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DPT APPROVED - Best Running Shoes of 2020



2020 was an insane year. Our quest at Doctors of Running for the perfect running shoe continued and while this year delivered some difficulties worldwide, it debuted some incredible footwear. This came both from expected and unexpected companies. Our team of Doctors of Physical Therapy have selected their DPT APPROVED Awards for several categories for the 2020 calendar year. Check out the entire awards list below!

SELECTION PROCESS

Our DPT APPROVED awards include only shoes that were wear tested by our team during this year (over 75 different shoes).  Our editors made their selections based off of wear testing experience, racing experience in the shoe, and shoe technology integrated within the shoe. Each shoe is brought through rigorous testing and analysis by our editors who all have expert knowledge in biomechanics and footwear from 7+ years of post-graduate education. Each editor was allowed a nomination for each category: trainer, trail, racer, debut, update, and overall. We know that when it comes down to it, there is not a true "best" shoe as there are so many personal factors that make one shoe better for one person than another, so share your thoughts! Check out our Footwear Science page to dig into some factors that makes running shoes unique!




REEBOK SYMMETROS: (David and Nathan) This shoe ticked all of the boxes for me this year in terms of a daily trainer. It has a comfortable step-in feel and upper, is cushioned without being plush, and has a fun ride. The Floatride Energy midsole is one of my favorites as it has a bit of bounce and sits slightly on the firmer end of the "soft---firm" spectrum...and you get plenty of that midsole in this shoe. The Symmetros brought me through most of my long runs during marathon trainer and left my legs and feet feeling fresh. The beveled heel makes initial contact very smooth, and the rest of the geometric design of the midsole made it stable and protective for daily miles and long runs. 


Specifications (per Reebok)
Weight: 8.6 oz (men's size 9), 6.7 oz (women's size 7)
Stack Height: Heel 26mm, Forefoot 17mm
Drop: 9mm

SAUCONY ENDORPHIN SHIFT: (Matt) There were some incredible shoes that came out this year. I put more miles on the Saucony Endorphin Shift than any other shoe (>250 miles). The entire Saucony Endorphin Series is already amazing, but as a trainer the Endorphin Shift fit me perfectly. The amazing, light and adaptable mesh upper fit so well and secure. The external heel counter, mild sole flare, pseudo-post, speed roll technology and TPU/EVA blended midsole made for a versatile maximal uptempo trainer. Featuring elements listed above that provided great stability without being a stability shoe, yet remaining responsive, smooth and durable to keep you going. The Endorphin Shift excels at long runs, easy runs and extended uptempo efforts. This a shoe you should try as a unique take on being a "maximalist" shoe.


Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 10.1 oz
Stack Height: 38 mm / 34 mm
Drop: 4mm
Classification: Structured Cushion Trainer






ASICS FUJITRABUCO LYTE:
(Matt): We have begun to test more trail shoes here at Doctors of Running and still have a few models from 2020 to write reviews on. However, the Asics Fujitrabuco Lyte stole the show for me. As one of the few lighter and more minimal trail shoes out there in a heavily cushioned, maximal and heavy trail world, the nimble design, secure fit and responsive Flytefoam midsole makes for an incredibly fun ride on trails. The aggressive toe spring in such a low drop shoe is interesting, but I found this shoe had enough light cushioning to keep my feet happy during longer uptempo efforts on the trail. If I had a chance to do another trail race in 2020, this would be my choice hands down from 10k up to the marathon on trail. A light, fun and fast ride for those wanting to pick up the pace on the pace on fire road, moderately groomed single track and a little bit of rocks.


Specifications (per Asics)
Weight: 8.8 oz (men's size 9), 7.2 oz (women's size 7)
Stack Height: Not Provided
Drop: 4mm 
Classification: Lightweight Trainer / Trail Racing Shoe


NEWTON BOCO AT 5: (David) The Newton BOCO AT 5 takes the responsive and light on foot feel that Newton normally delivers but puts it into a trail monster. The shoe feels incredibly light and nimble for the weight of it and the configuration of the lugs and geometry make a shoe that feels great going at casual paces and at FKT paces when going up, down, and around. 



