With colder temperatures around the corner, now’s a savvy time to buy some running shoes that can chomp through the miles to see you through your off-season training runs. Some brands recommend their racing flats are replaced after as little as 300 miles, while most shoes with a more robust build and cushioning can last nearly double that as a conservative estimate.
Some runners are best off using the same shoe for training and racing, as the benefits of a lighter shoe are little use if they’re going to injure you on race day because you haven’t used them enough.As 220 coach Spencer Smith says: “Training shoes are usually very light nowadays anyway, and you could cause yourself a lot of hassle by switching to racing flats for races when you’re not used to them. Although every runner is different it’s often best to stick with what you know. If you do want to use a lighter shoe for race day, make sure you’re at least doing some tempo or track sessions in them to get used to the different sensations.”
Hence the name of the test, most of these shoes are made for high mileage and therefore offer plenty of cushioning and stability tech features throughout the 10 test pairs (all weights given are for a UK size 10.5). Different shoes are right for the needs of different runners, so our scores also factor in build quality, value and mass appeal. As always, we’d suggest trying before you buy and getting a gait analysis at a running shop.
Run shoe jargon buster
Landing/StrikeForefoot – ball of foot lands first; midfoot – ball and heel together; heel – heel first then flexes to toe-off.
Toe-off - Final part of foot contact before propelling forward.
Pronation - When your foot moves inwards slightly between landing and toe-off
Overpronation – to a significant degree;
Underpronation – no inward roll and even a slight outward roll.
Neutral - Type of shoe, with adequate support and cushioning.
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As the name suggests, at 274g Topo’s Fli-Lyte 3 is the lightest shoe on test, having shed some weight and most of the overlays on the upper compared to the second iteration. Coupled with a 3mm drop, this places it between the racing and training shoe categories, and we found it worked as an everyday shoe. We still find the roomy toebox a little too wide, but those with wide feet will appreciate the extra room. The low drop makes it most suitable for neutral runners, and the moderate cushioning absorbs shock without being excessive. They aren’t grippy on brief trail forays, so are best on the road only.
Verdict: a training and racing hybrid for those with wide feet 79%
Buy from www.runnerinn.com
One of our heavier test pairs at 349g, the 361-Nemesis with a 9mm drop is robust and built to last. Like most stability shoes, you get full cushioning along the whole midsole. It’s not as soft as some of the other pairs and lacks responsiveness, but is pleasant enough on easy runs. The upper has breathable mesh at the front but is heavily stitched, making them durable but bulky. The tongue is comfy against the midfoot, but they’re narrow at the toebox. While we’d opt for something lighter for quality training sets, there’s appeal here for those requiring high levels of stability. 361europe.com
Verdict: Heavy, but robust and comfy for steady runs 77%
Buy from www.sportsshoes.com
The Sonic RA 2 weighed in at 301g, and is recommended as a daily trainer with a comfy, form-fitting upper and moderate cushioning. With Salomon being best known for their off-road shoes, the grip didn’t disappoint, standing up to harsh weather and brief trail forays. The stack is quite high with the sole unit being almost the same height as the upper and we found it narrow in the middle, which made for an unstable feel underfoot. We thought the midsole cushioning was a bit harsh compared to some other shoes on test. They also have bizarrely long laces that need swapping out.
Verdict: Breathable upper let down by a harsh running feel 70%
Buy from www.wiggle.co.uk
Continue reading our guide to the best winter run shoes (2/3)