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.
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.
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!
If there's one thing we can't take away from the Pegasus 38, it's that it's the GOAT of all workhorse shoes in our arsenal! It oozes with plushness, stability, and pop, doing it all from slow days, tempo sessions, and gym workouts even. If you want to run with fun, take the Pegasus any day!
A stability shoe made for training runs, the Guide 14 from Saucony just gets the job done for us. No frills, no gimmicks, just plain support. While it may be a positive for the shoe, it also renders a negative - it's a dull ride. Whether you're an overpronator or a neutral runner in need of extra arch support, the Saucony Guide is neither obtrusive nor too harsh to not find that sweet spot in your daily running shoe roster.
Thanks for making our daily runs nice and stable, Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21! The upper hugged our feet well, and the midsole is balanced - it's neither mushy nor too rigid. It just kept our motions in check, preventing any excessive movements. It's certainly not a light shoe, but having tested its precursors, we can say that Brooks is heading in the right direction! Apart from support, what stood out to us also is its tank-like durability.
Nearing its 24th iteration, Gel Cumulus sure did something right. And we couldn't disagree. The Asics Gel Cumulus 23 is here yet again to prove that it's the most value-oriented neutral trainer out there. It's a one-shoe-fits-all kind of running shoe. It's comfortable for jogs, daily runs, and even for your first race day in 5K or marathon!
The Saucony Ride 14 is a daily trainer that impressed us with its utilitarian and consistent ride. It stays nice and stable from short to long-distance runs, giving us that peace of mind to run with confidence from start to finish! It's neither too soft nor too firm and can handle just about any type of run - from daily runs, recovery days, and even tempo paces.
Brooks updates their venerable trail crusher in this 16 version of the Cascadia. If you demand stout grip, a stable platform, and bright colors take a look at the Cascadia 16. It’s true to size, durable as hell, and packed with features like a ballistic rock plate, lace loop, and enough upper lacing eyelets to ensure a custom fit. These aggressive kicks are ready for adventure!
The Pegasus road series just holds a special place in our feet, we just had to see it in trail action. And voila! 50 miles later, the Nike Pegasus Trail 3 won us over with its uber plush landings! Unlike other trail shoes, it's NOT dense nor dull, it's stable and comfy and will make your run cloud-like. When faced with slick surfaces, however, it shows its limitations.
The Nike Downshifter 10 is a cushioned shoe with neutral support. It is for runners who want an affordable entry-level shoe. Its design is classic, minimal, and sleek. Overall, the shoe offers good value for money. What you get for the low price point is very good in terms of performance and durability.
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.
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.