shoe that balances lightness in weight and comfort in fit. Testers especially appreciated Asics’ attention to gender differences, with more stability and durability for men and a lighter weight and higher heel-toe drop for women.

Honorable Mention: Salomon Sense Ride 4

$120, salomon.com, 11 oz

27 mm heel / 19 mm forefoot