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 echoleon 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.

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: October 2022

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

The ASICS Dynablast 2 is a neutral daily training option that won't break the bank. The shoe utilizes FlyteFoam Blast to provide a high amount of cushioning for the neutral option without being in the maximum cushion category like the Novablast. The shoe rides familiar to most traditional neutral trainers while providing some new generation feeling cushioning throughout. For the price point this is a very appealing option.

Nike Pegasus 39 | Review
Deal: $89.97 at Nike
Shop Men | Shop Women

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.

The Adidas SL20.3 is a lightweight daily trainer with a decent amount of versatility for everyday runs. It features a slightly firmer, but protective ride and durable outsole. The upper is the only change this year, now made with over 50% recycled materials as part of their program to end plastic waste. While priced at $110 US, it remains a shoe that goes on sale regularly, providing a super affordable option for runners of every level looking for a basic trainer that can handle a multitude of tasks quietly.

Saucony Axon 2 | Review

The Saucony Axon delivered a unique set of features that is unattainable at the same price point for a new shoe. The Axon 2 provides runners with a $100 option for a highly cushioned, highly stable, highly rockered shoe that can be added to a large variety of rotations. This is notably, however, not a shoe for runners who have midfoot sensitivities to things like the pieces embedded into the Axon's outsole.

New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v3 | Review
Deal: $79.88 at Running Warehouse
Shop Men | Shop Women

The New Balance Beacon v3 is a very neutral shoe that is lightweight, cushioned, and has ample width and volume in the forefoot. The Fresh Foam X midsole provides enough cushioning for easy runs on tired legs, but plenty of responsiveness for strides and intervals. The knit upper is soft with minimal stretch, promoting secure foot lockdown. The wide forefoot allows for toe splay and comfort on long runs. The Beacon is a truly neutral shoe with minimal stability features. It provides cushioning and underfoot protection while allowing the foot to do what it wants to do.

The Saucony Ride 14 is a continuation of their very successful neutral training shoe lineage. The shoe features a newly updated upper that helps with better lockdown and the heel bevel feels smoothed out. The shoe has a flexible forefoot and a protective ride. The shoe is a very smooth riding neutral trainer that will work for a lot of people.  

Puma Electrify Nitro 2
| Review
Deal: $100 at Puma
Shop Here

The Puma Electrify Nitro 2 is a base model from Puma that blends a traditional EVA midsole with some of their new Nitrogen-infused foam in the heel for a super soft landing. The shoe has a bit of a snug fit that will be good for those with narrow feet. It's a sleek shoe that is great for new runners looking to log their first miles in a nicer running package without breaking the bank. The PumaGrip outsole is also super sticky and a good option for a lot of terrain, even some light dirt trail.

Skechers GoRun Razor Excess | Review
Deal: $64.88 at Running Warehouse
Shop Home

The Skechers Razor Excess gives you a lightweight feeling of midsole that is soft and protective enough for daily mileage while still keeping some responsiveness and durability. The upper is a non stretch mesh that is accommodating, with more volume and space that will fit a larger variety of foot types well. At $65, it's an incredible bargain for anyone looking for a versatile shoe that can handle daily training and long runs.

Asics Novablast 2 | Review
Deal: $99.99 at Running Warehouse
Shop Here

The ASICS Novablast 2 is a very neutral daily training shoe that runs very plush and bouncy. The shoe utilizes FlyteFoam Blast throughout the entire length of the shoe creating a very soft and bouncy ride. While Version 3 is much more stable, those with solid, neutral mechanics looking for an exciting daily trainer at a great price should look no further.

Atreyu | Review
Shop Here

Atreyu is a unique company based out of Austin, Texas. With a superb price point, they provide a solid, traditional daily trainer that doesn't break the bank. Also, this shoe is light.

The Mizuno Wave Rider 25 is still the long standing daily trainer with a high drop that many love with some quality updates. This is one of our favorite recommendations as a stable neutral trainer, and a reliable one that will last a lot of miles.

