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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There is an age old saying that the best thing about running is that you just need a pair of shoes. Well, the reality is that running shoes are expensive. That's just a fact no matter where you are. Especially as you get more and more into mileage, the cost of shoes and rotating shoes is starts adding up fast. There are a lot of ways to help navigate this though, and in this guide we offer a few strategies and get into some of the best finds available now.
Tips for Finding the Best Price

In today's market, there are kind of two/three levels of price points for running shoes. Quality running shoes typically start around $110 and quickly skyrocket. There is then a new upper echelon of running shoes that are either highly cushioned and built or built for racing which starts around $160 and goes as high as $275.

There is then a whole layer of new shoes priced $100 and below, which starts getting tricky as the options become harder to parse. For the most part, shoes we review tend to be in the $100+ end as they are more well-built for higher mileage running. Most generic shoes under $100 lack a lot of comfort for racking up miles. While these generic shoes may work for getting started, eventually it is worth exploring a higher quality footwear to help you on your running journey as you go further and further.

There are a few tips we usually provide for finding a quality running shoe at a good price point. The first is to look for last year's models. When a new model releases, typically you can find excellent deals on the previous model. This is a great way to get started compared to buying models that are under $100, but typically lower quality. While in recent years shoes have gotten more and more exciting by the season, last year's models are both proven and plenty of fun for a new runner to get started with.

Doing some research to learn about the various models will also let you go a long way towards looking out for deals. Aim for shoes that are originally between $100-150 initially for deep discounts as well. Daily trainers like the Nike Pegasus, Saucony Ride, and others are often good places to start with and explore as the discounts can run fairly deep.

If you have a good local run store, also get to know them and see if they have annual sales! Stores have to clear inventory annually and when they do it's an amazing way to find deals on shoes you would not be able to get for the price anywhere else.

Finally, be on the lookout during holiday season. It's a great time to find super deals and save up.

Are you a Medical, Military, or First-Responder?
Asics has a 50% off program for those in these fields. It's a massive discount on new shoes that you should learn more about. Find the program here. 

Are you a Sports Medicine Professional?

Brooks has a 40% off program for those in the field. Find the program here. 

The following recommendations are from a variety of websites. This includes links to our friends at Running Warehouse, which are affiliate links that help support Doctors of Running. The remaining links are non-affiliate links.

Best Budget Running Shoe Picks: June 2023

Daily Trainers (Neutral)
(Shoes for Everyday Mileage at Easy to Moderate Paces)

The Nike Pegasus is an absolute classic. While the last two versions have been polarizing, the Pegasus 39 is a bit of return to form. The shoe delivers a good balance of daily training with some workout capacity. The React foam is proven and the durable outsole grips everything in the universe well, including some light trails. This is a great do-it-all neutral trainer to start your collection with.

Saucony Kinvara 13 | Review

The Saucony Kinvara 13 returns with a large weight drop and refined upper, making it an even lighter and better-fitting performance trainer. A breathable but secure upper provides a solid lock down while being far lighter than the previous. The sole continues to sit nicely between firm and soft. Featuring a highly flexible forefoot and a lower drop, the Kinvara 13 excels as a workout shoe and performance trainer for those who want a simple but fast shoe.

Brooks Revel 6
| Review

The Brooks Revel 6 is a neutral daily trainer that, along with the Launch series, has long been a solid daily training budget option in the Brooks line at the $100 level. Featuring an "energizing," springy midsole, it is a shoe that performs nicely a daily efforts and has a little capacity to pick up the pace as well. Best for newer runners looking for a classic training option with no frills and a well-fitting upper, the Revel 6 remains a popular choice that's both easy on the wallet and easy to find.

You can also find huge value in the Revel 5 for $69.95 at Brooks Running.

Saucony Ride 15 | Review

The Saucony Ride 15 is a daily trainer in the neutral category with some pretty big updates. The Ride 15 stays pretty true to the Ride series overall but does provide some new updates that change things up enough to feel. The platform itself has been altered a little bit with a new blend of PWRRUN midsole as well as stack height and geometry. I think a lot of these changes make fore a more responsive ride throughout for the daily trainer while also adding some stability especially in the heel.

Asics Gel Cumulus 24 | Review

The Asics Gel Cumulus 24 is a reliable and comfortable daily trainer for those with normal to narrow feet and who want a softer ride. A new FF Blast midsole provides a softer and bouncier feel underfoot. A breathable and comfortable upper sits up top providing security through a slightly snug but stretchy fit. Add in gender-specific cushioning and an eco-friendly upper, the Asics Gel-Cumulus 24 is definitely a new age daily trainer.

