Best Race Shoes
With every competition for which you run, the real reward is the moment that you cross the finish line. But let’s face it- you really want to cross that finish before anyone else. In order to do that, you need to train in such a way that you can increase your speed as well as your stamina. While there are a lot of training regimes that will help you achieve that goal, another thing that you need to look at your footwear.
This type of footwear is generally designed to be incredibly lightweight so that it feels like you are wearing nothing at all, but it will also give you a good deal of support on the full extent of your gait to keep your body in alignment as you push yourself to achieve your best times.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 14 hrs of research
- New Balance Cruz
- Adidas Neo CF
- Nike MD
- New Balance FuelCore Coast V3
- Altra Impulse Flash
- Under Armour Micro G Pursuit
- Saucony Breakthru 3
- New Balance Hanzo
- Inov-8 Terraclaw 220
- New Balance Coast v3
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. New Balance Cruz
Runs a little small (users suggest buying a ½ size up from normal)
While conducting our research for the best trainers for competition, the name New Balance seemed to pop up more often than other brands. New Balance appears to have a myriad of different designs that are made just for competing- so be prepared to find a lot of New Balance designs on this list. The Cruz has a slightly different style than a lot of the other out there on the market that makes it stand out just a little bit.Read more
As we mentioned earlier- the style is what makes this trainer a little bit unique. While many of the others host a short design that sits low on the ankle- the Cruz is actually a high top. This might seem counterintuitive when you are striving for maximum flexibility, but the way that it is cut out will not hinder your movement. It is offered in a myriad of colors- but never anything flashy. All the colors offered in neutral, solid colors that are a little bit darker than one would expect in a trainer.
Overall, the consensus is that this is a comfortable shoe for wide and narrow feet. The only gripe about the fit seems to be that they run a bit small. It is recommended to order a 1/2 size up than normal.
If you wanted to travel faster- this is your ticket. Not only are they incredibly lightweight- but they also offer an incredible amount of support. The high top has a plunging collar along the sides of the foot that will allow you to maintain maximum flexibility, but the higher front and back will give you additional padding a comfort. The top sole is made from a very lightweight and breathable material- perfect for those hot race days. The sole of this model is where it really shines. It has a foam insole that users find to be incredibly comfortable and provides maximum cushioning throughout the entire extent of your gait- heel to toe.
New Balance is known for setting their prices to be reasonable- and the Cruz is no exception. It will offer you incredible support and comfort throughout all of your training and competitions- and it can do so without putting any extra strain on your wallet.
If you want something that looks a little unconventional and offers really great support to your foot without making your feet feel encumbered, the New Balance Cruz will be able to deliver, and it comes in a really great point.
2. Adidas Neo CF
Sole is resilient to breaking down over time
Runs a little big
Some find the sole is too thin
When you want something that is lightweight, but also provides a lot of cushioning when you are training on hard surfaces, this is your best best. Plus, it comes from Adidas, a company that found its footing (so to speak) in making gear for athletic events and competitions. If you want to train harder and faster, utilizing gear from Adidas is a great start.Read more
Sometimes these types of trainers have a top sole that doesn’t have much design because it is made from a really thin piece of mesh fabric. The Neo CF has a top sole that is a little bit thicker than some of the others out there on the market, and also as a pretty thick sole. It is offered in neutral colors such as midnight blue, gray, and brown.
As a walking shoe, these Adidas have rave reviews. About 70% of reviewers claim that they run true to size, while the other 30% feels that they run slightly large.
The soles are not made from memory foam- which is something that you see a lot of in trainers. Instead, it is composed of a solid piece of rubber so that your foot is given proper support every time it hits the pavement. The sock liner, however, it is composed of a thin piece of memory foam which will conform to the shape of your foot over time. While the sole will never change shape over time, the soft interior lining will make them feel like they are your trainers. They treading on the bottom isn’t deep like an all terrain, but it also won’t become slick if the course becomes wet or muddy.
