At any given time, there are more than 200 current running shoes on the market.
We have been buying, testing and reviewing running shoes for the past 15 years and we can help you narrow this choice down.
To keep it simple, here’s what you need to know:
- You need a daily trainer. No carbon-plated racers, no lightweight tempo shoes, no zero-drop etc.
Your first pair of running shoes should be simple, comfortable and versatile. After you got familiar with your first pair, you will know what you like and what you don’t, and can start to look for different shoes.
- Comfort and fit should be your main considerations. A shoe that you feel comfortable in, and that fits you well will treat you well for many miles.
- Most people will fit traditional neutral running shoes, but if you have unstable ankles you might benefit from supportive running shoes. (We’ll explain in a minute).
- Planning to go off-road? We’ll help you find good trail running shoes.
Ready for our recommendations? Let’s go!
Best all-rounder: Saucony Ride 17
The Saucony Ride 17 is an exceptional daily trainer with comfort, a touch of stability and plenty of durability.
Aside from being perfect for your first foray into running – the Ride 17 is also quite versatile, being able to pick up the pace when you want to go faster and still be comfortable for miles over miles during you longer runs.
If you emailed me today asking me what running shoe to begin running with, this shoe would be my recommendation.
You can read our full Saucony Ride 17 review here.
A slightly cheaper option: Nike Winflo 10
I have been recommending the Nike Winflo 10 to new runners since the day we reviewed it. Listed at $100 – but found even cheaper online – it is an extremely durable and comfortable neutral trainer.
I would say it’s a “Goldilocks” shoe: a great balance of weight, cushioning, fit… plus a very premium look that would suggest a higher price.
Bonus: its versatility makes it a good shoe for general gym use too.
You can read our full review of the Nike Winflo 10 here.
The premium one: New Balance 1080v13
The New Balance 1080 v13 is what we call a Max Cushion trainer.
In exchange for a slightly higher price than a typical daily trainer, the New Balance 1080 v13 offers plush cushioning on the sole and a soft, premium upper for your feet comfort.
You can read our full review of the New Balance 1080 v13 here.
For extra support: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23
Some runners (me included) have problems with their ankle stability. This means once our feet land on the ground with each step, our ankles wobble and don’t absorb the impact properly.
How to check if you might need stability shoes? Stand balancing on one leg at a time for 30-45 seconds. Can you do it easily? Then you most likely don’t need a pair of stability shoes. But if this simple exercise challenges you, you might be a good candidate for the Adrenaline GTS 23.
The Adrenaline will still deliver a cushioned, comfortable ride – but solutions such as the wider foot-base and guard rails on the midsole will make sure your stride will be protected.
You can find our review of the Adrenaline GTS 23 here.
The luxury, plush stability: Asics Gel Kayano 30
For me personally, the Asics Kayano 30 is one of the best updates (and running shoes) of the year.
The Kayano 30 has a soft, very cushioned ride which is comfortable at different paces (from walking, to some speedier runs) and has quality materials all over.
Check out our review of the Kayano 30 here.
For the budget conscious: Under Armour Charged Assert 10
The Under Armour Charged Assert is a best-selling shoe year in and year out. Surely, the price is a big part of its success – but that’s not the only thing the Assert 10 has going on for itself.
It is a well constructed shoe that can last for many many miles and will easily take you for runs up to 7 miles.
The biggest advantage of the Under Armour Charged Assert 10 is its versatiliy: you’ll find yourself using them for running errands or for training at the gym or running on the treadmill.
The recommended retail price is already extremely competitive – but you can easily find them online for even cheaper.
Here’s the Charged Assert 10 review.
If you run off-road: Salomon Thundercross
Salomon is one of the biggest names in the outdoor world, and their trail running shoes surely have a lot to offer.
The Thundercross is a relatively new shoe in their lineup, and it offers a lot for its price, for the beginner to intermediate trail-runner.
It’s a great choice for short or long distances and can be used on various terrains. If you are a runner who doesn’t have a vast amount of trail shoes and looking for just one pair, these would be it. You can race and train in them year-round.
The Salomon Thundercross review is here!
Your quest for the perfect running shoe will never finish. You’ll evolve as a runner and running shoes will keep getting better.
We are confident that each of the 7 shoes introduced above is a great first running shoe for most people.
Start with one of these shoes (based on your needs/preferences/budget/terrain…) and get your body used to running.
You’ll soon start to realise what you would “improve” when choosing your next one. Would you like them to be softer? Harder? Wider? Lighter? You can always come back to us to help you find your next running shoe.
We have been doing this since 2009 – we buy more than 120 pairs each year and put them through the paces for at least 50 miles. We are not affiliated with any brand and only try and recommend what we really enjoy.
Good luck with your running journey and if you are looking for completely free training plans – look no further than Running Shoes Guru free training plans – developed by our own coach Peyton Hoyal, we helped more than 50,000 people run to their goals so far!