The 8 Best Running Shoes 2023 —Top Picks From a Running Lover

The 8 Best Running Shoes 2023 —Top Picks From a Running Lover

Running shoes

Looking for the ultimate running shoes that check all the boxes: lightweight, cushioned, supportive, and oh-so-comfy?

Well, the real test lies in how they hold up during those endless miles you’ll conquer.

But fret not! We’ve got your back. Our team reviews hundreds of men’s and women’s running shoes every year to help you find your perfect match.

Get ready for our top picks, insider tips from our gear experts, and a breakdown of how we put these kicks to the test.

So, sit back, scroll down, and let’s find your new favorite pair!

The Best 8 Running Shoes

Best Running Shoes:

Brooks Ghost 14 at Amazon

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Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39

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Asics Gel-Cumulus 25 Cushioned Running Sneakers

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Mizuno Wave Rider 26 Cushioned Shoes for Running

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Lululemon Blissfeel 2 Cushioned Running Shoe

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Hoka Mach 5 Cushioned Running Sneaker

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Saucony Ride 16 Cushioned Shoes for Running

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Nike ZoomX Invincible 3 Cushioned Running Shoes

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How to Choose the Best Running Shoe

When it comes to running shoes, weight matters to some runners.

Research suggests that heavier shoes can make you expend more energy. On the other hand, lighter shoes may feel faster since they have less cushioning.

But here’s the cool part: thanks to new midsole foams, you can now get a cushy ride without adding much weight.

If you’re going for long distances, having some extra cushioning could be a smart move as it helps absorb impact.

So, choose wisely and find the perfect balance for your runs!

Oh, and don’t forget to consider the drop of your running shoe!

The drop refers to the difference between the measurements of the heel and forefoot or how much your toes “drop” below your heel.

It’s actually quite important because a higher drop can lead to more heel striking and shift some strain away from the lower leg towards the knee.

On the other hand, a lower offset redistributes that load farther down the motion chain to the calf and Achilles.

There’s no right or wrong choice here – it’s all about what feels natural and comfortable for you.

Take into account your personal running mechanics and injury history when deciding on the shoe’s drop.

Most shoes have a drop between 8 and 12mm, but some have less than 6mm, and there are even minimalist designs with no drop at all.

Popular Running Shoes

Ghost. Pegasus. Kayano. Rider. These titans have been some of the best-selling running shoes for decades and are commonly referred to by just one name.

When asked for a shoe recommendation by new runners or those who aren’t sure what they need, we generally point to classics like these as a starting point.

After all, there’s a reason the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus has been around for almost four decades: It works for most people, most of the time.

Brooks Ghost 15 Classic Running Shoe

Brooks Ghost 14 at Amazon

Weight9.8 oz

You know what? The Ghost is turning 15, and it’s been a fan favorite for over a decade! If you’re new to running or just need a reliable everyday shoe, the Ghost is our go-to recommendation.

Our awesome testers have given it the stamp of approval, describing it as a “tried-and-true daily trainer.”

One of our runners, who had experience with Asics’s Gel-Kayano and the Adidas Ultraboost, had this to say: “The cushioning felt spot on. It had a nice firmness to it, but at the same time, I could feel a bit of bounce.”

Runner review

That “bounce” our tester mentioned is all about the softness that adapts to the shape of your foot, while the foam’s firmness provides support and absorbs shock.

The Ghost 14 used DNA Loft, a compression-molded EVA, in its midsole. But now, we’ve upgraded to the DNA Loft v2, which feels even softer and lighter.

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39 at Amazon

The Pegasus from last year was definitely a reliable workhorse, but it left some Pegasus fans disappointed with its heavier weight and, as our testers noted, a somewhat clunky ride.

Well, guess what? The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39 addresses those concerns by shedding some weight (almost an ounce) and adding an extra flex groove in the outsole, allowing for easier bending right where you need it during toe-off.

The new mesh design in the upper enhances breathability, and the integration of Flywire cables ensures a more secure and locked-in feel when lacing up.

