Best Running Shoes For Beginners In 2020 With Complete Guide

Last Updated: April 26, 2020

When I first started running I decided to go in whatever shoes I had available. In my case, these were my casual Adidas shoes. I actually managed to get up to a 10K run in them. The only problem with these shoes as they were very flat and I already had bad enough knees to compliment that. 

Needless to say, regardless of my fruits of labor in running, I would be in constant pain. I never really even thought about finding the right type of shoe for running when I first went to my local run shop. However, what happened next was nothing but a sheer shock for me as I went in to see one of the local experts in the store. 

First of all, I found out that I had a VERY heavy foot and that my feet were VERY narrow. Not only that but my feet were extremely flat. As a more experienced runner now that has finished a complete trail marathon in early 2020, I know how complicated my foot type is for running. And that running in casual Adidas was doing nothing but harm to my joints and especially my knees! At the store, I managed to pick up a pair of Brooks Glycerin. 

These shoes were amazing for me because they contained maximum cushioning and really helped me with slamming the pavement as a road-based runner. One thing about the shoe though – they were heavy. A lot heavier than my Adidas shoes (Which were equivalent to the current Ultra Boost range). 

I got used to it and I loved them because they helped me run further and better. When I did my first trail marathon I knew that my road shoes weren’t going to cut it either because by this time I was experienced enough to know I needed the right shoe for the job. I bought a pair of Saucony ISO’s for the trail and they were great. I guess where I’m getting at with this story is that when starting out, one of the most important things that you need in your arsenal is to have the best running shoes for beginners.

For the purpose of this article, I’m going to be recommending (After doing my own research) what I believe are the best running shoes for beginners that are starting on the road. So this isn’t specific for trails or workout shoes you can use in the gym but if you’re planning to hit the streets and slam the pavement. If you have any suggestions or recommendations of your own why not let me know in the comments box at the bottom of this article? Let’s get into it.

Also, I should mention as I’ve touched on it above. Having the right shoe for your foot type is crucially important. I’ve provided a complete guide after the reviewed products that will touch on this information. Having the right shoe for running is just as important as your hydration pack or any other fancy gear you have for your runs.

Disclaimer: Some of the shoes below talk about a male or female version however all shoes have both available by the manufacturer, a mixture was created to demonstrate relevancy to my readers.

Best Running Shoes For Beginners Compared and Reviewed

#1 - Brooks Men’s Ghost 12 Running Shoes

Neutral Shoe – Medium, High Arch (Midsole Drop: 12mm)
Check Prices, Images and Reviews on Amazon by Clicking Here

Brooks, one of the most prominent if not the most prominent brands on the market for runners is the first to hit my list. Even though I own a pair of Glycerin 17’s (Which have also made the list), I can’t deny that the Ghost 12 is the most amazing shoes available on the market today.

These cushion-type shoes from Brooks are designed for the road-based runner and are very beginner-friendly. They provide a Segmented Crash Pad which Brooks defines as “an integrated system of shock absorbers – will cushion every step and stride for smooth heel-to-toe transitions”. They also have over 20 different color and styling options to choose from to suit any runner from male or female. Even though this post is titled as “Men’s” Brooks has both a male and female version of the Ghost 12.

The reason why the Ghost’s are suitable for beginners is that they’re suited for any type of runner. The shoes are very versatile. They deliver the right type of bounce on every step and also contain maximum cushioning which is a plus if you’re just starting and building lower body muscle strength. Many experienced runners still opt for the cushioned option as well due to numerous factors, one of them being something I experience which is poor knees.

These shoes are recommended for Long Distance, Cross Training, Treadmill and Road Running. Source: Brooks.

What have other runners said about Ghost 12’s by Brooks?

“The cushioning in these shoes is anything short of amazing. I’ve owned a pair of Ghost 10’s and these were a remarkable upgrade. The best part about Brook’s shoes is that you can wear them absolutely anywhere and the comfort you get from them is unparalleled.” Nelson H

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#2 - ASICS Women's Gel-Kayano 26 Running Shoes

Overpronation Shoe – Low Arch or Flat Feet
Check Prices, Images and Reviews on Amazon by Clicking Here

ASICS is another prominent brand in the running space and ever since they’ve introduced the gel range they’ve been taking the world by storm. Whilst the Kayanos have taken more a stylish image in current culture it is one of the best running shoes available right now. The Gel-Kayano 26’s from Asics also have a men’s version so it’s definitely not just limited to women as the title suggests.

