Finding the Right Shoes
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Nine new running shoes enhance performance on roads, trails or both.
Whether you log miles on pavement, dirt or a little of both, this year’s advancements in running shoes can give you a jump start on your training and take you well into winter. New road runners range from super-cushy to stable and supportive to provide you with the perfect fit.
If you hit both road and trail – maybe you run on pavement to get to your favorite off-road route – a new range of hybrid shoes perform well on a variety of surfaces. And for the true dirt diva, this season’s trail running kicks can help you tackle the rockiest of trails.
|ASICS NIMBUS 10, $120
Named after clouds for good reason, these neutral cushioning shoes provide impressive shock absorption from forefoot to heel. The plush ride comes from a reworked midsole material that bounces back and resists long-term compression better than earlier versions. A wider platform creates a stable overall feel.
|ADIDAS RESPONSE CUSHION, $80
A new non-slip, EVA sockliner provides the slipper-like comfort of these shoes, right out of the box. Generous cushioning runs the full length of your foot, supplying ample padding between you and the road. And at 9.5 ounces, the Response is lightweight and nimble—at an affordable price.
|PUMA COMPLETE TENOS V, $95
Ideal for mild to moderate overpronators (whose feet roll inward excessively), this stability shoe provides support while remaining flexible and comfortable. Its low-to-the-ground fit is reminiscent of a racing flat— good for short, fast runs, though not optimal for longer outings. A bamboo-infused lining helps ward off odor.
|NEW BALANCE 811, $85
Road-worthy cushioning comes from encapsulated, non-pressurized air pockets in the heel and forefoot, while aggressive treads offer dependable traction on trails. A supportive upper keeps your foot stable on off-camber terrain. This shoe comes in a range of widths, from AA to D, so you can find the perfect fit.
|PEARL IZUMI SYNCROSEEK3 WRX, $115
This versatile shoe features a softshell exterior that resists rain and snow. Off-road assurance comes from an internal stability frame, which helps keep you upright while rock-hopping and jaunting downhill. High-rebound foam in the forefoot contributes to on-road comfort. Reflective treatment makes these shoes a great choice for dawn or dusk runs.
|SAUCONY PROGRID TR, $90
Saucony’s foray into trail running shoes includes these hybrid kicks that work well both off-road and on. Ample cushioning and flexibility provide a smooth ride on hard surfaces, and a multidirectional lug outsole provides traction. A gusseted tongue keeps rocks out, and a dedicated gaiter housing makes these shoes ideal for sandy or snowy conditions.
|INOV8 ROC LITE 282, $95
Weighing 9.9 ounces, these lightweight trail shoes offer an agile, nimble ride. They’re built low to the
|SALOMON XT WINGS WP, $140
This mountain shoe can take you from scaling scree slopes to sprinting through snowy meadows. Side-toside stability and underfoot protection rank high here, as does the waterproof upper—hello snow! Salomon’s one-pull lacing system makes getting a snug fit a cinch. A protective toe bumper staves off rocks, twigs and other obstacles.
|VASQUE VELOCITY VST, $100
Stability rules with this trail shoe, as Vasque’s Spine Technology (VST) features a hard plastic top plate and integrated gel that gives you control with every heel strike. The right amount of cushioning and aggressive traction means you can confidently run anywhere.
PUT MORE SOLE IN YOUR RUNNING
What’s wrong with the insoles that come with your new shoes? Nothing, unless you have anatomical needs that can be helped with specially designed insoles. The correct pair can improve anything from a leg-length discrepancy— where one leg is shorter than the other—to a painfully tight iliotibial band or plantar fasciitis. These women-specific, over-the-counter footbeds may improve the comfort and fit of your shoes, and therefore enhance your running. Be sure to try out insoles—in your shoes, with socks—before buying.
|SOF SOLE WOMEN’S ADAPT, $30
Place these insoles in an oven at 225 F for two minutes, put them in your shoes and step in for a custom-molded fit. The Adapt provides extra support and cushioning. Narrower widths, deeper heel pockets and arches placed specifically for a woman’s foot make them gender-specific.
|SUPERFEET WOMEN’S BERRY, $40
These women-specific insoles come in four different sizes, but are cut to fit precisely. A new closed-cell foam and forefoot shock pad (bigger than the previous version) boosts cushioning. Tailored for women, the heel shape is narrower than the men’s version for rearfoot control and comfort. And they’re treated with an antimicrobial to prevent odor.
|SPENCO FOR HER TOTAL SUPPORT—WITH Q-FACTOR TECHNOLOGY, $30
Developed by studying a female runner’s Q-angle—the angle between her hips and knees, usually wider than a man’s— these insoles guide your foot into a more centralized position with each foot strike. Dedicated pads support individual bones of the foot to relieve pressure. A portion of every sale is donated to breast cancer research and prevention initiatives.
About the Author
Boulder, Colo.-based freelance writer Lisa Jhung has been traipsing trails and roads for over 20 years, and reviewing gear for almost 10. She loves running on all sorts of terrain, in all sorts of weather, even hammering rain.