Readers’ Roundtable: The Best Running Shoes for You

I love my shoes so much more with speed laces!
I love you. Don’t ever change from model to model. (For more Penelope and her brother Lou, check out my Speed Laces Post on 8/4/2012)

If you meet someone who’s just beginning to run, the first question you’re likely to hear is, “What shoes do you wear when you run?”  The quest for the Best Running Shoe of All Time is often the first we embark upon as a runner.

And it’s nearly universal for us, particularly since, other than running bras, shoes are our only necessary piece of gear.  (Yes, watch-enthusiasts, our only necessary piece of gear.)  Many of us even have different shoes for different types of workouts, or simply rotate our favorites to ease wear and tear.

But, as Cinderella taught us, each foot is different, and your best friend’s shoes might be sandpaper to your heels, or your daughter’s brand could pinch your toes.  Still, we want to know what everyone else is wearing – and why – so we can make educated decisions about which shoes are right for us the next time we plunk down a hundred bucks (give or take).

I’m always curious to know what I could discover by introducing a new shoe into my rotation, so I want to hear from you, dear readers!

What are the makes and models of your current shoes?

When do you wear each pair? What made you choose that shoe? Is it your first time on this model, or have you purchased several pairs over time?  As always, we’ll take your answers in the comments.

Cinnamon made Salty Running, takes lots of pictures and drinks lots of coffee. She has 8 more minutes to knock off her marathon for a 3:40 BQ, and will get there or die trying. Her writing is an eclectic mix of finding wholeness as an average runner, news reporting, curious reactions, satirical humor and more.

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  1. After a few injuries in Nike’s I switched to Saucony a few years ago and haven’t ran in anything else since! The Kinvara are my go-to shoe that I can use for any run or distance (I think I’m on my 14th pair…), but I have incorporated a few other models in the last few years which has helped prolong shoe life and keep me healthy.

    Current Rotation:
    Kinvara (Neutral)- Easy/Long
    Ride/Guide/Hurricane- These are all more supportive shoes that I use for recovery runs or easy runs
    Fast Twitch- Tempo runs, workouts, Marathon race
    A6- Race 5k-Half marathon (I have used them for marathon, but now lean towards fast twitch for that distance as they have a little more support)
    Peregrine- Trail running, or snow running (extra traction)

  2. Also a Saucony fan – Fastwitch for Marathon, A5 for shorter.
    But, my feet no longer tolerate conventional (non-foot-shaped) shoes. The pointy toes not only cause blisters and black toe nails (mere flesh wounds), they also take the big toe out of the equation, preventing its natural function. Too much of this, and I wind up with all manner of foot issues – lisfranc strains, stress reactions, torn plantar fascia, etc.

    So … that leaves me spending most of my time rotating through several very different shoes that all work and stress my feet differently. I like these because they have a close fit (no slippage or slop, fore & aft and laterally) without constricting my toes.
    – Skora Form
    – Topo Athletic Fly Lite (with Tributes arriving soon!)
    – Soft Star RunAmoc Dash Lite
    – New Balance WT00 or MT00 original model – my most favorite shoe of all, ever; these are used sparingly as they’ve been out of production for years and the soles wear very quickly

  3. Saucony A5
    NB 1600
    NB 1400
    NB 5000 (racing only, but haven’t worn much in the last year)
    Adidas Boston Boost
    Brooks Mach spikeless
    Asics hyperspeed
    3 pairs of Nike Streak LT with mileage ranging from 0-539! Best shoe ever – I’ve now owned 7 pairs.

    Other than the NB 5000, I wear all the shoes for a variety of runs. I wore the Streaks in my marathon and they felt great. For a $75 shoe they are very durable as well!

  4. I have narrowish feet so only a few brands work for me. I used to be strictly a mizuno runner, then moved to Brooks and now do mostly Nike, but usually have a pair of Brooks to rotate in there. Right now ok rotating Nike lunar glides, Brooks ghosts and Nike zoom flys. The LRS people tell me I’m a neutral runner but I prefer neutral shoes with some stability or stability shoes that are minimally stable – those are what work best. I usually get told I’m a larger size than I prefer too – I usually measure a 9.5 but 9s feel sooooo much better to me (I like a snug fit). What feels good is what works no matter what an expert tells you!

  5. I am on my 12th pair of Brooks Pure Cadence & it’s time for #13. I had ongoing hip/SI-joint pain in previous types of shoes (Asics GTS) but after switching to the Cadence, it hasn’t been a problem. I know the trend has moved from minimalist to maximalist shoes, but they work for me so well & I love the low-profile feel. I’ve been solely in those since 2011- though I am currently rotating in some Nikes that I’m long-term testing. For the occasional trail-run, I wear Brooks Cascadia which probably need to be replaced… If I liked trail-running more, I’d love to try the Brooks Pure Grit.

    1. Heck, you can have mine. I wore them briefly in 2012 and injured the crap out of myself. I’ve sworn off them ever since for everything but standing around at work. I can’t bring myself to throw them out until they’re worn down!

