Best running shoes 2024: tested and rated

Finding the perfect running shoes is an essential part of being a runner (no matter how much of a beginner you are) — they need to be light, cushioned, supportive, and fit well. Or perhaps you’re training for a race and eyeing those carbon-plated wonders. Whatever your running needs are, we have a shoe recommendation for all.

To guide you toward the right shoe for you and unravel the mysteries of how updates may alter your go-to pair, our runners test and review a ton of the latest running shoes to pick out the best on the market.

The current number one on our list is the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 40, which is a versatile every day shoe, with the right amount of midsole cushioning to keep things comfortable and stable.

Meanwhile, for our readers on a budget, we recommend the Brooks Glycerin 21. It's an extremely comfortable, lightweight shoe with more cushioning than its predecessor, making it ideal for slower-paced training runs. 

Stick with us to uncover our all of our top selections across cushioned runners, lightning-fast racers, steadfast stability models, and rugged trail shoes. Plus, as you scroll further, arm yourself with invaluable buying tips and insights from our seasoned running aficionados.

The quick list

How we test the best running shoes

Quite simply, we run in them! While finding the best running shoes for your feet and running style is a personal choice, we've been testing the market's most popular shoes for the past few years, so we know what we're looking for. 

When we test shoes, we'll typically run at least 20 miles in them before making our minds up. We're looking at how the shoe performs on different running surfaces, as well as how well it copes with different sessions - some shoes will be great on a long run, but feel heavy during a speed session. We also look at the size and fit of each shoe and anything that makes the shoe particularly impressive, such as carbon fibre plates, or ultra-lightweight midsole foams.

The best running shoes you can buy today

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Best running shoe overall

a photo of the Nike Pegasus 40

(Image credit: Future)
Best running shoe overall

Specifications

Weight: 9.2 oz (M), 7.7 oz (W)
Drop: 10 mm
Type: Daily

Reasons to buy

+
An affordable, everyday running shoe 
+
Tweaked fit 
+
Cushioned and comfortable

Reasons to avoid

-
Not all that different from the Pegasus 39 

If you’re a fan of the Swoosh, choosing a pair of the best Nike running shoes can be a tricky choice. While we’re a huge fan of the Nike Air Zoom Tempo Next% for race day, we know not every runner wants to race, which is why the Pegasus 40 sneaked into the top spot here. 

It was a close call between this and the Nike Invincible Run 3, which is also a brilliant everyday shoe, but when it comes down to it, the Pegasus was just more versatile during testing. It's got a good amount of React foam in the midsole for a lightweight, snappy feel underfoot, without being overly springy and leaving you feeling unstable on the run. The Pegasus is a workhorse - you can wear it for a marathon,  your first 5K, and pretty much everything in between. 

For a shoe to be on its 40th iteration, it must be doing something right and with the Pegasus, you're buying reliability. The Nike Pegasus 40 feels pretty similar to the Nike Pegasus 39 underfoot, but Nike has made some tweaks to the fit for a more comfortable underfoot feel. Like the Pegasus 39, the shoe has two Zoom Air units, one under the ball of your foot and one in the heel, for a snappy, responsive feel on the run. 

If you're looking for a bargain, now is a good time to buy the Nike Pegasus 39, which is likely to be on sale now the newer shoe has been released. 

Best budget running shoe

Brooks Glycerin 21 side view on a path

(Image credit: Michael Sawh)
Best budget running shoe

Specifications

Weight: 8.8oz (women), 9.8oz (men)
Drop : 10mm
Type: Neutral

Reasons to buy

+
Retains DNA Loft V3 midsole foam
+
Lighter than previous editions
+
Comfortable over long periods

Reasons to avoid

-
Not a lot has changed compared to the Glycerin 20
-
Not suited to high-intensity runs

This upgraded version of Brooks' softest shoe upholds the series' reputation as a comfortable every day pair. They're slightly lighter than the Brooks Glycerin 20, but with the same 10mm drop. 

They also retain the previous edition's DNA Loft V3 midsole foam, making them ideal for short runs or long slow-paced sessions. But they're supportive enough for when you need to pick up some speed as well. 

There are some modest upgrades elsewhere, with a redesigned upper which is just as comfortable as before, but feels slightly thicker and less breathable. Still, the new padding on the tongue and heel collar felt comfortable during our testing. 

