Running shoes

The Best Running Shoes Of 2022

Find the right running shoes for you with our recommendations of road running shoes, stability shoes, trail shoes and more

Nick Harris-Fry
2 Jan 2022

When embarking on a running kick, the one piece of kit it’s really worth putting some time into selecting is a top-notch pair of running shoes.

You can of course run in any old shoes, but that could well put you on the fast track to injuries, sluggish times and a generally unpleasant experience. In contrast, the right pair of shoes will help you find the motivation to get out there and pound the pavements.

What makes for the perfect pair depends on an individual’s aims, speed, running style and even fashion sensibilities. Don’t disregard the last factor – you want to feel good in these shoes if you’re going to be covering hundreds of miles in them.

Our recommendations are based on running at least 70km in each pair

Below you’ll find our favourites in different categories, the vast majority being road running shoes. Everything’s based on our experience of running at least 70km in them, and we’ve tried such a wide range of shoes that we’re confident calling out pairs that have something really special about them with an Editor’s Choice badge. 

All the same, different runners will get different things from every shoe, so make sure to factor in your own experience when picking your new kicks. But hopefully somewhere on the list is a pair that’s set to carry you to PBs across every distance.

Best Beginner Running Shoe: New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11

Experienced runners will find the 1080v11 a solid workhorse shoe to pair with a speedier option for intervals and races, but relative newcomers will find it a great all-rounder. It’s durable and comfortable, but not so soft and squishy that you can’t speed up when you want to, and it’s surprisingly light given the generous stack of cushioning. It’s perfect if you’re running regularly for fun and the health benefits, rather than chasing PBs, and it’s the ideal companion for tackling a first half marathon or marathon. At £135 new runners might consider it a mite expensive, but the 1080 line is often in sales, and the previous version is reasonably similar to the v11 if you are hoping to save a few quid.

Buy men’s from New Balance | Buy women’s from New Balance | £135 | New Balance 1080v11 review

Best All-Rounder Running Shoe: Saucony Endorphin Speed 2

The Saucony Endorphin Speed was our favourite new release of 2020, and the updated Endorphin Speed 2 sticks to the same blueprint as its predecessor, which means it has a good chance at being our favourite shoe of 2021. The Speed is billed as the training partner to Saucony’s Endorphin Pro 2 carbon plate racer, but we found it the best do-it-all trainer going, comfortable enough for easy runs while still snappy enough for fast training and racing.

That’s down to the combination of Saucony’s PWRRUN PB responsive foam and a nylon – rather than carbon – plate in the midsole, which makes for a more comfortable ride. It’s slightly slower than the carbon Endorphin Pro, but only very slightly, and the extra comfort of the Speed makes it far more versatile.

The differences from the first Endorphin Speed are negligible, mostly consisting of minor changes to the upper. So if you see a great deal on the original Endorphin Speed, snap it up. There is also a Runshield version of the Endorphin Speed 2 (men’s | women’s) which has a water-resistant upper with a thermal layer, which makes it more enjoyable to use in the winter, though it does cost £10 more than the standard Speed 2.

Buy men’s from Saucony | Buy women’s from Saucony | £155 | Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 review

The Best All-Rounder Running Shoe Under £150: Hoka One One Mach 4

The Endorphin Speed is an excellent shoe, but it’s also pretty expensive and, worse still, often sold out for long periods. The Mach 4 is cheaper, nearly always available and just as impressively versatile. The soft but speedy ride of the shoe is ideal for handling all your training, and it’s also suited to racing half marathons and beyond. It doesn’t quite have the top-end speed of the Endorphin or a pure racer, and lacks the propulsive effects of a plate, but it is more comfortable and responsive enough that it won’t let you down on race day if you’re a runner who gets by with one pair of running shoes.

Buy men’s from Hoka One One | Buy women’s from Hoka One One | £125 | Hoka One One Mach 4 review

Best For £100 Or Under: Puma Velocity Nitro

The Velocity Nitro is one of the best new shoes we’ve tested in 2021 full stop, so the fact it costs a flat £100 is just the cherry on top. Its marketing suggests it’s for easy training, but we found the Velocity Nitro versatile enough to cover all your runs including speedwork, and it would be a fine long-distance racer as well. The nitrogen-infused EVA foam midsole is soft and comfortable, but there’s still enough pop for you to pick up the pace easily. The shoe also has an excellent outsole that provides grip in all conditions and looks unlikely to wear down prematurely, so you’ll be getting even more durability bang for your buck. If your budget stops at £100, buy this shoe, and even if you do have more cash to spend the Velocity Nitro is well worth considering.

