I, like many people, decided to start running in 2022. After hearing so many of my friends drone on about how taking some time to run has changed their lives (and their mental states) for the better, I figured it was about time that I joined in on the fun. But one aspect has stopped me in my tracks from actually starting: not knowing how to find the best running shoes for me.
I have a pretty massive sneaker collection, but none of the pairs I currently own could ever moonlight as an athletic shoe. And since the best kind of workout shoes are both cute and functional, I turned to Emily Abbate, a certified run coach and the host of the Hurdle podcast, to help me sort through the expansive selection of running shoes on the market.
"Depending on what you're going to be using the sneaker for, that's really going to determine what you need to prioritize in terms of your go to pick," she told me. Ahead, she broke down what exactly I—and the rest of us new runners out there—should look for before we make a purchase. Oh, and they each have a little something special about the way they look, too.
How do you run?
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This may sound self-explanatory, but everyone runs a little differently. "We all have a gait cycle when we run, and you may supinate or pronate," Abbate says, "or you may be a neutral runner." She clarifies that neither running style is better or worse on your body, and that they can even change over time.
But, with all of this in mind, you shouldn't necessarily let how you run deter you from trying on different types of sneakers to find your perfect fit. "If you choose a shoe that you feel comfortable and confident in, that is more important—and is shown to lead to less injury—than simply based shopping simply shopping based on your specific gait."
Are you preparing for a marathon?
Believe it or not, different sneakers are better for different distances. Long-distance runners know that comfort is key. That's why sneakers that are outfitted with cushioned details will be better for marathons or other longer runs. Abbate says that HOKA's best-selling Clifton 8 Sneakers have become know across the internet for how comfortable they are to wear for good reason.
But if you're running a shorter distance or if you're just working out, Abbate recommends opting for something that has less foam and padding. "A lighter shoe with less cushioning could feel faster," she says. "That's why we lean into these types of options when it comes to quick workouts."
Where are you running?
Whether you're running on the concrete, on a trail, or on a track, your sneaker of choice should reflect your location. A trail path, for instance, might require you to opt for a pair like the Altra Mont Blancs, which is designed to give you better traction as you go.
For her everyday runs, Abbate loves to wear either PUMA's Velocity Nitro 2 or New Balance's 1080 sneakers. Or, if you live in a particularly wet climate (or just love to run in the rain), Abbate recommends Nike's Pegasus 37 Shield, which are designed to be water repellent.
Do you have "weak ankles?"
If you find that your ankles hurt when you run, Abbate recommends speaking to a specialist about why that might be happening. "Make sure that you have someone you know kind of take a look at your form and your gait," she says. "And check out how your feet are hitting the ground as you're on the move.”
Choosing one shoe or another may not resolve the issue, so figuring out exactly why you feel the pain where you feel it is important. If you are looking something that will be more comfortable as you move, Abbate says that looking for a pair of sneakers that has more padding underfoot could be helpful.
The bottom line?
"Comfort is key," Abbate says. While understanding your gait or whether or not your foot pronates or supinates as you run, finding the shoe that makes you feel your best is what's most important for anyone looking to get into running in 2022. Keep scrolling to shop the best running sneakers on the market right now.
Shop Emily's Picks:
Abbate notes that this new silhouette has one of her recent favorites. It's lightweight, comes in two neutral colorways, and has high-traction rubber grip on the bottom so you won't slip.
Shop this water-resistant pair of sneakers from Nike for all-season training. Also, how good is a classic black option? It's like the black boot of my sneaker collection.
Abbate mentions that this new model from ASICS is great if you love the feel of some top-notch foam padding in your sneakers. One glowing reviewer called it the "best narrow stability running shoe on the market in my opinion." It's also available in six cute colorways.
Abbate considers herself to be a "huge fan" of these sneakers from New Balance. A squishy foam underfoot combines with a knit upper for all-day (and all-run) comfort. Good thing that New Balance's chunky dad-inspired silhouettes are seriously trending right now! Just look at their collection with Miu Miu!
Sneakers from internet-approved brand HOKA are known for how supremely comfortable they are to wear. You can't go wrong with this best-selling style.
Wilderness runners, this pair is for you! Not only will you stand out thanks to their super-bright colorway, but they're designed for all-day wear and are lightweight with just the right amount of cushion.
Best for Long Runs
If you love a nice, long run in the morning, check out this pair from Saucony. Abbate says that she "adores" running in them because they give her a "stable ride and fit." Just make sure that you keep them clean!
Shop The Internet's Favorites:
There's no way you haven't seen these trendy running shoes from ON all over your TikTok and Instagram feeds. They come in a ton of colors and are designed with so-called "zero gravity" foam.
The One With Colorful Accents
If you're a longtime HOKA fan and you're looking to grow your collection, allow me to introduce you to the new (and colorful!) Kawanas. It's meant to give you a well-balanced ride for no matter what type of workout you choose to do.
These rose-gold accented shoes are so cute, you might just want to wear them outside of the gym. Reviews say that they tend to run a little small, but that they're comfortable nonetheless.
The cushioning on this pair from Brooks absorbs impact as you run. With over 1,3000 five-star reviews, this pair should be at the top of your buy list. One user who claims to have flat feet said that they have never found a more comfortable shoe. The sporty tri-color design is preppy in the best way.
City runners, this pair of Nike sneakers is for you. The sleek knit upper is combined with a super cushioned sole for maximum comfort on the pavement.
A running shoe for fashion lovers and athletes, this option from Saucony is outfitted with suede detailing for a special touch.
These chic all-white sneakers from APL Athletic Propulsion Labs are sleek by design, but don't let that fool you into thinking that they're not great for working out in: their FutureFoam soles will propel you forward as you run.
I've loved these all-black sneakers for a long time, and not just because they're great for taking a jog in. They're made with Primeblue, a high-performance material partially made with recycled ocean plastic.
So, you're not trying to run a marathon any time soon but you're still trying to become a runner. This pair of cream-colored sneakers from Veja should be on your list. They have a mesh upper made from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles to boot.