Overall, we found that the Glycerin 21 kept the Glycerin 20's focus on durability and comfort, but the lower weight was a welcome change. There may not be enough difference to warrant an upgrade from the 20, but the Glycerin 21 are an excellent, budget-friendly introduction to every day running shoes.

Best value running shoe

Person holding the Saucony Ride 17 running shoe

(Image credit: Jessica Downey)
Best value running shoe

Specifications

Weight: 9.9 (M), 8.3 oz (W)
Drop: 8 mm
Type: Neutral

Reasons to buy

+
Very comfortable
+
It can handle many types of runs
+
Smooth transitions from midfoot to forefoot

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly heavier for a daily trainer
-
Lacing system a little unreliable at times

The Saucony Ride 17 is a dream daily trainer and introduces significant upgrades from the Ride 16, notably the transition to Pwrrun + midsole foam, designed to provide a perfect balance of cushioning and responsiveness. This means each step feels light and bouncy, making your runs feel smooth and effortless.

The revamped engineered mesh upper enhances midfoot lockdown and heel comfort without compromising on flexibility or support. Featuring a stretchy, gusseted tongue and a moderately cushioned yet stiff heel counter, the Ride 17 ensures a snug fit and mile-after-mile comfort.

One minor gripe experienced during testing is the lacing system which loosened during runs. Nevertheless, once adjusted, the shoe excels across diverse running scenarios, from long marathon-training sessions to brisk commutes and speed workouts.

The Ride 17 strikes an impressive balance between cushioning and responsiveness, courtesy of its enhanced midsole foam, offering a soft and bouncy feel. Its smooth midfoot-to-forefoot transition, coupled with a subtle rocker geometry in the forefoot, offers up a nice and efficient forward propulsion.

In our eyes, the Saucony Ride 17 delivers excellent value for money, providing a versatile and high-performing daily trainer with premium features at an affordable price, making it a wise investment for runners of all levels.

Best running shoe for beginners

a view of the Brooks Ghost 15 on a running track

(Image credit: Future/Tom's Guide)
Best running shoe for beginners

Specifications

Weight: 10.1 oz (M), 9.1 oz (W)
Drop: 12mm
Type: Daily

Reasons to buy

+
Padded tongue and heel collar
+
Available in a number of different colors
+
Comes in three different widths
+
Durable

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the most exciting running shoe on the market
-
Lacks versatility

The Brooks Ghost 15 isn't the most exciting, or the best-looking running shoe on the market, but it's popular with beginners because of its firm, steady midsole, and it's plush upper. Fans of the Brooks Ghost line will not be disappointed with the 15th iteration of the shoe - it feels very similar to past versions and is still a durable, everyday running shoe. 

That said, it lacks versatility. While the firmer midsole does the job on slow, easier miles, it’s not overly responsive. It feels pretty clunky at anything that isn’t an easy pace — when trying to do tempo sessions in this shoe it felt a bit ‘meh’, and you had to work hard to get your legs moving in this shoe.

If you're new to running and want a solid shoe that'll support you around your first few miles, this is a reliable choice. If you're a faster runner, or you're looking for a max cushioned shoe, there are better options on the market.

Best race-day running shoe

Nike Vaporfly Next% 3 on grass

(Image credit: Future)
The best race-day shoe

Specifications

Weight : 6.5 oz (M), 5.3 oz (W)
Drop: 8mm
Type: Racing

Reasons to buy

+
More ZoomX foam
+
Slightly lighter
+
Slightly more stable
+
Incredible energy return

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive to buy (in the UK)
-
Outsole is thinner

It doesn't get better than the Nike Vaporfly Next% 3 on race day. There's a reason why you'll see this shoe a LOT at every major road marathon — they are one of the most popular racing shoes around, and it's easy to see why. The ZoomX foam — the lightest and most responsive midsole Nike makes, plus there’s a full-length carbon fibre plate which helps for a faster toe-off. The shoe feels fast, it’s incredibly lightweight and fits true to size.

The drawback here, of course, is the price — these shoes are definitely an investment and one that might not actually last you for too many miles. While Nike doesn't give an exact figure, as a race day shoe, it's often thought that you won't get all that many miles out of these, so we wouldn't recommend them for your training miles. That said, if you can afford them and you're looking for a PR, you won't be disappointed. 

