When it comes to selecting the perfect running shoes, personal preference and comfort is the primary consideration. The scores of running enthusiasts that have eulogised about every iteration of the Pegasus, for example, does not mean they will automatically be right for everyone.
The shoes I refer to in this article are based exclusively on my personal experience and reasearch. I am neither paid to review these shoes and nor am I biased.
It’s also worth adding that I’ll categorise the best shoes of 2021 in a separate article, what’s contained here is just my opinion on the best shoes of 2021.
TOP 5 BEST RUNNING SHOES 2021
Asics Nova Blast
This is one shoe of which I have direct experience. I have been using this shoe for just over a month for my easy runs and on the first run I was very skeptical.
It felt stiff, un-cushioned and uncomfortable. I persevered and by the second time I wore them, my mind was completely changed; it was like I was wearing a completely different running shoe. They now felt extremely cushioned and fairly responsive. Incredibly, they have rapidly become possibly my favourite milage shoe ever.
So far it has handled all my easy runs on all terrains and inclines really well. I typically run easy with this shoe and the only faster run I have done was a steady long run, which included around 14k at 3:30 Kms, so it can certainly handle some faster paced work when needed. However, anything faster than this pace, you’re probably going to be reaching for something else. But that’s okay because it’s just not designed for those sort of paces. Although the Asics Nova Blast is relatively lightweight for the amount of cushion stuffed into the midsole. My main conclusion on this shoe is that it’s probably the softest shoe I have ever worn.
Keep an eye out for the Nova Blast 2 which is due to be released soon.
Saucony Endorphin Speed
The shoe of 2020, no question. No running shoe came close to the versatile Saucony Endorphin Speed last year and, for me, it still has a top spot in 2021. Nothing quite yet comes close.
It’s by far the most natural feeling running shoe I have ever worn, and it genuinely feels like you’re running in the most efficient and effective way possible. Helpfully, it doesn’t have the extra stiffness of a carbon plated racing shoe. Since this shoe has a much more forgiving plastic plate, that is more durable and doesn’t leave the calf muscles banged up.
I have used this shoe from everything from 25k long runs with tempos in, all the way down to some fast 300s. The shoe is at its best when working at tempo or threshold pace, but it can certainly go a lot quicker and feel comfortable for those longer runs.
Of all the running shoes I have ever worn, the Saucony Endorphin Speed is the only one that seems like it can do absolutely everything really well; for most runners it would almost make the perfect racer. Some shoes come close, like the new Hoka Mach 4, but not even that is in the same league as the Endorphin Speed, it’s truly in a class of it’s own.
Nike Vaporfly Next% 2
Due to its relative lack of durability, the price and the aggressive nature of the carbon fibre plate, wearing the Next% for regular training is something for the overwhelming majority of runners is not something I would ordinarily recommend. However, at the moment, the Next% is generally speaking my go-to shoe for any challenging workout on the road or on the track which I’m not already wearing spikes in.
The ZoomX foam, allows me to leave the workout not banged up, reducing the risk of injury and allowing me to recover more effectively before the next session and the responsiveness of the foam and the infused carbon plate mean you can turn up the pace with ease.
Of course, come race day on the roads, this shoe has been a global favourite across all distances from 5k to the half marathon and the full distance. Despite some impressive efforts from Nike’s competitors, particularly over the last 12 months, it remains the go-to for the world’s best athletes.
Asics Meta Speed Sky
The newest ‘super’ running shoe is the latest offering from Asics and is their second entry in this top 5. The shoe arrived on the scene with a bang with Beth Potter running a world record time in the 5K (not ratified).
The shoe has already shown it can more than hold it’s own on the roads, and will be looking to topple Nike’s dominance of the super-shoe market, but it also has similar benefits for training, as the Next%.
The reason I have included this shoe as well as the Nike Vaporfly Next% is because from first impressions, this shoe seems as if it is faster for the 5K and 10K distances than any other super shoe on the market. Given the emerging popularity of the 5K races thanks to Parkrun and others, it seems likely that this will become a hugely popular shoe for many thousands of racers across the world.
Hoka Clifton 7
I won’t have anyone tell me any different, Hoka are the Kings of mileage shoes. The only other shoe company that compares, in my opinion, is Asics.
If you struggle with impact injuries, I strongly suggest investing in some Hoka’s for your mileage. The reason the Hoka Clifton 7 is my recommendation is because it fits perfectly within Hoka’s shoe range. It’s not too heavy, yet still has a lot of cushion and can be used for some steadier miles, as well as the easiest of easy days.
If you have used Hoka running shoes before, I don’t need to do too much explaining. But for any none Hoka wearers, the high stack, high cushion, low drop combination is something everyone needs to try. After years of achilles issues, switching to Hoka and now Asics has transformed my running. Even better, Hoka look set to improve their already brilliant Clifton 7 with a new iteration, the Clifton 8 in just a few weeks.
Before I leave you to go and purchase your next pair of running shoes. I felt I had to dedicate a bit of this blog to some shoes that didn’t quite make it into my top 5. They all have amazing reviews and legions of fans across the world but, I either haven’t had the chance to try them yet or they didn’t quite work out for me. So here’s my list of honourable mentions:
- Hoka Mach 4
- Asics gel nimbus 23
- Saucony Endorphin Shift
- Brooks glycerin 19 GTS”