Buy men’s from Puma | Buy women’s from Puma | £100 | Puma Velocity Nitro review

Most Comfortable Running Shoe: Brooks Glycerin 19

Brooks’s Glycerin line is built for comfort alone, with a big stack of plush cushioning underfoot and soft padding around the collar and on the tongue of the shoe. It’s ideal for new and heavier runners looking for protection from the impact of the sport, and even though it’s by no means a speedy shoe, if your plan is to finish a marathon in one piece it’s a great option for that too.

The 19th edition of the shoe sticks to the line’s winning formula, with Brooks opting simply to add even more of the soft DNA Loft cushioning to the midsole. To be fair to Brooks, this has been achieved while making the shoe slightly lighter, and it feels ever so slightly speedier to us too. Still, this isn’t a shoe for smashing out quick stuff – it’s all about that luxurious comfort.

One other update with the new shoe is that Brooks has also released the Glycerin 19 GTS, which is a stability version of the shoe. If you’ve long hankered for the comfort of the Glycerin but have steered clear because you need a stability shoe, Christmas has come early.

Buy men’s from Brooks | Buy women’s from Brooks | £140 | Brooks Glycerin 19 review

The Best Road Racing Shoe: Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%

Coach Running Shoe Awards Best Racing Shoe Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%

In news that will surprise no-one, the consumer version of the shoe Eliud Kipchoge wore to run a sub-two-hour marathon is an incredibly good road running shoe. While it largely follows the Vaporfly blueprint – soft, light and springy ZoomX foam paired with a carbon plate – the Alphafly makes a few crucial changes.

One is simply that there’s more ZoomX foam – the stack is very high – but the more important one is the addition of two Air Zoom pods in the forefoot of the shoe. These are firmer and more responsive than the ZoomX foam, resulting in a more punchy toe-off, which gives it the edge for setting fast times.

We’ve now logged half marathon and marathon PBs in the Alphafly, and have found it surprisingly good for shorter races too. However, in 5K and 10K events there is a case for using the Vaporfly NEXT% 2, because it is lighter and more stable when taking turns at the faster paces of those shorter races. It’s also very close between the two Nikes for half marathons and marathons, so the fact that the Vaporfly 2 is £50 cheaper might make it a more attractive option to many runners, even though we think the Alphafly just outperforms it.

Buy men's from Nike | Buy women's from Nike | £259.99 | Nike Alphafly NEXT% review

Best Value Carbon Racing Shoe: Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 2

It might be a sign of how much carbon shoes have skewed the market that £180 can be considered good value, but that is where we are, and the Adios Pro 2 offers a genuine super-shoe experience for a lot less than most of its rivals. The Lightstrike Pro foam in the midsole isn’t as soft as the ZoomX and FuelCell foams used by Nike and New Balance respectively, but the Adios Pro 2 does deliver a propulsive ride enhanced by the five carbon EnergyRods that run under the forefoot.

A notable feature on the Pro 2 is the cut-out on the inside of the midsole. This reduces the weight of the shoe but can make it feel unstable when you’re not running at fast paces, so we wouldn’t advise using this for a lot of training as well. In our experience, the Adios Pro 2 is at its best for longer races, but it still has the pace for 5K and 10K as well. We still rate the Nike super-shoes and the Asics Metaspeed Sky ahead of it, but when the Adidas offers a £40+ saving, that’s a tricky choice to make.

Buy from Adidas | £180 | Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 2 review

Best Stability Running Shoe: Asics Gel-Kayano 27

As the name suggests, this is the 27th iteration of the Kayano line, which should give some idea of how popular it is with runners who are looking for extra support to avoid overpronation. The medial support system will stop your foot rolling too far, while the Flytefoam in the sole will help you bounce through long-distance runs at speed. With the latest update, Asics has adjusted the sole to help support a smooth roll from heel to toe and soften your landings.

Buy men’s from Asics | Buy women’s from Asics | £155 (currently reduced to £108)

Best Stability Racing Shoe: Saucony Fastwitch 9

Most stability shoes are pretty hefty numbers, with the anti-pronation features added to the midsole adding more weight than is ideal for race day. The Fastwitch 9 bucks that trend, offering a touch of extra stability while still being a bona fide race shoe, weighing under 200g and providing just a little cushioning to help protect your legs in events like the marathon while remaining lightweight and nimble.

Buy men’s from Saucony | Buy women’s from Saucony | £100

Best Trail-Running Shoe: Hoka One One Torrent 2

The Torrent is a terrific all-round trail shoe that can handle hard, rocky ground and soft, muddy ground alike, as well as being both cushioned and quick so you can use it for short and long off-road ventures. The Profly midsole provides a responsive enough ride for racing too, and that cushioning means you’ll have enough support even if you have ultramarathons in mind.

In general the best trail shoe for you is the one that’s best suited to the type of terrain you’ll be running on most of the time, whether that’s one that can find grip on rocks or one with deep lugs to navigate bogs. However, if you like to mix up your terrain then you can’t go wrong with the Torrent 2.

