There are so many different styles, makes and models of shoes with a million features that promise to make you faster, change your stride, offer more support, less support, different support, will do your taxes and help your kids with their math homework. And each one is always "the best choice." It can be a little overwhelming trying to figure out where to even start.
Of course to get the perfect fit for your specific needs, you should visit a running shoe store to have your foot and stride evaluated, but for some general running concerns and preferences, we've compiled the creme de la creme of running sneaks.
Prefer Trail Running to Pounding Pavement?
Check out Newton Running Terra Momentus All-Terrain Trainer
The Momentus All-Terrain Trainer ($149) can handle any type of terrain, but it really shines on uneven, rocky mountain trails. This shoe allows you to run at your natural pace on any surface with a non-stretch upper and webbing that provide maximum lateral stability. The breathable closed mesh keeps these puppies light as air and keeps out dirt and irritating pebbles. The reinforced toe cap and high-traction, durable rubber compound will help your trainers stand the test of time. Stay sure-footed, no matter what unforeseen roots, rocks and overly confident wild life cross your path.
Are You a Forefoot Strikers?
Check out Newton Distance Neutral Light Weight Trainer
If you run on your toes as opposed to hitting heel first, or are what we fancy-pants industry insiders call a "forefoot striker," the Newton Distance Neutral Light Weight Trainer ($155) was made for you. This shoe is a neutral light-weight trainer, designed to handle high mileage training schedules. I'm a forefoot striker, and for my longest runs, these are my go-to shoe. They are light as air and feature a level-to-the-ground profile, but most important is the Newton Action/Reaction Technology in the forefoot of the shoe for enhanced flexibility when you strike with each step.
Want to Go as Minimal as Possible without Going Barefoot?
Check out Mizuno Wave Universe 4
If you'd rather run au naturale, but would like to avoid hazards like broken glass, rusty nails, and used syringes (where are you running, anyway? Bring some mace, please), the Mizuno Wave 4 ($120) is your best bet. This shoe is literally the lightest shoe on the market today, weighing in at half that of competitors. This featherweight find is designed for speed and has an unbeatably flexible sole that protects and cushions feet with the help of the resin Wave that disperses shock.
Prefer a Shoe with Some Substance?
Check out Mizuno Wave Inspire
While the minimalist trend has shoes going lighter and lighter, some (myself included) prefer the feel of a good old fashioned sole with some soul. Get a lightweight shoe with a sole built for support and protection with the Mizuno Wave Inspire ($115). While the upper is light and comfortable, the thick protective sole gives you a stable and cushioned base. The SmoothRide feature helps to minimize rapid acceleration and deceleration during foot transitions. While some people prefer to feel the street beneath their feet, others would rather skip every little bump, poke and crunch. If you are the latter, ride the Wave.
Have Nagging Injuries that Call for Extra Cushioning?
Check out Newton Running Gravity Neutral Performance Trainer
Running is tough on the joints, so if extra cushioning to protect your knees, ankles or feet is a top priority, you can't get any more cushion than the Newton Running Gravity Neutral Performance Trainer ($175). This top-of-the-line neutral performance shoe will take you for a fast and flexible ride that is gentle on your joints no matter what the distance. In addition, the biomechanical metatarsal sensor plate on the sole of the shoe creates minimal contact with your running surface, giving you a better return on your energy expenditure. Expect comments while wearing these bad boys, as the bright Newton color schemes are hard to miss.
Kelly Turner is a Seattle-based ACE-certified personal trainer and professional fitness writer. She began writing after becoming frustrated with the confusing and conflicting fitness information in the media and the quick-fix, gimmick-centered focus of the fitness industry itself. Her no-nonsense, practical advice has been featured on DietsInReview.com, FitnessMagazine.com, Yahoo! Shine, and she has a regular fitness column in The Seattle Times. Kelly has her own blog at www.kellyturnerfitness.com or follow her on Twitter @KellyTurnerFit.