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10 Best Nike Running Shoes for Roads & Trails

last updated Nov 28, 2018
Nike is a household name everywhere you go—whether you are a serious runner, a casual athlete, or a recreational wearer you have heard the name and/or owned a Nike product. Nike offers a large selection of athletic gear—one of their most successful and popular items being their high-quality running shoes. They have shoes that suit all budgets and others that fit specific needs.

The shoes we have included on our list of Top 10 Best Nike Running Shoes are among the best of the best Nike has to offer and we are confident they are all capable of meeting all of your trail and road running needs.
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By Madison Ambrose:

In this update, we have brought you some new additions, and we have also refined our list to be easier to read and make a decision.

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Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93
Breathability
92%
Protection
91%
Flexibility
94%
Terrain
95%
Features
93%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$149.95
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$159.99
2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.2
Breathability
89%
Protection
93%
Flexibility
94%
Terrain
92%
Features
93%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$99.99
3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91
Breathability
91%
Protection
92%
Flexibility
90%
Terrain
93%
Features
89%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$119.95
Best Deal
$508.95
4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.4
Breathability
89%
Protection
92%
Flexibility
88%
Terrain
93%
Features
90%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$114.95
Best Deal
$179.97
5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.2
Breathability
90%
Protection
87%
Flexibility
84%
Terrain
89%
Features
91%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$86.35
$119.95
Best Deal
6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85.4
Breathability
88%
Protection
81%
Flexibility
79%
Terrain
90%
Features
89%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$118.96
$124.95
Best Deal
7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
83.6
Breathability
82%
Protection
84%
Flexibility
85%
Terrain
80%
Features
87%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$109.95
Best Deal
8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
83
Breathability
80%
Protection
81%
Flexibility
87%
Terrain
82%
Features
85%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$109.74
$109.95
Best Deal
9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82.8
Breathability
84%
Protection
79%
Flexibility
83%
Terrain
81%
Features
87%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$99.31
$119.95
Best Deal
10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82.2
Breathability
88%
Protection
80%
Flexibility
77%
Terrain
81%
Features
85%
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.18)
$104.09
$124.95
Best Deal
In Depth Review Top 10
  • Zoom Fly
  • Wild Trail Cool
  • Zoom VaporFly
  • Air Zoom Elite 8
  • Air Zoom Structure 20
  • Zoom Terra Kiger 4
  • Free 5.0
  • Air Zoom Pegasus 34
  • Lunarglide 9
  • Air Zoom Wildhorse 4
Table of contents
  • Criteria Used for Evaluation
  • Other Factors to Consider
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Sources

10 Best Nike Running Shoes for Roads & Trails

1. Zoom Fly

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93
Zoom Fly
Breathability
92
Protection
91
Flexibility
94
Terrain
95
Features
93
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Pros:

Optimized for high-performance running

Smooth stride

Durable enough for use in multiple marathons

Form-based rubber sole to improve comfort

Cons:

Runs small and narrow

Breaking them in can be painful

The Nike Zoom Fly is based on Nike's Breaking2 project, Nike's attempt to break the 2-hour marathon record. They consulted numerous world champion runners, engineers, coaches, and biomechanics experts as part of the project. These shoes were one of the developments to come out of Breaking2's research.

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Comfort

This shoe uses nice foam cushioning for the sole that uses new materials to remain nice and light. It has a carbon infused nylon plate that offers a nice snap when you run. The sole is a foam-based rubber material for a smooth stride and the upper is highly ventilated and secures your foot very well. Overall, the whole shoe is designed to be responsive as you run.

Durability

This is a shoe designed for marathons. The soles are much more durable than you'd expect for their feel. They won't last you forever, but they have a good lifespan that will get marathon runners through several races.

Cost or Value

It’s cheapest of the shoes that came out of the Breakign2 project, which you’ll notice if you try them all out. The primary difference is in the materials. They’re not cheap, but also not the most expensive high performance running shoes on the market. This is a good option for a runner who wants a nice balance between budget and performance optimization.