Surprisingly, these are set at a pretty affordable price point. They aren’t the least expensive out there, but they are by no means that most expensive. If you are looking for an affordable set of trainers that comes from a trusted brand- these are going to be your best bet.
For the athlete that wants something that is lightweight, but also offers a good deal of support on the arches and heel of the foot when running on hard surfaces, and also wants something from a trusted brand that got their start by making gear for competitions- this is an excellent choice.
3. Nike MD
Injected Phylon sole is lighter than EVA
Runs small (users suggest going ½ to 1 size up)
The MD is actually a reimagining of a pair of trainers that were really popular in the 1990’s. This new design kept the original shape that athletes loved, but it changed up a few components and materials to make it one of the best trainers out there on the market for athletes that want to run faster and longer.Read more
Back in the 1990’s, runners didn’t rock sneakers that came in all colors of the rainbow the way they do today. Serious sneakers came in two colors- black and white. Nike is holding to that tradition in these redesigned sneakers, and they are only available in black and white. They have the classic Nike swoosh the runs along both sides, and the word Nike printed in big block letters on the heel.
According to customer reviews, one size up from should provide a good fit. If you have a narrow fit, just a 1/2 size up should be comfortable for you.
Simplicity is the name of the game when it comes to the MD. Keep in mind, the top is a little bit more stiff and rigid than a lot of the other models out there on the market that sport a loose, mesh top sole. The top sole of this design is breathable and made from lightweight materials, but it also has more structures around the heel. Where this model stands apart from the rest is in its sole design. Many of the soles you will find in other brands use EVA for their soles. EVA is incredibly tough and durable- but it can be a little heavy. The MD doesn’t use EVA but instead uses Injected Phylon which is substantially more lightweight than EVA.
When you see the name Nike, you know that you are going to be paying a little bit more than some of the other more affordable brands out there. Although they are set at a slightly higher price point than many of the others making this list- they will by no means break the bank.
If you are in the market for something that looks stylish- and also provides you great support without weighing you down- the Nike MD will be a perfect addition to all of your training.
4. New Balance FuelCore Coast V3
Bootie construction doesn’t require laces
NB Response 2.0 Performance insert
Tongue bunches up
No side support
If you are someone that doesn’t like a lot of structure on the top of your trainer- the FuelCore Coast V3 is going to be a perfect fit. It has a boot constructed top sole design that makes you feel like you are wearing nothing at all, but the sole still give you a lot of support and protection from hard surfaces.Read more
To be honest, users are not in love with the design of this particular model. It has a very basic top sole that is offered in colors such as black and white, red, grey, and black. The laces that are on the top are purely decorative because you simply slip on the trainer like you would a sock, and it hugs your foot (rather than lacing it up).
These shoes fit true to size and are even offered in an E size, which supports wider feet comfortably.
Users might not necessarily like the outward look of this model, but it makes up for it in how it performs. The top sole is made from an incredibly lightweight material that is breathable and leaves your foot feeling cool even on those hot summer days. The traction on the bottom is a little light, meaning that it might not be the perfect trainer to take up those difficult trails. The sole has a lot of padding to make for a comfortable stride and includes an NB Response 2.0 Performance insert that wicks away moisture while cradling your foot.
While New Balance is typically pretty affordable, these are slightly more expensive than you would expect. However, they are still set at a lower price point than the Nike MD. If you want something that isn’t going to hold you back, and will help you get your best times- this is well worth the slightly padded price tag.
If you are in the market for something that is incredibly lightweight and doesn’t require the need to lace up (it just hugs your foot) this is an excellent option that will help you reach all of your goals.
5. Altra Impulse Flash
Wide toe box
Structured yet breathable top sole
Some feel there isn’t much cushioning
Users report that they are a tad heavy
You might not have heard of Altra before, and that’s because they are a relatively new company to the world of footwear. They were founded in 2009, and have been rising through the ranks with gear that is incredibly durable and offers innovative designs that haven’t been seen on the market before. They are definitely worth checking out.Read more
This model is a little bit different than a lot of the others that you will find out there. It has a little bit of a boxy design that actually serves a functional purpose that we will get into a little bit later. It is offered in three fun and bright colors that include blue, electric green, and a more muted gray.
