Best Beginner Running Shoes to Get You Going
In a Hurry? The test winner after 12 hrs of research
Breathable, lightweight upper
Highest rated for overall comfort, shock absorption, and protection
Trail-rated and extremely durable
- ASICS GEL Venture 6
- ASICS FuzeX
- Nike Revolution 4
- Mizuno Wave Rider 20
- Saucony Triumph ISO 3
- New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v2
- ASICS GEL Kayano 25
- Brooks Ghost 9
- Under Armour Charged Bandit 3
- Nike Lunarglide 9
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Beginner Running Shoes To Get You Going
1. ASICS GEL Venture 6
Breathable, lightweight upper
Highest rated for overall comfort, shock absorption, and protection
Trail-rated and extremely durable
Nothing worth noting, 99% Satisfaction Rate
The ASICS Venture 6 are replacing the Venture 5 on our list; when considering the best for beginners, we have to admit these kicks prove to be superior in many aspects!Read more
With thousands of positive reviews by all kinds of runners, the Venture 6 has obviously a whole lot to offer. The cushioning on this shoe is amazing, the AHAR outsole provides plenty of durability, the synthetic upper is very breathable, it has a removable sockliner and an incredibly low price tag! Why are you still reading this? Go get your pair of Venture 6’s and start running like a pro!
2. ASICS FuzeX
High Marks For Comfort
DuoMax support system for support and stability
SpEVA midsole absorbs shock and adds even more support
Vertical flex grooves for natural running feel
Whole foot GEL cushioning absorbs shock
Some testers felt they were a little narrow
These models are highly rated among novice runners that don’t have all the knowledge about features but feel a great difference using them.Read more
The FuzeX offer fantastic cushioning and support to keep your feet in place, free from injury, and happy all around. You’re not going to want to take these off when your workout’s over. Every runner should experience running in ASICS, you may not ever go back!
3. Nike Revolution 4
Good for long periods of wear
Issues with the quality of the insole
The Revolution 4 from Nike has everything someone could want from their first running shoe. It's a shoe that will make you question ever buying anything but running sneakers. Like wearing nothing at all. Many runners are immediately enamored from the moment they put on the Revolution 4 and we included it on this list because we believe you could be too.Read more
Nike’s Revolution 4 is a shoe that will deliver the utmost comfort to you in each and every stride. Comfortable, cool, and lightweight, the Revolution 4 is a shoe you just won't have to worry about after you put it on, which is what makes it great for new runners. Nothing has to be complicated to make it a good shoe. You got into running to do one thing, run, and that’s all you’ll have to consider when wearing a pair of Revolution 4’s.
4. Mizuno Wave Rider 20
3D Mizuno fit is snug yet comfortable
Parallel Wave tech for smooth transitions and healthy gait
U4icX strobel board for underfoot comfort
The Mizuno Wave Riders are the ultimate shoes when it comes to a happy medium. They’re not too heavy, not too light, and they’ve got support and cushioning but don’t lose out on flexibility.Read more
While Wave Riders are a bit understated for Mizuno, understated in Mizuno’s terms is colorful, bright, and exciting compared to all other brands. These are some attractive shoes that will have you excited to start your beginner’s running career.
5. Saucony Triumph ISO 3
Very strong support
Well cushioned with a spring
Good for runners looking for a neutral running shoe
Sizing inconsistency, runs exceptionally small
The Saucony Triumph ISO 3 is the shoe on this list for runners that need that extra support. As newer runners start exploring their gate and run style they might discover new aches and pains. Don’t let this discourage you, many runners have conditions that may seem hindering but can actually be corrected with the right shoe. The Triumph ISO 3 has the support you need to help you feel out your running needs pain and worry-free.Read more
The Triumph ISO 3 is lightweight and well ventilated, strong qualities to have in any shoe but good to get in the habit to look for as you enter the world of running. The Triumph is also very well cushioned, which a lot of runners prefer in terms of comfort, especially beginners. High amounts of cushioning mean that the energy you invest in your stride will be returned to you and can keep you running longer. This is the type of performance you can expect to see from the Saucony Triumph ISO 3.