2. Wild Trail Cool

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.2
Wild Trail Cool
Breathability
89
Protection
93
Flexibility
94
Terrain
92
Features
93
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$99.99
Pros:

Reasonably priced

Well ventilated with mesh sections of the upper

Highly versatile

Dual-density Phylon provides comfortable

Outsole durability is strong

Reinforced heel & toe

Ghillie lacing system keeps debris away

Heel pull loop allows you to put your shoes on easily

Cons:

Some runners had minor durability issues in the upper

Sizes may run small

While not the top of the line, the Wild Trail’s are a solid shoe for the casual trail runner. Here you won’t find fancy technology, pink outsoles or gel contouring, but what you will find is a great shoe that will take care of your feet. It comes with what you’d expect from essentially any pair of Nike kicks: Good design, relatively light, well cushioned, breathable, durable and with just a touch of pizzazz.

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Comfort

This is a comfortable and stable pair of running trail shoes. It has dual density Phylon that gives the shoe more cushion and provides comfort. It breathes well and keeps the sweat away. The tongue and collar are padded for comfort as well.

Protection

The upper consists of a Ghillie lacing system which helps to keep debris away. The toe and heel are reinforced for added protection.

Cost and Value

This trail running shoe is actually quite average if not affordable. The overall durability and quality of this running trail shoe are great with only a few minor complaints of the upper wearing. It has flex grooves and gripping lugs that provide great traction.

3. Zoom VaporFly

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91
Zoom VaporFly
Breathability
91
Protection
92
Flexibility
90
Terrain
93
Features
89
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$508.95
$119.95
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Pros:

Lightweight for Increased Performance

Highly flexible

Increased cushioning in midsole and heel to increased spring

Mesh material that increases breathability

Cons:

Not as durable as you would expect

These are definitely the priciest option are list, but if you are willing to make an investment they are definitely worth the cost. They are a top of the line long distance race shoe--so if you are an ultra-marathoner this is the shoe for you.

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Comfort and Stability

These shoes are very comfortable and stable. They feature a new EVA compound along with a carbon plate. Furthermore, they provide optimal cushioning--unlike many other flat racing shoes. They are highly responsive and are designed for speed.

Durability

These shoes are pretty durable but definitely not the most durable option. They have a rubber outsole and feature lug patterns to improve traction. While they aren't the most durable, they are the best for speed and races. In fact, Eliud Kipchoge ran a 2:00:25 marathon in these!

Cost and Value

These shoes are very expensive but worth the investment if you are a serious long distance runner. They provide stability and comfort but may not be as durable as you would expect them to be.

4. Air Zoom Elite 8

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.4
Air Zoom Elite 8
Breathability
89
Protection
92
Flexibility
88
Terrain
93
Features
90
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$114.95
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Pros:

Highly responsive cushioning

Supportive fit

Excellent traction

Good ventilation allows your feet to breathe easily

Great grip on a variety of surfaces

Heel counter comfort your foot

Rubber crash rail assists in transitions

Cons:

The toe box is narrow

Shoes run small, order a half size up

A lightweight running shoe that made our top 10 list due to its responsive cushioning, and supportive tight fit. Its lightweight feel makes it a suitable brand to help you meet your running targets and make significant improvements on track.

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Stability

Much like their predecessors, the Elite 8 provides a great amount of responsive cushioning during your run. Its flymesh upper provides ventilation which allows your feet to breathe easily. The Flywire cables allow for a supportive tight fit. It's a lightweight shoe and has a heel counter that helps support your heel while you run. It's made with a Phylon midsole which provides cushioning.

Durability

This is a durable and quality made running shoe. It has a rubber crash rail on the outsides of the outsole which allows for great transitions. The outsole has a hexagonal pattern that helps provide excellent traction.

Cost and Value

These shoes can be pricey, but you are paying for the brand name and the quality that comes with that. It's pretty fair to say you won't be disappointed.

5. Air Zoom Structure 20

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.2
Air Zoom Structure 20
Breathability
90
Protection
87
Flexibility
84
Terrain
89
Features
91
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Pros:

Flymesh upper allows feet to breathe easily

Increased stability thanks to triple-density Dynamic Support System

Cushioning for responsive toe-to-heel movement

Heel counter adds support

Supportive glove-like fit

Provides good traction on a variety of terrains

Crash rail allows for smooth transitions

Deep flex grooves increase grip

Cons:

May be narrow in the midfoot

Sizes may run large

The Air Zooms are versatile and can be used for short and long distances easily. They’re massively stable, cushioned, and breathable guaranteeing you increased performance on the track.

