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11 Best Running Shoes for Beginners to Start Training in 2024

Best Everyday Running Shoe for Beginners

Hoka Clifton 9

Clifton 9

Best Everyday Running Shoe for Beginners

Hoka Clifton 9

Credit: Zappos
Pros
  • Cushioned and durable ride especially for less intense runs.
  • Suitable for a range of paces and efforts
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Not the most cushioned option out there

The Hoka Clifton 9 is a true workhorse that provides a blend of cushioning and energy return that is ideal for those long run days. I have used Cliftons for the bulk of my long training runs and I am constantly surprised at the amount of miles I can rack up with each pair. This have been my “go-to” shoe when I am in the mood for some big miles or have a hefty training block.

The magic lies in their Meta-Rocker ™ technology, which gives some propulsion with each step to facilitate smooth transitions. The meta-rocker outsole pairs well with well-balanced (not super plush) foam that helps reduce the shock into your legs that comes with running.

Read more: Best Hoka Running Shoes

Weight 8.70 oz
Heel to toe drop 5 mm

Best Beginner Running Shoe for Infrequent Runners

Nike Pegasus 40

Pegasus 40

Best Beginner Running Shoe for Infrequent Runners

Nike Pegasus 40

Credit: Nike
Pros
  • Good stability
  • Durable
  • Stylish with a wide array of color ways
  • Decently responsive
Cons
  • Firm in the midfoot
  • Not as cushioned as other options

Nike has done it again with their latest iteration of a classic shoe, and a an accessible entry point due to the sizes it offers. These are a great all around pick for running, walking, or working out. I primarily use the Nike Pegasus when I am coaching clients or leading group fitness classes that involve a treadmill because of their durability, versatility, and stability.

There is a lack of cushion (you won’t get that super plushy feel) compared to other options on this list, meaning these may not be the best pick if you’re out running on the pavement for long periods of time. I typically would not mind running in these for three miles or less. If you’re the type of person that likes to go on occasional runs, attend group fitness classes that involve weights and the treadmill, this one is right up your alley.

Read more: Best Nike Shoes to Buy in 2024

Weight 8.54 oz
Heel to toe drop 10 mm

Best Cushioned Running Shoe for Beginners

ASICS Novablast 4

Novablast 4

Best Cushioned Running Shoe for Beginners

ASICS Novablast 4

Pros
  • LOTS of cushion
  • Great for easy miles
  • Reasonable price
Cons
  • Lack of grip in wet conditions
  • Heavy and loud shoe
  • More difficult for tempo workouts

The Novablast is a staple shoe that you might find in a lot of runners’ closets. They are nice and roomy with a wider feel, making for an incredibly comfy training shoe. I love how well cushioned this shoe is, which makes it a great option for me when I take on easy effort miles or recovery runs.

These shoes utilize cloud-like soft cushioning, which delivers a bouncy feel that beginners will love. There is also a more pronounced rocker from the previous iteration, which can help make your ride feel smoother if you tend to strike with your heel.

Read more: Best Cushioned Running Shoes

Weight 9.17 oz
Heel to toe drop 8 mm

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Best Stability Running Shoe for Beginners

Brooks Ghost 15

Ghost 15

Best Stability Running Shoe for Beginners

Brooks Ghost 15

Credit: Zappos
Pros
  • Good and comfortable
  • Good variety of width options
  • Wide range of colorways available
Cons
  • Very little energy return

The Ghost 15 is a reliable training shoe that will keep you logging miles for weeks on end. It’s a popular shoe in my rotation when I am going on easier effort runs and don’t require considerable cushioning to keep my feet and legs feeling good.

This shoe utilizes the softest midsole cushioning that Brooks offers, which provides a softer feel than most Brooks models. If you’re looking for more cushion or weatherproof options, the Ghost Max (more cushioned) or Ghost 15 GTX (weatherproof) models may better suit your needs.