Overall, most reviewers agree that these shoes fit true to size. Some claimed they were a bit snug at first, but still comfortable. Only a handful recommended going up a half size.
Altra has been making an impact on the footwear world because their designs differ from a lot of other brands on the market. One of the most noted features about this design has to do with the toe box. It might look a little bit peculiar that the toe box doesn’t taper at the end, but it actually makes it a lot more comfortable on your foot and feels incredibly natural because your toes can spread naturally inside while you run. The top sole is also a little bit different. It is made from a durable textile that has patterned slits in it with a mesh underlay to provide excellent breathability while also keeping water out.
The cost of these run about the same amount as many of the other similar name brands making this list. It might seem like a bit much because it isn’t coming from a name brand, but we feel like Altra is a company definitely worth taking a chance on.
If you are looking for something that has a unique design that isn’t offered in many of the other well-known brands and has a long line of satisfied customers behind them that find their products help them achieve their goals, this is a trainer that you should really check out.
6. Under Armour Micro G Pursuit
Micro G foam cushioning insole
Some find they are too squeaky
Runs a little small (users suggest buying a ½ size up from your normal size)
In comparison to some of the other brands out there that have been pumping out quality gear for decades, Under Armour has been only been manufacturing gear since 1996. However, the mere fact that you probably already have a piece of Under Armour gear in your closet is a testament to the quality of products that they make. The Micro G Pursuit is a great addition to their line, sports a really sharp top sole, and will really help you reach your personal goals.Read more
Users were all initially drawn in by its sharp design. It’s is offered in shades of black, red, blue, and gray, and each design has a black heel with the Under Armour logo in electric green on the side of the heel. It sits pretty low on the foot and has ample padding along the tongue and on the collar to avoid annoying rubbing that can cause blisters.
Overall, reviewers agree that shoes fit comfortably and true to size! 4E sizing is also available for wider feet.
These were designed to get you moving and get you moving fast. The special Micro-G one-piece foam insole is the ticket to clocking in at some pretty high speeds. The padding in the cushion makes for a comfortable landing on your foot and your joints, but also provides just enjoy spring to execute an explosive take off so that you can really achieve some high speeds. It also has a lightweight mesh top sole that even on those really hot summer days, your foot will stay cool and dry.
The cost of these trainers runs pretty par for the course. They are not the most expensive models out there on the market, but they are by no means that most expensive. If you are looking for something that is designed to help you reach top speeds, this is well worth the price tag.
For athletes in the market for something that is incredibly lightweight and comfortable, but is also equipped with the right materials to help you make good times in your training- the Micro G Pursuit is your ticket to first place.
7. Saucony Breakthru 3
Curled toe box
Runs a little small
Some find them to be a little narrow
Flexibility is the name of the game when it comes to the Saucony Breakthru 3. Saucony got its start making gear that was worthy of competitions from their humble beginnings all the way back to 1898. The Breakthru 3 has a design that is made to help to improve your gait without hindering it so that you are free to push yourself to your limited without being held back by your footwear.Read more
Saucony isn’t setting out to reinvent the wheel with the Breakthru 3. It has a very basic outward design. The mesh top sole that curls up at the toes is offered in three basic colors that include blue, black, red, and grey. Each design also has the trademark Saucony logo running along the side of the foot.
You can count on these shoes to fit true and size and comfortably. However, if you have a wide foot, it would be wise to go up a half size.
The goal that this trainer sets out to accomplish is to be as lightweight as possible and to conform to your natural gait. You might have noticed that some trainers out there have toes that are curled upwards. There is a very specific reason for this, and it has to do you with your natural stride. When you push off from your toes, trainers that don’t have curled ends mean that you are not only pushing against the ground, but you will also have a little bit of resistance from your footwear. This design eliminates that so that there isn’t anything holding you back from making really great times. It also has an incredibly easy and lightweight top sole that will keep your foot cool and dry for the duration of the competition.
