WHICH RACING SHOES ARE BEST FOR ME?
Brian Metzler | October 5, 2021
10 SHOES TO CONSIDER FOR YOUR NEXT RACE
By Brian MetzlerAfter what seems like an eternity, fall race season is back. But it’s also prime time for running a half marathon. Or a 5K. Or a trail running race. Or even a triathlon.
But you know that because signed up for a fall race, trained hard for the past several months and are almost ready to get after it. But what shoes should you lace up on race day? Here are 10 great models to consider as you count down the days until you’re toeing the starting line again.
Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 2, $220
Best for: Half Marathon / Marathon
Weights: 8.0 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 6.8 oz. (women’s size 7.0)
Heel-Toe Offset: 8.5 mm (39mm heel, 30.5mm forefoot)
The Buzz: One of the elite super shoes unveiled in the past year, the Adios Pro 2 has is one of the most prevalent shoes on the podium at top marathons around the world. It’s a thickly cushioned shoe with carbon-fiber energy rods embedded in the lively LIghtstrike Pro midsole. Finished off with a featherweight, breathable upper and Continental carbon rubber segments on the outsole, this is best-in-class long-distance racing shoe
Is it the shoe for you? The Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 2 is like a smooth-riding sports car that’s built to go fast. It feels high off the ground (because it is), so there’s a trade-off for the relative lack of proprioceptive connection with the roads. But when you’re running as fast as they shoes will take you, it will feel like your feet don’t touch the ground.
Best For: Triathlon / 5K to Half Marathon
Weights: 8.0 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 6.5 oz. (women’s size 7.0)
Heel-Toe Offset: 5mm (34mm heel, 29mm forefoot)The Buzz: This brightly colored speedster is as loud as it is versatile. It’s a fast and light shoe that can be used for fast training workouts or racing on the roads or in a triathlon. It doesn’t have a carbon-fiber plate, but it does have a rocker shape and a firm feeling underfoot that creates forward propulsion.
Is it the shoe for you? The Noosa Tri has been re-tooled a bit and is comfortable, fast and reliable. Plus, at $130 it’s very affordable compared to a lot of other super shoes. It has triathlon-specific features, including drainage holes and an interior feeling that makes it feel great without wearing socks. But let’s face it, it’s still the wild colorful patterns that draw everyone to this shoe as a race-day burner.
Best For: 10K to Marathon
Weights: 6.9 oz. (men’s size 9.0); xx oz. (women’s size 7.0)
Heel-Toe Offset: 8mm (40mm heel, 32mm forefoot)
The Buzz: The undisputed fastest marathon shoe on the planet, the neutral-oriented ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2 it features Nike’s hyper-responsive ZoomX cushioning foam and a curvy, full-length carbon-fiber plate to increase forward propulsion. It’s been updated with a more breathable mesh and a little bit more structure to hold the foot in place, but the basic premise is the same: lace ‘em up and run fast!
Is it the shoe for you? Runners think about two things when they consider buying a pair of ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2: their current PRs and if they want to pay $250 to lower them. The answer is often yes, because the shoe is the closest thing to a short cut a marathoner can get. There are no short cuts in running. You still have to do the work, but this shoe definitely gives you a huge advantage over most others.
Best For: Half-Marathon to Marathon
Weights: 7.4 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 6.3 oz. (women’s size 7.0)
Heel-Toe Offset: 4mm (40mm heel, 36mm forefoot)
The Buzz: The evolution of Nike’s paradigm-changing carbon-fiber plated-shoe technology has led to this, a maximally cushioned shoe that induces efficient forward propulsion with the aid of a curvy plate and dual Air Zoom units in the forefoot. It has considerably more foam but a lower heel-toe offset than the original Vaporfly 4% and Vaporfly Next% shoes.
Is it the shoe for you? Although it is slightly heavier and higher off the ground than the original two Vaporfly models, this shoe serves up noticeably more energy return, stability and impact protection with a much smoother ride.
Best For: 5K/10K/Half Marathon/Marathon
Weights: 7.4 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 6.2 oz. (women’s size 7.0)
Heel-Toe Offset: 5mm (33mm heel, 28mm forefoot)
The Buzz: Light, cushy and fast, the Rincon 3 is a lively and versatile neutral-oriented shoe at a budget-friendly price. It has an exceptional cushion-to-weight ratio and serves up an easy-rolling ride, which allow it to be a great shoe for long runs, speedier workouts and recovery jogs.
Is it the shoe for you? The midsole is squishy soft, but the ride is very lively and agile. It doesn’t produce a bouncy sensation, but more of a fluid, rolling motion that comes from the rocker (or concave) geometry of the outsole-midsole undercarriage. It’s a heck of a deal at $115, both because it’s fast and versatile enough to be an everyday trainer or speed workout shoe during the week.