  6. Has anyone used asics hyperspeed for marathon? I’ve struggled to find a marathon shoe that works for me and am planning to try hyperspeed for my marathon in 5 days but am having second thoughts. In the past I’ve raced in adidas adios and adidas Boston (pre boost).

    1. I loved the old Adios and I love the hyperspeed, too! I considered the hyperspeed for my fall marathon. I think it would be great! What’s your other option(s)?

      1. Haha pretty limited at this point, unfortunately! I still have an old, pretty worn out pair of Bostons lying around (that I last wore in 2014 Boston Marathon). The only other shoes I’ve been wearing regularly this cycle are my trainers (Asics GT-1000) and if I want to play it safe I could wear those. I also have NB 1400 and Saucony A5, but I don’t consider either of those supportive enough for a marathon.

        Past that, it would be pretty ill advised for me to try something new this close to race day. I got the hyperspeed 6 weeks ago and really liked them at first, but my ankles have felt sore in them during 8ish mile runs recently, which is what has set off my nervousness!

  7. Oh my goodness. I didn’t realize people rotated through SO many types of shoes!! I sort of feel embarrassed by my answer.

    Asics Kayano. I have been running in Kayano since I started running in 2011 and have never felt a need to explore other shoes. Actually, I’ve been interested in “dating” another shoe to see if there’s something better out there for me, but too scared to try something new and risk injury…. or worse yet, hate the shoe and lose out on the money spent.

    Maybe sometime soon I’ll be brave and branch out…..

    1. I liked those too and the Pure Flows, but got injured while wearing them after they first came out and now they have bad mojo for me. I’m nuts!

      1. They injured my running partner too, and unfortunately her foot is a couple sizes larger than mine so I can’t even take them off her hands… I tried the Connect this summer, and after one 6-mile run my body said “NO” very loudly and I returned them.

    1. I work for Newton. Thanks for the feedback. The Kismet is one of our most popular shoes–a favorite for many. The Fate is our other most popular model. We can’t keep them in stock! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Brooks Pure Flow and Newton Fate right now. Turns out I’m a fore foot striker, so the Newtons are extra awesome for me!

    1. Hi Jen! I work for Newton, and I appreciate your feedback. The Fate and Kismet are one of our best models. Glad they are working out for you. Thanks for sharing!

  9. I’m currently rotating the following: Brooks Pure Flow (which was my marathon shoe last time around), New Balance Zante, New Balance Vazee Pace, Saucony Kinvara, and Brooks Ravenna (for recovery/easier runs). The New Balances are relatively new purchases for me, and I’m loving the Zantes especially.

  10. Always the Asics Kayano for me. I go through about 4 pairs a year and have worn them for 15 years. The only ones I didn’t like were the 18s, so I stocked up on 17s to get me through until the 19s became available. I replace after about 750km. I love that you can track mileage so easily on strava. More recently I have got a pair of Asics Noosa Tri for racing in. I’m enjoying a lighter weight shoe to run fast in, but not sure I could wear them for a full marathon.

  11. I’ve been wearing Saucony Kinvaras exclusively since 2012. Last winter I ventured out to the Saucony Triumph ISO’s for winter and they were great. I wear my Kinvaras for speed + long runs and the Triumphs for easy runs + trail (or snow) runs. I just ordered a pair of Saucony Zealots to see if they are more like the Kinvaras with more cushion.

  12. I love my kinvaras so much that when I saw the ones I had (4s) on mega sale I bought two more pairs. The only thing is that the upper wears really fast. My little toes are poking out of them right now in fact. I especially like them for track work or easy runs.

    Most of my mileage is done in Mizuno Riders though. I’ve gone through two pairs a year since 2009. I used to LOVE the Elixir before they discontinued it–it was like a rider with just a teench of stability. I got that from Salty and her husband, who both used to wear them. I tried the Creation on a tip, but they weren’t as right. I also got a pair of Sayonaras at an expo that I like for the same stuff as my kinvaras. The upper on those is really comfy and stretchy; it feels like a sock.

    I rotate New Balances in too if I feel like I want a break from the tight shoes I usually wear. I forget…980 I think? I got a pair from NB for pacing a training run and loved them so I keep a pair hanging around. They took the place of Brooks Ravennas in my rotation. And my race flats are an ancient pair of Brooks Racers. I think it’s time to move on, though, they’re…five years old, I think? I only wear them to race, but I’m gonna start working them into training until the soles wear out.

    All this means I probably still only wear through four pairs of shoes in a year. And then I wear them to work and to bum around until they are completely unacceptable as foot coverage. They get a lot of use before they’re recycled!

    1. I’ve had that issue with the uppers of my Sauconys as well. Otherwise they are in fine condition but I can actually feel my foot slipping off the sole now, especially when I turn! I’m considering duct tape.

  13. Since I work for Newton, all of my shoes are Newton, and I have several models to rotate through. I primarily wear the Distance (for training) and the Distance Elite (for workouts and racing). The Distance Elite is the best shoe I have ever worn in my life–and I’m not just saying that because I am biased. I tend to like a lighter-weight shoe, so these are perfect for me.