The Saucony brand typically has a higher price tag than many of the other on the market, and these are no exception. These will likely run you the same cost as you would spend on a pair of the Nike MDs- which is still considered to be a reasonable price in comparison to some of the others designs currently on the market.
If you want something that will help you run faster without holding you back, and comes from a brand that has been perfecting their trainers for over 100 years- these trainers are well worth the slightly padded price tag.
8. New Balance Hanzo
Some find they fit too loose around the ankle
New Balance is making the list yet again with its superior Hanzo design. The Hanzo has a really unique style that is sure to get a lot of looks from your fellow competitors. It has all of the things that runners would want from a trainer that is designed to help them run faster and farther than they ever thought was possible.Read more
You are really going to stand out from the crowd wearing these Hanzos. They are only available in one color, which is a blend of black and salmon at the toe, and electric yellow and black on the heel. The sole is composed of a busy blend of yellow and black. The sit rather low on the foot and the toebox bend upwards.
The fit of the shoe around the actual foot is good, however, some have claimed the fit around the ankles is a bit lose.
If you want something that is both lightweight and comfortable- these are going to be your ticket. Often when a design is advertised as being lightweight, they often skimp on the additional padding around the collar and tongue. The Hanzo has a really soft collar and tongue, but without being overly bulky to the point that it hinders your flexibility. The top sole is composed of a lightweight and breathable material that will keep your foot nice and cool even on those hot training day in the middle of the summer. It utilizes a Revlite midsole for excellent support, and the curvature at the toebox means you will be able to generate explosive takeoffs.
For a New Balance design, these pack quite the price tag- even more so than the Nikes. These are going to be one of the more expensive models out there on the market, but for athletes that want something that is as comfortable as it is effective- these are going to be well worth the padded price tag.
If you are looking for something flashy that will send you over the finishing line- in the first place- in style, there are no trainers out there that can complete that task any better than the Hanzo.
9. Inov-8 Terraclaw 220
Perfect for any type of competition: road or trail
Asymmetrical tongue (prevents debris)
Lightweight and flexible
Some find them to be too tight
We are going to take a little bit of a break from the traditional designs of trainers that are made for competing on hard surfaces such as concrete or asphalt and consider gear made for competitions that take place of terrain that is a little bit rockier. Inov-8 is a relatively new company to the field- founded in 2001- and has made quite a splash with footwear that is able to take you just about anywhere without holding you back.Read more
There are two very distinct styles when it comes to the Terraclaw 220- one is very subtle and will allow you to blend into the crowd, and the other demands that you be seen. The first option is a solid black with very subtle red accents on the interior and alone the rubber sole. The other option is offered in a sky blue with electric yellow accents along the side. Each design has a bold ‘Inov-8’ logo along the heel.
The fit of these shoes has been described as "perfect." Reviewers say that they are true to size and pleasingly comfortable.
Often, when you all-terrain with all terrain footwear, you often lose a lot of flexibility and maneuverability in exchange for superior traction and stability. With the Terraclaw 220, you can have the best of both worlds. It is designed to be able to really gain traction on any type of surface, but it is made from lightweight materials and has a low profile that you will be able to be just as fast and mobile as many of the other styles on the market. The tongue is also sewn at an angle to prevent any stubborn debris from infiltrating your shoe and distracting you from making your best time.
The price of this design is just slightly under what many of the brands on this list are selling for. If you are in the market for something that can traverse many different planes without slowing you down- this is well worth the price point.
Not all competitions will be set on smooth and even surfaces, and these trainers are designed to take you on any type of road or trail without slowing you down or slipping you up. If you have never tried a pair of Inov-8 trainers before, they are definitely worth checking out.
