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Whether you’re brand new to running or you're a long-time marathon veteran, there’s one thing every runner needs: a good pair of sneakers. After all, running is a rather no-frills sport. Sneakers are really the only piece of equipment necessary for logging those miles, which is why it's vital to find a pair to fit your specific needs.
As an avid runner myself, I understand the importance of a reliable pair of sneakers. After running two marathons — one in old, ratty sneakers and the other in a pair of perfectly broken-in shoes — I know that quality sneakers can make a massive difference in your speed and risk of injury post-run.
After scouring customer reviews, doing extensive market research and testing out many of these running shoes myself, I’ve found the best options for every type of runner below.
For the casual runner
Made for short runs, workout classes and gym sessions, these sneakers are one of the most versatile options on this list. The CloudTec outsole is made for explosive movements and the extra cushioning in the heel offers more stability. As a bonus, they just look really cool, too.
An ultra-cushioned and stylish pick, this shoe features a heel that’s designed to hug the back of your foot for a more secure feel.
With over 42,000 five-star ratings on Amazon, you just know this running shoe is going to be a good one. The stretchy mesh allows all foot shapes to sit comfortably within the shoe while the midsole cushioning adds a spring to every step.
For the distance runner
Those who enjoy long-distance running will love this sneaker — especially since it's one of the more affordable options in this roundup. Featuring extra responsive cushioning, each step feels smooth and supported.
As one of Nike’s most cushioned sneakers, the Flyknit is designed to reduce injury during your workout. The soft and springy material is durable without feeling too heavy, which is a major benefit for someone looking to clock in a ton of miles during their run.
If your goal is to go further rather than faster while running, try out this fast-selling shoe. The midsole foam is very responsive to your movements, meaning you’ll experience a trampoline-like effect as you run. Also, a minimum of 20% of the shoe’s upper fabric is made with recycled material, which is a nice perk for those looking to live a lifestyle that reduces waste.
For the speed runner
For the lightning-fast runner, try this option from Brooks Running. Its lightweight sole allows for speedy runs without any extra bulk weighing you down. Plus, it’s available in multiple colors so anyone can find a shade to fit their preference.
Built for the low-mileage runner, this lightweight shoe is great for shorter, faster road runs. A removable Ortholite sockliner provides underfoot support while also managing moisture while on the move. The shoe also includes a gel cushioning system for added comfort on impact.
While these sneakers are slightly on the pricier side, they’re worth the splurge. The plush layers within the shoe take the stress off the feet while you run, making each mile a little easier on tired toes. The shoe also uses Speedroll Technology to propel you forward and give you the feeling of continuous momentum.
For the trail runner
Trail runners have very specific needs for their sneakers. First, the sole of their shoe requires a good grip in order to prevent slips on muddy or rocky ground. This option uses a mountain-grade quantum grip rubber outsole so you’ll remain stable on rugged terrain. Tear-resistant fabric and reflective details for increased visibility are also important — both of which this shoe incorporates into its design.
However, if you're more of a beginner in the realm of trail running, the Merrell Antora 2 is your best bet. Not only is it great for bumpy terrain, but it's also perfect for everyday use.
The secret sauce for this trail-running sneaker is the ultra-durable rubber outsole. It uses deep, sharp lugs that are perfect for maximum grip on loose, uneven surfaces. The protective toe caps ensure you won’t stub your toe on any rough terrain and the quicklace system makes sliding the shoes on and off easier than ever. Consider these the perfect shoe for both beginner and experienced trail runners alike.
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