Running shoe buying guide: How to choose the best shoes for your next run

We'll help you find the perfect running shoes for any type of run.

Quality running shoes can make your next run, jog or walk faster and easier. Because running shoes are specifically designed for comfort and performance, the right pair of shoes can help you improve your run times, avoid blisters and prevent injury. The best running shoes for you will have just the right amount of support, cushion and weight.

Running shoes can cost anywhere from $50 to $300, depending on the brand, the version of the shoe and where you're buying them from. High-quality shoes are typically more durable than budget shoes, but you don't necessarily need to shell out hundreds of dollars for a shoe that will support you comfortably.

In this guide, we cover the different types of running shoes, compare popular shoes from top brands and help you make the right choice to meet your needs. Read on to find the perfect pair of shoes for your next jog or marathon.

Compare some of the best running shoes

Data obtained November 2018. Prices and sizes are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.
Name Product Average Price (AUD) Gender Sizes (US) Colour Purchase today
Skechers GOrun 600 - Refine
Skechers GOrun 600 - Refine
$74.99
Men
8-12
White
The Skechers GOrun 600 Refine has a ventilated upper design and is suitable for treadmill running.
Reebok Harmony Road 2
Reebok Harmony Road 2
$99.75
Women
5.5-11
Black/White/Silver/Solar Yellow, Blue Slate/White/Bunker Blue/Digital Pink
The Reebok Harmony Road 2 has a carbon rubber outsole designed for marathoning.
Hoka One One Arahi 2
Hoka One One Arahi 2
$153.60
Women
6.5-11
Poseidon/Vintage Indigo
The Hoka One One Arahi 2 has zonal rubber placement to help durability and is breathable in the mid and forefoot.
Adidas Ultraboost Uncaged
Adidas Ultraboost Uncaged
$155
Unisex
9-13
Raw Grey, Chalk Pearl, Blue Spirit
The Adidas Ultraboost Uncaged is an ultralight, neutral runner suitable for long distances.
Nike Free RN Commuter 2018
Nike Free RN Commuter 2018
$162.99
Men
8-12
Black/White, Diffused Taupe/Blue Void/White/Guava Ice, Black/Oil Grey
The Nike Free RN Commuter 2018 has toggle laces that allow for easy adjustment and is suitable for travel.
Under Armour HOVR ColdGear Reactor NC
Under Armour HOVR ColdGear Reactor NC
$180
Men
6-12
Green, Gray
The Under Armour HOVR ColdGear Reactor NC repels water and has an external heel counter for additional support.
Under Armour UA HOVR Phantom
Under Armour UA HOVR Phantom
$200
Women
5-12
Black, Pink, Gray, Brown, Green
The Under Armour UA HOVR Phantom is a neutral runner designed to combine flexibility and cushioning.
New Balance 860v9
New Balance 860v9
$200
Women
7.5-11
Black with Magnet, Ice Blue with Pink Zing
The New Balance 860v9 has sustained cushioning that supports stability over long distances.
Mizuno Wave Rider 22
Mizuno Wave Rider 22
$219.50
Men
8.5-13
Nautical Blue, Black Gold, Monument
The Mizuno Wave Rider 22 has a mesh upper and allows for runners to have a soft landing.
Asics Gel-Nimbus 20 (2E)
Asics Gel-Nimbus 20 (2E)
$229.95
Men
8.5-12
Blue Print/Race Blue, Black/White/Carbon
The Asics Gel-Nimbus 20 (2E) has a foam top layer and gender-specific cushioning.

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Types of running shoes

There are several general types of running shoe, each designed for different environments. Consider where you will be wearing your new trainers. If you are a complete novice and aren't sure yet how you'll be using your new kicks, check out our beginner's guide to running.

TypeDescriptionDesigned for
Road runningLight and flexible with cushion and stability for hard surfaces.Running on pavement and packed surfaces.
Trail runningAdditional tread offers more traction and stability for uneven surfaces.Off-road running on uneven surfaces such as mud, rocks and gravel.
Cross-trainingGives you more contact with the ground for added balance.Balance-based gym or CrossFit workouts.
Barefoot/minimalist runningMakes the mid-foot hit the ground first, as it does not have the elevated cushion of traditional trainers that causes the heel to strike first.Those who pronate and those who prefer a more natural running style.

Pronation

You can also compare different categories of running shoes based on cushioning, control and stability. Each type is designed to correct or complement one of three pronation types: overpronation, neutral pronation or underpronation.

Overpronation

  • An exaggeration of the inward rolling of the foot. Overpronation can lead to knee injury if left uncorrected.

Neutral pronation

  • When the foot does not excessively roll inwards or outwards.

Underpronation or supination

  • An exaggerated outward rolling of the foot. Those who underpronate need shoes with additional cushioning as they land on the outside edge of the foot, causing more pressure on the leg. Underpronation is less common than overpronation.

Now that you're more aware of how you run or walk, check out the best types of running shoes for your pronation type:

TypeBest forFeatures
Maximum support or motion control shoes
  • Overpronators
  • Severe overpronators
  • Offers the most support and control
  • Designed to reduce overpronation
  • Often includes more dense materials on the inner sole to stop the foot and heel from rolling as much
Stability or structured cushion shoes
  • Neutral pronators
  • Mild overpronators
  • Offers a blend of control and cushioning
  • Lighter than maximum support shoes
  • The most popular type of running shoe
Cushioned shoes or neutral trainers
  • Underpronators or supinators
  • Neutral pronators
  • Does not provide motion control
  • Lightweight
  • Soft
  • Generally, not ideal for those who are overweight are obese

Cost

A higher price tag does not necessarily indicate a better shoe. However, most reputable running brands have a starting price of around $100 for a pair of running shoes. You can find mid-range shoes for between $150 and $200, and high-end shoes for $250 or more.

If you're looking to save on a name brand, check out last year's version of the shoe you like for a lower price. Typically, there aren't huge changes between versions, but it's still important to try on the exact version you are purchasing. If you are shopping online, check the returns policy before making a purchase so that you won't get stuck with a pair of ill-fitting shoes.

When should I replace my running shoes?

When to replace your shoes is a personal choice. Some runners throw out their shoes when they no longer feel comfortable or develop a bad odour, while others prefer to upgrade regularly to shoes with the newest technology. Ultimately, the decision is up to you.

Most manufacturers recommend that running shoes will last around 500km to 800km. Lightweight shoes often wear out sooner around 400km to 500km, while more durable models can last 800 km or more. However, some people find their shoes last 1,500km or more before they wear out. If you want to keep track of the kilometres logged in your runners, apps such as Strava and Runkeeper do all the hard work for you and even send you alerts when it's time to consider a new pair of shoes.

How to compare running shoes

Once you've considered the different types of running shoes, the most important thing to look at is the fit. For more tips, check out our guide on how to choose running shoes.


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