Specifications (per Newton Running)
Weight: 10.6 ounces
Stack Height: N/A
Drop: 3mmm
Classification: Trail Running


ASICS GEL-KAYANO LITE: (Matt): There were a ton of interesting a great stability shoes that came out this year, but the Kayano Lite was in a league of its own. A moderate to max stability shoe under 10 ounces with no posting or trusstic system was incredible to experience. This is a complete evolution for Asics. The stability comes from geometric shapes in the midsole and is integrated incredibly smoothly. The upper fits beautifully, featuring a wider but still secure fit in an eco friendly package. The Flytefoam midsole is balanced incredibly well. I was able to use this shoe for almost everything and it performed very well. From long runs, easy runs and workouts this shoe shined. For those looking for a different stability experience in a trainer or those looking for an uptempo/racing shoe coming down from heavy stability shoes like the normal Kayano, Hurricane, etc, give this shoe a look. Kudos to Asics on such an incredible evolution on the concept of stability.


Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 9.9 oz (men's size 9), 8.9 oz (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 31 mm / 21 mm
Drop: 10 mm
Classification: Lightweight Moderate Stability Shoe


MIZUNO WAVE HORIZON 4: (David) The Mizuno Wave Horizon 4 is a max cushion max stability shoe that delivers. The shoe does an incredible job with geometry, midsole materials, and upper security to create a shoe that is very stable without usage of posting. I had a blast in the Mizuno Wave Horizon 4. 

Specifications (per Mizuno USA)
Weight: 11.3 oz
Stack Height: Not Provided
Drop: 10mm Drop
Classification: Maximum Cushioned Stability Trainer



SAUCONY TRIUMPH 18: (Nathan and Matt) It is rare for me (Nathan) to gravitate toward a plush shoe, but the Triumph 18 does plush really well. The PWRUN+ midsole is soft yet bouncy, it has a smooth toe off, and is secured down with a very comfortable upper. The upper integrates well with the softer midsole to help keep the foot more stable on the platform, and the shoe feels protective on those days when you feel completely beat up.


Specifications (per Saucony)
Weight: 11.1 oz (men's size 9), 9.7 oz (women's size 7)
Measured Weight: 12.2 oz (men's size 10)
Stack Height: 33.5 mm / 25.5 mm
Drop: 8 mm drop
Classification: Premium Neutral Daily Trainer




HOKA ONE ONE RINCON 2: (David) Easy days to me mean impact protection and light weight shoes. When my legs are really beat up I don't want to haul around a shoe in the double digits with ounces (though I do like my daily trainers that way). The HOKA ONE ONE Rincon 2 is a lightweight option with a nice rocker that feels good at a variety of paces, but something light on the foot with protection that agrees with my mechanics. 

Specifications (per Hoka)
Weight: 7.7 oz (men's size 9), 6.5 oz (women's size 7)
Measured Weight: TBD
Stack Height: 29 mm / 24 mm
Drop: 5mm 
Classification: Maximalist Lightweight Trainer





ADIDAS ADIZERO PRO: (Matt and David) The Adidas Adizero Pro is technically a racing shoe, but at 8.5 ounces with 32mm of stack the shoe actually does quite well at all paces. The toe spring and plate mechanism isn't as "super shoe" like as some of the other shoes on the market, but it works great as a workout shoe. The stack and protection also works well for long runs and daily training paces as well. Durability is also contributing factor to this category, a shoe that will last you for miles. 



MULTIPLE TESTER REVIEW

Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 8.3 oz (men's size 9)
Measured Weights: 8.7 oz (men's size 10), 8.3 oz (men's 9.5)
Stack Height: 32mm / 22 mm
Drop: 10mm
Classification: Carbon Fiber Plated Marathon Racer


SKECHERS RAZOR 3 CLOAK: (Nathan) The Razor 3 Cloak took everything people love about the original Razor 3, including the monomesh non-stretch upper, and gave it one click of improvement. There is increased outsole coverage and also includes the use of Goodyear rubber. This new outsole firmed up the ride (very slightly), giving a touch more stability. Additionally, there is increased durability, which lead me to grab it more often knowing it was going to last. Light and responsive for tempo work, and enough "cush" from the HYPERBURST for those recovery days. Get your zee-bruh on.


Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 6.5 ounces (Men's 9)
Stack Height: 28mm/24mm (including sock liner)
Drop: 4mm
Classification: Versatile Performance Trainer/Racer 


REEBOK FOREVER FLOATRIDE ENERGY 2.0: (Consensus Pick) While technically this shoe was released in 2019, it was right at the end of the year and missed our previous awards. Therefore this wonderful $100 trainer gets our value pick for the year. The Floatride Energy midsole is smooth, bouncy, and fun to run in, and the outsole has top notch durability. Our one issue with the shoe is the heel bevel, which is being integrated with a bevel for the FFE 3.0. This shoe is wonderful for daily miles and can even function as a performance trainer for many. 

