Whether you're a seasoned marathoner or someone who likes to occasionally lace up and go for a quick run, you probably already know that the right shoes can make a big difference in your running performance. As editor for LoveToKnow Exercise and a fitness professional, I'm pleased to offer recommendations for five specific running shoes that will help you increase your speed and lengthen your runs.
Topo Run Trainer (RT)
I was sent a pair of Topo Run Trainer (RT) shoes to review. At first, the design of the shoes made me pause and wonder if the fit would be comfortable or not because the big toe is separated from the rest of the toes using a split-toe design. This unique design helps increase balance, which is important not only for runners, but for folks who cross train as well. The shoes are intended to be worn with M-Socks, which are specifically designed to complement Topo shoes and are sold separately for $10 per pair.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the split-toe design wasn't uncomfortable at all, and I did indeed feel as though my balance was better with the way the shoe fit. These shoes are very lightweight, although there is additional support for the heel. While running, these shoes offered good support and maximum flexibility. I recommend these shoes for running on relatively flat, stable routes.
I received some curious stares from other exercisers the first time I wore these shoes to the gym and fielded more than one question regarding the split-toe design. All in all, though, I do like the look of these shoes.
One reviewer on Amazon praises these shoes, saying they "fit like a glove." A blogger on BornToRun says that any apprehension about the look of the shoe vanished once he slipped them on and went for a run. He also says that the split-toe design helps his feet stay in a natural position while running.
Topo Shoes are available at Amazon and through a variety of top running shoe stores. Find a local merchant using the search tool on the Topo Athletic website. Expect to pay around $100 for a pair of these shoes.
I received a pair of On Cloudsurfer shoes to review. I had heard of this brand already because of their many design awards and performance accolades, so I was excited to try them for myself to see what the hype was about. Upon arrival, I immediately noticed the interesting rubber elements at the bottom of the shoes; this design is meant to help lessen impact and injuries while also providing a light, yet gripped, running experience.
The moment I put on these shoes and stood up, I felt compelled to run. The cushioning on these shoes is ample without being obtrusive. Even though they may appear to be bulky, they certainly don't feel that way. My run in these shoes felt peppy and light. I recommend these shoes for any running experience.
Fans of the On brand include top athletes and consumers alike. Top Ironman triathlete Mary Beth Ellis says that On makes "the fastest most amazing running shoe out there." She wears On Cloudracers and feels that they give her "a competitive advantage on race day." A blogger on HolaBirdSports reviewed a pair of Cloudsurfers and said he put the shoes to the test by trying to run sloppily in them, and felt as though the design of the shoe actually "corrected" his stride.
Purchase these shoes directly through the On website or locate a local dealer. You will pay around $140 for a pair of these shoes.
The Asics Gel-Kayano was the first pair of running shoes I bought when I became serious about fitness. I knew I needed a shoe that was durable, yet provided ample support for running. Most importantly, I wanted running shoes that felt comfortable, and these shoes fit the bill.
These shoes work great for running and cross training alike. I turn to my Kayanos when I want to switch back and forth between running and another activity without changing shoes. I also like the look of these shoes, as well as the fact they come in a variety of colors.
Asics customers say these shoes allow them to run without pain. Foot Locker customers agree, applauding the comfortable fit and colorful look. This shoe appears on both Runner's World and Fitness Magazine's top running shoes lists.
Kayano running shoes are available at most major shoe retailers and can also be purchased on Amazon for around $140.
Under Armour Micro G Split II
I typically purchase Under Armour shoes for strength work, but when I purchased a pair of UA's Micro G Split II I realized they are great running shoes. The shoes manage to be lightweight while also offering a good amount of support. They also feature Under Armour's Heat Gear® fabric, which helps pull sweat away from my feet.
These are my go-to shoes for a treadmill run; the fit lends itself well to this type of running. My feet feel well-supported by the snug fit of the shoes, and the grip keeps my run stable.
Reviewers on the Under Armour website applaud the feel of these shoes, particularly for long distance running. The Running Times reports that initial testers of this shoe were "pleasantly surprised" by this shoe and Amazon reviewers state the shoes are comfortable.
Buy these shoes on the Under Armour website or through a local retailer offering Under Armour items. A pair of these shoes cost around $100.
The Right Fit
The right running shoe will help you improve your performance while also helping you avoid injuries. Runner's World recommends replacing running shoes every 300 to 500 miles for best results. Try out a wide variety of shoes and invest in a pair that makes you want to run longer and stronger than ever before.