If you're looking for a bargain, now might be a good time to buy the Vaporfly Next% 2, which is likely to be on sale now the newer shoe, with a slightly tweaked design, has been released. Read our Nike Vaporfly Next% 2 vs Nike Vaporfly Next% 3 face-off to help you choose. 

Best race-day running shoe runner-up

New Balance FuelCell SC Elite v4 London edition running shoes on a track

(Image credit: Michael Sawh)
The best New Balance race day shoe

Specifications

Weight: 8.1 oz (M), 6.3 oz (W)
Drop: 4mm
Type: Racing

Reasons to buy

+
Stable race shoe
+
Comfortable at a mix of paces
+
Durable for training and racing in

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the lightest
-
Not as exciting as other race shoes

If you're a runner seeking a comfortable and stable shoe for conquering long distances look no further than the New Balance FuelCell SC Elite v4. We put these shoes to the test during the London Marathon this year and felt the shoe's excellent ability to deliver both plush cushioning and a secure fit. Two features that translates to a confident ride throughout your race, allowing you to focus on maintaining pace and crushing your goals.

The secret to the FuelCell SC Elite v4's success lies in its construction. A carbon fiber plate propels you forward with each stride, maximizing your efficiency. Meanwhile, the responsive foam midsole absorbs impact, keeping your legs fresh over the miles. The upper is crafted from a lightweight, breathable mesh, ensuring your feet stay cool and dry during even the most demanding races.

While some racing shoes prioritize raw speed over comfort, the FuelCell SC Elite v4 strikes a balance. If you're a marathoner seeking a shoe that will get you to the finish line feeling strong and supported, the New Balance FuelCell SC Elite v4 deserves a spot on your shortlist.

Best max-cushioned running shoe

the upper of the Nike Invincible 3

(Image credit: Future/Tom's Guide)

7. Nike Invincible 3

The best max-cushioned running shoe

Specifications

Weight: 10.9 oz (M), 9.1 oz (W)
Drop: 9mm
Type: Daily

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable, plush everyday running shoe 
+
ZoomX midsole foam is bouncy and responsive 
+
A bit more stable than previous versions

Reasons to avoid

-
Similar underfoot experience to past versions 
-
Heel clip won’t be for everyone

Nike has made some changes to it’s maximum cushion running shoe and the Invincible 3 feels a little more grown-up with it’s new upper and heel clip. That said, this is still one of the best max-cushioned running shoes on the market, with a taller foam stack than previous versions to give you more bounce underfoot.  

When it comes to the running performance, this shoe is still super plush and super cushioned. Compared to the Nike ZoomX Invincible 2, it has a little more support - the upper is thicker, holding the foot in place, there's a little more support around the arch, and the heel clip is narrower, designed to keep the foot secure. 

There's also more ZoomX foam, as the stack height has increased by 1mm. Underfoot, the support is great in the final miles of your long run as your legs tire and your form suffers. That said, if you're a neutral runner and you don't need the support, now is a good time to stock up on the older version of the shoe, which is likely to be on discount. 

Best New Balance running shoe

Midsole of the New Balance 1080v13

(Image credit: Future)
The best New Balance running shoe

Specifications

Weight: 9.2 (M), 7.3 oz (W)
Drop: 6 mm
Type: Daily

Reasons to buy

+
Soft, cushioned everyday running shoe 
+
Lively underfoot experience 
+
Available in different widths 
+
Lighter than other every day, max-cushioned running shoes 

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive than the previous versions 
-
Fit can be a little confusing 

It goes without saying, you don’t have to own multiple pairs of running shoes to be a runner. While some people might invest in multiple pairs for different sessions, if you’re new to running or are on a budget, you’ll still be able to build fitness and train for races with only one pair in your closet. Plus, if you’re looking for that one pair, the New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v13 is a brilliant shoe to invest in. 

A seriously versatile shoe, the New Balance 1080v13 is soft and plush enough to keep you comfy on your long runs, but can also pick up the pace when you need it for faster tempo sessions. Compared to the New Balance 1080v12, the New Balance 1080v13 has more of the brand's Fresh Foam X midsole foam, and the stack height is larger, yet the shoe has gotten lighter.

The downside here is that the shoe is slightly more expensive than the previous iteration. That said, during testing we were pleasantly surprised by the 1080v13 — it’s a comfortable running shoe, that could easily be worn for anything from a 5K to a marathon. It’s a brilliant example of what you’d expect from an everyday running shoe and a reminder that you don’t need multiple running shoes in your closet to train well for a race.