Read more: Best Neutral Running Shoes

Weight 10.1 oz
Heel to toe drop 11 mm

Best Long Distance Running Shoe for Beginners

Saucony Endorphin Pro 3

Endorphin Pro 3

Best Long Distance Running Shoe for Beginners

Saucony Endorphin Pro 3

Credit: Zappos
Pros
  • Solid energy return
  • Bouncy feel
  • Stable cushioning
Cons
  • Limited colorways available
  • Runs narrow, especially in the midfoot

I ran in these shoes during the 2023 New York City Marathon and they certainly helped me push the pace for those 26.2 miles. The carbon fiber plate pairs well with high-stack cushioning, which delivers the right amount of responsiveness along with the proper energy return at higher speeds. This shoe is light, has great energy return, and gives off a snappy feeling when you’re going stride for stride.

Besides using these shoes for the marathon, I like them for tempo and interval runs. It’s a great introductory speed shoe for beginners that are curious to see what they are capable of, even at a local 5k. However, carbon fiber plates aren’t suitable for every runner or for every run, so keep in mind that this shoe should never serve as your main trainer.

Read more: Best Long Distance Running Shoes

Weight 7.2 oz
Heel to toe drop 8 mm

Best Splurge Race Running Shoe for Beginners

Nike Vaporfly 3

Vaporfly 3

Best Splurge Race Running Shoe for Beginners

Nike Vaporfly 3

Credit: Nike
Pros
  • Fresh street style aesthetic
  • Stable
  • Great energy return
  • Adaptive transitions to match your stride
Cons
  • Over $250
  • Lacks long-term durability

I raced the NYC United Half Marathon in these, and I must say, it was my best race yet. The Nike Vapor Fly are notorious amongst elite runners, however, that doesn’t mean beginners can’t reap the benefits of these shoes too. I feel remarkable whenever I run in these, and I always look forward to lacing them up whenever I get the chance.

There have been three iterations of this shoe thus far, and it gets better each and every time. (A fourth version is out now, but currently sold out.) A carbon fiber fly plate helps promote propulsion for race day and speed training, and is complemented by a generous stack of bouncy cushioning. I can’t recommend this shoe enough, especially for someone that is looking for a shoe to help them experiment with faster paces.

Read more: How to Wear Carbon Plate Shoes

Weight 7.05 oz
Heel to toe drop 8 mm

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Best Do-It-All Running Shoe for Beginners

adidas Running Adizero Boston 12

Adizero Boston 12

Best Do-It-All Running Shoe for Beginners

adidas Running Adizero Boston 12

Pros
  • Versatile, Jack of all trades type of shoe
  • Good grip
  • Great for race training
Cons
  • Narrow fit
  • Not well cushioned enough for marathon running

The Adizero Boston series is a great entry level shoe that hits all the marks for most runners. I found these shoes to be incredibly versatile; they don’t do one specific thing perfectly, but does a decent job at everything. A Jack of all trades kind of shoe that would make a great first running shoe for most people.

It features a snug midfoot that gives a locked-down feeling I love for hitting faster paces on training runs. The brand’s Energy Rods technology is designed to improved support and stability through the foot without limiting movement, a promise I feel it delivers on.

If you find yourself casually hitting some miles here and there or want to sign up for a few local races in the future, I can see these being a great bang for your buck buy. My only issue with this shoe is that you may find some heel slippage with it, but it’s nothing a runner’s knot can’t mitigate.

Read more: Best Adidas Shoes You Should Know

Weight 9.5 oz
Heel to toe drop 7 mm

Most Durable Running Shoe for Beginners

Mizuno Wave Rider 27

Wave Rider 27

Most Durable Running Shoe for Beginners

Mizuno Wave Rider 27

Credit: Zappos
Pros
  • Bouncy feel
  • Well cushioned
  • Good option for those who like a lower stack
Cons
  • Runs long
  • A little heavy

The balance of cushioning and stability in this shoe make it one of the first running shoes that come to mind when making recommendations for beginners. The midsole is plush and feels bouncy, while the outsole is ultra grippy and feels secure even in slick conditions. It’s also an incredibly durable shoe that is able to sustain plenty of pavement miles.

