Physical Therapists Using Clinical Analysis To Discuss The Art And Science Behind Running and The Stuff We Put On Our Feet

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We are continuing our run through our DPT Approved Awards! Our team has tested over 110 shoes and ran over 15,000 miles in 2021 (so far) and we are ready to dish out our picks for numerous categories of shoes.

Our final category is a fan-favorite: Best Road Racing Shoes. We talk through our individual contributor picks for both shorter and longer distance road racing with a focus on "super shoe" options. We are believers in more traditional road racing flats, but those will be reserved for another time. 2021 was a sneaky year that brought a lot of very solid road racing options, and we talk about many of them in this episode.
Make sure you check out all of the super shoe options we've reviewed in our Carbon Plate Resource Guide.

PS: Haven't checked out our Stability and Stable Neutral Trainer Awards? Click here to read.

Best Racing Shoes of 2021 | Podcast

Our team discusses our favorite plated performance trainers of 2021. Listen to the full verison here via Apple Podcast.

Best Short Distance Racing Shoe (5K-Half)
Honorable Mentions


The Saucony Endorphin Pro + gives us a full glimpse of the impact of an upper and how it can change a shoe. It sports a track spike-like upper that drops the weight to below 7oz for my men's size 9. The upper changes include the largest alterations in toe box space and the heel construction. This change alone helps make the Pro+ feel incredible on foot for pushing the pace, which is why we really love it for short distance work. - Senior Contributor Nathan Brown


The Deviate Elite Nitro design-wise is not be as technologically rich like an Alphafly or some of the competitors in the long distance category. What makes it special though is its refined palate from top to bottom. It's extremely nimble at sub-7 oz and has an excellent minimal upper that locks the foot down well. The rocker is mild, but effective and the Nitro Elite foam is well-cushioned underfoot without feeling too maximal. This makes it a tremendously fun and natural shoe to take on short races and, as Molly Seidel showed the world, has just enough cushion to carry you to a full marathon. It also does well at a variety of paces, making it a really nice option for someone looking for a super shoe that's not too daunting technology-wise, but protective and easy enough to slip on and give you extra lift that you hope to find from a modern performance racer. - Social Media Wizard Bach Pham

Best Long Distance Racing Shoe (> 13mi)
Honorable Mentions


The Saucony Endorphin Pro 2 is a neutral, carbon plated racer that is firm and responsive rather than trampoline-like and soft. Runners looking for a smooth and slightly stable ride will greatly appreciate this shoe. Runners looking for greater value out of a super shoe will appreciate the greater durability of the outsole as compared to others in the category. This shoe, like other plated/rockered shoes, works well for runners with foot or ankle pathology. - Contributor Andrea Myers

There's nothing surprising about this pick right? The Nike Vaporfly Next% has carried many runners to PRs and through fast marathons. I was a little hesitant about version 2 at first because it just felt weirdly off during my first run or two, but the shoe broke in and that familiar ZoomX feel returned and reminded me why this shoe is so popular. It's surprisingly decent on stability when picking up the pace. What I particularly like is that it is great for a variety of distances for me, from 5k to full mary. This is a shoe that is already on everyone's radar and deserves to be there. - Senior Contributor David Salas


A polarizing shoe for some, but my shoe of the year for all distances. A comfortable, lightweight and aggressive upper with no heel counter provided a fit with plenty of room for a racing shoe. The full length and high stack Lightstrike Pro midsole provided so much bounce at a variety of distances. From 5k to long distance racing this has been one of my go to racing shoes this year. The soft sole is not meant for walking, easy runs or those who have too much lateral motion as it features an extremely laterally biased ride. A huge lateral heel bevel and a rearfoot plate provided a guided ride for those who tend to collapse inward like myself. The carbon rods provided a stiff ride but a better forefoot transition than the original that felt great at tempo and faster paces. Although outsole durability is not the best, it is a shoe that I trust for any racing distance on the road. - Chief Editor Matt Klein


Honestly, we didn't love this shoe when we first were reviewing it in 2021. It was almost too bouncy, which we didn't really know was possible. Like the Adidas Boston 10, it's a shoe we learned needs a little time to sink into before really fully-realizing just how good it is. Once the foam settles and you break your body into the shoe's design, the Sky shows it's excellence. It does a great job of fully utilizing the Guidesole technology in tandem with the new FlyteFoam Turbo midsole to create an effortless ride that you can carry as long as you need both comfortably and quickly. Our chief editor Matt Klein ended up taking this shoe on multiple races including a XC event and trail race (note: we do not endorse this decision) and loved every minute of it.

There is one thing: it does demand a lot on the calf due to how much the heel compresses. If you have Achilles or calf issues, it is not the shoe we recommend.


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