Running gives you a sense of freedom, an escape filled with fresh air and endorphins. To be able to run to the best of your ability, you need the best pair of trainers to suit your running style. Whether you've just started the couch to 5km programme or you're planning on a new marathon PB, we've got the best running shoes of 2021 to keep you on track.
We're always asked, 'which brand makes the best running shoes' and the answer can vary depending on whether you are road running, trail running or have a session on the track. Each brand offers different styles of shoe, with different levels of support or cushioning which can help minimise impact and protect your knees and hips.
Best cushioned running shoe
The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 V11 are similar to the V10 but with some fresh new upgrades, including the knit material on the upper foot. The stretchiness of this material makes these shoes much more suitable for those with wider feet and the material is breathable too.
The cushioning here though is what makes this running trainer stand out. With a chunky heel of 'Fresh Foam X' you get ultimate comfort with each stride and fantastic energy transfer. The cushioning on the V11 is firmer than the V10 giving you maximum spring when you push off and the sole grips whatever the weather.
Best long distance running shoes
Before we get onto the cushioned sole of the Clifton 8, let's bring your attention to the materials used to create this latest Hoka model. Ideal for those who are environmentally conscious, the Clifton 8's are fully vegan and are the most breathable to date, allowing your feet to stay cool no matter how long you're wearing them. The sole is well balanced (ideal for neutral runners) and cushioned in all the right places so your knees and hips don't get battered by the impact, but are still responsive off the toe with each step.
The Hoka One One Carbon X2 is made for those planning on running long distances, including marathons and ultras. The position of the foam sole differs from that of the Carbon X, sitting further back towards the heel. It is also wider and softer, meaning those who tend to heel strike will still be comfortable along with mid-foot strikers. The running shoes are very forgiving but responsive with a carbon plate that keeps the midsole stable, allowing you to make the most out of the rocker.
Fastest running shoes
If you're looking for an everyday running trainer that can give you a bit of a boost to smash your PB then the Under Armour FLOW Velociti Wind might be the trainer for you. The lightweight shoe has a high energy return and is durable.
The cushioning is comfortable but they are not so spongey that you'd struggle to lay down some power when needed. They feel responsive underfoot so are great for short intervals as well as longer runs too. A speedy all-rounder.
Best Trail running shoes
When you're running on terrain that can be uneven underfoot, you need a shoe that will support you and feel comfortable. The adidas Terrex Speed Ultra Trail Running Shoes give you all the comfort you need, but still maintains a lightweight feel with breathable fabric. The sole is designed to take the impact of stones, rocks or roots so you can concentrate on always putting your best foot forward. The sole is also extremely grippy so you can feel confident in each step knowing you won't slide around no matter the weather.
The Inov-8 TRAILFLY ULTRA G 300 MAX are the first trail running shoes to have graphene injected into the foam sole which gives you the feel of a spring in your step and a trust in the grip instantly after putting the shoes on. The ride is pure comfort and when moving between different terrain, the transition is smooth. These trainers are chunky and a little heavier than previous models of Inov-8 but they are designed to go the distance and are cushioned enough to do so without comprising ground feel. The heel wedge ensures stability when running on uneven ground and will give you the best energy return for your efforts.