Buy men’s from Hoka One One | Buy women’s from Hoka One One | £110

Best Racing Flat: Saucony Type A9

While many are now turning to the Nike Vaporfly or similarly lightweight yet cushioned shoes for their racing, some still prefer old-school racing flats like the Type A9, which is purely designed for speedy running. With very little cushioning the shoe’s weight is kept at just 170g (men’s), and as a result it’s not suited to running anything longer than a 10K for most people. But the A9 will undoubtedly help you excel over shorter races and interval workouts thanks to the snappy, firm ride of the shoe.

Buy men’s from Saucony | Buy women’s from Saucony | £100 | Saucony Type A9 review

Running Shoe Reviews

We’ve tried plenty of shoes before selecting the stand-outs above, but if you’d like to widen your search for your next purchase, read on for our impressions of the shoes that didn’t quite make the cut.

Adidas Adistar

This mega-stack shoe is designed to provide a lot of protection when cruising through your easy runs. Despite a massive amount of cushioning, the Adistar delivers a surprisingly smooth and enjoyable ride thanks to its rocker geometry. On easy runs, it feels much lighter than it is, and those looking for a max-cushioned shoe that’s firmer and more stable than the likes of the Nike Invincible and Asics Novablast 2 might find the Adistar fits the bill. It does lack versatility, however, and feels unwieldy if you move beyond easy paces, so unless you stick to relaxed runs or have a rotation with faster shoes in it, the Adistar may not work for you.

Buy men’s from Adidas | Buy women’s from Adidas | £120 | Adidas Adistar review

Skechers GoRun MaxRoad 5

The use of lightweight, nitrogen-infused Hyberburst foam makes the MaxRoad 5 a versatile option that works well for pacier runs as well as easy sessions. That’s partly due to the H-shaped carbon-infused plate in the midsole, which provides stability despite the high stack, and a pronounced rocker to help roll you on to your toes with each stride. As a result the MaxRoad 5 is one of the more versatile max-cushioned shoes available, though the trade-off is that we didn’t find it as comfortable as others like the Adidas Adistar and Nike Invincible on purely easy efforts.

Buy men’s from Skechers | Buy women’s from Skechers | £130

Nike Zoom Fly 4

The Zoom Fly was once the premier fast training shoe on the market, but the latest version faces more competition than ever and we rate several options above it, including the Saucony Endorphin Speed 2, New Balance FuelCell TC and Nike’s own Tempo NEXT%. The main problem with the Zoom Fly 4 is that the React midsole doesn’t deliver the dynamic ride of other foams. The shoe feels heavy and a bit cumbersome at fast paces despite having a carbon plate, and isn’t that comfortable for easy running.

Buy from Sports Shoes | £144.95 | Nike Zoom Fly 4 review

Hoka Bondi X

The Bondi X is a new kind of carbon shoe, one pitched as a training option for the masses that doesn’t aspire to be particularly quick. As a souped-up version of the comfortable Bondi, the Bondi X does have a little more pop on faster runs thanks to the plate, but in general it’s best used for easy and long runs. The big question is whether you need a £180 carbon shoe for that. We also simply didn’t enjoy the ride of the Bondi X that much – it’s a hefty beast, and the ride is firmer than many highly stacked shoes without offering a lot of speed.

Buy men’s from Hoka | Buy women’s from Hoka | £180 | Hoka Bondi X review

Puma Magnify Nitro

The most cushioned option in Puma’s Nitro line-up, the Magnify is more comfortable than the likes of the Velocity Nitro and Deviate Nitro, though naturally there’s a trade-off with extra weight meaning less speed. That said, the Magnify has a little bit more pep in its step than most highly cushioned shoes. It would be a solid all-rounder pick for new runners looking for comfort above all, and if you’re a runner with a rotation it will handle your easy runs.

Buy men’s from Puma | Buy women’s from Puma | £110

Hoka One One Rocket X

At £140, the Rocket X is much cheaper than most carbon plate racing shoes and while it doesn’t hit the same performance heights as the best of them, it’s still a terrific shoe. The Rocket X isn’t squishy and springy like many high-stack carbon shoes, but it has a smooth and undoubtedly very quick ride. It’ll work as your go-to racer for all distances, as well as being a great fast training option that you can log a lot of miles in, since it beats many carbon shoes for stability, comfort or both.

Buy from Hoka One One (unisex) | £140 | Hoka Rocket X review

Skechers GoRun Speed Elite Hyper

As a low-stack, moderately firm carbon plate racer, the Speed Elite Hyper is a fairly niche shoe, since most runners will find it too minimalist to use for racing and training. However, it excels in its niche, being a little more protective and propulsive than a traditional racing flat while not as high and soft as modern super-shoes like the Vaporfly.