6. New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v2
Comfortable padded mesh tongue
Cradles foot for great support
EVA footbed for comfort and support
IMEVA midsole for comfort and support
Some Testers Had Issues With Durability
So you’re just getting into running. You’re not looking for something flashy with too many bells and whistles to weigh you down while lightening your wallet paying for features you don't need. What you need is a simple shoe to get you into the groove.Read more
If this sounds like you, the NB Fresh Foams v2 are a great, highly affordable choice. New Balance is a trusted brand, and these fit the bill as some of the best for beginners. We also like the style and color options, and the overall comfort, durability, value, and availability make this a great choice to buy when dipping your toes into the world of running for the first time ever, or in a while.
7. ASICS GEL Kayano 25
Good cushioning for long distance
Higher sides around heel
Soles handles for midfoot strike and liftoff
Same reliable sole as Kayano 23
Sized approximately a half size small
Shoe may feel heavy and bulky
Stiff sole not good for speed
Asics is known for its rugged shoes and runners continually purchase them time and again. The Gel Kayano 24 is a heavy duty everyday shoe weighing 11.3 oz with a 10mm heel drop. As for the update from the Kayano 23, there is not much change for those who prefer the classic Kayano technologies. One small change Asics did make is the higher walls of the shoe around the heel so as to keep your feet more secure in the shoe.Read more
First and foremost, the Kayano 24 is built for slower long-distance running. Some runners reviewed this model as rather stiff and more suited for lower speeds, but that's the trade-off for the excellent support and cushioning. The 24 contains mostly the same technologies as the 23, which include the Gel heel, Dynamic Duomax cushioning with shock absorption, guidance line for control at strike and lift off, and FlyteFoam.
The sole of the Kayano 24 handles well so runners strike and lift off on the midfoot for safest running posture, even with the 10mm drop. While this sole is not structured for speed, the 24 is better for slower runs, long distance, and recovery days.
8. Brooks Ghost 9
Lots of cushioning, great for heavier runners
Easy to use laces
Short break in time
Help relieve joint pain
May have a small toe box
Many are not designed with heavier runners in mind, but that isn’t the case with the Brooks Ghost 9. These shoes are extremely comfortable with extra padding for the heavy footed runner. These shoes also have a remarkably short break in time and are comfortable almost right after you put them on. The comfort and padding also mean less knee and joint pain for the wearer, common with new runners.Read more
The shoes also make sure you will have a great grip on the trail. Their easy to use and well-designed lacing system make sure the wearers foot won't slip or slide in the shoe. The tread on the shoe will also ensure the wearers footing is secure as it grips the ground, wherever you happen to be running.
Although the Ghost 9 might be a bit of a tight fit for some, it is a running shoe that provides a comfortable and easy run to its wearer, and especially for heavier runners this is a great fit. This makes this Brooks design a great choice for up and coming runners, as well as anyone who wants or needs the best cushioning.
9. Under Armour Charged Bandit 3
Ample heel cushioning
Antimicrobial Ortholite sock liner
Full rubber outsole
True to size
Lack of arch support
Knit upper material can be porous
Less traction on wet surfaces
Snug upper may be uncomfortable to some users
The Under Armour Charged Bandit 3 is a sturdy-soled, lightweight upper shoe that lives up to expectations. It is a neutral, great for beginner runners who are looking to run for fun, for exercise programs, or for marathons.Read more
First and foremost, the Charged Bandit 3 is super lightweight with ample heel cushioning. The knit material of the upper is extremely breathable for cool feet, however the trade-off to that benefit is that they can be porous in wet conditions.
Similar to the Bandit 2, the 3 has Antimicrobial Ortholite sock liners, solid rubber outsoles, and flex grooves. The stable cushioning remains constant after all-day running. The full rubber outsole provides ample traction. The seamless upper also makes a reappearance in the Bandit 3.
When laced, the foot locks into place in the shoe. While reviews said the shoe fits true to size in length, the snugness of the upper can be uncomfortable for some users.
10. Nike Lunarglide 9
Sleek and simple
Smooth contour pods on sole unit
High arch support
Knitted feel on upper for softness
Lower durability of midsole and outsole
Some reviews described a "squish" noise
The Nike Lunarglide 9 is a minimalist shoe, lightweight with a "barely there" feeling, and great for beginner runners. Additionally, the high arch support aides runners with plantar fascia or hammertoe issues.Read more
The updated upper of the 9 now has a knitted feel to it for softness and comfortability. The upper is breathable, supportive, and yet unrestricting.
The shoe fits best with a medium-width heel. Reviews said the general fit of the shoe is as expected.
