Whether you’re chasing a fastest 5K or a marathon PB, these are the best running shoes for the job…
When it comes to upping the mileage or smashing your PBs, donning a pair of the best running shoes can make a huge difference. Alongside keeping your feet comfortable while pounding the pavements or hitting the trails, modern trainers also offer a range of features to enhance your stride, every step of the way.
To help you put your best foot forward, we put a selection of the latest running shoes through their paces – here’s the cream of the crop…
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Best running shoes 2023
|Beginners||New Balance Fresh Foam X More v4 ($149.99 / £140)|
|Daily running||On Cloudsurfer ($159.99 / £150)|
|Neutral runners||On Cloudflow ($159.99 / £150)|
|Fast running||Nike Vaporfly 3 ($250 / £235)|
|All-out racing||Hoka Rocket X 2 ($250 / £220)|
|Overpronators||Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23 ($140 / £135)|
|Half marathons||Under Armour Flow Velociti Elite ($250 / £220)|
|Marathons||New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite V3 ($230 / £220)|
|Easy recovery runs||New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v13 ($165 / £160)|
|Maximum cushioning||Brooks Ghost Max ($150 / £140)|
|Cruising trails||Altra Outroad 2 ($139.95 / £130)|
Best for beginners
New Balance Fresh Foam X More v4
|Materials||Fresh Foam X midsole; Engineered mesh upper (made of 50% or more recycled materials)|
|Colours||Black with Phantom / Arctic Grey with Natural Indigo / Cobalt with Black|
This is a heavily cushioned but surprisingly light trainer (given just how much shoe there is) that will serve beginners – or anyone looking to up their weekly mileage – very well.
The full-length midsole is cushioned to the max, giving heavier runners or those unsure about their technique the chance to increase their distances without fear of impact-related injuries.
Read our full New Balance Fresh Foam X More v4 review
Best for daily running
|Materials||Helion™ superfoam midsole; Rubber outsole|
|Colours||White Frost / Black / Flame White / Black Cobalt / White Sand|
The On Cloudsurfer 7 is a light, lively, comfortable and well-balanced daily trainer with enough versatility to handle everything from easy miles up to faster training efforts. Its newly shaped Cloud elements collapse in sequence like dominos as you move through your transition, to create softer landings and springier toe-offs in a rolling motion.
Up top, you’ve got a soft dual-layer mesh upper that’s thick but breathable enough. It wraps the foot nicely to ensure good step-in comfort with plush but-not-overcooked padding in the heels and tongue. There’s a rolling, snappy, responsive and springy ride that’s not too aggressive. They’re noticeably softer than many On shoes with good cushioning that avoids feeling flaccid.
Read our full On Cloudsurfer review
Best for neutral runners
|Materials||Helion™ superfoam; Recycled polyester|
|Colours||9 colours available|
‘Swiss-engineered’ is shorthand for ‘really well made’, and although Swiss brand ON is less than a decade old, it’s already established itself as a shining light in the running shoe game.
Its goal was to revolutionise the sensation of running, with soft landings and explosive take-offs, and that’s exactly what the Cloudflow does.
Whether it’s a 5k, 10k or marathon, the Cloudflow’s versatility makes it stand out from the crowd. Lightweight, reinforced and well-ventilated, the advanced traction pattern on the sole also offers superior grip on wet and slippery terrain.
The Helion™ superfoam, meanwhile, ensures a smooth ride, giving comfort, kick and more speed, and the curved heel unit means better hold, durability and comfort.
Elsewhere, the strategic taping and a new lacing configuration offers sure-footed freedom and support for high-speed goals.
Best for fast running
Nike Vaporfly 3
|Materials||ZoomX foam; Carbon fibre flyplate|
|Colours||White and Particle Grey / Sail and Orange|
The third generation Vaporfly has some refinements compared to its successful predecessor and is now the lightest carbon super shoe around. The ZoomX midsole is softer too, improving cushioned protection and boosting its marathon credentials.
It’s still as quick and punchy as the outgoing model though so won’t let you down when you need a turn of speed. But there’s reassuring stability here for when your form starts to get ragged deep into long races. One for PB chasers of all distances.
Read our full Nike Vaporfly 3 review
Best for all-out racing
Hoka Rocket X 2
|Materials||Technical synthetic mesh upper; Carbon fibre plate|
|Colours||Ceramic / Evening Primrose|
A big improvement over the first generation Rocket X, Hoka at last has a super shoe capable of going toe-to-toe with the big guns. The new X 2 is a carbon racer rebuilt for guns-blazing racing and faster training efforts.
At $250 / £220, it’s good value for a top-end race shoe and boasts superb versatility too – this is a shoe that feels nimble and race-ready whatever pace or distance you put it through.
Read our full Hoka Rocket X 2 review
Best for overpronators
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23
|Materials||60% recycled materials|
|Colours||Peacoat / Green Gecko / Black & Hawaiian / Black & Ebony / Blue|
The Brooks Adrenaline line has been providing stability to runners who overpronate for more than 20 years. It’s latest iteration carried on this tradition, but now uses a novel GuardRail which helps you keep form even as you tire.
