How To Find The Best Running Shoes For You

Hello! How’s it going over there?

I am taking a rest day today and it’s killing me. So, I’ve decided to watch Snookie exercise and follow along in my head. It’s not working, but yeah.

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#RunnerProblems all the way.

Seriously though it gives me anxiety not to run.

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Don’t worry, I got this.

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But at least I have all this time to answer your questions!! Today we’re talking running shoes:

I received this question this week about how to find the best running shoes for someone with a need for a neutral shoe. I think specialty shoes like super light weight or over-pronation shoes get the most attention in articles and run chatter. But this is very important!

Hi Monica,

I’ve already taken your advice to get the yellow Maybelline mascara, so now, will you help me figure out what kind of shoes to buy? I’m training for my fourth half marathon in June and have always run in Asics Gel Nimbus, but this time around my hips and IT band and calves have all really been hurting, and I suspect it’s the shoes (the Gel Nimbus 14 are way different from the previous versions, too, but I can’t find any of the old ones in my size because my feet are gigantic). I am looking to get something with less cushioning but I don’t know what!

The standard advice that I hear is “go to a running shop, they’ll help you!” but literally every time I’ve done that, they’ve said, “I don’t know, your gait is neutral, you could feasibly wear any shoe” and I wind up leaving with another pair of Asics. Not this time! Help me Monican!

Also – the half I’m doing is the Runners World Heartbreak Hill Half in Newton, MA on June 8. I know a lot of bloggers will be there – please say you’re one of them!

 

Monican: I wear a neutral shoe, and have tried to run in several different pairs before I found one that works for me. Also, one shoe worked for me for a long time and then suddenly I started getting some slight ankle pain so I decided to change it up. <- So even know I have to use trial and error sometimes.

I personally have had to experiment with many different running shoes before finding one I like. But here are some tips that I learned so you don’t have to repeat my process (or spend a lot of money on trial and error).


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How to find the best neutral running shoe:

1. Find why type/category of shoe you need. The first step is to go to a running shoe store and get an assessment of what type of shoe is right for your body/gait/distance/goals/foot…

X. The question-er already did this. Now that she knows she needs neutral shoes the problem is which one?! There are HUNDREDS to choose from!

2. Identify what brands you prefer. I have random opinions on certain shoe brands…

  • I think Nike shoes run a little small.
  • New Balance runs a little wider and has wide offerings.
  • Brooks’ Pure line has pods on the bottom of their shoes. Some people dig ‘em some people don’t.
  • Mizuno offers several different types in the neutral category.
  • Altras have a very wide toe box.

3. Identify how much cushion and flexibility you want. Try on a pair from each major brand. Walk around in them. Compare them to your last shoes. Do you want more or less cushion.

With flexibility squat down low on your toes. Take them off and bend them. Do you want more or less in this area?

4. Compare you old favorite shoes to some of the new ones you are considering. Try to keep the things you liked about those shoes and update the things you didn’t. Bring your old shoes into the store and compare them side by side.

Go into a running store with your old shoes and ask them, “What are the 2 most similar shoes to this one?” “What’s the difference??” This might help direct you toward a few options that would work – but leave the ultimate decision to how you feel in them. Then, you just have to try then on and go for a spin.

Right now I wear the Mizuno Hitogamis. These are too light for my very long distance running friend, but work for me and others. Running shoes are really something you have to figure out for yourself. Good luck!

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Mizuno has a pretty lengthy list of neutral shoes so it’s important to identify the details you want in a running shoe.

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And I have great news – you don’t have to do all this research yourself! Runner’s World does an amazing job of reporting on all the new shoes each season. They include Weight, Cushion, Stability and more!

Check out the RW Summer Shoes Guide Here

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Question: What’s your go-to running or exercise shoe right now?

If it’s neutral tell our friend why you like it!

Comments

  1. says

    Brooks Glycerin work the best for me. They are heavier than a lot of the newer shoes, but they have a ton of cushion that also feels supportive, not just squishy.

    I’m running in the Pegasus right now, the heel-toe drop is too high for me and the cushion feels like a pool noodle foam. They are soft and narrow.

    I switched to PureFlow2s in January and had major calf problems. But I used them for lifting and jumping, not just running.