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

The ASICS DS Trainer 26 is a classic light stability lightweight trainer that returns with a soft accommodating upper and a more forgiving ride. Featuring a more traditional ride with light posting in the midfoot and a super comfortable knit upper. An extended forefoot trusstic system provides a snappy ride on toe off while a Flytefoam lite keeps the ride light yet still protective. The DS Trainer 26 has the versatility to be a lightweight trainer for some and a workout/racing shoe for others looking for light stability, a comfortable upper and a snappy ride.

Saucony Guide 14 | Review
Deal: $64.83 at REI
Shop here (women)

The Saucony Guide 14 is a moderate stability daily training shoe featuring a relatively firm yet protective ride that will keep you going for miles. The geometry of the shoe is done pretty well and you will feel nice transitions throughout the ride similar to the neutral model of the Ride, but with posting and formal stability components. This shoe is a slimmer profile than the Hurricane above, which makes it feel more like a traditional shoe which may be good or bad depending on your preference!

Topo Ultrafly 3 | Review
Deal: $69.83 at REI
Shop here

The Topo Athletic Ultrafly 3 is a mild stability daily trainer with a large anatomic toe box for those looking for some extra room without being zero drop. The stability comes from more traditional methods, specifically a heel counter and a mild medial post, while the addition of a filled-in midfoot and strategic flex grooves provide more new age methods. The Zipfoam provides solid and consistent cushioning, creating a stable ride for daily and long miles. A solid and secure upper sits up top, providing enough room for those who need a large toebox. The 5 mm drop provides some offloading of the Achilles, but isn't so high that it deviates from Topo's natural origins. The Topo Athletic Ultrafly 3 is a unique daily trainer for those wanting mild stability, an anatomic fit, a more traditional stack height and a moderate heel drop, meshing a variety of footwear design views together.

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

New Balance FuelCell Rebel v2 | Review
Deal: $89.88 at Running Warehouse
Shop here

The New Balance FuelCell Rebel 2 is a highly versatile performance trainer. The shoe runs neutral throughout and provides a highly cushioned and responsive ride for how low profile and lightweight the shoe is. The Rebel 2 is an impressive trainer that can be looked at as a "do it all" shoe for those that do not require much stability demands. 

Shop Men | Shop Women

The HOKA ONE ONE is a neutral uptempo trainer that provides a refreshing and natural feel to the runner. The shoe is very light on the foot and provides a smooth transition throughout. The ride has a little bit of bounce to it that does good for some uptempo work or on long runs. A lightweight trainer for some and a long distance racer for others wanting a lightweight but cushioned shoe, the Mach 4 checks off a lot of boxes and truly evolves into a great shoe.

Topo Cyclone | Review
Shop Men | Shop Women

Like Altra and Xero, Topo is known for its “foot-shaped," low-drop running shoes. Topo shoes range from 0-5mm in drop, and the 5mm drop Cyclone is a shoe that will be accessible to many runners (unlike their many 0mm drop offerings, which have greater biomechanical demands). The well-fitting upper, light weight, and late toe spring has made the Cyclone a go-to interval shoe for us.

The Artist
Deal: $100 at Atreyu
Shop here

Carbon plated racing shoes are all the rage in the running world right now. Most top well over $150 in today's market, often well into $200. The Artist breaks the mold with this $100 offering that provides a lower profile racer, but a fun one that can get you through some very fast 5/10ks for the price.

Trail Shoes

(Shoes for tackling a variety of terrain)

Skechers GoRun Razor TRL | Review
Deal: $69.88 at Running Warehouse
Shop Men | Shop Women

The Skechers Razor TRL is a lightweight trail running/race shoe that combines a rugged new outsole and tough upper with the design of the Razor +. The HYPERBURST midsole provides additional softness and responsiveness on both road and trail. The upper is soft yet tough, providing snug yet comfortable security. New flexible lugs provide mild traction on a variety of surfaces. The Skechesrs Razor TRL is a great option as a shorter distance trail racing shoe, a decent road to trail option and will be great for those wanting a little less shoe in a soft package.

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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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