Best Running Shoes for Beginners 2023

Buyer's Guide | Fleet Feet

By The Fleet Feet Editors Updated on

If you’re reading this, chances are you decided to start running this year (or decided to start running again).

Learning how to start running begins with setting the right goals. And, if you’re new to running, the key to building healthy running habits might lie in your ability to intentionally set yourself up for success. This is why you often hear of runners who lay out their running shoes and running clothes the night before a workout—it can make it easier to get dressed and get out the door.

But we’re here to talk shoes. Specifically, running shoes that are great for new runners. Finding the right running shoes can give you the confidence you need to commit to running.

You’re more likely to want to run when your shoes fit well and feel comfortable (and look good); if your toes are squished into the front of the shoe, you won’t want to put in the miles.

Whether you’re a beginner, you’re looking to start running again or you’re setting a goal to run your first race this year, it can be hard to know what you need to look for in a pair of trainers.

To help you find the perfect gear to start running this year, we picked this list of the 10 best running shoes for beginners in 2023:

Still got questions? Check out these FAQs on running shoes for beginners.

Complete your perfect running kit with the best running socks, best running insoles, and best running clothes.

[This is part of the Fleet Feet Buyer's Guide for The Best Running Shoes 2023. Find all the best running shoes from the top brands for all situations.]

Fit Tips:

Take the guesswork out of finding running shoes. No matter what shoes you decide on, new runners should check their running shoes for three things:

  • Comfort. Try the shoes on and take a walk or quick jog. Are the shoes comfortable? If they’re not comfortable now, they won’t get more comfortable as you start running.
  • Ride. When you’re walking or jogging around, do you feel wobbly or unsteady? Different midsole foams and shapes can create more (or less) stable rides.
  • Fit. You should have a thumb’s width of space between the end of your longest toe and the end of the shoe. Your heel shouldn’t slip when you walk or jog, and your foot shouldn’t be spilling over the edges of the shoe.

Your comfort is the most important thing, and an expert outfitter can help you find your best fit. Get a 3D scan of your feet, recommendations for your foot shape, then try on shoes to see what you like the best.

Learn more about Fleet Feet’s fit id® outfitting process (it’s free!).

Saucony Ride 16

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The Saucony Ride 16 is one of the best running shoes for beginners because it does a little bit of everything.

The Ride 16 features a full-length PWRRUN foam midsole that provides consistent lightweight cushioning and a soft, bouncy feel.

The midsole geometry lets your foot sit deeper into the footbed rather than on top of it. This gives you a better step-in feel and improves the flexibility in the forefoot for a smoother ride. The upper is lightweight, breathable and provides a great lockdown fit. In our Saucony Ride 16 review, Fleet Feet runners noticed that it fit a variety of foot shapes well from narrower feet to wider ones.

Mizuno Wave Rider 27

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New runners will love the balance of cushion and support in the Wave Rider 27.

A bio-based Wave plate is embedded in a stack of Mizuno's responsive Enerzy midsole foam that promises a smooth ride and unbeatable comfort on long walks and runs.

The heel and upper of the Wave Rider are well-padded (no blisters!) and covered in stretchy, breathable air mesh upper to create an instantly comfortable fit as soon as you step into them. The Wave Rider 27 provides a reliable ride and cushioned feel that will put a spring in your step.

HOKA Clifton 9

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The HOKA Clifton 9 is one of the best shoes for beginners because it provides versatile performance that grows with you and your training.

HOKA achieved the versatility by packing the Clifton with a lightweight foam midsole. They added even more cushioning to this version of the Clifton, and it's one of HOKA's lightest and most energetic midsole's to date.

But, despite the light weight, the midsole still feels incredibly soft and smooth beneath your feet. The soft step is perfect for new runners hitting the road for the first time, and it's great for anyone who's getting back into running after some time off.

The engineered mesh upper is soft around your foot, and it breathes well on warm days to keep you comfortable.

Best of all, the Clifton 9 can handle just about any type of run you can throw at it. From your first miles to your first race, the Clifton 9 is a reliable performer that will keep pace with your training.

Brooks Ghost 15

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The award-winning Brooks Ghost is a great shoe for new runners. Between the immediately comfortable fit as soon as you put them on and the plush cushioning underfoot, the Ghost 15 will have you sailing through your next run.

DNA Loft v2 foam is bouncy and plush enough to handle impact while still energizing your run. This excellent shock absorption takes the strain off your legs as you run, making it easier for your body to adjust to your new activity.

Comfort is key for beginning runners. The Ghost 15 sports a padded heel collar to prevent uncomfortable chafing and rubbing on the run. The lightweight mesh knit upper is breathable so you can feel (and look) cool as you take on mileage.