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Comfort

The Air Zooms offer excellent comfort while running, walking or any other sports activity that you may be into. Containing dual-density foam in the midsole and Nike’s Zoom unit decoupled crash pad in the forefoot provide the wearer with a smooth, supportive ride. Some of the runners suggest that these are ideal shoes for those who have flat feet.

Durability

The rubber sole offers a bit more durability as well as a grip to the shoe. These really do not seem to have many issues regarding the overall quality. It provides good traction on a variety of terrains, and its deep flex grooves increase grip while you run.

Cost and Value

These are priced significantly higher. However, they can be found on Amazon for a pretty fair price, and are well worth your money. Its upper mesh materials allow your feet to breathe easily. It has a triple-density Dynamic Support System that provides support like no other. Additionally, its heel counter adds support to your run. It has a nice supportive glove-like fit.

6. Zoom Terra Kiger 4

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85.4
Zoom Terra Kiger 4
Breathability
88
Protection
81
Flexibility
79
Terrain
90
Features
89
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Pros:

Firm treads provide remarkable traction

Endures a large variety of environments

Well cushioned

Zoom air pockets prevent issues with debris, discomfort, and additional wear on the shoe

Cons:

Sizing issues

Fit may become loose over time

The Zoom Terra Kiger 4 does what it does very well. The ZTK4 is not optimized for road running but is perfectly designed for tackling even the toughest of trails. It offers a combination

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Comfort

The ZTK4 has very firm rubber treads, which helps with stability on uneven terrain. However, this inflexibility does affect the shoe's wearability. The shoes are comfortably padded to compensate for this and have air pockets placed in the construction of the toe and heel. These air pockets also provide stability when dealing with rocks or other obstacles you might run into (or step on) while trail running.

Durability

The Zoom Terra Kiger 4 has been tested by the runners in all sorts of trail environments and performed more than admirably. From cold to wet, to steep and mountainous terrains, this shoe can handle whatever you can throw at it.

Cost and value

The Zoom Terra Kiger 4 is a mid to high priced running shoe, but with the quality of the trail shoe you will receive makes it worth it. You will have a high performing shoe that increases your run time and performance.

7. Free 5.0

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
83.6
Free 5.0
Breathability
82
Protection
84
Flexibility
85
Terrain
80
Features
87
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Pros:

Dynamic Fit System provides a secure, responsive while retaining comfort

Very flexible for a barefoot-like run

Beveled heel for a more natural-feel run

Hexagonal flex grooves provide great traction

Comes in a huge variety of stylish colors

Cons:

Doesn't offer much arch support for those who need it

Sizes run small

The Free 5.0 makes the best of Nike list for quite a few reasons. It’s especially unique in that Nike used it to introduce many beloved new features like the Dynamic Fit System and a shoe designed for a more natural running experience.

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Comfort

Although they look a lot lighter than what they are, they still aren’t heavy shoes. Nike returned the padded tongue in the Free 5.0, which, for some, is big for comfort. Although they are stable and fairly comfortable, according to many customer reviews, they may not be so great for long-distance running. These are probably not ideal for those with flat or wide feet.

Durability

The quality of this shoe is okay, but not as good as the more expensive models. There seems to be something to that. Some customer reviews say they aren’t very durable when used for continuous running or high tempo activities, but seem to work pretty well with jogging and casual wear.

Cost and Value

You can find some very different price tags on these, all depending on where you are shopping. However, they tend to fall into that lower cost shoe category. With the affordable price and durability guaranteed, you definitely have value for money.

8. Air Zoom Pegasus 34

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
83
Air Zoom Pegasus 34
Breathability
80
Protection
81
Flexibility
87
Terrain
82
Features
85
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Pros:

Mesh integrated into the design to make it lightweight

Padded for maximum comfort

Durable design made to last for long distance running

Affordable

Cons:

Some lacing issues

Some runners thought the shoe was too narrow compared to previous models

The Air Zoom Pegasus 34 is part of a long-running series of Nike shoes. The AZP series is a solid example of what Nike has to offer for trail and distance running.