The GEL technology provides maximum shock absorption for when you hit the pavement on the forefoot and rearfoot. These are great shoes if you have had an overpronation running gait (Covered in our guide at the bottom of the post). If your feet tend to roll inwards as you run then these shoes will help you address that with its DUOMAX midsole. It does this by combining two different density materials to reduce risks of flat feet and bunions.

If you typically experience shin splints, plantar fasciitis bunions or heel spurs and have flat feet with overpronation then these shoes would be a good choice for you. The jacquard mesh fabric that Kayano’s come with also provides maximum breathability so your feet can breathe and prevent sweating.

What have other women said about the Gel-Kayano 26 Running Shoes?

“These shoes provide amazing stability! I’ve been using the Kayano’s since range 17 and they really help with my arch position and the 26’s have not disappointed either.” Sarah D

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#3 - Brooks Women’s Glycerin 17 Running Shoes

Neutral Shoe – Medium, High Arch with Maximum Cushioning (Midsole Drop: 10mm)
Check Prices, Images and Reviews on Amazon by Clicking Here

The Glycerin 17’s are shoes that I own (The male version of course). With the fear of sounding too biased, these shoes are amazing. They’re quite similar to the Ghost 12’s in the fact that they’re a neutral shoe designed for medium to high arches. However, the Ghosts have a midsole drop of 12mm whilst these are slightly shorter at 10mm. They’re a bit lighter than the Ghost 12’s as well.

The Glycerin 17’s provide super-soft cushioning throughout which helps with every foot transition. If you have a flat heavy foot as I do then these shoes and it’s cushioning will help you with the shock absorption and reduce the impact to your feet and upwards to your knees.

These shoes are best designed for Long Distance, Treadmill and the Road. Source: Brooks. The key difference here is that the Ghosts can be comfortably worn for cross-training as well which you might consider yourself doing as you get more into running. However, if you know you’re going to stick only to running and prefer a slightly lighter shoe than the Ghost’s then the Glycerin 17’s could be the better choice for you.

It has also been reported by many people that the 3D Plush Fit the Glycerin provides even more cushioning than the Ghost 12’s and as such has been given a cushioned level of 3 out of 3 from Brooks. The Ghosts on this scale have been given a cushioned level of 2 out of 3.

The maximum cushioning provided on the Glycerin is a major benefit for people like me that have poor knees but as such, this is why they’re not recommended for cross-training. The reason for that is because when you’re doing Squats or Deadlifts at the gym, having too much cushioning can make it feel like you’re walking on marshmallows when instead at the gym your foot should be as firm on the ground as possible.

What have other runners said about the Glycerin 17’s?

“As someone with a very heavy flat foot, I’ve found that the cushioning on these shoes to be impeccable. Brooks knows how to make a really comfortable shoe that feels like it’s designed to be on your feet. I had my foot checked out at the local run store and these were recommended to me. Couldn’t be happier with the service and the purchase.” Stacey D

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#4 - Mizuno Men's Wave Rider 20 Running Shoes

Neutral Shoe – Medium, High Arch (Midsole Drop: 12mm)
Check Prices, Images and Reviews on Amazon by Clicking Here

Mizuno provides an aesthetically pleasing running shoe available on the market today known as the Wave Rider 20. These neutral shoes which provide maximum flexibility, decent cushioning are designed for a medium to high arch with a midsole drop of 12mm.

The dual-zone mesh upper provides breathability which in turn offers an odor-neutralizing snug foothold that prevents sweating. You could call these shoes a competitor to the Brooks Ghost 12’s as they’re very similar in terms of specifications. The Wave Rider’s from Mizuno contain foam at the heel combined with a firm heel counter which helps produce a firm fit and prevents blisters from forming which would be caused by shoes where your heel moves around a lot.

These shoes would be a great choice if you’re doing a lot of incline or decline work on hills or stairs where you require your shoe to be as flexible as possible. They’re another great choice for beginners starting out and if you can find them on a discount you would be getting a great pair of shoes very similar to the Ghost 12’s.

What have others said about these shoes?

“These shoes are a great bang for your buck, you can avoid paying a premium for other brands such as Brooks when these shoes are the same. They do seem to contain a bit more wear and tear but when we should be replacing our running shoes often anyway this isn’t a problem for me.” Brad G

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#5 - Saucony Men's Triumph ISO 3 Running Shoes

Neutral Shoe – High Arch (Midsole Drop: 8mm)
Check Prices, Images and Reviews on Amazon by Clicking Here

Saucony’s are amongst the best running shoes for beginners. When I think of running shoes I always think Brooks, Asics, Mizuno, and Saucony. To me, these are the most prominent brands that are available today. Whilst there are many new competitors, I haven’t done enough research on them to be able to comment.