    Now I’m waiting for the new Glycerins to come out. June 1.

    I’ve had 12 pair of Glycerins and I love them. I switched because I wanted a lighter shoe and have been injured for a few months.

    I’m 5’9″ and about 150 lbs. and wear a size 10 shoe. Neutral.

    Hopefully there’s something helpful in this post.

  2. says

    I like your advice on going to the running specialty store. Most, like the one I work in will personally fit you, and be able to point you in the right direction, so the guesswork is totally removed.

    I have to tell you something though, most of us at the running specialty stores are driven NUTS by the shoe guides because they make really really broad assumptions about gait. I would stay away from those and go straight and directly to a running specialty like a Fleet Feet with an old pair of shoes.

  3. says

    I’m in Mizuno Wave Rider 17s right now and I like ‘em! I was in a pair of Asics (wish I could recall off the top of my head which shoe) and ended up getting stress injuries/strains after 350 miles or so. Not a big deal, but I wanted shoes that would hopefully last me a little longer. My main issue with my current Mizunos is that as a Seattleite, if there’s even just rain ON THE GROUND (ie: not pouring from the sky), somehow it works its way into my shoes. I had many wet-foot moments during this spring running season!

  4. says

    I am neutral! Wore asics cumulus 13s for all of 2011 , 2012 and almost all of 2013 but by then they had come out with cumulus 14s and then 15s which i hated! So I kept ordering the 13s online until I couldn’t find them anymore. I have a wide fore-foot but narrow heel. They were so comfortable. And every new pair i wore gave me that “pep in my step” for a few weeks.

    I also tried the nimbus (14s) and enjoyed them for shorter distances but something about going over 6 miles they would hurt and give me blisters. I am thinking i might have just needed a half size larger and might try them in the future. But they are kinda stiff and heavy even though they are “plush” on the inside.

    Anyway, I went to JackRabbit (running store in NYC) and after trying a few alternate neutral options I went with the Brooks Ghost 6s. I never got the initial “pep in my step” from them but they have been very comfortable and reliable. So I might suggest trying the Ghosts…

    Cushioning was important for me though because i tend to get metatarsal issues.

    Good luck!

    p.s Asics JUST released the 16s for both cumulus and nimbus. you might want to see if they fit any better.

  5. Melisa says

    After many years of running in Brooks Adrenaline, I suddenly switched to Asics Kyonos. And I have incurred many injuries, like Plantar Fascitis and a cranky hip flexor without really adding more miles, so obvi blamed the shoes. I switched back to Books Adrenaline and I don’t have these issues anymore. My only advice is go to a running store you trust and do go shoe shopping on a weekend when it’s busy. I’ve had better luck finding the right shoe when the staff had the time to work me.

  6. says

    I wore the Wave Riders for YEARS. But the new update is something I am not liking at all so I just went to the new adidas Boost Glide. It feels similar {to me} like the 15’s from the Wave Rider but with a little more cushioning. I am getting use too all that padding but I think it is good for me and my injury prone knees!

  7. Laura says

    I’m a neutral and I rotate between mizuno wave riders and brooks ghost. I love them both! I’m still in the wave rider 16’s, though, I have heard mixed reviews on the 17’s.

  8. says

    I actually wear 4 different brands of running shoes. My doctor recommended it after my foot injury. He said the composition of our feet changes every year and we should never run in the same type of shoe all the time. I switch between brooks, mizuno wave rider, sauchony and asics gel nimbus. Love all of them and my feet, calves & hamstrings thank me for it too!

  9. Maria says

    I SWEAR by Mizuno Wave Sayonaras. I’m a marathoner but hate a bulky shoe, and hate anything with a really high heel-toe drop… the Sayonaras feel like a happy medium between a light racing flat and a cushioned shoe. I wear them for everything – speedwork and 20 mile long runs and they work well for me. I’ve had people tell me that I pronate slightly and should be in a more supportive shoe, but I have significantly less injuries and issues when I’m in a neutral shoe, so I’m sticking with it. I also have a pair of Wave Riders and like them, but the Sayonaras will always be my #1.