And here’s an exciting return: Nike brought back the Air unit in the heel, making it the first time since the 36th version that the Pegasus features two Air units (there’s one in the forefoot too).

What hasn’t changed is the full-length midsole made of React foam.

While it may not be as light and bouncy as ZoomX, React offers a medium softness and moderate flexibility.

Runner review

“What I liked most about the Pegasus was its consistent performance and durability. The bounce, traction, ride, and stability remained top-notch even after extended use and running on different surfaces.

The cushioning provided good bounce, energy return, and support, although it wasn’t super soft and plush.

While it can handle some speedwork and long runs, I would personally prefer using them for regular easy training or tempo runs.”

Asics Gel-Cumulus 25 Cushioned Running Sneakers

Asics Gel-Cumulus 25 Cushioned Running Sneakers at Amazon

The Asics Gel-Cumulus 25 takes the crown as the most cushioned Cumulus we’ve ever seen.

In fact, it shares a striking resemblance to earlier versions of its ultra-plush sibling, the Nimbus. (Asics actually added even more foam to the Nimbus in its latest update, so the Nimbus still holds the title for being the cushiest of the two.)

However, it’s important to note that neither of them are designed for speed workouts. According to our testers, the Cumulus surprises with its relatively light weight considering its “nice, thick, and foamy” workhorse sole.

However, it does sacrifice some responsiveness and bounce underfoot.

Runner review

“I love the feeling of being propelled onto my toes when I wear racers like Asics’s Magic Speed or Saucony’s Endorphin Speed.

It makes me feel more efficient and pushes me forward.

Although I didn’t quite experience that sensation with this shoe, I have to admit it’s one of the most comfortable pairs I’ve ever worn,” shared a tester who was racking up double-digit weekly long runs in preparation for the Paris Marathon.

“The interior feels plush, and the secure lacing really hugs my foot. I was more than happy to keep them on all day, whether it was for grocery shopping or running errands.”

Mizuno Wave Rider 26 Cushioned Shoes for Running

Mizuno Wave Rider 26 Cushioned Shoes for Running at Amazon

The Rider reached a significant milestone with its 25th version.

As someone who has been wearing the Rider since its 13th iteration, I can confidently say that it is the softest and most cushioned Rider I have ever experienced.

This can be attributed, in part, to Mizuno delivering on the promise they teased us with in the Rider 24—a full-length midsole layer made of luxuriously soft Enerzy foam.

Now, with the Mizuno Wave Rider 26, they have taken the cushioning to new heights, surpassing all previous models in this aspect.

Runner review

The Rider 26 from Mizuno maintains a similar midsole construction to its predecessor.

However, the brand has added a bit more foam underneath, resulting in a 2.5mm increase in the overall stack height of the shoe.

This slight adjustment also adds a small amount of weight to the shoe, but less than half an ounce.

Despite these changes, the transitions in the Rider 26 continue to feel smooth and consistent, just like in the previous version.

This is especially true when combined with the castor bean-based Wave plate, which enhances the shoe’s performance.

The Wave plate is built at a higher amplitude than in earlier Riders, allowing it to deliver more energy return with each footstrike and more closely align with the shape of the arch.

Overall, the Rider 26 offers a smooth and springy ride, making it an excellent choice for long runs where you’ll be spending extended periods on your feet.

Lululemon Blissfeel 2 Cushioned Running Shoe

Lululemon Blissfeel 2 Cushioned Running Shoe

Lululemon has successfully established itself as a brand catering to both yoga and running enthusiasts, and this reputation has been further strengthened by its venture into footwear.

Last year, they introduced their inaugural running shoe, the Blissfeel, which received our prestigious Gear of the Year award.

But if you still need some convincing, let me introduce you to the Lululemon Blissfeel 2—the shoe that will surely win you over.

Runner review

Despite having the same weight as its predecessor, the Blissfeel 2 gives a slightly heavier and firmer impression, despite the stack height and foam remaining unchanged from the original model.

Running in the Blissfeel 2 is reminiscent of the experience in Adidas’s Ultraboost. It has a substantial build, yet there’s a great amount of energy and responsiveness in its ride.

