I enjoy working out indoors in a gym, but you can't beat the feel of the open road. Every two years, I look to pick up a pair of running shoes for the new year.
That’s because, along with a fitness tracker, the best running shoes are the piece of equipment I simply cannot do cardio without. Since I tend to run mid-distance, I don’t need heavy-duty shoes that are designed for marathons and ultras. As most running shoes have a shelf-life of between 300 and 500 miles, they will need to be regularly replaced, but as a more casual runner, I can afford to pick up a new pair every other year as opposed to every 12 months.
The best part is that there’s never a better time than the new year sales to look around for the best running shoe deals. That’s because not only do retailers drop their prices ahead of the holiday season, but shoe manufacturers do, too. In fact, in some years it’s been cheaper to buy from the likes of Nike than it has been to buy from a retailer.
With so many options out there, though, it can be tough to narrow down what you’re looking for. Are you someone interested in running your first 5K this year, or a seasoned runner looking to transition to longer distances? Here are the running shoes I’m looking for in the new year.
Saucony Endorphin Speed 2
An easy pick, the Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 comes highly rated with a five-star review from us.
These lightweight shoes are what’s known as a “neutral motion-control shoe”, so they add a little bit of pep to your step by helping your foot roll. For newcomers, that helps mitigate and avoid the risk of injury and may make it a little easier to keep going in those early weeks of training.
It’s also been trimmed down considerably to a weight of 221g per shoe, meaning it’s perhaps better suited for shorter runs, where you don’t need quite as much padding.
For someone who’s just starting out on their running journey, or for people looking to run no further than 5K or 10K and having fun doing it, the Saucony Endorphin Speeds are the shoes to look out for.
Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2
In our review last year we awarded the Vaporflys the coveted five-star rating, noting how lightweight they are at just 206g (even lighter than the Speeds above), and how the ZoomX foam manages to maintain its shape without feeling like it’s going to swallow your foot. A lot of this is due to the technical construction of the shoe: the 8mm drop on the heel means you’ve got a good chunk of Nike’s ZoomX foam underfoot for bounce, and the forefoot incorporates a platform of grippy rubber.
That helps keep things just springy enough to push for a new personal best, although we did note that the foam may lack durability in the long term. Still, for a middle-distance runner such as myself, this is perfect. They also look great, and while many may look for a low-profile shoe, the sheer array of colors is staggering – there’s orange, green, and black with a bright pink sole among plenty of others.
Hoka One One Bondi X
From one extreme to another, the Hoka One One Bondi X is another less-than-catchily titled shoe, and it’s arguably not the best-looking either – these are some chunky shoes, but they may just help push me to longer distances. Tailor-made for the long haul, the Bondi X incorporates a few neat tricks to help you run marathon distances.
While not a household name like Nike, the Hoka One One Bondi X is another five-star shoe, with our review saying “it might not be the lightest of running shoes, but despite the heft, the Bondi X won’t weigh you down.”
There’s an embedded carbon plate sometimes seen in long-distance that, when paired with a moulded EVA sole, springs back into shape after your foot lifts from the ground, which can quite literally propel you to a new personal best. Impressively, the Hoka One One Bondi X helps to maintain good running form and stride length over longer runs thanks to that flexible carbon plate supporting your stride when you fatigue and helping to train your body after that inevitable drop-off.
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Lloyd Coombes is a freelance tech and fitness writer for TechRadar. He's an expert in all things Apple as well as Computer and Gaming tech, with previous works published on TopTenReviews, Space.com, and Live Science. You'll find him regularly testing the latest MacBook or iPhone, but he spends most of his time writing about video games at Dexerto.