  10. Amber S. says

    I went to a running store and was told I have a neutral gait; so I asked them to pull out samples of neutral shoes from different brands. After trying on mizunos, brooks, and asics, I still didn’t feel right in any of the shoes. I was honest and said none of these feel right; there way to heavy and bulky. That’s when the store owner suggested brooks pure line. When I put on the pure flow 2’s I said “these feel natural” and the store owner said that’s how I know they’re the shoe for me. . I never would’ve guessed a lighter shoe would be a fit for me but all the cushioning of the other shoes felt so odd. Go with what feels natural!

  11. Becca says

    I work at Jackrabbit sports in NYC and my best suggestion is just to try shoes on. Arch placement is really key in a shoe fit as well. Asics and Mizuno both have higher arches.

    The Hitogami is great but most people don’t want something that light. I love the Ghost 6, but the 7 is coming out and don’t know much about that yet. I have read it’s not very different…

    Glycerin is same price point as Nimbus but cushioning has different feel from Asics. Very nice shoe though.

    I do have a hard time offering alternative to Asics cushioning because it’s so unique. If someone likes that, it’s hard to substitute.

    Right now I’m loving the new NB 890. New Balance running shoes DO NOT run wide. Not anymore at least. The 890 is a little narrow up front but I find the fabric gives really well and there’s no stiching so it’s very flexible. I love the cushioning and light feel.

    If you try the mizuno rider 17, pay very very close attention to how the seam hits your forefoot. They changed the design and it’s been cutting a lot of women’s toes. We get almost 50% returned because of this problem.

    Sometimes you just don’t know if you like a shoe until you run in it. Either 20 minutes or 200 miles. I tried the Kayano once and wasn’t until after my half marathon that I found out I hated that much cushioning.

    Find out the exchange policy. It’s 2 weeks at Jackrabbit.

    Sometimes it’s just trial and error. There usually isn’t just ONE right shoe. Especially for neutral runners.

  12. says

    I’m an Ascis GT girl. I have a wide toe box, high arch and narrow heel so that’s what works for me. My running store lets your try out a shoe for 30 days so you can really make sure it works for you.

  13. says

    Bah I’m having shoe problems too! I ran in Brooks Adrenalines forever and they recently started hurting the arch of my foot. I got a pair of Mizuno Higatomis but since i usually learn toward a stability shoe they aren’t great for any kind of distance. It totally sucked because i couldn’t get this figured out before my first half-marthon last Sunday. I’m hoping I’ll find a solution before my next half in June!

  14. says

    I am currently IN LOVE with Adidas Energy Boosts. I am on my second pair since switching over from the Asics Gel Nimbus 15’s (wore the 14 before those) and couldn’t be happier. So super light yet cushiony in all of the right places. My feet have never been happier. I am super picky about my feet (as all runners are) and these truly are miracle sneakers.

  15. Jaclyn says

    I’m glad you posted this as I’m having issues finding a new shoe. I was running in Brooks minimal shoes but after having hip surgery in Sept I need a more neutral shoe. And I have no idea where to start as they all seem so heavy!!

    Also do I need a different shoe for cross training, strength and plyo stuff? I’m going to have a closet full of shoes soon!

    Also not sure if this was mentioned in other posts but make sure to go up at least one size in your running shoe (I go up 2) this way your feet have to room to expand!

  16. Kristin says

    I am a beginner and I have had SUCH a hard time figuring out the shoe thing. I currently wear the Saucony Rides. The guy at the running store said to take my new shoes home and just wear them all day inside. If I determined they were uncomfortable, rubbing the wrong way, etc. I could bring them back. They were fine when I did that. But, when I run in them outside they just aren’t the “omg, I love these shoes and I could run forever in them!” shoes. I have a hard time deciphering if any pain/issues I have are from the shoes or just the way I run! It’s annoying to spend more than $100 on shoes and not have them work out.

    • Char G says

      It took my one year (and about 10 pairs of shoes that I purchased) before I found a shoe that works for me. Shoes that felt great in the store or walking around were not the same shoes once I actually ran in them. Keep trying. I finally landed in Mizuno Sayonaras and I am sticking with them.

  17. says

    I wore Asics and had neutral shoes for years – the run shop confirmed I was neutral… until I started having some heel pain and came back in to get a gait analysis. All of a sudden, I was a pronator (mild, but still enough). I got Saucony Guides and my pain went away. They also last forever compared to Asics.

