Having the right running shoes is important. Especially if you’re a beginner.
They help prevent injuries, provide support, and if required, support and cushioning. Depending on your foot type and preference, there are numerous factors you need to consider when looking for the right running shoes as a beginner.
Through this article, we’ve reviewed some of the best running shoes for beginners as well as provided a rough guide on how to find the optimum shoes for you depending on your specific foot type.
Best Running Shoes For Beginners In 2023 Compared
1. Brooks Ghost 14 Running Shoes
Reasons to buy
- Beginner and professional friendly
- Good at shock absorption
- Great cushioning
- Suitable for most foot types and runners
Reasons to avoid
- Can be narrow in the midfoot depending on your foot type
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’s I can’t deny the fact that the Ghost 14 are a popular pick among runners.
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 10 different color and styling options to choose from to suit any runner from male or female.
The Ghost 14 is 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.
2. ASICS Gel-Kayano 28 Running Shoes
Reasons to buy
- Great for stability
- Excellent breathability
Reasons to avoid
- Stability shoes that may not be suitable for all runners
ASICS is another popular 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 28’s are definitely a popular option now.
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 foot tends 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 the risks of flat feet and bunions.
The jacquard mesh fabric that Kayano’s come with also provides maximum breathability so your feet can breathe and prevent sweating.
3. Brooks Glycerin 19 Running Shoes
Reasons to buy
- Most cushioned running shoes available on the market
- Lighter than the Brooks Ghost
- Good for weak knees
Reasons to avoid
- Shouldn’t be used for compound work (Eg. Squats)
The Glycerin 19 provides 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, Treadmills, and the Road. The key difference here is that the Ghosts can be comfortably worn for compound 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 19’s could be the better choice for you.
It has also been reported by many people that the Glycerin provides even more cushioning than the Ghost and as such has been given a cushioned level of 3 out of 3 from Brooks. The Ghost on this scale has 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 compound 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.
4. Mizuno Wave Rider 25 Running Shoes
- U4ic midsole delivers optical shock reduction and durability
- X10 Outsole has carbon rubber that allows for longer wearing of these running shoes
- Engineered mesh upper offers both durability and breathability for high performance.
Reasons to buy
- Great flexibility
Reasons to avoid
- The fabric has been known to wear out at the top
Mizuno provides an aesthetically pleasing running shoe available on the market today known as the Wave Rider 25.
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 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 at a discount you would be getting a great pair of shoes very similar to the Brooks Ghost.
5. Saucony Men’s Triumph ISO 5 Running Shoes
Reasons to buy
- Suitable for a variety of beginners
- A great supportive shoe for bad knees
- Durable outsole
Reasons to avoid
- Strips on the design tear easily
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 5 Running Shoes, however, are designed for road use.
They boast a 100% engineered mesh. Its Everun midsole 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.
6. New Balance Fresh Foam 880v11 Running Shoes
Reasons to buy
- Secure fit with lots of room
Reasons to avoid
- Not waterproof
- Not suitable for insoles
The New Balance Fresh Foam 880v11 is a great testament to how far New Balance has come with creating the best running shoes for beginners.
It comes with a fresh foam midsole to deliver cushioning whilst also providing a lightweight ride that we’ve come to love with New Balance shoes.
It has an engineered mesh upper for breathability and molded heel counter that helps control your heel movement providing some stability.
The shoes aren’t waterproof though, so you would want to stick to dry running terrains with the Fresh Foam 880v11. A lot of people have had difficulty putting insoles in these shoes so you might want to avoid them if that’s your plan.
These shoes have a 10mm drop and a lace closure to ensure a secure fit when running. They come in a variety of colors and provide a stylish look compared ot most other running shoes for beginners.
7. Brooks Launch 8 Running Shoes
Reasons to buy
- Lightweight with cushioning
- Great all-rounder running shoes
- Good for casual runners
Reasons to avoid
- Flimsy, thin laces
I promise we’re not being biased with Brooks hitting our list again, but the Launch 8 are a great choice of running shoes for neutral runners who want a lightweight shoe for a fast and fun run.
They provide cushioning through the Brooks lightweight BioMoGo DNA midsole cushion which doesn’t add any necessary weight to ensure your comfort.
They’re extremely breathable shoes that contain a one-piece mesh upper. These shoes are great for roads, speed drills, or just everyday runs and come with a 10mm midsole drop. Weighing at just 224g it’s one of the lighter Brooks shoes.
If you’re after even more cushioning then you should probably go for the Glycerin’s or Ghost, however, if you want something a bit lighter than those shoes then the Launch 8 is your option.
Some have complained that these shoes don’t come with the thick laces that we’ve all expected from most Brooks shoes and that they are a bit more flimsy and thin.
#1 Choice – Editor’s Pick:
Brooks Ghost 14 Running Shoes – Best All Rounder
- The Brooks Ghost line has been a staple for many runners since the first edition came out. The reason why this pair of running shoes tops the list is because it has been known to fit comfortably in so many foot types – not just my own and provide the comfort, support and cushioning that a beginner expects when they’re first starting out and just looking to pack on mileage and get their muscles accustomed to the world of running.
Things to Consider When Buying Running Shoes for Beginners
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.
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 walks differently, runs 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.
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 drop 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 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.– Marko @ TheUltimatePrimate
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!
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.
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!
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 in 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
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.
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.
Most experts seem to suggest that you should change your running shoes every 300-500 miles. Lower-quality shoes may need to get replaced sooner.
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. Some shoes however, such as the Vaporflys from Nike may not be that comfortable for walking as they’re designed to propel you forward.
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.
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 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!
Running shoe brands are constantly bringing out new models, promising to deliver outstanding results but the fact of the matter is that you’ll need to find the right shoes for your foot type if you want to increase performance and avoid injury.
Hopefully, this article has pushed you in the right direction with what options are available. Good luck with finding the right running shoes, and welcome to running. We hope you’re here to stay!
Marko Rakic is a trail runner and fitness enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. He is the lead writer for The Ultimate Primate and believes the best way to live a happy life is through constantly challenging yourself.