It is incredibly light and feels fantastic when running all-out, and the relatively low stack makes it one of the few carbon shoes that’s legal for track races over 800m. The actual plate is carbon-infused and is positioned only under the forefoot, so it doesn’t deliver the pop of a full-length plate, but the Speed Elite is still very fast – just better suited to shorter events than anything over 10K.

Buy from Sports Shoes | £161.99 (Currently reduced to £129.99) | Skechers GoRun Speed Elite Hyper review

Puma Deviate Nitro Elite

Puma is probably our favourite overall running brand of 2021, even taking into account the heel rub problems we’ve experienced with some of its line-up. It’s released a host of fantastic new shoes with the Deviate Nitro Elite at the top of the tree as the pure carbon plate racer, just above the Deviate Nitro, which also has a plate but is built more for training.

The Elite uses a PEBA rather than EVA version of Puma’s nitrogen-infused foam, and this helps make the shoe lighter and bouncier than the standard Deviate Nitro.

It’s seriously speedy over 5K and 10K races, and while it isn’t as comfortable and protective as some carbon shoes over longer events, it will suit those who prefer a slightly lower, firmer shoe. Best of all, it barely rubbed our achilles at all during testing.

Buy from Puma | £170 | Puma Deviate Nitro Elite review

Saucony Triumph 19

As Saucony’s most cushioned shoe, the Triumph is a great option for cruising through your easy runs, and the 19th edition is a little lighter than its predecessor, making it better for speedier sessions. However, the Triumph 19 still belongs in the easy training day bracket, rather than being versatile enough to function as a daily trainer, and considering its high price there are better options out there whether you are looking for comfort or versatility.

Buy men’s from Saucony | Buy women’s from Saucony | £145 | Saucony Triumph 19 review

Skechers GOrun Razor Excess

Despite boasting a reasonably high 30mm stack of foam, the Razor Excess is very light (just over 200g in a UK 9) and performs better on faster runs than it does on easy efforts. The shoe combines Skechers’ Hyperburst foam, which is EVA infused with carbon dioxide and nitrogen, with the brand’s Hyperarc rocker geometry to create a smooth ride that’s firm enough to pop at the end of long runs. The Excess is up there with other great lightweight daily trainers like the Hoka Mach 4 and New Balance Rebel v2, though both those shoes are a little more comfortable on easy runs.

Buy men’s from Skechers | Buy women’s from Skechers | £125

Asics Novablast 2

This shoe retains the high stack of bouncy FF Blast foam in the midsole from the original Novablast, but Asics has made some welcome adjustments to ensure the second version is a little less wobbly. The more stable ride makes it great to use for easy runs, and there’s enough bounce in that midsole for the Novablast 2 to perform well on tempo runs as well. It doesn’t make the cut because the overall size and heft of it means it’s not quite as versatile as the New Balance Rebel v2 or Hoka Mach 4.

Buy men’s from Asics | Buy women’s from Asics | £130

Reebok Floatride Energy 3

If not for the Puma Velocity Nitro, you’d find the Floatride Energy 3 featured above as the best budget running shoe. It still has a claim on that title if RRPs were taken into account, because it’s £25 cheaper than the Velocity Nitro. However, the Puma shoe is often available for under £50 and offers a better ride, being both faster and more comfortable than the Reebok. The Floatride Energy 3 is still a great budget shoe, though: it’s a robust, comfortable daily trainer that is the match of many options that cost twice as much.

Buy men’s from Reebok | Buy women’s from Reebok | £75 | Reebok Floatride Energy 3 review

On Cloudstratus 2

The Cloudstratus is On’s most cushioned shoe, but the pod cushioning and Speedboard in the midsole add up to a relatively firm ride – firmer than we’d expect for a shoe that’s built for easy runs. Since the Cloudstratus 2 is a bit cumbersome and doesn’t really fit the bill as a versatile trainer, it’s left in a slightly awkward spot. If you do like a firmer feel it’s worth considering, but even then its high price counts against it, since you can get more versatile, more comfortable and generally more impressive shoes for a lot less.

Buy men’s from On | Buy women’s from On | £150

On Cloudboom Echo

The Echo is On’s third attempt at a carbon plate racing shoe (or at least a shoe with a carbon-infused plate) and it’s the best yet, offering a more comfortable and smoother ride than the original Cloudboom and the Cloudflash. The Echo has a firmer ride than most carbon super-shoes, but offers the same high level of efficiency thanks to the rocker and curved plate in the midsole, and it’s both speedy and protective enough to help you smash your race PBs.

At £210, the Echo is hard to recommend given that the even more impressive Nike Vaporfly NEXT% 2 and New Balance RC Elite v2 are the same price, and the Saucony Endorphin Pro 2 is £190. If you do opt for the Echo, though, it’s unlikely to disappoint.

