Run shoes: 9 of the best reviewed for training and long distance races
For aerobic training runs and long-distance races, you should demand a trainer that offers support and optimum energy return. Jack Sexty tests 9 pairs
Inov-8 are better known for off-road shoes, and the Roadclaw 275 is billed as a trainer with a neutral ride. It’s one of the heaviest shoes on test at 342g thanks to heavily layered mesh with a very firm midsole, but this does increase comfort. Inov-8 also offer the Roadtalon shoe for racing, with the same grippy sole, but we
found that ride a little flat and unforgiving. The cushioning in the Roadclaw really balances out the firm midsole, however, and we found faster efforts easier and more enjoyable in this shoe. Being Inov-8, they’re of course suitable for off-road adventures, too, so they’re a good option if you want a do-it-all shoe for running on the road and occasionally light trails.
Verdict: Another fine effort from the off-road specialists 80%
Buy from www.sportsshoes.com
With their unusual looks and huge soles, Hoka continue to divide opinion eight years after two former Salomon employees founded the brand. The Clayton 2 is their latest lightweight shoe and, despite the big platform, our 10.5s weighed just 240g. We were dubious at first but we’ve grown to love the Clayton 2s, and we’d agree with Hoka’s description that the shoe ‘shouldn’t make sense, but it does.’ We’ve never used a shoe that looks so big yet makes you want to move so fast, the only problem being that all our steady runs turned into tempos by halfway. We’d still want something lower to the ground for racing, but the Clayton 2s have become our go-to option for steady training runs.
Verdict: A great trainer for experienced runners 89%
Buy from www.tredz.co.uk/.Hoka-Clayton-2
The Distance D5 from Swedish brand Salming (now available in black instead of the Gecko Green seen here) has a 5mm drop and weighed in at 239g, so this isn’t really a mileage shoe for plodders. The upper is dual-layered with air mesh for breathability and tri-friendly net mesh for water drainage. The rounded heel cup isn’t too firm, and it moulds around the heel neatly without causing any irritation. The Runlite midsole absorbs negative impact and gives energy return at the toe-off phase, making for a light and springy ride at mile 10 and beyond. We’re fans of the D5 as a lightweight all-rounder, but if you over- or under-pronate and heel strike? Then it might be too aggressive for distances above half marathon. salming.com/uk
Verdict: A comfy shoe for experienced neutral runners 79%
Buy from www.sportsshoes.com
The overall verdict
There’s a real variety of shoes on test here that’ll suit different runners for different purposes. We can categorise the Salming Distance D5, On Cloudflow and Hoka Clayton 2 as shoes that’d probably be too unsupportive for a 5hr marathoner; yet they all come highly recommended for a well-trained runner looking for a marathon shoe that offers mid-level support.
We felt Asics’ Noosa FF and the Fresh Foam 1080 from New Balance both gave a bit of a rough ride, and between these and the other shoes offering a high level of support and cushioning, the Zoot Solana 2 and 361° Sensation 2, the latter edges it. We also liked Inov-8’s Roadclaw 275, it’s got great grip and is built to last.
This tester will personally be wearing the Hoka’s Clayton 2 after this test. If you’re a competitive runner looking for a training or ultra-distance shoe, this is absolutely the one. But, all things considered, our overall winner is the Saucony Ride 10. The heel counter offers a great form fit, it’s got a very comfortable mesh upper and it’s not too heavy, giving it mass appeal to suit most runners.
All images by The Secret Studio