Now the colder temperatures have arrived it’s 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.
- 11 of the best trail and off-road running shoes for men and women
- Triathlon race-day run shoes: 10 of the best for racing the final leg
- Women’s triathlon race day run shoes: 7 of the best reviewed
- Run shoes: 9 of the best reviewed for training and long distance races
- Can run shoes make you faster?
- Are heel-to-toe drop differences in run shoes overrated?
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.
The French brand are synonymous with off-road run shoes. Since 2016, they’ve branched out to road shoes and they’ve produced a competent, if flawed, effort here. It’s the lightest here at 260g and is possibly the most race transferrable. Over intervals and tempo runs it felt fast and cushioned. The former’s potentially down to the Internal SensiFit upper construction for a secure, cradled fit; the latter’s arguably down to the Optivibe midsole, which utilises one later of foam for dampening, another for propulsion. The mesh upper’s breathable and flexible, and it’s nearly all good. Sadly, a protruding heel cup designed for greater stability is too noticeable, undoing much of the good work. salomon.com
Verdict: Makings of a fine shoe, let down by a protrusion 73%
The latest edition of arguably Brooks’ most successful shoe (345g) is comfort personified thanks to the brand’s patented DNA Loft midsole (a mix of EVA foam, rubber and air), which explains the 31mm stack height and 21mm at the forefoot for a traditional high-mileage 10mm heel-to-toe drop. The cosy feeling stretches to the soft tongue, interior liner, and upper that’s upgraded to an impressive double jacquard mesh (a weaving method). It’s beautifully flexible for a smooth landing to toe-off and seems more durable than many woven uppers. It’s a stunning shoe for racking up the miles but is no speed bunny for intervals (much faster than the Hokas, though). Also, they take a fair time to dry off.
Verdict: No speedwork fanatic but a superb mileage muncher, 89%
361°’s popular neutral shoe is akin to Brooks’ Glycerin 18 on steroids. By feel and looks but not weight, coming in 2g heavier (347g). It has an old-school rawness to it – and that’s no bad thing as it performs proficiently with no airs or graces. It’s also damn comfy. The most visible nod to luxury is the heel and foot entry that’s the beefiest on test. So your rearfoot’s locked in. As is your stride that feels fluid from back to front, the 9mm drop flowing nicely. Mind you, it doesn’t have the same tactile feel with the ground of the Glycerin. A fibre-glass shank in the midfoot adds stability, while the upper’s breathable and durable. Just beware that there’s a degree of crinkling for thinner-footed triathletes. 361europe.com
Verdict: Comfy, durable and the vest 361° shoe we’ve tried, 81%
The Swiss company’s lightweight stability shoe hits the scales at 314g. That’s not bad, especially when the bulk of that mass comes in the form of On’s lugged outsole. As a reminder, the idea behind this lugged design is to absorb the stress of landing, store that energy and then release it with interest for a comfier, faster ride. Original versions featured too stiff a lug. That’s improved over time, culminating with this impressive number. Propulsive force is given a healthy kick with On’s Speedboard, a liquid-injected plate of thermoplastic polymer that sits between the rear and front of the shoe. While in its element during faster training runs, it’ll rack up the miles with ease, too. Also comes in a waterproof version for £155. on-running.com
Verdict: Impressive stuff, yet still too stiff for some, 83%
Brooks’ Glycerin is a baby compared to Asics’ 27th Kayano. This is the running giant’s premier stability shoe and you certainly feel strapped in – though this tips over to tourniquet. Okay, hyperbole, but for even a thin-footed triathlete, at times these felt tight around the midfoot area, even with a relieving of the laces. It’s something other Kayano-27 users have noted. Why must be down to the last. It’s also the most heavily engineered shoe here, explaining its heaviest on test moniker (362g). Asics’ Trustic tech – a solid length of plastic in the midsole – looks to prevent twists, while a firmer foam nestles beneath the inside of the arch to prevent overpronation. It’s a solid – if unspectacular – ride and expensive.
Verdict: Techy, but we’ve tested better Kayanos in the past, 76%
The past couple of years has seen Topo secure a foothold in the competitive run shoe market, and they continue to create models that are substance over style. That’s what counts, of course, though some enjoy a placebo speed hit from looking good. The architect of that aesthetic indifference is the Ultrafly 3’s toe box. Its wide, chunky demeanour is to allow natural toe splaying through the gait. We possess ski-like feet but, reassuringly, it still felt stable. In theory, it’s one of the speediest on test, the 5mm drop (28mm in the heel) and 310g weight highlighting its chameleon qualities – it’s suitable for racing and accumulating miles. Yet it does so with a flatter feel than we’d like. topoathletic.co.uk
Verdict: A solid, wide shoe that lacks a certain je nes sais quoi, 78%
We’ve tested a few low-profile Hokas, the highlight being the Evo Rehi. Well, all that miniscule madness flies out the window with the Bondi 7 as this is full-on original Hoka, containing more cushioning than DFS. That raises the rear to 33mm, the front to 29mm (356g), for a deliciously comfy landing and toe-off. But the doffed-cap to this shoe has been balancing that near-guaranteed comfort with stability. This impressive balancing act’s achieved primarily through the brand’s signature Meta-Rocker tech. That said, tech can only take you so far. If the profile’s added well over an inch to your height, your remit is singular – consuming long, slow-to-medium kms. Fartleks and speedwork are prohibited!
Verdict: Makes long runs a cinch, yet speedwork’s a no-no, 80%
Images by Steve Sayers