I own a pair of Saucony, although the ones that I have are the ISO’s for Trail Running and they’re great. The Triumph ISO 3 Running Shoes, however, are designed for road use. They boast a 100% engineered mesh and contain an ISOFIT soft sleeve morph which provides a “sock-like” feeling for your foot. It’s Everun insole also provides responsive cushioning. The ISOFIT is also supposedly meant to adapt to your stride meaning it can support a variety of running gaits.

The Saucony’s contain a midsole drop of 8mm which is shorter than any of the shoes that have been reviewed so far and they claim this keeps your body more balanced and comfortable with each heel strike. The added cushioning these shoes provide is also great for people that have poor knees such as me.

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My Number One Pick

After conducting extensive product research around running shoes, I’ve found that Brooks brings the best value to the table. The support and cushion that is provided from them will be able to support most beginners getting started. The most important consideration when starting out is to remain injury free.

Finding The Best Running Shoes For Beginners - A Complete Guide

You’ve landed on this page because you’re a beginner, and I’m excited to be able to share my experience and advice with you. As a marathon runner myself, I know how daunting it is to start with running. You’re likely not doing many miles yet and the thought of doing a marathon must just be perplexing. Whatever your reasons for starting running is, marathon or not, I hope the information provided here can help push you even further and faster than you’ve ever gone before.

It all starts with the right running shoes, if you don’t have that covered as a beginner then it’s going to be much harder to hit the ground running (So to speak). First of all, what I want to say is KUDOS to you for finding running. Running is one of the best cardiovascular exercises you can do to improve your health, wellbeing, and fitness. The more you get into this sport or pastime (Depending on what you want to achieve) the more you’ll realize how much you love it.

Not only that though, but you will also realize that there are so many nuances and misinformation surrounding running gear. There’s quite A LOT to cover but for this guide, I hope that I can help you find the best road running shoe for yourself as a beginner. Below contains a buying and information guide on which I hope will help you progress towards becoming a better runner. The below has been written keeping in mind that you’re a beginner.

Foot Types - Neutral (Cushioning Shoes) vs Stability (Support Shoes)

The most important element you’ll need to consider at first when choosing the best running shoe for beginners is finding out your foot type. This is done by engaging in finding out what arch your foot has. If you have a high arch on your foot you don’t absorb effectively the shock of the ground which means you need shoes with extra cushioning to help with the impact. Now if you have a very low or flat arch on your foot your feet may collapse on impact which misaligns the running gait and you’ll need stability shoes to help with this issue.

At this point, you’re probably scratching your head wondering what the runner’s gait is. Your gait is basically the way that you move on your feet whilst running. Everyone is genetically different and therefore walk differently, run differently and so on.

This has been further classified to determine the three most common types of running gaits. These are the following:

  • Neutral/Normal Pronation: When your entire foot makes complete contact with the ground.
  • Underpronation/Supination: When your outer heel makes contact with the ground first and your foot rolls inward.
  • Overpronation: When your foot rolls inward which often causes issues with stability on your foot.

This is important when trying to find the best running shoe as a beginner. Now, most running shops have expert 3D sensor machines that can help you figure out this information fast and effectively. I highly recommend you do this before making any online purchase of running shoes.

It’s very easy to window shop, get your foot trialed and tested and then thank the staff. Afterward, you can come back online to find the best deal for the shoe that you’ve tried in-store. Take the time to do this, it will save you time, money and potential injury which could be caused by wearing the wrong shoe.

Otherwise, there ARE methods to find out your running gait from home. One of these methods is the wet-foot method in which you get a piece of colored paper or cardboard and wet your feet. Afterward, you step on this material with your knees bent slightly forward (To mimic running). You’ll be able to take a photo of this and determine the shape of your arch. Below is an example of how this looks and helps you with determining your foot type. Source: ResearchGate.

Gait Analysis - ResearchGateNet

However, I highly suggest you head into the store and get the experts to tell you exactly what you’re dealing with. Having the right shoe for your foot type will determine exactly how much shock absorption you need on your shoe as well as the amount of support you need on your heels to prevent aches and pains, as well as cutting your run short. No one wants to get injured whilst starting with something new and it’s very easy to get injured as a runner just starting. Invest in the right shoe for your foot type as a beginner! It will make all the difference.