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Comfort

The Air Zoom Pegasus 34 is designed with a Nike engineered mesh to make it both lightweight and to give it a sure fit. The AZP 34 also contains pocketed air sections on the toe and heal for more comfortable and impact sensitive cushioning. Some runners have seen some issues with the narrowness of the Pegasus 34, as well as some issues with the lace length and maintaining a tight tie during use.

Durability

Many runners have praised the Air Zoom Pegasus 34 for having a remarkable durability in terms of extensive use. The AZP 34 was designed for long distance endurance and that is exactly what the shoe design is great for. It should be noted, however, that the Air Zoom Pegasus 34 has been said to have signs of increased wear when used for other athletic activities.

Cost and value

The affordability of the Air Zoom Pegasus is really what earns it a place on this list. These shoes are a quality Nike product for a more modest cost, providing reliability within a lower price range.

9. Lunarglide 9

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82.8
Lunarglide 9
Breathability
84
Protection
79
Flexibility
83
Terrain
81
Features
87
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Pros:

Well ventilated and allows your feet to breathe easily

Dynamic Support platform provides stability

Inner sleeve and sock liner provide comfort

Lunarlon midsole foam helps absorb shock

Pressure-mapped outsole provides great traction

Flex grooves provide flexibility

Flywire cables provide good support

Cons:

May be a little snug on the heel

Sizes run small

A lightweight running shoe that offers a lot of stability and support, is ventilated and provides a good amount of traction while you run.

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Comfort

The overall comfort of this shoe seems to be satisfying to most runners. There are mixed reviews about the arch support with some runners saying it works wonderful and others stating it hurts. The Lunarlon midsole foam helps absorb shock while you run. It is well ventilated and will allow your feet to breathe easily. Its Dynamic Support platform provides stability. It has flex grooves that provide flexibility and allow for a more natural run. Additionally, the Flywire cables provide good support.

Durability

There were no reports of wear and tear on the Lunarglide 9. This shoe is made of quality and will last you a long time to ensure you track your running progress accurately.

Cost and Value

The Nike brand can be a bit on the pricey end, but the end result is worth it. This is more or less the standard procedure for Nike shoes, so this should come as no surprise.

10. Air Zoom Wildhorse 4

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82.2
Air Zoom Wildhorse 4
Breathability
88
Protection
80
Flexibility
77
Terrain
81
Features
85
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$124.95
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Pros:

Zoom air to improve responsiveness during step

Highly breathable Mesh

A rockplate lining on the forefoot

Dynamic fit to improve comfort

Cons:

Slightly costly to some users

One look at these shoes and you can see they are itching to tear up some rocky trail, give them their wish and take them for a spin! Sturdy, strong, durable and light, the Wildhorse 4’s will back you up every step of the way.

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Comfort

There are no complaints of comfort with Wildhorse 4's; just like their predecessors, the Air Zoom Wildhorse 3, you can rest assured that your feet will enjoy your run. It has Dynamic Fit technology that provides great support. It is well ventilated and allows your feet to breathe easily. The Phylon midsole provides added support to the heel, although some runners did feel some discomfort in the heel area.

Durability and Quality

This is a quality and durable trail running shoe that will last a good amount of time. You can expect to get about 300-500 miles out of it. It has a waffle outsole that provides great traction, and lugs on the outsole that also provide a great grip.

Cost or value

The protection of the Air Zoom Wildhorse 3 is really amazing. It has a rock plate that helps protect you from debris, high-abrasion TPU bars that protect your feet from debris, and its sticky rubber forefoot is great on wet surfaces. These shoes are moderate price and a great durable option for all trail runners out there.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Breathability

Breathability is a very important quality to look for in running shoes. It keeps your feet ventilated, cool, helps wick moisture away, and prevents skin ailments (like blisters and hot spots). Breathable shoes are usually made of lightweight mesh or other synthetic fabrics that allow for air flow.

Protection

Although you may not realize it at first, you need to make sure your feet are protected from the elements and debris while out on a run. Protection from impact and potential injury is also important. Different materials, levels of cushioning, and shoe frameworks supply varying amounts of protection. To choose the proper amount of protection, you have to consider the terrain on which you will be running as well your running form.

