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Winter run training shoes: 10 of the best reviewed

Need some new run shoes to see you through winter training and the increased mileage? James Witts tests 10 of the best



When Swiss brand On Running hit the market in 2010 with their podular design, we wondered if it would stand the test of time. But On have evolved and these are arguably their best shoe yet. That podular design remains, the aim being to maximise energy return, but it’s a softer material than other models that cushions each stride beautifully, though still propels. That comfort stretches to the super-soft but still stable heel, and the upper, whose no-sew design means you can wear them barefoot. Even though they’re 366g, they don’t feel it and happily rack up interval metres as well as long-slow miles. What On term a ‘liquid-injected Speedboard’ links the heel of the outsole to the toe box. From landing to toe-off it’s extremely good. 

Verdict: very expensive but a brilliant shoe 86%

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We’ve stated in the past that Salming achieve much of their ‘Design Rule of Five’: light, flexible, flat, thin and comfortable. This quintet is clear in the Enroute2s, starting with weight. At just 269g they’re the lightest on test – a noticeable saving particularly on higher-intensity interval efforts. A particularly responsive midsole provides the flexibility for a proficient landing to toe-off, while the 6mm drop maintains a reasonably flat profile – again, enough for a swift feeling. We complained that Salming’s Distance 3 lacked responsiveness, but that doesn’t apply to the Enroute2. On the downside, the looks aren’t great – there’s a lot going on visually – and the upper material can billow ever so slightly.

Verdict: Much improved over the distance 81%

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361° was founded in 2003 and, according to the company’s website, ‘has quickly grown into one of the biggest brands in China’. That whet this tester’s appetite because, broadly speaking, Asians have genetically thinner feet. Ours are also thin and, indeed, these fit rather impressively, yet they’re still easily wide enough to accommodate most triathletes. A breathable mesh upper aids comfort, while 361°’s ‘Qu!kFoam’ cushioning serves its purpose. But it’s not the most flexible shoe from landing to toe-off. It’s hard to dissect exactly why, but a thin carbon-fibre plate within the outsole – to aid stability – is the most likely culprit. The tongue’s also flimsy, which could curl and irritate down the line. 

Verdict: Plenty of potential but lack flexibility 75%

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Overall verdict

The off-season’s the perfect time to rack up the miles. Not only will this lay a strong aerobic base for 2019, but an increased focus on running over cycling will eliminate the frustration of autumn punctures. 

Mileage means greater focus on cushioning. In the past, this meant heavy, which ultimately resulted in a pretty uncomfortable ride. Thankfully, advances in material tech have retained cushioning but cut weight – as clearly seen on Salming’s Enroute2 that come in under 300g per shoe yet still feel cushioned. And, importantly, the feel for the ground remains, making them suitable for faster sessions.

New Balance are another brand who’ve achieved off-season comfort, feel and speed. With their V8, they’ve also achieved it more affordably than the majority of shoes on test.

Cost is important and it’s rare that we award the most expensive item of gear top billing because, in general, the extra cost isn’t justified. But with the On Cloudaces you’ll appreciate the additional financial outlay every time you stride out, whether it’s an easy two hours or a swift 20 minutes. Who’d have thought a podular design could be so rewarding?

Expert advice

Former world duathlon number one turned coach Annie Emmerson reveals her run shoe secrets…

In training, I’d use a shoe that has a little more cushioning; in racing I’d go lightweight. I have pretty good biomechanics so have got on with most brands, but I do like a reasonably lightweight shoe with plenty of flexibility through the midfoot.

It’s a good idea to rotate your trainers so that you’re not always running in the same pair. This can also prevent injury.

Don’t over complicate things and remember, just because it’s the most expensive shoe doesn’t make it right for you. Go to a run shop where someone can see you on a treadmill before recommending a shoe. 

There’s an element of placebo with shoes. That said, a lighter shoe is always going to feel easier than a heavier one. I never measured speed in different trainers, but I preferred races and fast sessions in a minimalist shoe. If you’re going to race in flats, ensure you use them in training. There’s less cushioning and support so you may find that your Achilles and calves become sore.


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