Buy men’s from On | Buy women’s from On | £210 | On Cloudboom Echo review

Adidas Adizero Boston 10

The Boston 10 is a very different beast to past Bostons, which were low-profile, nimble shoes that provided a good mix of comfort and speed and could be used for both training and racing. Adidas has made huge changes to the 10th edition of the shoe. It now has a very high stack of cushioning that contains two different midsole foams, a small carbon plate under the heel, and EnergyRods under the forefoot for a more propulsive ride.

Despite the high stack the Boston is still a firm shoe, and a pretty stable one. It did a good job of eating up base training miles at easy or steady paces but feels more cumbersome than shoes like the Endorphin Speed 2, Hoka Mach 4 or New Balance Rebel v2 when running at speed. Those three shoes all impressed us more in terms of versatility and would be better all-round daily training picks, but runners who prefer a firmer feel might well find the Boston a great option for their easy and steady runs.

Buy men’s from Adidas | Buy women’s from Adidas | £130 | Adidas Adizero Boston 10 review

New Balance FuelCell RC Elite v2

Another second-generation carbon racer for 2021, the RC Elite v2 is the most comfortable carbon shoe we’ve tried, with a huge stack of New Balance’s soft FuelCell foam that produces an even softer ride than you’ll find on shoes like the Nike Alphafly or Adidas Adios Pro. It’s still quick though, and we rate it as one of the best marathon racing options available, even if the Alphafly still gets the nod from us. For shorter races the RC Elite 2 is less impressive – the soft stack and slightly loose midfoot fit felt a little clumsy at times. It does have the added benefit of being a very comfortable shoe to use for easy training runs as well as hard ones, though since it costs £210 we’d advise saving it for race day and the odd key training run.

Buy men’s from Sports Shoes | Buy women’s from Sports Shoes | £209.99 | New Balance FuelCell RC Elite v2 review

Saucony Endorphin Pro 2

The Endorphin Pro 2 is very similar to the original, with the new shoe having a slightly more secure fit around the heel, plus some extra loops near the laces to help you lock down your midfoot. The great ride of the shoe stays the same.

It’s smoother and firmer than other carbon shoes, with a more natural ride than the very soft and bouncy options from Nike, New Balance and Asics. It can be a little harsher at times too, but when you’re running well the Endorphin Pro 2 is fantastic and can help you roll on through to PBs. Most runners will find it better suited to shorter events, with the firmer ride perhaps too much for a marathon. It’s a great option for those who want a taste of the carbon racer magic but have found other shoes too unstable.

Buy men’s from Saucony | Buy women’s from Saucony | £190 | Saucony Endorphin Pro 2 review

Asics Metaspeed Sky

Like the Nike Vaporfly NEXT% 2, the Metaspeed Sky can count itself very unlucky not to make the “best of” list above, because it’s an absolutely terrific carbon plate racing shoe. Like the Vaporfly, it has a more stable ride than the Alphafly, and is both fast and comfortable enough to be a great option for races of all distances. We chalked up a 10K PB in the Metaspeed in our first proper run in it, and have used it for long, hard workouts hitting marathon pace.

The Sky is one of two new carbon plate racing shoes from Asics, the Metaspeed Edge being the other. According to Asics the Sky is better for bounding runners, while the Edge suits shufflers more. However, as shufflers who love the Sky, we’re not sure you need to worry about these designations that much.

Buy men's from Asics | Buy women's from Asics | £225 | Asics Metaspeed Sky review

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38

The Pegasus 38 is very similar to the Pegasus 37 – any changes there are can be found in the upper, which is a little more padded and roomier in the toe-box, resulting in a small weight increase. Underfoot you’re getting the same big stack of React cushioning, which offers a protective and reasonably responsive ride, and is impressively durable.

We rated the Pegasus 37 as one of the best-value running shoes and the same is true of the 38. However, there’s now serious competition with the arrival of Puma’s excellent Velocity Nitro, which is cheaper and does the same job as the Pegasus but does it better. It’s also worth saying that nabbing a deal on the Pegasus 37 is probably the smart move if you want to stick with Nike, since it’s likely to be included in sales now that the new version is out.

Buy men’s from Nike | Buy women’s from Nike | £104.95 | Nike Pegasus 38 review

Brooks Launch 8

The Brooks Launch is easy to overlook. It has a modest, but not eye-catchingly cheap price of £100 and has no fancy tech in the midsole. It shouldn’t be underestimated, however, since it offers a versatile ride that can handle all your training, which makes it a great all-round option for beginners. It’s also one to check for in sales, because the Launch frequently drops well below that £100, and if you can grab it for £50 or £60 then it’s terrific value as one to stick in your rotation to extend the lifespan of your pricier, more exciting shoes.