Specifications
Weight: 8.7 oz (men's size 9 per our measurements)
Stack Height: 29 mm / 19 mm
Drop: 10 mm
Classification: Lightweight Trainer




MIZUNO WAVE RIDER 24 WAVEKNIT: (Consensus Pick) Mizuno did a fantastic job with the 24th edition of this stable trainer. We liked the Rider 23, but the 24 was a completely new shoe. Featuring full ground contact sole, a new Mizuno ENERZY midsole wedge in the heel and an amazing waveknit upper option. This trainer became a shoe that we reached for during all kinds of runs. From easy days, tempo runs, intervals, this shoe eats up anything you throw at it. The fit is incredibly secure with plenty of room in the toebox and a wonderfully responsive sole. Those who love the Rider series and those new to Mizuno will find something to love in this shoe. Now we can't wait to see how Mizuno continues to evolve in 2021!


Specifications (per Mizuno Running North America)
Weight: 10.1 oz (Men's 9), 8.5 oz (Women's 7)
Measured Weights: 10.9 oz (men's size 10)
Stack Height: not provided
Drop: 12mm
Classification: Daily Trainer, Workhorse, Recreational Racer




ASICS Gel-KAYANO LITE: (Matt): I already gave a description of what makes this shoe a great stability shoe, but the innovation and redesign of the concept of stability is why I have to hand this award to Asics. This company is known for their posting, narrow fits and trusstic systems. All of that was changed with a clear evolution in the debut of the Gel-Kayano Lite. Asics has been working with prodigees of Dr. Benno Nigg (whom we are a big fan of here) and the use of geometric shapes in the midsole to create custom stability is fantastic. Couple that with eco friendly materials in upper and an incredibly comfortable fit (yes, I have worn it sockless), the Asics Gel-Kayano Lite gets the "Most Innovative" award from me. Hold on to your socks though as we have been told this is only a small taste of what is coming from Asics.



FULL REVIEW

Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 9.9 oz (men's size 9), 8.9 oz (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 31 mm / 21 mm
Drop: 10 mm
Classification: Lightweight Moderate Stability Shoe


NIKE ALPHAFLY NEXT%: (David) The Nike AlphaFly shows you how creative the racing market is getting. Plates, Air pods, and foams have all been around for some time now, but Nike created a combination of all of the above in one shoe. The PEBAX foam, Flyplate, and hoof design with the air pods create an insanely unique ride for this 40mm stack racing monster. Atomknit also shows that you can create a really reinforced knit upper that doesn't feel stretchy and unstable. 



FULL REVIEW

Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 7.4 oz (Men's size 9)
Stack Height: 40mm/36mm
Drop: 4mm
Classification: Elite Racing Shoe


SAUCONY ENDORPHIN SHIFT: (Nathan) This shoe may not look all that innovative, but Saucony did some subtle things to create a maximalist shoe that sits in its own little category. Unlike most maximal, high stack shoes, the PWRUN midsole sits on the firmer end and the smooth and enjoyable ride is created through the design of the midsole (what they call SpeedRoll). The subtle stability elements are also what make this shoe innovative, namely how the upper and outsole are integrated with the midsole to create a stable platform. The extension of the heel counter inferiorly on the inside of the shoe as well as the thickening of the outsole on the inside of the shoe give a lot of stability to such a high stack shoe. This is a protective, faster, high milage trainer that will likely work for neutral runners and those who need some stability.



MULTIPLE TESTER REVIEW

Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 10.1 oz
Stack Height: 38 mm / 34 mm
Drop: 4mm
Classification: Structured Cushion Trainer






 
SKECHERS SPEED ELITE HYPER: (Matt and Nathan): The awesome combination of HYPERBURST, Skechers unique forefoot plate and a cushioned but low to the ground ride make the Speed Elite Hyper a versatile racing shoe that came out early in 2020. Nathan used this shoe to a few PRs in early 2020, while this has been Matt's racing shoe for two 2019 marathons and a top three finishes in the 2020 Pasadena Half Marathon. The Skechers Speed Elite Hyper features a super thin and light upper (no heel counter), combined with a very aggressive plate, toe spring and a large amount of protection despite being close to the ground. A racing designed for elite marathons that will excel for many from the 5k to the half marathon, Skechers has a unique carbon shoe with this model. There are some future evolutions coming, so pay close attention to 2021.


