For a sport that is, on paper, free, when you first get into running, buying all the kit you need can make it feel anything but that. Yet at a time when just about everything is getting more expensive, spending hundreds of dollars on a pair of shoes to help get you from A to B (while getting fitter, losing weight, and helping your mental health in the meantime), might not be an option.
The good news is you absolutely don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a decent pair of running shoes. While all of the shoes on our best running shoes guide are the current models, if you shop for last-season designs and colorways, you’re likely to pick up a bargain at a fraction of the cost.
As a fitness editor, I’ve been reviewing running shoes for the past six years, so I know what I’m looking for. Below, I’ve found five pairs of excellent running shoes, all under $100. They might not be in stock forever, and they might not be the newest models on the market, but I believe you shouldn’t need a huge disposable income to find joy in running. Thank me later!
The best cheap running shoes to buy right now
Nike Pegasus 38
The Nike Pegasus 38 is a brilliant running shoe for experienced and beginner runners alike. It’s an older model, and has been discontinued since the Nike Pegasus 39 was released last year (we’re expecting the Nike Pegasus 40 to drop any day now). The main difference between the older and the newer model is that the Pegasus 39 has a second Zoom Air unit in the heel of the shoe, which makes it slightly more responsive underfoot. That said, the Pegasus 38 is still an excellent running shoe, that can handle most of the miles you chuck at it.
With the Nike Pegasus 38, Nike built on the huge updates made to the Pegasus 37. This is a wonderfully reliable shoe — you can wear it for your first 5K, or your fifth marathon, and pretty much everything in between. It’s also well-built and durable, so for less than $100, you can expect to get hundreds of miles out of this shoe.
Read my Nike Pegasus 38 review here, as well as my Nike Pegasus 38 vs Nike Pegasus 39 face-off here.
Saucony Ride 15
Another reliable running shoe, the Saucony Ride 15 is similar in feel and price to the Brooks Ghost 14. It’s got a relatively hefty layer of Saucony’s PWRRUN cushioning, a breathable mesh upper and a tweaked fit to ensure it cradles the foot on the run. It’s a comfortable, reliable workhorse that will get you from A to B comfortably, whatever speed you decide to travel.
Compared to previous iterations of the shoe, the Ride 15 has a lighter, more breathable upper, which stops your feet from feeling too hot and sweaty as the temperature rises. It’s also lighter than previous versions of the shoe, which is always a good thing, as Saucony has made some tweaks to the PWRRUN cushioning, making it lighter, while still being as responsive.
Sure, it’s not the most exciting-looking shoe on the planet, but if you’re looking for a reliable shoe that offers a good amount of comfort on long runs and snap during faster sessions, the Ride 15 is a good choice.
Adidas Ultraboost 22
The Adidas Ultraboost 22 is another good all-rounder for experienced runners and beginners alike. 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. Seven years later, the Boost foam is still as exciting — it’s fast and responsive when it needs to be, but still feels plush on longer, slower miles.
The Ultraboost 22 has been designed by an all-female design team, for female runners. 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 downside here is the weight — this isn’t a light shoe, but unless you’re really trying to PR, it shouldn’t bother you. It’s a great all-rounder for anything from your first 5K to a fast half marathon.
Read our full Adidas Ultraboost 22 review.
Nike Winflo 9
Nike is well known for making some of the most expensive running shoes on the market (check out the best Nike running shoes here if you are a fan of the Swoosh), but they also make some pretty decent affordable options too. The Nike Winflo 9 is one of these shoes — it has Nike’s Cushlon foam and a full-length Nike Dot Weld Air unit (an air-filled shock absorber), for a comfortable, responsive feel underfoot.
It’s a decent, durable running shoe, built for easy miles. It’s soft and springy, it looks great, and it’s available in a wide variety of colors and sizes to suit every style. There are Flywire cables that work with the laces to provide a locked-in feel and more support — perfect for beginners and more experienced runners alike.
Asics Gel Nimbus 24
The Asics Gel Nimbus 24 is now on sale, as Asics has updated the shoe with the Asics Gel Nimbus 25, but don’t let this put you off. The Nimbus 24 is still a fantastic, super-plush, super-comfortable running shoe for easy running. It’s a neutral running shoe with Asics’ FF Blast Plus cushioning for a softer landing and a responsive toe-off. It’s a decent, durable shoe, and will easily get you around your first marathon.
Sure, it’s not the coolest-looking shoe around, but it has a good amount of step-in comfort — this shoe feels plush from the get-go. The knitted upper wraps around the foot, without being too restrictive. The magic, however, is in the midsole, and during testing, I loved how soft this max-cushioned trainer felt when running on tired legs. The Gel Nimbus 25 was a huge upgrade, but if you’re looking for a more affordable option, this is a solid pick.