How to Buy a Beginner Running Shoe That Won’t Break the Bank
Plus seven pairs your feet will love—even as you ramp up the miles.
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Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: There’s no one perfect running shoe for beginners. The best shoe is the one that feels the best to you and fits your unique foot comfortably. And that can be tough to figure out if you’re just starting out!
The average retail price of a new running shoe is $121, but some of the more hyped sneakers can run you up to $300. That’s a big investment, especially if you’re not sure they’ll even work for your feet. Instead of buying what your friends wear or what Instagram ads are serving you, you should head to a specialty running store to have experts analyze your gait and make some suggestions. Then, look for a deal.
What matters most when it comes to bargain shoe-shopping is how long it’s been since a shoe hit shelves, according to an April 2021 data analysis by RunRepeat.com. If you wait just over three months from a shoe’s launch date, you can save an average of 10 percent. But the lowest prices come 164 days after release—which is why June typically has the best deals.
Buying online can also save you some bucks. You can save an average of 38.14 percent (or $46.19) buying running shoes online versus in store, according to additional data from RunRepeat. The best savings are on Sierra Trading Post (41 percent), Amazon (34 percent), and Shoebacca (30 percent).
Another trick: Buy last year’s version to save another 19.36 percent (or $14.50). In total, buying last year’s edition online compared to buying this year’s edition in a brick and mortar store saves you an average of 50.11 percent ($60.69). Brands also tend to replace a shoe’s colorways every six months, and once that new colorway launches, you’ll see a dip in the old colors’ prices. As long as you’re not hung up on getting the newest version or colors, you’ll score a solid pair for nearly half price.
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7 Best Running Shoes for Beginners
Not sure where to start? These are the latest versions of beginner-friendly shoes that have been staples on the running market for years—and if they don’t work, most of these brands have generous return policies to help you find the right shoe.
Hoka One One Clifton 8 | $130
Hoka’s shoes feature a rocker bottom that’s designed to help propel you forward through the gait cycle and may help with the impact your lower leg and thigh muscles have to absorb. Now in its eighth iteration, the Clifton is an excellent daily trainer: It’s nice and soft but never clunky, and has ample room in the front for toes not used to miles on miles.
Brooks Ghost 14 | $130
The OG Ghost was designed over a decade ago as a go-to neutral shoe, and that intention has stood the test of time. It’s the kind of trainer that works just as well for easy runs as it does for long weekend runs—the soft, cushioned midsole will actually react to your unique stride so you feel comfortable from landing to toe-off.
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38 | $120
This shoe has been in Nike’s arsenal since 1983, and it’s known as a “workhorse with wings”—meaning it can handle your speediest and longest workouts. The Peg uses the same foam as a shoe the brand designed to help reduce injury, but has a Zoom Air unit at the forefoot to put a little more pep in your step.
ASICS Gel-Cumulus 23 | $120
Considering this shoe was inspired by puffy, cottonball clouds, you better believe it’s a soft ride. Not only is it plush underfoot, but the mesh upper adds strategic support in targeted areas for a snug (but not tight!) fit, and there’s gender-specific technology in the midsole that helps absorb shock and push off the ground for a smoother ride.
New Balance Fresh Foam 880v11 | $130
New Balance’s neutral daily trainer was recently updated to feel softer underfoot, but without losing any of the responsiveness in each step. The latest version has been updated with a more breathable upper that molds your foot for a super snug and secure fit, with no rubbing or irritation from the tongue or laces.
Adidas Ultraboost 21 | $180
Outside of the Boost’s street-friendly appearance, beginners will love the sock-like upper that accommodates a wide variety of foot shapes and widths as much as the wide base that provides plenty of support during landings and push-offs. Plus, you’ll still get that pop off the ground from six percent more Boost to propel you forward.
Mizuno Wave Rider 25 | $135
For this shoe’s 25th anniversary, Mizuno extended its bouncy foam from the heel through the midsole, making it 17 percent softer and giving you 15 percent more energy return. Translation: You can hit the gas pedal without beating up your feet or lower legs. A plate hidden inside the midsole reinforces support and helps guide your foot through its gait cycle.