Best Adidas running shoe

a side-on view of the adidas ultraboost light

(Image credit: Future)
Best Adidas running shoe

Specifications

Weight: 9.7 oz (W), 10.3 oz (M)
Drop : 10mm
Type: Daily

Reasons to buy

+
Sock-like fit
+
Stylish design
+
Lighter than Ultraboost 22

Reasons to avoid

-
Firm midsole foam
-
More expensive than other everyday running shoes on the market 

When Adidas released its first Ultraboost in February 2015, the running world went mad for the bouncy ‘Boost’ foam, which really did feel exciting underfoot. Eight years later, the Ultraboost is still one of Adidas’ most popular running shoes and it’s easy to see why: it’s a wonderfully comfortable shoe, that looks great and feels great underfoot. 

The Ultraboost 22 saw the shoe undergo some huge changes.  Adidas used scans from 1.2 million female feet to re-design its Ultraboost 21, giving the Ultraboost 22 a narrower heel, a lower instep, and an S-curve heel to allow the Achilles tendon to move more freely. The Ultraboost Light (or the Ultraboost 23) sees Adidas make another tweak - a new midsole foam named Boost Light that is 30% lighter. 

On the run, this lighter shoe does feel different - it's a little more responsive, and a little snappier. That said, it's by no means a lightweight shoe just yet. It's still a decent everyday running shoe for beginners and experienced runners alike, however.

Best On running shoe

a side on view of the On Cloudmonster

(Image credit: Future/Tom's Guide)
Best On running shoe

Specifications

Weight: 9.7oz (M), 8.1oz (W)
Drop : 6mm
Type: Daily

Reasons to buy

+
A good long run shoe 
+
One of the most cushioned On running shoes
+
Responsive
+
Lighter than other long-run shoes

Reasons to avoid

-
Comes up a little small

The Cloudmonster sounds, and looks, a little silly, with its thick wedge of CloudTec. Monster by name and monster by nature, this shoe is huge, but it doesn’t feel it underfoot. Designed for easy runs and long training miles, On has gone for big energy return in its maximalist shoe. 

The Cloudmonster is designed to feel cushioned underfoot with On’s latest cushioning material, called Helion. Made from a mix of two different foams (EVA and OBC), which still has a good amount of energy return. The midsole contains On’s CloudTech pods and On’s Speedboard, which is a thin, snappy, thermoplastic layer, designed to help for a faster toe-off. It's definitely more of a long-run shoe than a speed shoe, however. 

Fit-wise, the shoe does come up pretty short in the foot, so if you're between sizes, you might want to size up to ensure you don't get any uncomfortable pinching at the toes. We also found during testing that the high stack height led to slight overpronation at the end of long runs, on tired legs, so we wouldn't recommend these for runners who usually wear a support shoe. 

All in all, a brilliant easy run shoe for those ploddy miles when you want to get lost in the run. 

Best Saucony running shoe

Person holding the Saucony Endorphin Pro 3

(Image credit: Future/Tom's Guide)
The best Saucony running shoes for race day

Specifications

Weight: 7.2oz (M), 6.2 oz (W)
Drop : 8mm
Type: Racing

Reasons to buy

+
Huge improvement on Endorphin Pro 2
+
Lighter than Endorphin Pro 2
+
Responsive
+
Breathable upper

Reasons to avoid

-
Comes up a little short in the foot
-
More expensive than the previous version

The Endorphin Pro 3 sees Saucony completely overhaul its most popular carbon fiber road racing shoe. The brand has changed the upper, and added more PWRRUN PB foam underfoot to completely change the ride of the shoe — it’s extremely fast, yet comfortable on the run. 

The upper has also been overhauled to more of a mesh — it’s pretty much see-through and during testing I found it to be one of the most breathable uppers on the market. This shoe is fast and comfortable, in a way the Endorphin Pro 2 never really was — it feels bouncy and responsive on the run, yet stable enough to wear for a track session, or a twisty-couse. 

We found the shoe does come up a little short in the foot, so it might be worth sizing up half a size. It's also built for race day, so this one won't be as durable as other running shoes on the list, but if you can afford it, it's a great shoe to have on your feet on the start line. 