Flexibility

A shoe that moves with your foot as your run allows you to run more naturally. Flexibility also contributes to increased comfort. Some materials are more flexible than others and this was taken into consideration when building this list.

Terrain

Terrain is a very important quality when evaluating shoes because you would be given specifics on your shoe's performance. The outsole, material and sole determine the perfect terrain for a shoe, however, most Nike shoes are built to last. this means that a tough shoe made of the best material would be a perfect fit for a rough terrain and improves on its durability. Also, you need to determine terrain to know if you have bought yourself climbing or running shoes, which goes a long way to save you some money.

Features

It’s important to know what type of shoes you need in order to make the best possible decision for your feet. What type of terrain will you be running on? What kind of feet do you have? Are they flat, wide, with a high arch? What type of cushioning is best for you?

Road Running Shoes

These are made to run on pavement. They are typically lightweight and flexible. Most provide cushion and/or absorb shock when your feet hit the ground.

Trail Running Shoes

Hitting the trails? Trail shoes are made for trails and rocky terrains with mud or water. They typically provide an amazing tread for great traction, along with underfoot protection and/or reinforcements.

Expert Interviews & Opinions

Most Important Criteria (According to our experts opinion)
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Look for Ventilation!

Whether you are looking to run on the trail or the road, it's important to have a pair of running shoes that work for you, rather than against you. Do you know what it's like to run with sweaty feet? It can lead to moisture build-up, odors, irritation, and inhibit your ability to run at your full potential. Empower your runs by looking for footwear that is made from ventilated materials and focused on increasing breathability.

Know the Terrain and Know Your Outsole!

Picking out the right running shoe takes knowing the terrain and the outsole. Reason being, each shoe is intentionally designed for certain environments and terrain. For example, running shoes with traction features and added durability on the outsole are better for trails, or rougher terrains. Before purchasing your next pair of running shoes, take the time to figure out where you plan to run. Understanding your running habits can help highlight the best shoe for you.

Other Factors to Consider

Bottom Line

Below we have listed some additional features to keep in mind when finding the right running shoes for your training needs.

Brand

Shoe brands, just like with clothing brands, have their own unique fit. Be sure to try on any pair of shoes in which you are interested to make sure you purchase the correct size.

When to Try Them On

Try on a potential new pair of shoes when your feet are a little swollen. This is usually in the middle of the day or at night. You need to make sure your shoes fit comfortable when your feet are at their most tired.

Toe Box

Although you don’t want to wear shoes that are too big, you do want some room for your toes to move. Purchase shoes that have a toe box wide enough to splay your toes out naturally. Having ample room for your toes also helps prevent blisters and irritation.

Orthotics/Insoles

If you wear any type of shoe insert, make sure you bring it along when trying on new pairs of shoes. The insert will affect how the shoe fits, so you need to make sure the shoe fits well and is comfortable with an orthotic or insole you use while running.

Frequently Asked Questions

q: Do Nike sizes typically run small, average, or large in length?
a:

Typically, Nike shoes run anywhere between a 1/2 size too small and a whole size too small so make sure you order up when selecting your shoe. It’s also a good idea to measure your foot and compare your measurements to the measurements listed.

q: When should I look at a running trail shoe with a rock plate?
a:

If you run on trails and no matter how much cushion you have in your shoes and you still have pain, you may want to consider looking at a running trail shoe with a rock plate.

q: What’s so special about the Nike brand anyway?
a:

They are one of the most well known running shoe brands for a reason. Their shoes are durable, functional, and have style. You are paying for a well-made shoe that will be worth the investment.

q: What’s the purpose of the “Air Zoom”?
a:

Nike came up with the term “Air Zoom” which is just another way of saying zoom air units that provide a spring in your step.

q: Is there a difference between the men’s and women’s models of Nike?
a:

Not usually. They are actually exactly the same in providing functions except for size, width, and color options which of course vary by gender.

Sources

  1. REI CO.OP, Running Shoes: How to Choose, Informational site, Aug 29, 2016
  2. Editor, Running 101: How To Select The Best Pair Of Running Shoes , Informational running site, Sep 09, 2014
  3. Editor, Top 5 Shoe Buying Tips For Runners, Informational running site, Nov 18, 2014
  4. Editor, How do I know what amount of cushioning is right for me?, Informational running site,