    Now, I alternate my guides with Hokas (which are a neutral shoe but very, very cushioned so it works for me). I have the pronator version of the Asics (I don’t remember the actual name) but they hurt my feet earlier this year, so I stopped using them. Working them back into the rotation soon though to try again.

    So, the moral of the story – get checked occasionally by your running store – your gait, and therefore your shoe needs might have changed.

  18. Christopher says

    I love running shoes and I’m so happy that you touched on this subject. I have enjoyed Asics, Adidas, Pearl, UnderArmour and even Nike . I have read and heard raves about the Adidas Energy Boosts, but I have to wait a bit because I’m too damn cheap to spend 150 on shoes. I will try Brooks and Mizuno at some point soon.

  19. UmamiTooth says

    I’m a neutral runner and I was in Nimbus 13s and 14s until I started getting knee pain and toe blisters… Ugh! So sad when a good thing goes bad! Anyhow, I wanted a less cushiony shoe too so I switched to Saucony Ride 6. I’m super happy with them. No more knee pain, just enough cushioning and no blisters as I train for my next half marathon.

  20. Shannon in Tustin says

    Asics girl here! Although when they get rid of a shoe I love, I tend to be grumpy. I need stability shoes and wear custom orthotics for super-high arches and one leg is 1/2 longer than the other. Oddly these issues weren’t much of a problem before I took up running!

    I have been evaluated at Road Runner Sports and am currently running in Asics GT 2000, I also have a pair of Kayanos which I’m thinking of adding to the mix to alternate shoes like all the experts say. I also have big (READ HUGE) feet so finding brands that come in my size are a bit tricky too.

    Great post! :)

  21. Nicole says

    My “go-to” shoe is currently the Asics Gel-Kayano 20’s. I was previously a Mizuno Wave Inspire 9 girl….and before that, Asics again.

    I would definitely suggest going to Road Runner Sports (or similar) and have them do a complete profile on your feet and your running gait. The customer service I get from RRS is like none-other!

  22. Kelly M says

    I also wear a neutral shoe. Right now I am running in mizuno wave rider 17. I love them! They’re light and flexible, but still provide support for longer distances. I used to love the brooks pure flow…but I feel like that line changed a little and now they don’t fit my feet properly.

  23. says

    I overpronate and have found Saucony best for me. I tried Asics Gel Nimbus but they gave me numb toes which I remember my old gym shoes used to do too. So now I am in the Saucony Omni 11s. Ugly but perfect fit.

  24. says

    I’m on an Asics kick this year. All through highschool and college, I was a Nike chick. Then they quit making the shoe I liked and I haven’t bought another pair since. I can’t find a pair that fits! I think they run small, just like you said, so my size doesn’t fit and one size up doesn’t fit either and makes me think I have huge feet :-)

    I aim for neutral for running and flat for training (that is, in the gym). My current running shoes are Asics Gel-Excite 2 (long-distance), Asics Gel-Scram 2 (trail, and I have two diff pairs), New Balance 590v2 (short-distance), and Zoot Ultra TTs (short-distance. My current gym shoes are Reebok Crossfit Nano 2.0 and INOV-8 Bare-X Lite 135.

    Man am I blessed…7 pairs of shoes for just running/training , and that doesn’t include my walking shoes or my work shoes.

  25. Jay N says

    I ran for some time in the Mizuno Wave Creation 13 and loved them. I went to Luke’s in Dallas and was able to run in them a little to ensure they were right. I love Mizuno, but last month, I went to Luke’s in Houston for new shoes and tried many since that shoe was discontinued and the Wave Sayonara just didn’t feel right. To my surprise, the New Balance Fresh Foam M980 fit me like a glove. One other commenter wrote that when you get a shoe that feels like its part of you, THAT’S the one. Well this was the one for me. I was disappointed that the Mizuno wasn’t right, but I think I liked the minimal offset (4mm drop) of the NB more than I liked the more traditional 13mm offset of the Mizuno Wave Creation.

