Running is one of the most demanding ways to stay in shape. Running is hard, and that’s a fact. But running improves heart health, cardiovascular fitness, and muscular strength. It also reduces stress and mental health fatigue. To get the benefits, you need to put the work in. But you can’t put the work in without the right gear.

What you need to get you there — quite literally — is a pair of great running shoes. You can’t pull on any old trainers and expect to run a marathon or smash your personal best. In fact, hitting the track with shoes that aren’t purpose built for running will only make it harder. And they could even hamper you with injuries.

The first thing you’ll notice when shopping for running shoes is just how many options there are. It can be totally overwhelming. That’s why we’re here to help. We’ve put in the legwork and condensed all the essential information and options below.

What are the best running shoe brands?

You’re likely to come across a lot of big names, like Adidas and Nike. These brands have a wide range of running shoes for every budget, with some exceptional examples that make the cut in this roundup. We’ve also included running shoes from specialist brands such as Hoka and Saucony. There’s something for everyone.

What are neutral running shoes?

If you’re new to running — or even just a casual runner — you might not be aware of the technical jargon. Neutral running shoes are for runners who have a neutral gait — which means they don’t overpronate when they run. A neutral running gait means the outside heel of the foot makes the first contact with the ground and heel then smoothly rolls in, so the rest of the foot makes contact with the ground. The foot then pushes off with all the toes at once. Roughly half of all runners have a neutral running style and most running shoes, unless stated otherwise, tend to be neutral.

What is overpronation?

This is when you roll your foot inward, meaning your feet are never entirely flat on the ground. The inside of the foot touches the ground and they push off with the big toes. It’s also possible to underpronate, where the outer foot makes contact. If you’re prone to pronation, look at getting a pair of stability running shoes. These are designed to give support and offset pronation. They improve comfort and reduce the risk of injury.

What are the most important features in running shoes?

There are lots of factors to consider before buying a pair of running shoes — all of which will determine the kinds of features you need. For instance, what surface will you be running on? What kinds of distances will you be taking on? Does your gait require something more specialist? Some basic features to look out for include:

  • The midsole — This is built into the sole and provides cushioning and shock absorption.

  • The upper — The top section of the shoe. It’s typically made out of high-performance mesh to keep air circulating around your feet.

  • The heel counter — This is the moulding at the back of the shoe that keeps your foot secured.

  • The medial post — A stabilising mechanism found in stability shoes.

  • The toe box The bit where you toes go, of course.

We’re not expecting you to thoroughly investigate every shoe on the market. But it’s useful to have these things in mind when making your selection.

What are the best running shoes?

We’ll level with you: There isn’t an objectively superior running shoe that we’re going to recommend above all the others. Everyone is different, with a different set of requirements and preferences. To find a running shoe that works for you, it’s important to properly consider the fit, support, style, and of course, price. The options highlighted below should be a good place to start. So, on your marks….

These are the best running shoes in 2024.

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