From the highest bird’s eye I can think of, there are three types of running shoes that cover most of anyone’s needs. Generally speaking to their extremes…
- The lighter road running shoe gives you speed and response
- The sturdier trail running shoe gives you support and structure
- The flexible hybrid shoe gives you a mix of the two and leans toward
Away from the lists of their features and closer to the real world, each shoe type sits somewhere on a spectrum that really best adheres to your style, your feet, and your goals. Some trail running shoes work best on city streets while some road runners will find solace in trail running shoes (especially when navigating broken sidewalks). Personally, I’ve always relied on the heavier and sturdier shoes both because I’m heavier and less-sturdy than I’d like to be and because I split my time between running on roads and paths and lifting weights at the gym. Those sessions mean I’m pushing down hard with my weight — and the weight of whatever I’m lifting — down on the sole of my shoes, wearing them down faster than normal.
Like I’ve already shared, I’ve had a great experience with the ASICS Gel-Venture 6, which dances on the line between the trail and the road in terms of the support it provides against the lightness it allows. And after ASICS sent me a pair of its new GEL-Nimbus 21 shoes, I found more of the same. They corrected my form, cushioned my impact, and felt very comfortable. Designed with a litany of features — from nanofibers that cushion and bounce back rapidly to a lightweight and responsive midsole — the shoes remain light enough to help me bounce down the road and achieve my cardio goals.
You know best what shoes feel right, both when you first slip it on and when you run around with it a bit, but it’s smart to approach your search with a slight filter on what you’re looking for. Here are some of the best selling and top-rated pairs of shoes in each category so you know how to align your search — you can get any of these through Zappos (which carries thousands of running shoes for men, women, boys, and girls so shipping and possible returns are easy.
adidas Running UltraBOOST, $180 at Zappos: The UltraBOOSTs feel light just by the looks of them — which says a lot about the design road running shoes aim for. Knit and adaptive upper wraps keep your feet snug in these but let you rotate and pivot as you need to navigate the road. The heel is structured so that you can get a natural fit that envelops your heel but again allows you to hinge on it as you please. The cushioning and insole will both err on the lighter end but adidas aimed to give you as much as support as it could without overbearing the weight.
Salomon Speedcross 4, $130 at Zappos: The Salomons are water-resistant and fit your feet snugly and securely for the tricky terrain of the trail. You can keep laces out of the way with special pockets to tuck them into and the midsole is designed for additional and long-lasting cushioning. The lug pattern on the shoe’s bottoms enhances your traction even when wet. Finally, these shoes are really very attractive and will shine during a hike or run or walk around your glamping site — no judgment here.
ASICS GEL-Quantum 360 Knit, $120 at Zappos: The Quantums offer a lot of cushion in a knit design, combining the lightweight ideal of the road and the supportive ideal of the trail. The lack of seams in the forefoot aim to ensure less irritation on your feet and the tongue and collar of the shoe are padded for additional support. The mesh top stretches in multiple directions to reinforce its grip and concurrently allow you to move freely. This shoe is a bit more serious, a bit looser, and a bit more specialized for the runner who wants to live as close to the trail/road middle as possible.
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