Buy men’s from Brooks | Buy women’s from Brooks | £100

Puma Liberate Nitro

Like the Puma Velocity Nitro, the Liberate Nitro offers fantastic value. The cheaper shoe has the same nitrogen-infused EVA Nitro foam in its midsole, but is a more stripped-back and lighter shoe than the Velocity, with less cushioning underfoot and barely any padding on the upper. The ride is still pretty comfortable, though, and if you generally stick to runs of up to around 10km the Liberate Nitro is a good all-round option. Its lack of weight makes it great for faster running too.

The Velocity is more comfortable and although it’s heavier it’s still proved a fast shoe in our experience. In fact it gets the nod from us as the better shoe of the two, because we found the Liberate Nitro’s heel design did rub on the achilles when we used it for longer runs.

Buy men’s from Puma | Buy women’s from Puma | £90

Saucony Ride 14

One of the most reliable workhorse options around, the Ride line has been going strong for 14 generations and offers runners a durable, versatile shoe that is more of a trainer than a racer, but can handle fast stuff and works well for long-distance events. The Ride 14 is a little lighter than its predecessor and feels good underfoot, but struggles to stand out because there are better, cheaper options available like the New Balance Rebel v2, Puma Velocity Nitro and Nike Pegasus 38.

Buy men’s from Saucony | Buy women’s from Saucony | £125

Nike Vaporfly NEXT% 2

The Vaporfly 2 can feel very hard done by to be stuck down here with the also-rans, instead of making the list of best running shoes above, because it has a very strong case for being the best road racing shoe available. It offers the same incredible ride as the original NEXT%, bouncy and lightning-quick, while tweaks to the upper have given it more room in the toe box. Oh, and it’s £30 cheaper than the first NEXT%, which is really the most significant change since it makes the Vaporfly 2 £50 cheaper than the Alphafly. We love the Alphafly and rate it as the better shoe for half marathons and marathons, but there’s really not much in it. Maybe not £50, especially if you mostly race 5K and 10K distances, where the lighter, more stable Vaporfly probably has the edge.

Buy men’s from Nike | Buy women’s from Nike | £209.95 | Nike Vaporfly NEXT% 2 review

Adidas 4DFWD

Here’s something a little different. The Adidas 4DFWD has a 3D-printed midsole that, Adidas says, converts the energy from your vertical footstrike into forward momentum, all thanks to the unique bow-tie-shaped lattice structure achieved using 3D printing. Adidas has released 4D shoes before, none of which impressed us much when we ran in them, but the 4DFWD is an improvement on this front – it offers a reasonably pleasant ride for short, easy runs. However, it’s not close to being one of the best easy shoes out there, and it’s also heavy at 338g in a UK 9 and expensive at £170. Unless you’re very taken with the design of the shoe, there are many better options for runners, but it will be interesting to see where Adidas goes with this tech in the future.

Buy from Adidas | £170 | Adidas 4DFWD review

Puma Deviate Nitro

The Deviate Nitro is an excellent running shoe let down by the loose fit around the heel. We found that when we used the Deviate Nitro for over an hour or two days in a row it rubbed the skin raw on our achilles, and others have found that this started to happen after just a couple of miles in the shoe.

However, if you’re lucky enough to escape that gory fate, there’s a lot to like here. The Deviate Nitro has Puma’s nitrogen-infused EVA foam in its midsole, and pairs that foam with a carbon plate for extra propulsion. The shoe also has the company’s excellent PUMAGRIP outsole, which provides terrific traction in all conditions.

The overall result is a speedy shoe that’s also comfortable for easier daily training runs, offering a similar level of performance to our favourite all-round running shoe the Saucony Endorphin Speed, though the Deviate Nitro is a little heavier and not quite as smooth when pushing the pace. That loose heel undermines what is a great shoe, so fingers crossed the next version of the Deviate Nitro will fix that problem.

Buy men’s from Puma | Buy women’s from Puma | £140

New Balance FuelCell Rebel v2

If you’re not a fan of training in shoes with a plate in them, the Rebel is right up there as one of the best options, coming in just slightly behind the Hoka One One Mach 4 in our estimation. The Rebel is very light – just over 200g in a UK 9 – but still has a generous stack of New Balance’s soft and springy FuelCell foam in its midsole. As a result it has a comfortable enough ride for your daily training runs, while still light and fast enough for speed sessions.

However, the lack of plate means it feels like you lose a little energy into the foam when running fast. There’s not the same rebound you get in the New Balance TC or RC Elite shoes, which both have a plate sandwiched in the FuelCell foam. The Rebel still gets the job done across a wide variety of runs and it is a lot cheaper than New Balance’s plated shoes. If it sounds right for you, be aware that it is a pretty short shoe – going up half a size might be a smart idea unless you like a very close fit in the toe box.

