Running is really difficult, and we wouldn't recommend trying it. Seriously, we think you're much better off staying inside in the warmth and comfort of your own home.
We know about the health benefits of exercise, but is it really worth all that discomfort? We're not convinced, but the fact that running has been found to significantly reduce stress, improve heart health, and alleviate symptoms of depression does make you think.
Some researchers even think that running may be beneficial because it's something we're evolved to do. The human body might be designed for endurance running, but the last time we checked we're not facing a significant threat from predators, nor do we have to run for hours to chase down tonight's dinner.
We still think you could bide your time and hope for a miracle. Technology continues to advance at a fast pace, so it can't be long before someone launches a health and fitness solution that bypasses the need to work up a sweat? Come on science guys. We're all waiting.
If you're still determined to get out there and reap the rewards of running, despite all this totally valid doubt and wishful thinking, then we suggest doing everything you can to make the process more manageable. Invest in a running watch. Buy some stylish leggings. Grab a new set of headphones. Download thousands of podcasts. Do whatever you can to make it easier on a mental, physical, and spiritual level.
Once you've got all of this lined up, there is one thing left to sort before you start clocking up the miles: a good pair of running shoes. This is probably the most important purchase you will make, because it's your poor feet that will take on most of the burden from your torturous new hobby.
What are the best running shoes?
Start shopping for a pair of running shoes and the first thing you'll notice is just how many options there are to consider. It can be totally overwhelming, and that's why lists like this exist. We've condensed all the essential information to give you a flavour of what's on offer. We're nice like that.
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 lesser known brands like Hoka and Saucony. There is something for everyone.
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.
These are the best running shoes in 2020.
Best for style
- Perforations enhance breathability
- Smooth and responsive ride
- Slimmer design
- Reduced tongue weight
- A little tight for wide footed runners
The Bottom Line
Stylish and comfortable running shoes that come in loads of fun colour combinations.
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36
The iconic Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 ticks a lot of essential running shoe boxes.
It doesn't get much more iconic than the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus range, and the Pegasus 36 running shoes now have more perforations and engineered mesh, offering increased breathability across high-heat areas.
This stylish shoe also has a slimmer heel collar and tongue, reducing bulk without compromising comfort. The breathable Flymesh fabric and fine-tuned aerodynamic shape combines to help you train to be faster for longer.
You also get an airbag that runs heel to toe. It absorbs the impact of every stride and provides a responsiveness that's reliable throughout your training regime, from mile one to one hundred.
Best for cushion
- Knit mesh upper for increased air flow
- Lightweight cushioning
- PROFLY midsole cushioning provides a forgiving landing
- Limited size options on Amazon
- Only a few colour options
The Bottom Line
Durable running shoes that offer a lot of forgiving and lightweight cushioning.
Hoka One One Mach
Hoka One One Mach running shoes ensure that you're comfortable thanks to the fabric lining, synthetic insole, and plenty of cushion.
A lot of runners fall into the trap of only considering running shoes from the likes of Nike, Adidas, and Brooks. Just because these brands are the biggest doesn't mean that they are the best.
Hoka One One isn't the most recognisable brand in the UK, but that shouldn't put you off. The Hoka One One Mach running shoes offer a wide range of impressive features, including lightweight cushioning, responsive toe-off, and a forgiving landing. This is great for those with sensitive feet.
If you're looking for an extremely light model that offers the cushioning of a much heavier shoe, this could be your best option.
Best for speed
- Super speedy
- Responsive comfort
- Carbon-fibre plate helps prevent energy loss
- Questions marks over unfair advantage
- Not the best looking shoes
The Bottom Line
These running shoes offer record-breaking speed with a lighter design and faster feel than ever before.
Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%
The shoe that hit the headlines for all the right reasons.
You've probably heard about the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% running shoes before, and that's because they've caused quite a stir.
Before you get all worked up about nothing, these are not the same shoes that helped to break the two-hour marathon record, but a lot of the technology involved is similar (and controversial). These shoes use a full-length carbon-fibre plate in the midsole that helps prevent energy loss in toe bends. Some people argue that this gives runners an unfair advantage, but we're not complaining.
These are about as expensive as it gets, but that's because you get a lighter design and faster feel than ever before. These shoes offer responsive comfort, breathable engineering, flex grooves on the outsole enhance multi-surface traction, and a wider toe area that provides a roomier fit to help engage forefoot muscles.