This shoe is a bit heavy for my liking nowadays, but I started out my running journey with this shoe and it got me to where I am today. I’ll always have love for it.

Weight 9.9 oz
Heel to toe drop 12 mm

Best Lightweight Running Shoe for Beginners

HOKA Rocket X 2

Rocket X 2

Best Lightweight Running Shoe for Beginners

HOKA Rocket X 2

Credit: Hoka
Pros
  • High energy return
  • Very soft and stable
  • Good for those who overpronate
Cons
  • Fits a bit snug through the midfoot and inner arch
  • Lacks long-term durability

The Hoka Rocket X2 is right up there when it comes to a racing plated shoe, beginners or veteran runners alike. It’s another plate shoe, with hyper-responsive foam and a rocker shape that will help you keep your pace up. “I ran my first ever race—a 10k—in the Rocket X2s, and wanted to keep running even after I crossed the finish line,” Fitness and Commerce Editor Talene Appleton, NASM, told us. “The lightweight feel and springy energy return of these ultra lightweight shoes had me feeling more confident running than ever before.”

It features a two-part midsole which gives it a cushioned landing and propulsive toe-off, which is complemented by the classic Hoka meta rocker shape.

I found that these hold up very well into the later stages of my runs when I am logging in bigger miles. I feel like they give me more room to work with in the toe box, adding to their comfort. Overall, a reliable shoe that I have no issues wearing for a speed workout or race day.

Weight 8.3 oz
Heel to toe drop 5 mm

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Best Tempo Running Shoe for Beginners

Asics GEL-Nimbus 26

GEL-Nimbus 26

Best Tempo Running Shoe for Beginners

Asics GEL-Nimbus 26

Credit: ASICS
Pros
  • Light and comfortable
  • Versatile
  • Suitable for supinators
Cons
  • Not the most breathable, can get hot at times
  • Runs a little narrow

Neutral runners can enjoy the soft landings, a snug athletic fit through the midfoot, and great energy return with this shoe. I personally enjoy how light these felt and the shock absorbing qualities that come with the shoe. But don’t be fooled by just how light they are—they lasted me for about 400 miles until I had to retire them.

Keep in mind that the Nimbus is a neutral shoe, meaning it’s designed to work with a neutral gait. For those who supinate or overpronate, this shoe may not offer enough stability.

Weight 10.7 oz
Heel to toe drop 8 mm

Best Workhorse Running Shoe for Beginners

Brooks Glycerin 21

Glycerin 21

Best Workhorse Running Shoe for Beginners

Brooks Glycerin 21

Credit: Brooks
Pros
  • Durable
  • Pillowy cushioning without a super high stack
  • Great stability
Cons
  • Relatively narrow toebox
  • Not highly responsive

This shoe offers super comfortable yet modest cushioning for those who don’t love a super high, plushy stack. Every time I lace these shoes on, I feel a sense of float and plush on my easy runs that I typically only get out of a much more cushioned shoe. Less soft cushioning means these are also on the more durable side.

I found these aren’t the most responsive shoes in my rotation. However, if you are on the lookout for a shoe that can handle a lot of steady miles and a good amount of cushion, the Glycerin is a top pick as a daily trainer.

Weight 9.8 oz
Heel to toe drop 10 mm

What to Look for When Shopping for Running Shoes for Beginners

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Fit: The fit will usually be the trickiest one to get right. Everyone has a different shape in their feet, oftentimes asymmetric. Good fitting shoes will fit snug around your feet without being too tight because your feet will naturally swell as you run. The heel should feel secure without much movement, sometimes a runner’s knot may be useful. Need some red flags? If it’s too narrow around your midfoot, if your toes feel squished together, or when we get the dreaded heel rub, it’s probably a no-go.

Cushioning: Cushion is the amount of thickness in the midsole. Cushioning is based on personal preference and will vary on the type of shoe you are looking for. This aids in shock absorption and can make running less painful. However, we want the cushion to fit the task at hand. So if we are thinking of getting a shoe to do lots of miles at a steady pace, max cushion might be your best bet. However, when we get too pillowy soft with the cushion, we can risk losing the bouncy and reactive attributes of a shoe.