Skechers_GOrun_Speed_Elite_HYPER_Lateral

MULTIPLE TESTER REVIEW

Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 5.7 oz (men's size 9)
Stack Height: 28 mm / 24 mm
Drop: 4 mm
Classification: Racing Flat



 
NIKE ALPHAFLY NEXT%: (David) This one is pretty simple for me. I haven't ran in a shoe this responsive before. There are a couple of flaws that won't work for everyone, but this shoe is an incredible combination of responsiveness and impact protection that will work at a large variety of distances. I've run this shoe from everything from a fast 5k to half marathon and the shoe responds great at both. 




FULL REVIEW

Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 7.4 oz (Men's size 9)
Stack Height: 40mm/36mm
Drop: 4mm
Classification: Elite Racing Shoe




NIKE ALPHAFLY NEXT%: (David) The Nike AlphaFly Next% is a work of innovation and shows how to keep upping the game when a company already has a big player in the racing market. The shoe utilizes so many different features that contribute to both responsiveness, protection, and stability. I have run a strong at distances between 5k and half marathon in them and I am confident they will exceed at the half marathon as well. It is a shoe unlike any others out there at the moment. 



Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 7.4 oz (Men's size 9)
Stack Height: 40mm/36mm
Drop: 4mm
Classification: Elite Racing Shoe



SAUCONY ENDORPHIN PRO(Nathan and Matt): The Saucony Endorphin Pro was a clear winner for both Nathan and I. A marathon/half marathon racing shoe (although Matt did race a quick 5k in them) featuring one of the best uppers of the year (secure, breathable, adaptable with no heel counter), a unique carbon S plate and a protective and fast PWRRUN PB midsole. The Pro is versatile in its ability to be a stable super shoe for running fast, protective and comfortable enough for warming up and cooling down in and having a ride that should work for a much larger population than other super shoes. The unique speed roll keeps things turning over and efficient. If you are going to try one super shoe from 2020, try the Saucony Endorphin Pro.

Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 7.5 oz (men's size 9), 6.8 oz (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 39mm / 31 mm
Drop: 8mm
Classification: Marathon Racing Shoe




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2020 has been another incredible year for Doctors of Running. Our team has grown to include three Doctors of Physical Therapy and our amazing Social Media and Technical Wizard Bach Pham. We all continue to have a passion for running and expert knowledge in biomechanics. We've reviewed over 70 different shoes this year and have developed new partnerships with several staple running shoe companies. We are thankful for all our partners and readers. 

 

If you are interested in helping us grow our channel, visit any of the links above to purchase shoes for your running in 2021. Using the links in no way raises your costs, but helps us keep on pushing forward. Thanks so much to Running Warehouse and Fleet Feet for their support.


Interested in getting in touch with us? Contact us at doctorsofrunning@gmail.com.

 

Our continued hope is to bring cutting edge shoe reviews and evidence based running and footwear articles to help our communities run happy, healthy, and fast. Thanks for being a part of helping us make that happen!


TESTER PROFILES:

Dr. Matthew Klein is a 140 lb male with notable PRs of 14:45 for 5k and 2:32:44 for the full marathon.  He typically runs 70-100 miles per week and trains at a variety of paces from 8min per mile recovery runs to 4:40 per mile 1k repeats.  He prefers firmer and responsive shoes with snug heels and medium to wide toe boxes.  He is particular to less cushioned shoes and close to the ground shoes, but can handle a little cushion when he gets beat up. IG handle: @kleinrunsdpt

Dr. David Salas is a 135 lb male with notable PRs ranging from 3:54 in the 1500m to 1:08:36 for half marathon. He typically runs 60 to 70 miles per week and trains from about 7:30 recovery runs to fast shorter efforts at 4:30 pace. He normally prefers neutral shoes with a firmer ride, but is completely open to other types of shoes.  He is a footwear enthusiast at heart and will always appreciate a high quality shoe when it comes around. For updates on training or testing, IG handle: @docsofrundavid

Dr. Brown is a 155 lb male with notable PRs of 18:18 5K, 39:25 10K, 1:29:01 half marathon, and 3:54 marathon. He typically runs between 20-40 miles per week at a variety of paces from 7:30-8:30 min/mile for recovery runs to 6-6:45 min/mile for tempo runs. He typically prefers shoes that provide some cushioning underfoot but still maintain a more firm and responsive feel. Current goals for 2020 are to break the 1.5 hour half marathon and 3:30 marathon. IG handle: @nate.docsofrunning

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

Matthew Klein, PT DPT OCS FAAOMPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists

Nathan Brown PT DPT MS
Doctor of Physical Therapy 
Masters in Anatomy and Clinical Health Science
Movement Performance Institute Certified in Advanced Functional Biomechanics 

David Salas PT DPT CSCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist


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