Buy men’s from New Balance | Buy women’s from New Balance | £120

Saucony Kinvara 12

The Kinvara 12 is a throwback of a shoe in two ways. The first is that, after the softer, slower 11th edition, it returns to the Kinvara line’s roots as a firm, speed-focused trainer that you can also race in. It also omits all the design features that are in vogue, with no fancy foams in the midsole, carbon or nylon plates, or even a rocker to roll you through your footstrike more efficiently. It’s a light, low-drop shoe that works well for fast running, but doesn’t offer the bouncy feel or protection of rivals that do include the new tech. Unless you are hankering for that throwback feel, there are better options – like the Saucony Endorphin Speed or Hoka Mach 4 – that are more comfortable, more versatile and just as quick.

Buy men’s from Saucony | Buy women’s from Saucony | £120 | Saucony Kinvara 12 review

Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit

The Invincible’s midsole is made of Nike’s ZoomX foam, which is the lightweight, springy material used in the Vaporfly and Alphafly racing shoes. However, this shoe is built for easy training runs, with a very soft, cushioned ride thanks to that huge stack of ZoomX foam. To ensure the high stack doesn’t make it unstable the Invincible has a very wide base, plus a plastic heel clip that runs around the back of the shoe. These measures make it stable enough for regular training and in general we were impressed with how the shoe performed. It’s more versatile than it looks and can handle tempo running in addition to easy efforts, although it’s far from an out-and-out speedster. However, it is expensive for a daily trainer and we worry that it might not be as durable as Nike’s own Infinity Run 2 or New Balance’s 1080 line.

Buy from Sport Shoes | £159.95 | Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit review

Adidas UltraBoost 21

The most significant update to the UltraBoost 21 is immediately apparent: the exaggerated heel design stands out from a mile off. Adidas has packed more Boost foam into the shoe than ever before, much of it going into that heel, which has made the UltraBoost very heavy at 361g in our UK size 9. In an attempt to counter that weight, a Linear Energy Push torsion system has been added to the bottom of the midsole. It’s a plastic shank (more or less) that increases the stiffness of the shoe to help roll you through your foot strike and add some explosiveness to the toe-off.

These changes have not improved the shoe. The UltraBoost 21 is too heavy and awkward for fast running, while being a little too stiff and harsh for easy efforts, which is where past versions of the shoe did shine. It’s also very expensive for what it is, and though Boost is a highly durable foam, you’d be better off with one of Adidas’s other shoes that use the material or indeed an older version of the UltraBoost.

Buy men’s from Adidas | Buy women’s from Adidas | £160 | Adidas UltraBoost review

Nike React Infinity Run 2

The original Infinity Run was our favourite cushioned shoe of 2020, with a stable, protective design that produced a smooth and comfortable run. It also proved to be highly durable, with no signs of wear and tear after several hundred kilometres of use. The Infinity Run 2 sticks to the same underfoot formula of a large stack of React foam and a rocker design, but makes the upper a more padded and secure affair. The Infinity Run 2 is one of the best shoes for base and recovery runs available and if you prefer a firm, smooth ride to something more plushly cushioned or bouncy, it’s probably your best bet, especially given how durable it is.

Buy men’s from Nike | Buy women’s from Nike | £139.95-£144.95 | Nike React Infinity Run 2 review

Salomon S/LAB Phantasm

While most other brands are sticking carbon plates into racing shoes, Salomon has focused on perfecting the traditional racing flat design with the Phantasm, which is very light and has no plate at all in its midsole. The shoe is more cushioned than old-school flats though, with a mix of EVA and OBC (olefin block copolymers) materials used to create a light but surprisingly comfortable foam. It’s not got the squishy feel of Nike’s Alphafly, but we’d still rate the Phantasm as cushioned enough for long races. The Phantasm is a fast shoe that’s enjoyable to run in, but we wouldn’t choose it as a racer ourselves – carbon plate super-shoes are simply faster and more comfortable.

Buy from Salomon | £165 | Salomon S/LAB Phantasm review

Saucony Endorphin Shift

There are three shoes in the Saucony Endorphin range, and two have made our list above of the very best running shoes available. The Shift isn’t quite as impressive as the Speed or the Pro, but still does its job as the shoe for easy types of runs well. The Shift has a mega stack of PWRRUN cushioning and the same Speedroll tech, which keeps you rolling along in spite of that hefty stack of foam. There’s a large heel counter to ensure the shoe is stable too, and it makes for a pleasant if unspectacular option for logging easy runs.

Buy men’s from Saucony | Buy women’s from Saucony | £130

Asics Gel-Nimbus 23

The Nimbus is a high-end daily trainer with a good amount of cushioning and some stability too, so it will help runners to rack up a lot of miles in comfort. It’s a reliable bet, if lacking some of the bounce or softness you get with new foams from other brands, or even Ascis’ own Novablast. We found the Nimbus 23 worked well for easy and tempo runs; if you’re a fan of this shoe line and want to know if the new version is up to snuff, it’s a resounding yes from us. The only caveat is that £155 seems a little steep when there are cheaper shoes that we’ve enjoyed running in more, like the versatile Nike Pegasus 37 or the plush Brooks Glycerin 18.