Support: There are a bunch of shoes that offer support for all types of runners. Neutral running shoes typically fit a pretty good percentage of runners. Stability shoes may be suitable for those who have their feet roll inward (over-pronation) or outward (supination) when making contact with the ground.

Drop: The drop is calculated by taking the distance between height of the heel and the height of the toe, usually measured in millimeters. Typically a higher drop will mean a heavier shoe whereas a lower drop will give us a lighter shoe. The higher heel drop may also provide more arch support to give relief to the foot and ankle while running. The higher the drop, the more you’ll want to reserve your shoes for running only. Shoes with a high drop can significantly change the mechanics of how you move laterally or perform basic exercises (like deadlifts and squats).

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Does the Type of Shoe Really Matter?

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It can make a huge difference when you find the right shoe for you. Comfortability is of utmost importance especially when those miles start adding up. Based on what you are using the shoe for, the type of shoe will definitely matter. If you are looking to get some casual miles in every once in a while, there won’t be a need to wear expensive super shoes.

I’m New to Running, How Do I Get Started?

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Avoid going out too hot when you are starting out. Instead of trying to run 5 to 10 miles a day in your first days of running, focus on running 1 or 2 miles consistently for your first week. Gradually add a half-mile or so every week to that distance. This will help you maintain better running mechanics over the long haul.

Aim to add in strength training at least once a week, focusing on exercises that strengthen your glutes (hip thrusts), quads (squats and lunges) and core (planks and hanging leg raises). You don’t need to spend a ton of time in the weight room, but those strength moves will help finetune your running stride and give you more power with every step.

What Other Running Gear Do I Need?

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If you find yourself carrying a lot of things like your phone, keys, gels, or wallet, a running belt might be a great pick up to keep your belongings secure. A watch or chest strap that can measure your heart rate is very useful for monitoring how intense your runs are. Lastly, a way to carry water like a water bottle or hydropack can be important when you find yourselves needing to hydrate while on the go

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How We Selected the Best Running Shoes for Beginners

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Over the past few years, we’ve been researching and testing new fitness shoe models from a wide range of brands. Men’s Health‘s fitness editors and contributing writers including Eric Sung, C.S.C.S., Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., Senior Fitness Editor Brett Williams, NASM, and Fitness and Commerce Editor Talene Appleton, NASM, collaborated on the top beginner running shoes to evaluate more than a dozen shoes and compare notes. In our assessment, we focused on factors including support, cushioning, durability, and fit. We also considered price point, as some beginner running shoes provide a better overall value than others.

Why You Can Trust Us

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At Men’s Health, we take great pride in providing our readers with reliable and trustworthy product recommendations. We believe that our readers deserve the best, which is why we always make sure to conduct thorough research and testing before making any recommendations. Our writers and editors are experts in their own right, using their informed opinions to select products and ensuring that our content is of the highest quality.

Our product recommendations are purely editorial, and while we may receive free products to test and review, we only recommend the products we are most impressed by. We never let retailers or public relations contacts dictate our content or product coverage. Which is why you can trust us to provide you with reliable and unbiased product recommendations.

Read More About Our Favorite Running Shoes

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Lettermark

Eric Sung, CSCS, is a New York City–based trainer and a member of MH’s Strength in Diversity Initiative.He specializes in athletic training and recently completed his first triathlon. 

Headshot of Talene Appleton, NASM-CPT

Talene Appleton is a fitness and food writer and editor, certified personal trainer (NASM-CPT), and former professional dancer based in New York City. Passionate about both exercise and cuisine, she merges her fitness, nutrition and culinary expertise with the goal of motivating others to embrace balanced healthy living. Her work has appeared in Men’s Health, General Surgery News, The Food Institute, The Nessie, and more.

Headshot of Brett Williams, NASM

Brett Williams, a senior editor at Men’s Health, is a NASM-CPT certified trainer and former pro football player and tech reporter. You can find his work elsewhere at Mashable, Thrillist, and other outlets.

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