    I think the best advice is what Monica advised: take your favorite shoe into a GOOD running shoe store and ask for 2-3 shoes that are most similar, then work from there. Also, it’s hard to do, but cast aside any preconceived notions you have about any particular brand, because technologies and builds change ALL THE TIME, and what was terrible for you last year might just be your new favorite shoe this year :)

  26. Samantha says

    I’ve run in Asics, Brooks, tried Mizuno (but returned after 2 runs – they just weren’t for me). My favorite shoe right now is the Hoka (Stinson Tarmac is the model I run in). I do however, run in Brooks Pure Cadence for speed work. Good luck with your shoe hunt!

  27. Chandi says

    I was in Asics Cumulus for several years. They changed the style significantly in 2012, and left me blistered. Upon advice of friends are local running store experts, I switched over to Brooks Ghosts and LOVED them! At the time, I started rotating in Brooks Pureconnects and live by those (I have five in rotation right now. Obsession). I would strongly recommend the Brooks Ghosts or Asics Cumulus if looking for lighter version of Nimbus. Cumulus is the slightly lighter sister to Nimbus. But I also say going to a local run shop pays off! Fleet Feet (and most others) offer a 90-day wear-it guarantee, meaning if you wear it one a few runs/for a month, and it just doesn’t work for you, you can bring it back. Here’s a secret- the employees usually wind up donating those shoes that are returned (or grab a pair in their size to wear). It’s not a hassle for them. They really are happy to do it! Roadrunnersports does similar for their rewards members and offer a good variety (in case you are in an area with less running stores).
    Happy running!

  28. Emily says

    When I first started running I was wearing Asics. (Don’t recall which one). When I decided to start training for my first half I decided it was time to get properly fitted at my local running store. They put me in Mizunos (one of the Waves). But, after some injury post-race (and a few months of PT) I decided to get refitted because I had received custom orthotics. Due to the orthotics, I needed to find a neutral running shoe. I have been in Brooks Ghosts for 3 years! I can’t wait for the 7s to hit shelves this summer!

  29. says

    I wore asics nimbus for years as well until they randomly started giving me blisters. I switched to Brooks Pureflow2 and love them. I took my time (2 months) to get used to them since they are semi minimalist but can’t imagine wearing anything else now that I am.

  30. says

    I have been changing up my running shoes with each run lately… depending on the type of run I am doing (long, short, walk, circuit, strength etc).

    Today I ran in my Mizuno Wave Rider 17s (love them). But I love ALL my running shoes too <3

  31. says

    I started off wearing high stability Asics shoes when I first started running. It just seems to be a safe choice especially for new runners. Now, I can’t even imagine running in this type as they seem to be much heavier than neutral shoes. I currently have 2 neutral shoes in rotation: Brooks Ghost 6 (love love love them) and Mizuno Wave Rider (super light and very natural run). I would recommend to anyone who runs a lot and who can afford it to rotate the shoes you wear, ie have more than one pair as than can reduce the risk of injuries by as much as 40%. I usually race in the Brooks once but I am now considering buying a racing shoe. Any recommendations?
    I

  32. Kristin says

    I’m currently wearing the Saucony Triumph but my favorites were the Saucony Ride 6, so I’m definitely getting another pair of those the next go around. They are a neutral shoe and are great for my high arches. They were also the first pair of shoes I bought when I started to run last year and I loved them! The Triumphs are similar, a little heavier I think, but still good. I also wear inserts that stabilize my ankle because I have weak ankles from dang cheerleading injuries… Good luck!

  33. says

    I think I’m still at the point where I am trying every shoe under the sun until I find the right one for me. At the moment Mizuno Wave Rider 17 is carrying me a long just fine, but my training cycle hasn’t really picked up yet.

  34. Teri says

    If the reader has gigantic feet like me (size 12s), finding shoes will be trial and error. I went to my local store and figured out what I needed then narrowed my search by shoes that are in my size. I find Nikes work well for me but they’re a tad too wide. Asics seem to be a bit clunky. I haven’t tried any Brooks running shoes but I’m looking forward to giving them a shot. I also found that I needed insoles because my arch is pretty high as well as tying my shoes a certain way to prevent numbness. Zappos is a great place to start once she’s narrowed down what she needs, free shipping and returns!!!

  35. AJ says

    I am neutral.I have Nike zoom vomero, brooks glycerin and brooks dyad. Dyad is the shoe the running store ‘matched’ me with and I love it. Asics is too narrow for me.

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