10. New Balance Coast v3
Some find them to be too narrow
Some find that they do not offer enough support
New Balance is making the list yet again with this really great pair of trainers. They are a little on the simple side, but what they lack in design they make up for in utility. Plus, they are offered at one of the lowest price points on the market- so they are definitely worth checking out.Read more
These offer a pretty solid exterior design that comes in a few different colors such as black, white, and gray. You can opt for a pop of color with the option to select a style that has the N logo on the side that if offered in electric green or yellow. It should be noted that the white color option doesn’t come with laces- instead, it offers a velcro strap across the top that runners may or may not prefer.
As with most New Balance shoes, you can expect a true-to-size fit with these. If you have a specifically wide foot, you may want to go up a 1/2 size.
You can trust that any New Balance product will provide athletes with the proper design so that they will be able to perform at their best. The question you want to know is if they are good for improving your form. They offer modest traction so that you will be able to grip the concrete without being held back by heavy treads, and it has a wide toe box to give your foot ample room to move around. It also has an incredibly cushioned collar and tongue, without limiting flexibility.
The cost of these are pretty low compared to all of the other options making this list. If you wanted to give New Balance a try, but didn’t want to spend the price of some of their higher end designs- this is an excellent place to start.
For athletes that wanted to find a great pair of trainers that are lightweight, comfortable, and will really help improve their times without breaking the bank- you can’t go wrong with anything from New Balance.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
We all know the Nike check or the Adidas stripes. Let’s face it- we all look at the design before we even take a look at the specs. And that is precisely what we did in this case. Don’t get us wrong- if a sharp and stylish brand didn’t have the proper specs to help get your ready for the big day, we cast them aside. We liked to select designs that appealed to most tastes- those that want something that it a little understated, and those that want something bright and flashy so that no one will miss the moment that you cross that finish line.
Wouldn't it be convenient if all shoes and clothing could use the same metrics for sizing? It would so great to know that in any brand, the size you order and usually fits, will fit. Well, we all know that's not the case. For that reason, we also researched the fit of each shoe. To help keep you from exchanging your shoes three times until you find the glass slipper, we scoured the customer reviews to let you know the general consensus. If there are complaints about the shoe sizing being slightly off, or if the fit is narrow or wide, we included that here.
Yes, we know- there isn’t a pair of trainers out there that can actually make you run faster. But we all know that there are designs and features out there that can actually make you slower. When you have to contend with stiff and uncomfortable soles or collars and laces that dig right into your foot causing blisters- these are things that can slow you down, and they are things that can be avoided. Also, we want to make sure that we selected styles that were made from incredibly lightweight materials. The less weight you have holding you back means the faster you will be able to push yourself to the finish line.
We all know that trainers have a tendency to carry quite the heavy price tag. While we were in our search to find the best design out there on the market, we made sure to keep the price tag within the realm of reason. Some brands, such as Nike, Adidas, New Balance, and ASICS, are considered to run about in the middle of the road in terms of price. These brand are incredibly trusted in the industry for using high-quality materials that will really help athletes achieve their personal goals without breaking the bank.
Brands such as Brooks and Mizuno are lesser known brands, primarily because their product carry quite the hefty price tag. These products really focus on the very specific things that athletes need down to every last detail, and that’s why they are so expensive. If you want to get the best of the best and are willing to pay any price- try Brooks or Mizuno. For everyone else- many of the other products found on this list are excellent as well, and they don’t cost as much.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Be prepared- it’s not just for the boy scouts. Whether you are about to run your first race or for fiftieth- being prepared is a big part of performing well. Training alone on the sidewalks around your neighborhood or your local part is one thing, but running with a group of competitors makes your training seem like a walk in the park. Making sure that you are in the right headspace, and are equipped with the right gear is a surefire recipe to cross that finish line at your best personal time. While training your body to make sure that it is in its top shape is the most important part about making good time, there are a few things that you also might want to consider as the big day comes closer.