New Balance Fresh Foam 880 v13

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The New Balance Fresh Foam 880 v13 is one of the best running shoes for beginners because it delivers a reliable ride that can keep up with your training.

New Balance maintained the performance runners of all levels love with the Fresh Foam X midsole to provide soft landings and explosive take offs. An accommodating fit works for a variety of foot shapes, and the new streamlined mesh upper gives you strategic breathability and support.

The 880 v13 is approachable for new runners thanks to its no-fuss fit and feel, but it delivers dependable performance as you scale up your running, too. From your first few miles to long runs and fast workouts, the 880's comfortable platform and light weight work with you as you advance.

Engineered with a durable rubber outsole, the New Balance Fresh Foam 880 v13 will stand up to hundreds of miles of training.

On Cloudgo

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With a minimalist look and easy fit, the On Cloudgo is a great choice for new runners.

On running shoes don’t look like your typical sneakers, but their unique aesthetic and standout performance deliver a premium experience. From jogging on city streets to running daily errands, the On Cloudgo has everything you need to start running.

The CloudTec elements give you next-level comfort, while the Speedboard softens your landings and rolls you through your stride for explosive takeoffs.

Plus, the sleek look goes great with a pair of jeans when you're meeting up for coffee or drinks.

Karhu Ikoni 2.5

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The Karhu Ikoni 2.5 is one of the first shoes we reach for when recommending a running shoe for beginners.

Designed based on millions of 3D foot scans captured during Fleet Feet’s fit id® outfitting process, the Karhu Ikoni is one of the most comfortable running shoes you’ll put on.

A bed of lightweight Aerofoam feels super plush and responsive, and it's supported by a half-length Fulcrum rocker in the midfoot. This combination can benefit new runners working on form and efficiency as it helps to roll the foot through its heel-to-toe transition and makes runs and walks feel effortless with each step.

While you work to build up your foot strength, Karhu’s M-Lock lacing system in the upper feels like the palm of a hand gently holding the top of your foot down.

ASICS GEL-Cumulus 25

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The ASICS GEL-Cumulus 25 has been around for a quarter of a century, but it hasn’t lost a step.

The Cumulus has ASICS’ Pure-GEL technology in the heel, which absorbs shock and creates smooth transitions from landing to toe-off. ASICS designers added their FF Blast™ PLUS foam to provide a lighter, softer and more responsive ride. A soft mesh upper and padded heel collar give the shoe a plush step-in feel that keeps you comfortable all run long.

It's versatility makes it a perfect shoe for beginners, one Fleet Feet runner said, "I’ve used this shoe for everything from walking the dog and running errands to easy runs and speedwork and am always excited to put this shoe on my foot," in our ASICS Gel-Cumulus 25 review.

Celebrating its 25th iteration, the ASICS GEL-Cumulus 25 is still one of the most consistent running shoes around. Which makes it a great shoe for new runners.

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 40

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When you’re just starting to run, it’s important to find a comfortable shoe that gets you excited to lace up and bounce out the door. Well, you’ll feel like you’re flying out the door in the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 40.

Beginners and experienced runners alike love the versatility you get from the Nike Pegasus 40’s balanced ride and comfortable fit. Over the years, the Peg has maintained its classic low-profile silhouette and neutral ride, which is great for new runners who want a no-nonsense experience. Nike’s bouncy and durable React foam gives you a smooth and responsive ride while two Zoom Air units at the forefoot and heel add a pop to your step to keep you feeling energized for miles.

Whether you’re just getting started with the run-walk method or training for your first 5K, the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 40 will be your trusted workhorse shoe for every step you take toward your goal.

Altra Torin 7

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The Altra Torin 7 is an easy-riding neutral running shoe that beginners will love.

Between the easy comfort and plush cushioning, the Torin 7 offers something for every runner. The lightweight mesh upper and heel support your foot where you need it most. Our testers loved the flared heel and how easy it was to put on in our Altra Torin 7 review.

Thanks to Altra's unique FootShape design, the toe box of the shoe mimics the natural shape of your foot to prevent pinching and squeezing of your toes on the run.

The Torin 7 now uses even more of Altra’s EGO™ MAX midsole foam to create a smooth and responsive feel underfoot, so it’s durable enough to take on long walks or runs. The EGO MAX foam keeps you feeling fresh and energized as you build up to longer mileage, making it a great shoe for new runners.


How We Picked the Best Running Shoes for Beginners

We chose the best running shoes for beginners by poring over the details of each model. Through wear testing, interviews with shoe designers and professional athletes, and our own fit id® data, we chose the shoes we think will work best for most runners in most situations.

You can shop with confidence at Fleet Feet: We offer free shipping on all orders over $99, and you have 60 days to return any gear if you don’t like the way it looks, fits or feels. Plus, with our price-match guarantee, you can make sure you never pay too much for a new pair of running shoes.