Most runners are constantly searching for the “perfect” shoe. Or, they’re in the other camp where they only buy one brand/model over and over. I fall somewhere in the middle.
The main thing to remember when you’re shopping for running shoes is that there are so many different types and brands out there, and what works for one person may not work for you. So, it’s important to pay attention to how a pair feels on your feet and while running. Comfort is key. (And don’t buy for looks alone!!!) Another quick tip: size up in running shoes. You’ll need to go 1/2 to a full size up from your usual size. I wear a 6.5 in my normal shoes and heels and a size 7.5 in running shoes.
I have six shoes in rotation right now and explain below when I use each and what I like about them (and a few dislikes!). And I also have a post dedicated to the best running shoes for pregnancy if that fits your life stage!
I have multiple pair of running shoes since my body craves different things on different days, and different types of runs require different types of shoes. Additionally, rotating shoes is one way to help make running shoes last longer. If you want more details about how to evaluate running shoes and pick the best ones for you, there’s a video in my running course on exactly that.
In the meantime, let’s dive into my current favorite rotation of running shoes.
If I could only have one pair of shoes to run in, I think it would be this pair. These are light and fast so they work well for tempo runs, but they also have enough cushion that they’re appropriate for daily training runs. I haven’t run more than 10 miles in them, so I can’t say for sure how well they’d hold up for runs longer than that, but they’d be a perfect option for mid-week workouts while marathon training.
These Hyperion Tempos has been discontinued but you can still get it on sale at Amazon — even better. It’s been replaced with the Brooks Hyperion Max. I haven’t tried the Max yet, but it has a rocker shape, which Brooks calls their Rapid Roll technology. You can read more about about the Max here (and how it compares to the Tempo). If you try it, let me know!
I love these for normal, easy runs. They’re a great combo of stability and cushion but also aren’t heavy. They are a bit firmer than the New Balance 1080s (which I typically reserve for long, slow runs or recovery runs). But the firmer feel makes them appropriate for daily training and not only recovery runs. I can push the pace in them, but they aren’t my go-to if I want to run fast. I wrote a full review blog post on these, so be sure to read that if you’re considering these shoes.
While I don’t typically like cushioned running shoes (they tend to feel like marshmallows and feel like it absorbs my stride), I do love these. It’s instant relief on my feet when I put them on and they’re my go-to’s for easy runs, recovery runs or if my body is just feeling a bit worn out. I think they’d be a great option for marathon training since they have enough cushion to support distance running.
The below shoes are ones that I ran in the past but don’t have in my current rotation. I noted what I liked about them and why I stopped running in them, in case it’s helpful for you!
I tried these Sauconys when I was looking to find something similar to the Hyperion Tempo but I ended up returning them. I have a three strike rule with running shoes – if I don’t like them after 3 runs, they go back. So many people love these, but I found they cramped my toes so much that they were crossing over each other. I also found the heel so heavy, especially when going uphill, even though they are a very lightweight shoe. It’s a shame, because they did make me very fast (they have a winged plate to help with a fast toe-off), but they were too uncomfortable to justify. This is the third style of Sauconys I haven’t liked, so it just doesn’t seem to be a brand that works for me.
I loved these for easy or recovery runs, but I found them heavier than the Brooks Ghost. They also gave me heel blisters, which is why I stopped running in them. I had the issue with 3 different versions of the Launch giving me heel blisters, but no other style of Brooks shoes have done that.
I loved these for years since they’re springy but still cushioned AND they are cute. I stopped running in these because when I was returning to running after pregnancy, I needed more cushion than they offered (and that’s when I bought the New Balance 1080). However, I want to give these another try since my running is doing better now. Read my full review here.
I had eight pairs of these over the years and even ran the 2018 Boston Marathon in them (read a recap of that race here). Again, I stopped running in these when I was dealing with chronic injuries after having my son and needed more cushion. These two run a tad narrow (especially in the toe box) so that created problems as well. It sounds like the newer models have improved that somewhat so I may give them another go. Read my full review on the blog.
These were unlike ANY shoe I’ve ever ran in. I set PRs in both my half marathon and full marathon when wearing them! (Here’s the blog post about my half PR and here’s the one about my marathon PR.) You can read my full review of the Vaporflys here. The 4% are discontinued, so I’ve linked the latest version. Carbon-plated shoes were and are a bit controversial (read why here), but they seem to be the new technology that all running shoes brands are going for now, so if you’re looking to PR in races, you’ll want to invest in a pair.
What are your current favorite pair of running shoes and why?
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