ASICS Nimbus 24 | Review
The Nimbus 24 builds on the notion of feeling like your standing/running on a cloud that the Nimbus series strives for. This includes a very soft sock liner, soft surface coverage on the platform, and a whole new midsole compound, FF Blast+. With all the changes, it also keeps some traditional ASICS shaping, which is going to be familiar to some and possibly bothersome to others. Finally, ASICS does some dual density work in the midsole to attempt to provide stability of such a soft foam compound.

The Skechers MaxRoad 5 takes the design of the prior version and reimagines it to improve forefoot stability and responsiveness along with improved lockdown of the upper. The shoe features a carbon infused H plate in the forefoot that does seem to help with stability from the previous version and give it a more responsive toe off. The shoe definitely can be used for more than just recovery days now and the shoe can handle a little bit of uptempo paces as well.

Skechers Maxroad 5 | Review

The Skechers MaxRoad 5 takes the design of the prior version and reimagines it to improve forefoot stability and responsiveness along with improved lockdown of the upper. The shoe features a carbon infused H plate in the forefoot that does seem to help with stability from the previous version and give it a more responsive toe off. The shoe definitely can be used for more than just recovery days now and the shoe can handle a little bit of uptempo paces as well.

Brooks Ghost 14 | Review
Deal: $99.95 at Running Warehouse

The Brooks Ghost 14 is a moderately firm yet cushioned trainer that is overall simplistic in its design. The overall construction and running experience is traditional and unremarkable in terms of midsole rebound feel or propulsion due to a flatter geometry. This lends the Ghost 14 to be an option as a traditional daily trainer (solid option for a new runner), a walking shoe, a shoe that you will use for a job that you're on your feet for a long time and want lasting comfort.

The New Balance 880v12 fits within the New Balance shoe lineup as a neutral (more traditional) workhouse daily trainer and a cousin to the more “premium” New Balance 1080. The Fresh Foam X helps create a soft landing yet remains responsive when picking up the pace. Runners that require a small amount of stability will appreciate the wider forefoot and moderately stiff heel counter helping guide the foot forward.

Daily Trainers (Stability)
(Shoes with some form of stability. See our Stability Guide to learn more)

The ASICS GT-1000 11 is a budget stability shoe with some surprisingly high-level features. A snug upper sits up top that will fit those with more narrow feet while those with normal-width feet may want to size up a half size. An updated sole continues to provide a medial post in the heel and midfoot, but uses a full ground contact sole, sidewalls and other methods consistent with providing mild stability from a variety of measures. The GT-1000 11 continues to drop weight, making it a borderline lightweight stability shoe. A traditional amount of stack height provides a balance ride between soft and firm, making it a great option for those wanting a no-frills and super-affordable (if you look in the right place) lighter mild stability shoe.

Saucony Guide 15 | Review

The Saucony Guide 15 returns as a completely redone and new age stability shoe. A new HOLLOW-TECH system, heel and forefoot sidewalls, and a deep guideline provide unrestricted guidance throughout the length of the shoe. An improved rockered sole combined with increased stack height provides a smoother and more cushioned ride. A solid weight drop and a slightly snug and secure upper make for a faster feel and the ability to pick up the pace. The Saucony Guide 15 retains its roots as a solid stability shoe but has now evolved into a refined, lighter, and smoother moderate stability daily trainer.

The Brooks Launch GTS is for those wanting a lightweight very mild stability performance trainer at a $100 price range for daily training or some mild uptempo work. This is a Brooks Launch with GuideRails. A potential uptempo/workout/ companion for those running in the Adrenaline GTS series or a lighter weight trainer for someone wanting a hint of stability in the rearfoot. The upper fits fairly normal to slightly snug with a stretchable and comfortable mesh. A flexible forefoot makes for a smooth toe off, although the Brooks BioMoGo DNA makes for a slightly uninspiring ride. Best at a little more uptempo paces, this is a great entry level shoe for those new to running or who want a little guidance.

Topo Ultrafly 4 | Review
Deal: $93.93 at REI
Shop Men

The Topo Ultrafly 4 is a low drop, posted stability road shoe for those who want a slightly more anatomic and natural ride for daily training. Full-length firm Zipfoam cushioning provides a grounded ride, while a medial post, wider last and large TPU external counter provide a moderate level of medial support. An anatomic toebox combined with a more normal width in the rearfoot/midfoot provides a secure fit with plenty of room for the toes. The Topo Ultrafly 4 returns as a daily training shoe for easy miles for those who need a traditional medial post, a lower drop, and an anatomic fit featuring new sustainable materials in the upper.