Buy men’s from Asics | Buy women’s from Asics | £155

Brooks Hyperion Elite 2

Brooks’s second attempt at a carbon plate racing shoe is a vast improvement on the first. The Hyperion Elite 2 uses a superior midsole foam to offer a softer, springier ride and it can now go toe to toe with the best from Nike and other brands. The Elite 2 also has the advantage of being more stable than most high-stack carbon shoes, with a wide forefoot and a less squishy ride. If you’ve found the likes of the Vaporfly too unstable, the Elite 2 might well be the super-shoe for you.

Buy from Brooks | £210 | Brooks Hyperion Elite 2 review

Asics Novablast

We’ve marked the Novablast down as something of a Marmite shoe, because the high stack of soft Flytefoam Blast foam is something that some runners will love and some will hate. Unfortunately we fell into the latter camp. The foam is undeniably soft and bouncy, but the stack so high and lacking in stability that we found the shoe was bordering on treacherous when on any surface other than smooth asphalt. If you do stick to well-maintained roads, though, the Novablast provides a fun and surprisingly nippy ride for your training runs.

Buy men’s from Asics | Buy women’s from Asics | £120

Asics EvoRide

The EvoRide is the third Asics shoe to feature the Guidesole rocker design, joining the MetaRide and the GlideRide, and it’s by far the best of the trio. That’s mostly because Asics has trimmed the weight to 255g (men’s size 8.5) from 305g for the MetaRide and 290g for the GlideRide. The first two efforts from Asics felt cumbersome, but the reduced heft meant we were able to appreciate the effect of Asics’s rocker for the first time, with the EvoRide delivering a smooth and fairly speedy ride. So smooth and speedy, in fact, that we’d often be surprised at how quick we were going when we glanced at our watch, which is the best kind of ride. It’s still not a racer or an out-and-out speed shoe, but it’s a great everyday trainer that can handle a range of paces comfortably.

Buy men’s from Asics | Buy women’s from Asics | £110

Brooks Hyperion Tempo

Brooks has pitched the Tempo as a fast training shoe that’s for logging your tempo runs, hard long runs and speed sessions in before switching to a racing shoe for your events. It excels in that role thanks to the lightweight frame and the DNA Flash midsole, which provides a smooth and fast ride. There’s also a decent amount of rubber on the outsole to help with grip and increase durability, and the Tempo has a comfortable, wide fit in the toe-box, unlike many fast training shoes like the Adidas SL20 or Boston. Most runners will find that the Tempo works as a great race-day option – especially over longer distances – as well as a training shoe, and while it’s fairly firm, it can be used as an all-rounder that’s just about comfortable enough for easy runs as well.

Buy men’s from Brooks | Buy women’s from Brooks | £140 | Brooks Hyperion Tempo review

361° Spire 4

While not well established in the UK, 361° is one of China’s biggest running shoe brands, so we were intrigued to try the Spire 4 and see how it compared with shoes from more familiar brands. The Spire 4 is a neutral shoe designed with comfort in mind to help you rack up the training miles. It has an EVA midsole and a carbon fibreglass shank that runs through the midfoot to increase stability and responsiveness. This also makes the ride far firmer than we’ve come to expect from a daily trainer, and while that’s not really to our taste – we prefer the bouncy, softer ride of shoes like the Triumph 17 – some runners will appreciate the harder feel. The Spire 4 is pretty light for a cushioned trainer at 286g (men’s), but we didn’t find it all that fast despite the stiffer ride; the New Balance 1080v10 impressed us more as a fairly firm but cushioned trainer that you can also race in.

Buy men’s from 361° | Buy women’s from 361° | €159.99 (around £145)

On Cloudflow

The newest generation of this shoe, released in late 2019, is a substantial update on the previous version. The biggest change comes with the addition of On’s proprietary Helion foam in the midsole, which makes for a softer ride than past editions of the shoe provided. That softer landing is also accentuated by the reshaped pods on the sole. It’s still not as soft as something like the Nike Pegasus Turbo 2, but it’s definitely more cushy than the previous Cloudflow.

Pleasingly, this extra softness has not come at the expense of speed. The Cloudflow works as an all-rounder you can use for fast training and racing, as well as your easy runs. In the past we’ve found On shoes too firm and wouldn’t take them out on easy days. Having used the redesigned shoe for a 16km easy run, a fast 10km and a progressive 24km among other sessions, we can say for sure that the new Cloudflow works as a true all-rounder that’s comfortable at a variety of speeds.

Buy men’s from On | Buy women’s from On | £130

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