The spacious toe room and cushioning provide a welcome relief, especially after testing narrower and less supportive trainers.

Hoka Mach 5 Cushioned Running Sneaker

Hoka Mach 5 Cushioned Running Sneaker

Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, the Hoka Mach 5 has made some notable updates. It has replaced the Mach 4’s Profly midsole foam with the upgraded Profly+, which offers even greater energy return.

Additionally, the Mach 5 has adopted the narrower fit around the saddle from the Supersonic model. When comparing the Mach 4 and Mach 5 side by side, the differences are noticeable.

The Mach 4 features a more spacious lacing system and a boxier overall shape, despite both shoes sharing the same last.

Runner review

Similar to my experience testing the Supersonic, the initial runs in the Mach 5 didn’t quite deliver the same smooth rocker flow or high rebound that I had experienced with the Mach 4.

Our Runner-in-Chief, Jeff Dengate, suggested that the tighter midfoot could be a contributing factor. However, my theory revolves around the density distribution in the new midsole foam.

The original Profly foam had a softer heel and firmer forefoot, whereas the new Profly+ may require some fine-tuning to recreate the pre-Sonic feel in the Mach.

However, after a week of running in the shoe during my vacation, I gradually became won over. I noticed a noticeable shift when picking up the pace.

While it may not reach the same level as the Mach 4, it’s still a Mach that I genuinely love. Testers who were unfamiliar with the previous version instantly became enamored with the Mach 5.

Saucony Ride 16 Cushioned Shoes for Running

Saucony Ride 16 Cushioned Shoes for Running

Devoted fans of the Ride value its familiar fit and feel, and they aren’t easily swayed by carbon fiber technology.

As a result, Saucony maintains a consistent approach with this beloved model each year, while incorporating their latest advancements in shoe technology.

One notable example is the Ride 15, which introduced a new Pwrrun EVA midsole. This midsole was reformulated with bouncy polymers, providing enhanced cushioning.

Additionally, a plush 7mm-thick sockliner was added to further enhance the comfort. While the sockliner’s thickness exceeds the heel-to-toe drop of many other shoes, it contributes to a softer feel when stepping into the shoe compared to when you’re actually running. Both of these updates not only improved cushioning but also reduced the weight of the shoe by over an ounce.

These successful updates have carried over to the Saucony Ride 16, ensuring that fans of the Ride can continue to enjoy the same level of comfort and performance they’ve come to expect.

Runner review

The Ride exceeded all my running requirements: it provided a cushioned and semi-soft ride, comfortable lacing, and a flexible upper that didn’t cause any irritation, even at the widest part of my broad foot,” shared a tester with an underpronated gait.

“I relied on these shoes for all types of running workouts, whether on the road or treadmill and even incorporated them into my gym sessions for some strength training.

However, when it came to wanting an extra boost of speed, I felt the need for something a little more bouncy.

Nike ZoomX Invincible 3 Cushioned Running Shoes

Nike ZoomX Invincible 3 Cushioned Running Shoes at amazon

Nike’s highly cushioned trainer is back with a fresh update, delivering the same bouncy goodness we all adore in the Invincible.

The Nike ZoomX Invincible 3 features even thicker layers of ZoomX foam, the exact midsole material utilized in the renowned Vaporfly and Alphafly racing shoes.

These stacks of foam surpass any other shoes in terms of thickness, providing an unmatched level of plushness.

Not only is the foam lighter in weight, but it’s also softer and more responsive than other materials, offering an impressive 70 percent energy return with every stride. One tester described them as her “sproing-sproing shoes” due to the incredible bounce they provide.

While the previous versions of the Invincible occasionally felt unstable despite the wide forefoot and unique sole design aimed at maintaining balance, the latest iteration showcases more refined cushioning.

Only one tester, who has a history of chronic ankle issues, noted some stability challenges during sharp turns.

Did this article help resolve your concerns about running shoes?

We introduced some popular running shoes.

In this blog, we will be showcasing a variety of marathon gear, running from niche products to beginner-friendly options.

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