 Performance Trainers and Racing Shoes
(Shoes for Uptempo Running, May Be Used for Daily in Some Cases)

 The ASICS Hyper Speed 2 is a (rare) traditional racing flat for those who want a light, lower stack height, flexible shoe for faster efforts. The upper is slightly snug and secure but has decent room throughout for this shoe type. The ride underfoot is obviously on the firmer side, but is well cushioned for how low stack this shoe is. The sole is flexible but snappy and light at 6.7 oz (men's size 9). This makes the ASICS Hyper Speed 2 a great option for those who want a non-plated, non-super foam racing shoe for 5k/10k racing and shorter workouts.

New Balance SuperComp Pacer | Review
Deal: $79.95 at Running Warehouse
Shop Men | Shop Women

The New Balance FuelCell SC Pacer has that super shoe bounce to it, although it is definitely firmer than any others in the category. The lower stack height makes it feel more like a racing flat, but the FuelCell foam and the full length carbon plate give it that familiar super shoe feeling. I consistently noticed an increase in pace at a given effort level, even when running easy. The ride of the Pacer is what I originally imagined when I heard that running companies were coming out with 5k/10k super shoes.

Trail Shoes
(Shoes for tackling a variety of terrain)

I was really excited to receive the Peregrine 12 for testing. I did a lot of trail running a few years ago as I transitioned from cycling to running, and the Peregrine was my favorite for Connecticut’s technical trails and on snow. My only gripe about older versions of the Peregrine was how stiff the outsole was; if I did any running on pavement, I would get hot spots at my lateral forefoot. The updated 12 is lighter and has a more flexible outsole, which made me very curious to see if its performance on firmer ground had improved while still maintaining its excellent grip.

Hoka Torrent 2 | Review
Deal: $79.88 at Running Warehouse

The HOKA ONE ONE Torrent 2 is a lightweight and agile trail running shoe that is a little bit of a jack of all trades. The shoe can definitely be raced in as well as trained in. The shoe is lightweight and nimble, but still responsive and a little aggressive when it needs to be. I will go into this more in detail later but that is in large part due to the PROFLY midsole being softer in the heel and midfoot and firmer and snappier in the forefoot accompanied with decently aggressive lugs. The shoe is really balanced and does not feel overdone in any way.

The Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2 is a mild stability trail performance/racing shoe for those who want a performance fit and an anatomical toe box. A protective but smooth and snappy ride sits below, with a subtle medial post that guides those who need a little extra stability in the rearfoot. The upper is tough and secure but provides an anatomical performance fit for those who want more room for their toes. Those looking for a nimble, mild stability, performance/racing trail shoe should check out the Topo Athletic MTN Racer 2.

Saucony Blaze TR | Review
Deal: $100 at Saucony
Shop Men
| Shop Women

The Saucony Blaze TR is a budget-performance trail shoe for those who want a lighter, high-stack option at a great price ($100). The durable upper mesh provides a slightly snug fit that locks down well for those needing to feel secure over a variety of terrain. The midsole is full-length PWRRUN, providing a firmer but grounded ride despite the higher stack height. The Blaze TR is a great option for those who want a budget option to try trail running or others who want a second uptempo option for softer surfaces.

The Brooks Divide 3 is an entry-level road/trail hybrid shoe. Featuring a lower-to-the-ground midsole, the ride is firm and surprisingly snappy in a lighter 10.1 oz package. The fit is slightly wider, with enough room for the toes and a little extra volume for foot swelling. Despite coming in at an entry-level price, the Brooks Divide 3 performs at a higher level, making it an excellent shoe for newer runners or those who want simple, firmer and lighter trail shoe for a variety of surfaces.

The Brooks Catamount is a lightweight and responsive trail running shoe designed to help you run faster and farther on your favorite trails.

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Thanks for reading!

More Guides from Doctors of Running
Beginner's Guide to Running Shoes: Are you a brand new runner and unsure where to start? Visit this guide first to get started.
Stability Shoe Resource Page:
Our comprehensive guide to stability shoes and alternatives for neutral runners as well
Carbon Fiber Plated Shoes Resource Page:
Want to go as fast as possible for race day? Visit this page for all of our super shoe reviews
Guide to Walking Shoes:
Featuring some science behind walking and the best running shoes for walking based on our everyday testing and clinical experience working with patients.
Getting the Right Fit:
Unsure if your shoe fits? Visit this page to help you determine how to find the right shoe for your feet. Comfort is one of the most important things we emphasize at Doctors of Running before you get out the door and on the road. Sometimes the right shoe for you is not what works for many others. That is why it is important to try different shoes when you can to get a better understanding of works best for your needs.
Beginner's Guide to Nutrition/Hydration:
Guest writer Jennifer Giles (Registered Dietitan/Nutritionist) helps bring a new guide for fueling to Doctors of Running as part of our summer hydration series.

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