They do look a little ugly, and that is going to put off some potential buyers. It clearly doesn't bother most people though, because stocks are seemingly always low.
Best for comfort
- Fresh Foam midsole
- High mileage shoe
- Heel design is polarising
- Might be a little squishy for some veteran runners
The Bottom Line
The New Balance 1080v10 running shoes are packed with data-driven comfort.
New Balance 1080v10
Running for miles and miles is hard work, so comfort comes first with New Balance 1080v10 running shoes.
The New Balance 1080v10 running shoes deliver data-driven comfort in a sleek design. This is thanks to the Fresh Foam cushioning that responds to impact, mile after mile.
The 1080v10 shoes are all about cushioning, bounce, and responsiveness, which is everything you want from a running shoe. Some reviewers have commented that the ride is a little squishy, but this shouldn't be a problem if you're looking for an everyday training shoe.
The design of the 1080v10 running shoes is certainly eye catching. The knit upper, white foam, and rocker shape isn't going to appeal to everyone, but this shoe puts your comfort before anything else, and that's a good thing.
Best for durability
- Rearfoot GEL technology cushioning system
- Durable design
- Not the most expensive option
- Not the sexiest shoe
The Bottom Line
These running shoes are not the most stylish or the fastest, but they offer durability for a decent price.
Asics Gel Contend 5
Engineered to maintain the durability, flexibility, comfort, and adaptability that runners crave.
Not everyone is willing to drop hundreds of pounds on a pair of trainers, and we get it. Running shoes are likely to deteriorate over time, especially if you clock up a lot of miles, so spending big can seem a little silly.
Fortunately, there are plenty of cheaper options on the market from brands like Asics. The Gel Contend 5 running shoes offer many of the same features that impress in more expensive models, and they are often available for around £50 to £100.
Asics offers up a seriously comfortable fit and breathable mesh in the upper part of the shoe, with the midsole providing decent levels of cushioning and support. It's all positive without being groundbreaking, and that's fine at this price point.
Best for flexibility
- Energised cushioning
- Great reviews
- Optimised flexibility
- Loads of design choices
- Quite narrow toebox
The Bottom Line
Flexibility allows you to move from heel to toe quickly without losing energy.
Brooks Levitate 2
Popular model from a brand that's loved by long-distance runners.
Brooks is one of the most popular brands with long-distance runners, and that's because its running shoes focus on what matters most: cushioning, flexibility, and energy return.
The Brooks Levitate 2 running shoes offer energised cushioning thanks to the absorbing midsole that guarantees the maximum energy return. This means the ride is more elastic and reactive. The optimised flexibility of the shoe also allows you to move from heel to toe quickly, without losing energy. It's all about making your life easier.
If there is one thing to look out for with Brooks, its the toebox. This is generally not the widest, and while the mesh in the upper part of the shoe is flexible, this still won't suit some runners. As with all the shoes on this list, it's always best to try before you buy.
Best for beginners
- Soft but responsive
- Cushioning in tongue and heel
- Support might feel too aggressive to some experienced runners
- Limited colour options
The Bottom Line
A great running shoe for beginners due to the support, cushioning, and gait guidance.
Saucony Guide 13
Beginners looking for some extra support from their shoe should consider Saucony.
Veteran runners need support from their shoe, but it's even more important for beginners. Experience will build natural protection, but support is absolutely vital when you're starting out.
The Saucony Guide 13 running shoes provide just the right amount of softness that's responsive enough to tackle high mileage. The new medial TPU guidance frame guides each foot through its natural gait cycle for the smoothest feel yet.
Cushioning is another strength with these shoes. The plumped-up tongue and heel collar feel super snug (in a good way), and should provide valuable consistency over long training runs.
Best for the gym
- Flexible upper section
- Not suited to long runs
The Bottom Line
A great looking shoe with a comfortable fit, but not ideal for serious runners.
Adidas Ultraboost 19
Plush running shoes that are best suited to the gym.
The first thing you notice about the Adidas Ultraboost 19 running shoes is the look. These stylish shoes are cool, and that's final.
Unfortunately, style isn't the most important thing when it comes to running, and the fact is that this model is probably best suited to the gym. That's not to say that you can't run in them, but these are probably best avoided if you're a serious athlete.
There are many positives to consider, including the plush ride, flexible build, and energy efficient Boost foam. All of this combines for a seriously comfortable feel, but that doesn't change the fact that these shoes lack some of the key fundamentals for endurance running.