Featuring at 12mm heel-toe drop, it’s a good choice for heel-strikers. With reliable comfort and support as well as bags of responsiveness it’s a daily trainer that punches well above its weight.
Read our full Brook Adrenaline GTS 23 review
Best for half marathons
Under Armour Flow Velociti Elite
|Materials||Flow foam; WARP 2.0 mesh upper; Carbon plate|
|Colours||Black & White / White & Beta / White & Sonar Blue / Aqua Foam & Lime Surge|
Under Armour has released its first carbon race shoe to compete with the Nike Alphafly, Adidas Adios Pro 3 and the Saucony Endorphin Elite. The Under Armour Velociti Elite features stripped-down, lightweight uppers, a big-stack, super-foam midsole and a carbon plate.
It’s roomy across the top of the foot but still maintains a compact and secure feel on the foot with good heel hold and padding, plus reliable lockdown across the top of the midfoot. Like all Under Armour shoes, it’s firm underfoot and lacks the punch of more energetic carbon shoes. It’s still lively, but more direct – if you like more ground-feel, this could be the super shoe for you.
That firmness means it has middle-distance PBs written all over it. However, marathon runners will probably need more cushioning in the final hour of a 26.2-mile test.
Read our full Under Armour Velociti Elite review
Best for marathons
New Balance Fuelcell SuperComp Elite V3
|Materials||EVA/TPU foam midsole; Carbon plate|
|Colours||Yellow and Orange / White / Red and Blue|
The New Balance Fuelcell SuperComp Elite V3 is well worth a look if you’re hunting for a shoe that packs marathon PB potential. An impressive upgrade to the RC Elite V2, it’s light, agile and built for speed and is another excellent carbon shoe designed for guns-blazing race-day miles.
It’s lively, energetic and responsive with snappy transitions and a smooth turnover at top paces. There’s just enough cushioning too and when fatigue inevitably kicks in and form goes ragged, it’s more stable and forgiving than some carbon super shoes, and that boosts the Elite V3’s marathon credentials.
Read our full New Balance Fuelcell SuperComp Elite V3 review
Best for easy recovery runs
New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080V13
|Materials||Fresh Foam X midsole; Ndurance rubber outsole|
|Colours||Marine Blue with Night Sky / Black with White / Black with Blacktop / Grey Matter with Shadow Grey / Starlight with Marine Blue|
Taking the trademark comfort of New Balance’s 1080 line and dialling it up even further, the Fresh Foam X 1080V13 is the perfect choice for long, slow runs.
Naturally, the focus on big cushioning means anyone wanting to run light and fast will be better served elsewhere, but for anything at easy, conversational pace you won’t find a more comfortable option.
Read our full New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v13 review
Best for maximum cushioning
Brooks Ghost Max
|Materials:||DNA Loft V2, 56.4% recycled uppers|
|Weight:||10oz / 283.5g|
|Colours:||Red orange, crown blue, black, black and atomic blue|
Brooks has taken the DNA Loft V2 cushioning found on its popular Ghost 15 and doubled the number it first thought of. That extra cushioning creates a comfortable mile-muncher of a cruising shoe.
A GlideRoll rocker injects some life into its platform for smooth heel-to-toe transitions. And bags of grip around the forefoot and heel inspire confidence when running over slippery terrain.
Read our full Brooks Ghost Max review
Best for cruising trails
Altra Outroad 2
|Materials:||Altra EGO™ midsole, MaxTrak™ outsole|
|Weight:||10.6oz / 286g|
|Colours:||Grey and green, blue and yellow, red and black, neon and blue|
A wide platform, zero-drop design and roomy toebox are standout features on the Altra Outroad 2. If you’re after a plush road-to-trail runner and aren’t too concerned with out-and-out speed or agility, the Outroad 2 will keep you cruising in comfort.
Offering good grip on a range of surfaces, a lightweight feel and balanced cushioning thanks to that 27mm EGO midsole foam, it’s a real mile-muncher at a decent price.
Read our full Altra Outroad 2 review
How we tested to find the best running shoes
Our testers put each shoe through their paces over a mixture of distances and paces to see where they excel, and clocked up significant distances in each one to examine how they wear over time.
Each reviewer focused on speed, stability and comfort during test runs, while also assessing the effectiveness of any high-tech features on offer. Their detailed reviews are sure to help you choose the right shoe for the running you do.
How to find the right running shoe for you
Every runner’s biochemistry is unique, which means certain shoes will be perfect for some and terrible for others. That said, there are three key things everyone needs to consider when trainer shopping.
- Firstly, the shoe should fit your foot snugly, without having to do the laces up tight.
- Secondly, the shoe should naturally flow with your stride (and make you want to run faster).
- Finally, the shoe should fit your running mechanics, meaning if you start to feel irritation in areas that have bothered you in the past, that’s a sign you’re not wearing the right pair.
When is the best time to run?
A new study from sportsshoes.com has revealed that 7pm on a Sunday – in April or October, to be specific – is the most popular time for smashing PBs. The research looked at the time that 35,000 social media users posted PB photos, using over 15 hashtags relating to personal bests, and cross-referenced the posts with the fitness activities they depicted, to reveal the most successful times.