The Lunarglide now has smooth contour pods on the sole unit to fit the contours of the foot on strike and liftoff. This allows stability, protection of the foot, and flexibility. The sole is very malleable, which does lessen the durability of the shoe. This is definitely a road or treadmill shoe.
Overall, the Nike Lunarglide 9 is definitely worth the slightly higher price tag. (Up to $180)
Criteria Used for Evaluation
The last thing you want when you’re getting into running for the first time (or after a long hiatus) is a wet, sweaty running shoe during those crucial first miles of your run. Remember that the breathability is important in every type of climate and is especially important as your workout mileage increases.
Breathability is determined by the materials and construction of a shoe. Modern mesh fabrics have allowed shoemakers to be able to create highly durable, lightweight, extremely breathable shoes that will help keep your feet comfortable for mile after mile. Another thing, if you think you'll eventually get into participating in Tough Mudder or Spartan races, you'll want to think long and hard about breathability, as these races often (ok, always) include water obstacles that will leave you with wet shoes that you'll want to have dry out as soon as possible.
When you’re focusing on endurance and distance, you don’t want to worry about hot and sweaty feet. We paid attention to which shoes are the best at wicking moisture and allowing for proper ventilation. Runners generally agree that a breathable shoe makes for a happy and healthy athlete! So check out each product review to see the breathability score we assigned each pair.
Since you're just beginning, we'll let you in on a little secret that grizzled running veterans rely on; when you're stuck in your routine, or even if you just want something different that day, there's nothing better than trail running, especially in a beautiful place. People who road run or run on a treadmill can tell you about the monotony that can come with running mile after mile with little to no change in scenery. To be honest it can amount to pure drudgery. Heading outdoors for a trail run, especially to new trails you're not familiar with, is a great way to get out of your rut, break your routine, and start having fun running again. And since you're probably a beginner if you're reading this, why not start it out right from the very beginning, and incorporate trail running into your routine as soon as possible.
To help with this, and for our readers who are lucky enough to live around great outdoor trails, we made sure to include selections that can be taken off of the treadmill and out to the great outdoors. Runners tell us that running outdoors is much “easier” for them because they are not concentrated with the digital numbers on the treadmill.
Our buying guide provides models for all types of terrain. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast already, you are going to love the trail runners on our list. They are top rated selections for a reason. For city and treadmill runners, we have perfect offerings that can handle the pavement. Regardless of your terrain, our goal was to bring you the best of both worlds.
There is no need to have a painful running experience. they are made to support specific types of arches and amounts of pronation among other factors. Most novice runners don’t realize that choosing a running shoe that is supportive, and especially one that's supportive in the right places for their specific foot and ankle characteristics, can absolutely make or break their running experience. Support typically comes from the ankle cuff and side panels of a shoe. These areas can be strategically reinforced with extra materials, or materials that are stiffer than the rest of the shoe, to give you the support that you want and need. Especially if you're a heavier runner, you'll want to be sure to buy a pair with plenty of support to help make sure that your feet and ankles get the support they need. The last thing you want or need as a beginning runner is to have injuries and discomfort right out of the blocks when you're starting off, so be sure to buy a pair that can help prevent these things by giving you solid and well-designed support. We made sure to note these models on our buying guide, so if support is something you’ve been looking for, you’ve come to the right place.
Here's another pro tip for all you beginners; feeling like you look good when you go out for a run is actually important. We know, we know, you want to start running to feel better, you're not just some shallow person who cares just about looks. Well the fact is, research has shown that wearing a visually appealing running shoe is important, because when runners are happy with the looks of their shoes, they are twice as likely to take them out for a run and even run for longer distances. That being said, we would never suggest buying a running shoe on looks alone and it’s a cardinal sin in the running world. Quite frankly it's just plain silly to buy a pair on looks alone. However, beware of buying a pair that has all the characteristics you're looking for but that you don't think looks good. If you do this it's highly likely that you'll wear them a couple times, and then suddenly stop running because consciously or subconsciously you're embarrassed about how you look. When you take a look at our list, you'll see that these selections are the latest and greatest in terms of design and style. Today’s runners no longer have to choose between a good looking running shoe and a high performing one, as long as they know what to look for and stay true to their personal style.
