7 Best Running Shoes For Beginners, 100+ Shoes Tested in 2023

Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen on
7 Best Running Shoes For Beginners, 100+ Shoes Tested in 2023

They say great things come from small beginnings. That said, don't confuse "small beginnings" for a rough start. No, you can be in your best form as a freshman if you sport the finest running shoes for beginners.

We've tested over a dozen remarkable entry-level running shoes for your perusal. So, whether you're fancying a budget-friendly pair or you're looking for something mighty formidable on the trail, this beginner-friendly selection is for you.

How we test running shoes

Assembling such an impressive selection as this is not actually a walk in the park. We do follow a set of principles, after all. To give you a clearer idea, take a look at our approach:

  • We purchase beginner-friendly running shoes with our own money.
  • We run in these kicks for several miles to check their comfort level, general performance (including grip), and durability.
  • Our lab experts run them through a series of tests to gauge their rebound rate and breathability, among others.
  • Our reviews on the best running shoes for beginners reflect opinions from hundreds of footwear critics and entry-level runners.

Combined, these elements result in what we call a CoreScore. Every reviewed kick gets one, ranging from 0 to 100. Our selection process makes use of this scoring system to help us come up with a shortlist of top picks.

Best running shoes for beginners overall

Saucony Endorphin Shift 3
Saucony Endorphin Shift 3

CoreScore

91
Superb!
4.4 / 5 from 145 users
95 / 100 from 6 experts

Pros

  • Light for a maximal shoe
  • Comfy and secure upper
  • Softer than before
  • Surprisingly stable
  • Very versatile
  • Protective underfoot
  • Above average durability
  • Doubles as a sneaker

Cons

  • Very big
  • Not for wide feet

Verdict

In this version number 3, the Saucony Endorphin Shift loses a bit of speed but gains much more in comfort and protection. It’s a great daily performance trainer that’s able to shine on both easy days and when you need to push harder. Sure, it’s massive, but also surprisingly light on foot, stable, and versatile. And as a testament to its quality, runners who tried it struggled to find something that needs to be changed.
Saucony Endorphin Shift 3 full review

Best road for beginners running shoes

Brooks Ghost 14
Brooks Ghost 14

CoreScore

92
Superb!
4.6 / 5 from 122,938 users
91 / 100 from 21 experts

Pros

  • All about comfort!
  • True to size
  • Lots of padding
  • Smooth ride
  • Really stable, even on light trails
  • Breathable
  • Great out of the box
  • Built for longevity (500 miles, easily)
  • Great grip

Cons

  • Lacks breathability for hot summer days
  • Not the best for long distances

Verdict

The Ghost 14 from Brooks really fits the bill as the shoe for all runners. It's a workhorse that's comfy enough for easy days, responsive for tempo sessions, and is heavy-duty to handle light trails. Overall, a no-fuss daily trainer that will work for all your runs!
Brooks Ghost 14 full review

Best trail for beginners running shoes

Nike React Pegasus Trail 4
Nike React Pegasus Trail 4

CoreScore

88
Great!
4.4 / 5 from 252 users
87 / 100 from 13 experts

Pros

  • Efficient road-to-trail
  • Well-cushioned
  • Stable ride
  • Excellent, secure fit
  • Very breathable
  • Great traction
  • Unexpectedly light
  • Reasonably priced

Cons

  • Not for muddy areas
  • Not for wide feet
  • Could be more stylish

Verdict

The React Pegasus Trail 4 is one of the top road-to-trail options from Nike. Cushiony and responsive on the roads yet grippy and stable on the trails, the shoe makes a perfect hybrid. It also remains surprisingly light given all the features packed into it. Experienced runners are happy that it feels a lot like the original Pegasus Trail 36 but with an enhanced grip.
Nike React Pegasus Trail 4 full review

Best Nike for beginners running shoes

Nike Pegasus Trail 3
Nike Pegasus Trail 3

CoreScore

88
Great!
4.4 / 5 from 1,012 users
88 / 100 from 16 experts

Pros

  • Soft, bouncy ride
  • Very comfortable
  • True to size
  • Wide for a Nike
  • Wide loop on heel
  • Built to last
  • Reflective swoosh
  • Killer grip on dry trails

Cons

  • Not grippy in wet
  • Runs warm

Verdict

The Pegasus road series just holds a special place in many runners' hearts (feet?), and now it is ready for some trail action too. The Nike Pegasus Trail 3 has won many people over with its uber-plush landings as well as the cloud-like comfort and stability. As long as you stay away from slick surfaces, it is an excellent option.
Nike Pegasus Trail 3 full review

Best ASICS for beginners running shoes

ASICS Gel Cumulus 24
ASICS Gel Cumulus 24

CoreScore

90
Superb!
4.6 / 5 from 2,137 users
87 / 100 from 12 experts

Pros

  • Cushy ride for long miles
  • Comfy foot wrap
  • Stable on sharp turns
  • Lighter than before
  • Durable
  • Snug fit
  • Eco-friendly upper
  • Grippy on wet and dry pavement
  • Bites well on light trails
  • Great for newbies

Cons

  • Not for wide feet
  • Runs warm
  • Pricier than most daily trainers

Verdict

The twenty-fourth version of the ASICS Gel Cumulus goes from hiding in the shadows of its premium siblings like the Nimbus and the Kayano to marking the Cumulus line's own becoming. It's a solid daily trainer that maxes out comfort in your easy and long days on the road. Even better, it's built to last. So if you want to make the most out of your $130 purchase, the ASICS Gel Cumulus 24 won't be a bust.
ASICS Gel Cumulus 24 full review

Best value running shoes for beginners

ASICS Gel Contend 7
ASICS Gel Contend 7

CoreScore

89
Great!
4.4 / 5 from 51,950 users
100 / 100 from 1 expert

Pros

  • Fits true to size
  • Good heel lock
  • Stable
  • A fair amount of cushioning
  • Value for money
  • Durable, grippy outsole
  • Guidance line keeps the foot steady

Cons

  • Rubber outsole is squeaky
  • Not comfortable on longer runs
  • Inefficient arch support

Verdict

If you're looking for one of the best value running shoes out there, the ASICS Gel Contend 7 is it. From ample cushioning for short to medium-length runs, to tough constructions the Gel Contend 7 exceeds expectations for this price bracket.
ASICS Gel Contend 7 full review
Author
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen

Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.