Equally important is considering if you need a low drop or zero drops running shoe. This refers to a heel-to-toe offset which is the difference measured in millimeters between the height from the sole of the shoe in the heels to the same in the toe area. Most shoes will have a 12mm offset

The higher the heel, means it will help those who have a heel strikers gait whilst those shoes that have a zero drop will favor more so the runner’s gait which is midfoot or forefoot. These are all technical considerations that will help you obtain the knowledge of how running shoes work. The reason why I stress checking it out professionally first at a local run shop is to figure out all these small nuances easily. However, going in prepared to the local run shop with this information will ensure you get the care that you need from the sales staff.

Sizing

Size is very important when considering a running shoe for beginners. You don’t want it to be too tight, nor do you want it to be too loose. You usually need to leave some extra room for your toe when considering a running shoe to prevent numbing. At the same time, you don’t want the shoes to be too loose or wide where your feet are moving around like crazy inside. This is why it’s really hard for me to find the right running shoes because I have a very narrow foot.

Most running shoes will fit true to size, however, if you’re especially narrow such as me or wide then you want to make sure the fit is just right. Look, most online or physical stores will have no issues with you returning the shoes if they aren’t right for you because they’re runners just like us. They understand. Going for a bit of window shopping before making a purchase won’t do anyone any harm!

Breathability

You’re going to be running in these shoes, a lot. I sweat profusely and this is from head to toe. Having shoes that give your feet the ability to breathe will prevent overheating and ending your run early. Not only this, but it provides comfort. You want to be as comfortable as possible whilst going for a long run. If there’s breathability in your shoes then you’ll also prevent the unavoidable odor from reaching your shoes faster.

Flexibility

Having flexible shoes will help keep your natural running form (As if you were barefoot) whilst providing all the protective needs that come with the right running shoe for beginners. This is especially important for inclines and declines (Such as hills or stairs) as this is where your shoes will bend the most. If your shoes are extremely tight and not flexible then this is going to cause blisters and strain on your feet and ankles. If you want a graphic example of this, try imagining running in your leather work shoes. Don’t actually do that though!

Terrain

As mentioned, when choosing the right running shoes make sure you pick them for the right terrain. As mentioned, for the purposes of this article we’ve covered road shoes. These are shoes that you’ll use outside in the suburban streets, on the road or city marathons. There are other shoes such as trail shoes which will be different from road ones. Trail shoes will contain extra traction and grip at the bottom as it’s more technical terrain on the trails.

Frequently Asked Questions From Beginners On Finding The Best Running Shoes

Q: How do I find the right running shoes for me?

A: Every beginner that is new to running should get their foot-type checked by a professional at a local running store to find out their runners’ gait and foot type.

Q: How much should I pay for the right shoes?

A: Once you start getting into the mechanics of your foot type you will come to realize that most specialized running shoes are expensive. Don’t let the price scare you though, investing in the right show will go a long way towards becoming a better runner and preventing injury.

Q: How long will my running shoes last?

A: Most experts seem to suggest that you should change your running shoes every 500-600 miles. Lower quality shoes may need to get replaced sooner.

Q: Can I use running shoes for walking?

A: Most definitely, your running shoes are going to be tailored to your foot type perfectly and can be used for walking activities as well. In fact, you’ll find walking a lot more enjoyable in the right shoes and will be able to go further.

Q: Do I need special socks for running?

A: I’ve run with basic cotton socks from the local Target and I can tell you that you will get blisters with poor quality socks. I now run with compression socks and it helps prevent blisters as well as minimize movement and chafing. Give it a go with your normal socks though and see how you go, everyone is different.

Q: Should I focus on speed when starting with running?

A: Not necessarily. I suggest starting your runs at a threshold where you can still talk whilst breathing (No matter how slow you go). This will help wear in your new shoes as well as get your body for the strenuous exercise form of running. As you start getting more comfortable and less sore you can start implementing some speed runs in your training regime. This is a whole new topic in itself, but I just want to say that there’s nothing wrong with starting slow!

Conclusion

The most important thing to consider before picking out your running shoes as a beginner is to determine your foot type. Once you’ve determined your foot type then your options will open up. From the above, I’ve tried to include the most common foot types amongst the most popular running shoes for beginners.

Did you end up picking up a pair of shoes that’s not on the list? Why not let me know in the comments box below and also what you’ve thought of it!

Sources:
1. ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/The-concept-of-gait-analysis-a-traditional-observational-gait-analysis-method-b-two_fig1_323821194
2. Shape: https://www.shape.com/fitness/tips/how-determine-running-gait-why-it-matters
3. REI: https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/running-shoes.html

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