The most common rookie runner mistake is simple and actually pretty easy to avoid; choosing the wrong size running shoe. Everybody's feet are unique, and each manufacturer sizes their shoes a little bit differently. It's common knowledge, both to experienced runners as well as the layperson that Nike shoes, while typically quite excellent, tend to run small in size compared to other brands. In addition, feet tend to swell towards the end of the day, your run, or a strenuous workout. This is why choosing a size that’s similar to your everyday shoes can be a mistake.
Seasoned runners typically run in a half size larger than their regular shoes and are always aware of a shoe’s tendency to run larger or smaller. We noted which runners are slightly larger or smaller to help you make a selection. We also suggest sizing your feet at the end of the day or after you’ve gone out for a nice run.
If there's a local specialty running or sporting goods store near you that can be a great place to get your foot sized since their associates tend to be knowledgeable about running, the sizing tendencies of different brands, and well, feet. They should be happy to help you figure out what size running shoe is best for you, even if you don't end up buying a pair of shoes there.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
To help your running shoes last as long as possible, we recommend buying more than one pair, and rotating them. By allowing your shoes to completely dry out and for the foam to decompress between uses you'll maximize your purchase and help it last as long as possible. Plus they won't be as smelly.
Don't get distracted by a shoe with a style you love while overlooking whether or not it meets you other needs. Although it's been proven that people run more often and for longer distances if they feel good about the way they look while running, in the end your best served by first finding the right shoe for you, and only then considering its style.
Other Factors to Consider
With the amount of selection out there, it can be a daunting task to select a pair that is right for you. It’s not a good idea to read the box, listen to the salesman, or buy into the athlete paid sponsor. User feedback on how cushion, protection, heel drop, and support work together is what can really tell you how well a running shoe performs and what it means to you. Our buying guide is clear and concise in order to let you know which models can highlight your natural strengths, and eliminate your weaknesses. For example, if you need additional support, we made sure to note which options rank the highest in that category. If cushioning levels is something that important to you, we provided models that score high in responsive cushioning. We know that it can be overwhelming, so breaking features down into their simplest terms will let you make a stress-free selection while still giving you the peace of mind that you’re getting the absolute best.
“Know Thy Feet!" This is a well-known runner’s motto that sums up very nicely yet another important factor to consider. Take a look at your arches, this is important for all footwear selections. If you have flat or lowered heels, chances are that you may be rolling your feet inward when you land (overpronation), don’t worry, it’s quite common.
Look for shoes with higher support levels and that feature roll bars. If you notice that your heels are very high and that your shoes tend to wear along the outer edges of the sole, you should look for more cushioning and shock absorption. It’s important to disperse the force when you step. Thinking about your foot strike is the first step in selecting a perfect running shoe for your individual needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
A: Most seasoned runners agree that increasing distance should be the primary focus and our list reflects models that offer that consideration. As you build up endurance, you will start to notice improvements in your speed. If your goal is to have faster times, give yourself about two months of consistent running before you start pushing for faster times.
A: When questioned about the absolute necessities of running, many experienced runners will reply with a long shopping list of specialized clothes and equipment and this can seem overwhelming. We aren’t going to say that this stuff isn’t important because it is. For them. Each runner is unique and they have specific needs. And frankly, you just don’t know what your needs are until you have running for a bit. The only thing you need to get you started is a good pair of shoes, we sincerely recommend you don’t skip out on picking yourself a reliable pair. Consider it an investment in knowing if getting into running is a good choice for you. We don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
A: There are plenty of clothing options for runners that can suit a plethora of specialized needs. While it is really up to the runner to determine their needs and how to best suit them, there is one thing we suggest you avoid: cotton. Clothing made from cotton does not breath as well as other fabrics and they retain moisture, two attributes that generally don’t make for good runner wear.
A: The first thing an experienced runner will tell you to do when you find a shoe you love is to buy a second pair. Perfect shoes are a rare occurrence and it is a shame if the shoes you love are discontinued or marked up. The second thing we’d recommend is looking into shoes of the same brand. Often you will find that brands have similarly designed products. Look to fans of the brand, they will be able to tell you what lines are similar to one another.
A: This question has been asked time and time again. The truth is, that it’s a personal preference. You need to try both options for yourself to see what works best for you. If you will be running in socks, never go with cotton because of moisture retention and weight. There are thin running socks that wick away sweat and will keep you dry. If you enjoy going sockless but get skin irritation or blisters, don’t give up! Get some Leukotape and place it on trouble spots. It’s cheap, waterproof, and stays on no matter how long your run. Best of all, it will prevent blisters and irritation before it becomes a problem.
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