Best For: 5K to Marathon
Weights: 7.5 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 6.3 oz. (women’s size 7.0)
Heel-Toe Offset: 5mm (35mm heel, 30 mm forefoot)
The Buzz: A lightweight racing flat built on a stable midsole platform embedded with a carbon-fiber plate, the Rocket X combines responsive agility with soft, forgiving landings. Unlike the bouncy sensation of many super shoes, the Rocket X feels firm, smooth and resilient and more engaged with the ground.
Is it the shoe for you? Compared to other racing shoes with carbon-fiber plates, the Rocket X's plate is far straighter. As such, it feels like it lifts you onto your toes more than it rolls off the toes. That produces a powerful lever to propels you forward, but requires a strong stride up on your toes and forward-balanced, driving with calves and posterior chain.
Best For: 5K/10K/Half Marathon/Marathon
Weights: 6.9 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 5.9 oz. (women’s size 7.0)
Heel-Toe Offset: 8mm (35.5mm heel, 27.5mm forefoot)
The Buzz: The Saucony Endorphin Pro+ is a featherweight, top-tier racing shoe built on an energetic foam midsole embedded with a curvy carbon-fiber plate that enhances forward propulsion. Designed for all-out racing from 5K to the marathon, it carries a higher price tag than the Endorphin Pro 2 ($200) but it’s lighter, more lively and faster than its predecessor because it has a slightly leaner foam midsole.
Is it the shoe for you? The Endorphin Pro+ is an all-out speed merchant, capable of a wide range of running distances and it’s not as bouncy as some of the other models in the super shoe category. The midsole foam is made from the same energetic PWRRUN PB compound as the previous versions of the Endorphin Pro 2, but this edition has a slightly leaner shape and a new flyweight upper and, as a result, it’s quite a bit lighter and more agile.
Best For: Trail Running 5K to Marathon
Weights: 10.5 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 9.5 oz. (women’s size 7.0)
Heel-Toe Offset: 0mm (26mm heel, 26mm forefoot)
The Buzz: A reliable trail running shoe built on a level or zero-drop platform, the Lone Peak 5 is offers good cushioning, great traction and exceptional agility. The new AltraEGO midsole foam is absorbent and extremely responsive, putting a bit of a resilient spring in every stride. Like every Altra shoe, it features a slightly roomier foot-shaped toe box, which is especially appreciated on downhill sections and on hot days when feet tend to swell.
Is it the shoe for you? This is one of the best-selling trail running shoes in the U.S., but the key is whether or not you can adapt to a zero-drop platform. If you’re a fit runner or someone who has been running in low-drop shoes for a while, you’re going to love this shoe for its proprioceptive feel for the ground and the traction its outsole provides.
Best For: Trail Running 5K to Marathon
Weights: 10.8 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 9.7 oz. (women’s size 7.0)
Heel-Toe Offset: 4mm (28mm heel, 24mm forefoot)
The Buzz: The Peregrine is a versatile, neutral-oriented trail running shoe that has the comfort and smoothness of a road running shoe with a low-to-the-ground feel and a nice blend of cushioning, traction and protection. It’s a classic, do-everything off-road runner, ideal for smooth, rolling dirt paths, moderately technical routes with some rocks, roots, gravel and other obstacles, as well as sloppy trails with a lot of mud and moisture.
Is it the shoe for you? The Peregrine 11 has a new upper that’s more durable and protective than the previous edition. The moderate midsole cushioning is accompanied by a flexible rock plate that allows for a cushy, flexible and protective ride doesn’t inhibit the natural movement of your feet on variable terrain. The Peregrine isn’t exceptionally energetic, but it feels and runs lighter than its spec weight and serves up an agile, go-get-it sensation on most types of terrain.
Best For: 5K to Half Marathon
Weights: 9.8 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 8.8 oz. (women’s size 7.0)
Heel-Toe Offset: 7mm (36mm heel, 29mm forefoot)
The Buzz: The Cloudflyer is lightweight, soft and secure high-mileage stability shoe built on a chassis of On’s unique Cloud cushioning system. Made from a new Helion Superfoam, the midsole is soft but also extremely resilient and it a great job at damping the impact with the ground, and combined with the extra-stiff Speedboard, it also provides an energetic pop that crescendos into a noticeable burst of forward propulsion as the foot reaches the toe-off phase of the stride.
Is it the shoe for you? Although the Cloudflyer feels as light and nimble as many neutral-oriented shoes, it’s a modern stability shoe that offers significant medial-side support for runners who need it. Overpronating runners will appreciate that support throughout a run, but neutral-oriented runners will benefit from it on long runs or races when fatigue starts to result in form breakdown.