A lot of experts say that continuing your training up until race day is a bad idea. The week before the competition, give yourself a break. This will allow for all of your joints and muscles to be completely rested so that you are competing at 100 percent. Another thing to consider is to be sure you eat clean. Making sure your body is getting enough fuel is incredibly important, and what’s even more important is making sure that what you eat is giving you the right nutrients.
The last thing that is important before the big day is to be sure you get enough sleep. It might be hard- because you are probably a little nervous and a little anxious- but a good night’s sleep is a surefire way to perform at your very best. Keep all of these things in mind and you are bound to blast past all of your personal records!
Unpacking your new trainers and lacing them up the day of the competition is a recipe for disaster. Although we do understand the sentiment of saving your best gear for the big day, it is in your best interest if you commit to all of your training wearing the same pair of sneakers. That way, there is no surprise blisters or jammed toes when you are trying to make your way to the finish line as fast as you can.
Other Factors to Consider
That’s one thing that can really push your training over the top- if you are excited to lace them up and hit the road. There is a special relationship between a runner and their trainers, and if they make your feet feel supported and comfortable, you are more inclined to go for a run. Getting out there and training as often as possible is one of the best ways to improve your times and push yourself to run faster than you ever thought possible. We wanted to make sure that we selected models that had a lot of cushioning or that sat on the foot comfortably to make it feel like they are an extension of your body.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What to look for to help me run faster?
There are certain things to look out for when selecting trainers. The first thing that you want to take into consideration before even hitting up the stores is what type of events do you plan to participate? This will have a huge impact on what type you should buy. If you intend on running in different types of marathons that take place on concrete or asphalt, you probably don’t need to utilize a trainer that has a lot of traction. If that is the case, be sure that you steer clear of designs labeled ‘all-terrain’, because those will likely have a lot of traction that won’t be necessary for your needs.
On the other hand, if you intend on competing in competitions that aren’t just on concrete but are also on rugged trails and mountains, you are probably going to want to utilize something that has just a little bit more traction. That’s where the ‘all terrain’ designs will come in handy. They are perfect for transitioning from rugged trails back to asphalt without skipping a beat. The treads might slow you down a little bit in comparison to other design that has less tread- but you can be certain that you will never lose traction when the trail gets rough.
q: Which is better: high tops or low tops?
If you go to one of these events and take a look at the footwear of all of the participants, you will likely notice a trend: most of them are wearing low tops. The reason for that is because when you need to really pick up speed, low tops offer you the flexibility and maneuverability that you need in order to really pick up steam.
High tops are great for more difficult trails that require a lot of stability and support to keep your ankles protected. You might have noticed that there are some high tops to makes this list, and that is due in part for their unique designs. Most of the high tops out there that are designed for competition have plunging collars around the sides of the foot so that you have the added comfort of a high top without minimizing your flexibility.
q: What should I wear on the day of the competition?
The main goal you should have when shopping around for the right clothes to wear is comfort. Through your training, you probably have a good idea of where your uncomfortable spots are. If your skin feels more comfortable in cotton rather than spandex, be sure to choose cotton. However, keep in mind that cotton can become heavy when wet- which might become a problem if you are running in the rain, or sweating a great deal on a particularly hot day.
Most athletes prefer to use nylon because it fits close to the body to prevent rubbing and chaffing, and it dries almost instantly when it becomes wet. Some runners, on the other hand, simply do not like clothes that fit super close to the body. So, it is all a matter of personal preference. Just be sure that you are aware of your preference come the big day!
q: Can I wear all-terrain trainers?
As we have mentioned easier, all-terrain sneakers are perfect for competitions that involve various types of terrain. If that is the type of competition you like to sign up for- then that is the sneaker that you should keep an eye out for. However, for other types of competitions that take place on hard and flat surfaces, all-terrain might set you back a little bit. Due to the deep tread of all-terrain, when you go to push off of a smooth surface, you won’t be able to get the same level of explosiveness that you would when using a design with a smoother sole.