Best Asics running shoe

Person holding the Asics Gel Nimbus 25

(Image credit: Future)
The best neutral Asics running shoes

Specifications

Weight: 292g (M), 260g (W)
Drop: 8mm
Type: Neutral

Reasons to buy

+
Overhauled design
+
Seriously comfortable, cushioned running shoe
+
Bootie upper

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Not the best for faster running

For a shoe to be on its 25th iteration, it must be doing something right, yet Asics has given its popular neutral running shoe a serious facelift. Asics has called its Gel-Nimbus 25 its "most comfortable running shoe yet" — its added new PureGEL technology and more of its FF Blast Plus Eco cushioning. It's our favorite version on the Nimbus to date and if you're looking for a super plush, super comfortable running shoe for easy miles, this is a strong contender. 

During testing, we were impressed. Asics has transformed this neutral running shoe into something exciting. I looked forward to running in it for long and easy miles. The one downside with this shoe is that it’s definitely not a jack of all trades. All that plushness makes it a little on the spongey side when you’re trying to pick up the pace, and faster runners might be put off by this. At $160, it’s also pretty expensive for an everyday running shoe. 

That said, if you're looking for a max-cushioned shoe, perfect for easy miles and long runs, this will tick all the right boxes. 

How to choose the best running shoes for you

When it comes to finding the best pair of running shoes for you, there are a few different things to consider. Firstly, how you run. Before investing in a pair of shoes, it's a good idea to head to a running store and have your gait checked. If you overpronate dramatically, you might be better off in a stability shoe to prevent injury. 

Secondly, where you plan on running. If you're planning on doing most of your miles on the pavements around your neighbourhood, you'll want a road shoe that's designed to help cope with the impact. If you're hoping to go off exploring in the trails, you'll want a trail shoe with an outsole designed to be grippy on rocky, muddy and wet terrains. If it's a PB you're after, you're likely to want a racing shoe, which will have various features designed to get you a fast finish, for example carbon fibre plates and snappy, reactive midsoles. 

Lastly, how often you run. A marathon runner will have different requirements when shopping for running shoes than a runner who clocks the odd 5K. If running isn't really your thing, it's just something you do in the gym now and again, you'll probably want a more affordable shoe.

How should running shoes fit?

Tom's Guide spoke to Tony Poland an expert in sports, rehabilitation, and recovery bodywork who has served on the US Olympic Medical Support Teams in London and Tokyo and on the US Olympic Committee Medical Team in Rio de Janeiro. He knows a fair thing or two about how to size your next pair of running shoes and has shared them with us.

"You’re going to want a snug fit everywhere except at the toe. Don’t be afraid of a little extra room around the toes. You want some space in the toe box because too much constriction can lead to injury," Poland explains. "Your toes should not hit the end of your shoe at rest, and you should always be able to wiggle them around."

According to Poland, this is a very foreign concept to most people. Often people end up wearing shoes that are actually too small. When in doubt, try out a shoe in your usual size, then try one a half size up from that. 

You can also ask for personalized advice by walking into a running shoe shop.

How long should a pair of running shoes last?

Speaking to Poland, he tells us that a general rule of thumb is three to four months. However, it's also important to note that everyone’s load is different so this time frame can vary. He says there are a few indicators that can help you assess when to replace your shoes and these include:

  • If the tread (the pattern or design on the outsole) is wearing down. Check out the bottoms of your shoes. If they’re smooth with little to no grip left, it’s time to replace them. Tread can be an indicator of the health of the rest of your shoe. If the tread is gone, know that the structure inside the shoe is breaking down a lot as well.
  • If the top is fraying or thinning out. Don’t just look at the bottoms of your shoes - it’s possible to wear out the tops of your shoes as well depending on how your toes articulate. Is the woven top of your shoe fraying? It may be time to replace them.  
  • Check the insole. Is the padding gone? Do they feel flatter? Is the arch support no longer prominent? In general, if the appearance of the insoles is significantly different now than when you bought them, (i.e. cracked or very broken in) it’s likely they’re worn out. While you’re doing this, also check to see which areas are the most worn down. This will help you determine where you place most of your weight when you run, which can help when buying a new pair. 
  • How are you feeling? If you have pain in your feet or lower back after a run, that’s a pretty good indicator that you need to change your shoes. 
Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy. 

With contributions from