Whether you’re chasing a fastest 5K or a marathon PB this January, these are the best running shoes for the job…
When it comes to upping the mileage or smashing your PBs as part of your new year’s fitness resolution, 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 2024
|New Balance Fresh Foam X More v4 ($149.99 / £140)
|On Cloudsurfer ($159.99 / £150)
|On Cloudflow ($159.99 / £150)
|Nike Vaporfly 3 ($250 / £235)
|Hoka Rocket X 2 ($250 / £220)
|Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23 ($140 / £135)
|Under Armour Flow Velociti Elite ($250 / £220)
|New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite V3 ($230 / £220)
|Easy recovery runs
|New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v13 ($165 / £160)
|Brooks Ghost Max ($150 / £140)
|Altra Outroad 2 ($139.95 / £130)
Best running shoes for beginners
New Balance Fresh Foam X More v4
|Fresh Foam X midsole; Engineered mesh upper (made of 50% or more recycled materials)
|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.
We found the full-length midsole to be 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 running shoes for daily running
|Helion superfoam midsole; Rubber outsole
|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. We found the newly shaped Cloud elements collapsed in sequence like dominos as we moved through our transitions, which created softer landings and springier toe-offs in a rolling motion.
Up top, we loved the soft dual-layer mesh upper, which is 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 we’ve tested, with good cushioning that avoids feeling flaccid.
- Read our full On Cloudsurfer review
Best running shoes for neutral runners
|Helion superfoam; Recycled polyester
|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 in our opinion, 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 – while testing, we found it provided comfort, kick and more speed, while the curved heel unit provided us with 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 running shoes for fast running
Nike Vaporfly 3
|ZoomX foam; Carbon fibre flyplate
|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. We found the ZoomX midsole to be 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. We think this is one for PB chasers of all distances.
- Read our full Nike Vaporfly 3 review
Best running shoes for all-out racing
Hoka Rocket X 2
|Technical synthetic mesh upper; Carbon fibre plate
|Ceramic / Evening Primrose
A big improvement over the first generation Rocket X, we believe 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 running shoes for overpronators
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23
|60% recycled materials
|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. Its 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, we think this is a good choice for heel-strikers. With reliable comfort and support as well as bags of responsiveness, we would recommend this as a daily trainer that punches well above its weight.
- Read our full Brook Adrenaline GTS 23 review
Best running shoes for half marathons
Under Armour Flow Velociti Elite
|Flow foam; WARP 2.0 mesh upper; Carbon plate
|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.
We found it to be roomy across the top of the foot while still maintaining 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.
In our opinion, that firmness means it has middle-distance PBs written all over it. However, we reckon 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 running shoes for marathons
New Balance Fuelcell SuperComp Elite V3
|EVA/TPU foam midsole; Carbon plate
|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, we found it to be light, agile and built for speed, making it 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. We think 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 running shoes for easy recovery runs
New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080V13
|Fresh Foam X midsole; Ndurance rubber outsole
|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, in our opinion.
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, we reckon you won’t find a more comfortable option than this.
- Read our full New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v13 review
Best running shoes for maximum cushioning
Brooks Ghost Max
|DNA Loft V2, 56.4% recycled uppers
|10oz / 283.5g
|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. While testing, we found that this extra cushioning created a comfortable mile-muncher of a cruising shoe.
There is also a GlideRoll rocker, which we felt injected some life into its platform for smooth heel-to-toe transitions. And bags of grip around the forefoot and heel gave us supreme confidence when running over slippery terrain.
- Read our full Brooks Ghost Max review
Best running shoes for cruising trails
Altra Outroad 2
|Altra EGO midsole, MaxTrak outsole
|10.6oz / 286g
|Grey and green, blue and yellow, red and black, neon and blue
A wide platform, zero-drop design and roomy toebox are standout features to us 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.
We found it offered good grip on a range of surfaces, alongside a lightweight feel and balanced cushioning, thanks to that 27mm EGO midsole foam. Overall, 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.
What to look for in the best running shoe, according to the experts
We talked to athletes and coaches about what to consider when buying a pair of running shoes. HYROX master trainer and 247 Represent head coach and athlete Jake Dearden and New Balance athlete and online running coach Jonny Mellor give us their opinions:
How do I make sure I get the correct size?
Jake Dearden: I’d recommend buying half a size up when it comes to running trainers. This is to avoid blisters, especially if your feet swell up on longer runs which is due to the increased blood flow.
Jonny Mellor: A properly fitted running shoe should feel snug in the heel and midfoot, with some room for toe movement. To check proper length when standing you should allow a full thumb width of space between the end of your toes and front of the shoe. This is why often runners are recommended to purchase half a size bigger than a normal every-day shoe. However it’s not always the case, depending on the brand, so it is a good idea to get your feet properly measured by a running specialist store.
What are neutral or supportive shoes? Is more cushioning better?
JD: Neutral shoes are designed for runners with average sized arches and provide a normal amount of support to your foot. Stability shoes are designed for runners with low arches that cause their feet to excessively roll inward with each stride (called “overpronation”). I’d suggest getting assessed by a qualified physio and ask them what type of shoe you need. Most of the time you’ll need a neutral shoe paired up with some lower body mobility and stability exercises to improve your running form. More cushion isn’t always better as for some people it can make your stride more inefficient.
JM: In terms of more cushioning, this will depend on the individual runner and what type of running you’re planning on doing. Some runners prefer a faster, more responsive feel underfoot over more cushioning. This is personally why I love the New Balance 1080v13 as it feels really soft and cushioned but still feels fast and responsive. If you’re doing lots of miles on the roads or pavement, then you may benefit from a more cushioned running trainer.
Do I need to worry about a shoe’s stack height, drop and weight?
JD: If you are starting out running I wouldn’t worry too much about those features, and try to focus on how your shoe is allowing you to run and if you’re comfortable when doing so. Finding the right pair of running shoes mainly comes down to what you feel most comfortable running in.
However, if you are struggling to find ones that work for you it can be worth looking into those features. Trainers with a bigger stack height are more cushioned, helping absorb the impact from running and therefore being easier on your joints. With a lower heel drop you are encouraging a more natural running pattern as it is closer to you being barefoot, the most natural gait form, which will promote midfoot landing as opposed to heel striking which is a more inefficient running technique. If you struggle with knee pain, lower heel drop shoes are often more comfortable and vice versa if you struggle with Achilles issues.
The weight of a shoe is important if you are focusing on speed work. I would always focus on technique and your running form and the other elements of a shoe that allow you to be as efficient as possible before looking into shoe weight.
JM: Again, this will come down to personal preference and what you’ve ran in previously and feel most comfortable running in. It will also depend on your running style, history of injuries and what surface you plan on running on. Runners traditionally go for a lighter shoe for race day or interval work to feel faster and more responsive.