Running is the fundamental athletic activity, and one of the quintessential modes of exercise training. The downside for those who enjoy this method of training is the relatively common instance of injury in regular runners.

Although running technique and sufficient strength and flexibility are fundamental for effective running training, the choice of footwear can have a marked impact on the development of running injuries.

This article will break down the major considerations for your foot type, what features to look for in a running shoe, and offer ten of the most popular running shoes in various categories to cater for your needs.

Running Shoe Considerations for Athletes

Foot Anatomy and Biomechanics

The shape of your foot is something that will immediately start you in the right direction for which type of running shoe is going to suit you.

In terms of anatomy, your mid and forefoot width, instep height (the top of your foot), heel shape, and any sensitive spots such as bunions or sensitive areas will determine which are the best sports shoes for your running.

The length and height of your arches will have arguably the greatest impact on your running biomechanics in terms of your tendency to pronate (‘flat foot’), or if you have a high arch, to have a rigid foot and potentially suffer injuries such as plantar fasciitis.

This is where a properly constructed running shoe ‘steps’ in…

Shoe Construction and Fit

The shoe materials, such as the mesh, foams, rubbers, and even specialty materials such as waterproof Gore-Tex will affect the impact, weight, and stability of your run.

In terms of how the shoe fits your foot, ensure the length leaves about a centimeter between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. This is to allow room for your foot to spread with each landing.

You’ll also need to check the mid-foot and forefoot width. This is a separate measurement to the length and is expressed with a letter (e.g. ‘D’ width is a standard width for men, but a wide fit for a women’s running shoe). Many features go into higher-end running shoes to make them the most comfortable, supportive, and effective training and competing aids possible.

Different brands and models will feature a variety of toe box shapes, sole ‘last’ shapes (usually straight or semi-curved), heel counters, heel to toe drops, and more. Make sure to do your research or to have your feet properly analyzed by a professional to determine the right type of shoe for your running.

Athlete Activities

Depending on what type of running you're doing, your shoes may have to accommodate different elements such as road or trail surfaces, and different mileage from a short 5k to the hundreds of weekly kilometers required in marathon or triathlon training.

Top Ten Running Shoes Review

The following are some suggestions for what are the best running shoes for men and women athletes in various categories for 2020. All models mentioned come in men's and women's styles, sizes, and widths.

Best Training Shoes

1. The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 is a great lightweight, cushioned but durable trainer that will get you through your everyday mileage with ease.

Nike running shoes 2020
Photo credits: Imani Bahati

Best Long Distance Running Shoes

2. The HOKA One One Clifton 7 is an award-winning shoe that is a great combination of a soft but responsive feel over long distances.

Best Running Shoes for Trail Running

3. The HOKA One One Speedgoat 4 is a trail runner that has an accomodating toe box to avoid friction and is amazing for quick running on technical terrain.

Best Cushioned Running Shoes

Regular / Narrow:

4. The Brooks Ghost 13 is a super smooth shoe loved by runners everywhere. The DNA Loft cushioning makes for plush transitions, making this shoe like running on clouds. (A personal favorite of the author!)

Wide Foot:

5. The New Balance 1080 V10 has a Fresh Foam midsole and HyperKnit upper making it feel snug but accomodating for a wider foot.

New Balance Running Shoes
Photo credits: Dan Carlson

High Instep:

6. The Saucony Ride 13 has a streamlined fit and now even softer cushioning. It’s a deeper fitting shoe with plenty of room over the foot and to feel snug around the ankle. A reliable option for any run!

Best Arch Support Running Shoes

Regular / Narrow:

7. The Asics Gel Kayano 27 features its’ staple Dynamic Duomax support for pronators, along with gender-specific cushioning between models. A great update to one of the most popular shoes out there.

Asics running shoes
Photo credit: Malik Skydsgaard

Wide Foot:

8. The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20 is named ‘GTS’ - go-to-shoe - for a reason. The recently updated GuideRail technology delivers the same medium support but in a much lighter shoe.

High Instep:

9. The Saucony Omni 19 has a surprising amount of spring for a shoe with such solid medial stability. The inside of the shoe is a 3D modeled FormFit tech that gives it a deep, streamlined fit.

Best Running Shoes for Track Athletes

10. The Nike Zoom Rival 9 is a light and smooth unisex sprinter that features a sprint shelf in the spike plate to help propel the runner forwards. It has a combination of sock liner and mesh that makes it very breathable too.

We hope this article has helped you make an informed choice for your next running shoes. Let us know what you think are the best running shoes of 2020 below in the comments!