The Best Running Trainers to Buy

For me, 2018 was a big year for running. I was pretty much racing every weekend and training a lot more than I’d ever done before. As a result I not only got some of my fastest ever times, but I also had the chance to test out a hell of a lot of trainers and really get a feel of what did and didn’t work for me as a runner.

Here’s my refined list of the shoes that I really enjoyed running in this year. There were others that I liked, but if you’re heading out to buy some new ones, these are the ones I’d go for. 

Nike Pegasus Zoom Turbo

What are they?

The Pegasus Turbo are Nike’s 2018 speedster shoe. Using technology developed in the Breaking 2 campaign (you can read a full explanation of all of that here), Nike created a shoe that they suggested had all the technical developments needed to make you run faster.

I’m not a big fan of bold marketing claims, but I would put these trainers down as my favourite ever running shoes. Since I’ve been wearing them I’ve got two PBs, I seem to run faster in every race and I feel like I enjoy running more. Yep, that sounds like nonsense, but I’ve spoken to athletes, running journalists and friends who have all said the same thing. The only issue I had with them was the colours available at launch. Since then Nike have developed a series of different variants and some look awesome (thoughts on these?).

Best for:Road racing and PB chasing. A bit too pricey to spend as a training shoe.

Cheapest price: £159.95

New Balance – Fresh Foam Beacon

What are they?

I haven’t been massively swayed by the New Balance Fresh Foam range over the last year. The trainers are always designed nicely, but they often seem to be a few steps behind some of the other shoes available where running technology is concerned.

When I opened the Beacons my initial thought was that they were very light, to the point where they seemed a bit flimsy and cheap. I was very wrong. After running in them for a few races I realised they were in fact a very well designed lightweight running shoe with exceptionally good cushioning. They’re also some of the cheapest (good) shoes you’re going to find on the market at the moment. Well worth a look.

Best for: New runners who don’t want to fork out a load of cash or seasoned runners who want a very affordable training shoe.

Cheapest price: £63 (Wiggle)

HOKA ONE ONE – Cavu Fly At Night

What are they?

Another new brand for me this year, the Cavu Fly At Night are HOKA ONE ONE’s latest range of night running trainers. The technology and build use the same PROFLY cushioning that give them the characteristic chunky heel for support.

As a training shoe they’re extremely comfortable, and even though they’re very light, they offer a lot of support through the wedge-like cushioning. Added to that are the new black design with reflective elements built in for, as you’ve probably guessed, running down the streets at night.

Best for: Well supported training runs, specifically at night (although you can obviously use them in the day).

Cheapest price: £80 (active instinct)

On – Cloudflow

What are they?

On are probably the most interesting brand around at the moment, largely because they’re the only ones really doing something completely different with their products. When I first saw them a year or so ago I thought they looked like a ridiculous gimmicky shoe that would disappear within a year.

The first few times I wore them I wasn’t a massive fan. They felt a bit hard, a bit too light and I wanted to revert back to my usual adidas. After getting used to them I was obsessed, I loved them. I wore them for all of my training runs and races.

I’d still say the Nike Pegasus Turbo’s are my favourite race shoe, but if you’re looking for a fast, sturdy, lightweight trainer to use on any sort of run, On’s are a great choice. There are some great designs as well. They’re not a particularly good support shoe though.

Best for: Any sort of road running where you want to go fast

Cheapest price: £125

adidas – Solar Boost

What are they?

The adidas Solar Boost are essentially just a good all-round trainer that utilises existing adidas technologies (like Boost). They’re not particularly amazing at anything, but they’re a comfortable, attractive looking shoe that’s great for the kind of people that can be at the gym at 8am, a race at 6pm and a pub at 8pm, and can’t be bothered to carry loads of pairs of shoes with them.

I’ve ran races in them, I’m lifted wights in them and I’ve even worn them on holiday. They’re great, they’re really comfortable and they have a massive range of colours to choose from.

Best for: People who do all sorts of fitness and activities and want one shoe to do it in

Cheapest price: £98 (Wiggle – limited colours)

Under Armour – HOVR CGR NC 

What are they?

Hadn’t done a lot of running in Under Armour until recently. They’re not the kind of trainer that normally crops up in discussion with seasoned runners. So initially I wasn’t expecting a great deal from them.

The HOVR CGR NC are positioned as a winter trainers, which essentially covers three main functions: grip, waterproofing and warmth. I’m not going to talk about the product specifications, but if you’re the kind of runner that gets cold feet in winter, they actually work really well. I can’t remember the last time my feet were cold in a pair of trainers in sub-5 temperatures, but they were sweating in these when I was doing a 10k the other day (not good for me as I don’t get cold feet). The waterproofing seemed to hold up perfectly as well. Design isn’t too shabby either.

Best for: Runners who struggle with the cold

Cheapest price: £100