Finding the right running shoes means you'll be more comfortable as you start you training, which means you'll be more likely to stick with it. That's where the best running shoes for beginners come in.
There isn’t one shoe that’s right for every runner. What makes a shoe work for you is dependent on many factors, including your foot shape, weight and experience level (among many others). All of those variables mean the best shoes for you are different than the best shoes for someone else.
If you're new to running, it can be hard to know what you need to look for in a pair of running shoes. To give you a place to start, here are the best running shoes for beginners:
But you don't have to find shoes by trial and error. New runners should check their running shoes for three things:
Still got questions? Check out these FAQs on running shoes for beginners.
[Updated Apr. 5, 2021. This is part of the Fleet Feet Buyer's Guide for The Best Running Shoes 2021. Find all the best running shoes from the top brands for all situations.]
The Saucony Ride 13 is one of the best running shoes for beginners because it does everything well.
Saucony built the Ride 13 for an easy fit. The Ride accommodates a wide range of foot shapes and sizes, making it comfortable for long days on your feet, and it maintains a light weight that's easy on your legs. A full-length PWRRUN foam midsole provides consistent cushioning and a soft, bouncy feel.
The Saucony Ride 13 replaces the Saucony Ride ISO 2. Like many other updated Saucony running shoes, designers dropped the ISOFIT system on previous models in favor of FORMFIT, which uses three layers of cushioning for a more dynamic fit.
In the Saucony Ride 13 review, Fleet Feet runners said the newest version finds the right balance of comfort and performance, making it great for easy cruising and uptempo long runs alike.
The Mizuno Wave Rider 24 got a key update but remains a classic and consistent running shoe that’s great for new runners.
Mizuno built the Wave Rider on top a firm but well-cushioned midsole that gives the shoe a soft landing and responsive takeoff. The newest version has Mizuno's new foam, called Mizuno Enerzy, that gives the shoe soft landings and a bouncy response.
Designers also sandwiched Mizuno’s signature Wave Plate into the midsole to help soak up more impact and smooth out the transition from heel to toe.
New runners will like the Wave Rider 24 because it has a generous fit that’s comfortable for a wide range of foot shapes, and the foam works with the Wave Plate to help stabilize every step.
Mizuno this year built the Wave Rider with two upper options—one mesh and one Waveknit—so you can find the right one for you. Plus, it’s one of the best-selling running shoes every year, so you can be confident in its performance and durability.
The HOKA Clifton 7 is one of the best running shoes for beginners because it gives you super soft cushioning without weighing you down.
HOKA built the new Clifton 7 with a stack of its signature EVA foam underfoot. The big cushion makes every step feel soft and easy on your feet, and it transitions smoothly from your landing to your takeoff.
Even with the ridiculous amount of foam, though, HOKA was able to maintain a surprisingly light weight. Designers used a thin mesh upper for a comfortable fit and didn't add any extra designs or overlays to keep weight down.
When you start running for the first time (or you're picking it up again after some time off) the generous helping of cushioning in the HOKA Clifton 7 can be easier on your body than shoes with less.
There are many good running shoes for beginners, but few shoes match the combination of comfort, performance and fit of the Brooks Ghost 13.
Brooks engineered the Ghost 13 as a well-rounded running shoe for beginners and experts alike. The newest version, though, has a softer feel than before thanks to more DNA Loft foam.
DNA Loft is one of the softest foams that Brooks makes, and this year designers extended it into the forefoot. The more generous coverage creates a softer underfoot feel and super smooth transitions.
The accommodating toe box fits most foot shapes, and it comes in a wide version for anyone who needs a roomier fit. Overall, comfort and versatility make the Brooks Ghost 13 one of the best running shoes for beginners.
The New Balance Fresh Foam 880v11 is one of the best running shoes for beginners because it delivers a reliable ride that grows with you.
New Balance updated the classic 880 with a new mesh upper and refined shape, but they maintained the performance runners of all levels love. The Fresh Foam midsole provides a cushioned landing and bouncy response, and the accommodating fit works for a variety of foot shapes.
The 880v11 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 880v11 is will stand up to hundreds of miles of training.
On running shoes don’t look like your typical running shoes, but their unique aesthetic and standout performance deliver a premium experience. The On Cloudswift doesn’t stray from the formula.
Designers used On’s signature CloudTec technology to cushion the Cloudswift, but they enhanced the feeling with Helion foam. On’s premier foam composition is both more cushioned and more responsive than other versions, so you get a ride that’s confident on long runs and powerful at top-speed.
With a minimalist look and easy fit, the On Cloudswift is a great choice for new runners.
Karhu designed the Ikoni 2020 for everyone.
Using data from 3D foot scans taken during Fleet Feet’s fit id® outfitting process, Karhu shaped the Ikoni to fit most foot sizes and shapes. The latest version sports a slightly narrower heel for a better fit, but it dons the same soft and life AeroFoam midsole to power the ride.
Karhu didn’t stop at the standard Ikoni, though: They designed the Karhu Ikoni HiVo for wide and high-volume feet. Everything about the HiVo is the same as the stock Ikoni, but it allows more runners to experience the Ikoni’s comfortable, stable ride.
More than two decades after it first debuted, the ASICS GEL-Cumulus 23 is still one of the most consistent running shoes around. That consistency is what makes it a great running shoe for new runners.
The latest Cumulus has ASICS GEL cushioning units in the heel and forefoot, which absorb shock and create a smooth transition from landing to toe-off. A soft mesh upper and padded heel collar give the shoe a plush step-in feel, and additional flex grooves carved into the outsole allow your foot to bend naturally.
The ASICS GEL-Cumulus 23 has been around for more than 20 years, but it hasn’t lost a step.
Nike made a few big updates to its best-selling running shoe ever, ensuring it's still a great for beginners and veterans alike.
What makes the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 one of the best running shoe for beginners is its comfort and straightforward fit. The Peg maintains a low-profile silhouette and neutral ride, which is great for new runners who want a no-nonsense experience.
This year's Peg uses a React foam midsole, which is a proven performer. Nike uses React in some of its other popular running shoes, like the Nike React Infinity Run, because it delivers a smooth, bouncy ride and lasting durability.
Designers also used a new Zoom Air unit. The new Air unit in the forefoot is twice as thick as before to give you greater rebound right where your foot takes off.
The Altra Torin 4.0 is an easy riding neutral running shoe that beginners will love.
Altra’s FootShape toe box highlights the shoe’s fit. The unique shape is wider through the forefoot and more rectangular at the toe, which mimics the shape of your foot. FootShape allows your foot to land and splay naturally and then push off with power.
The Torin 4.0 is lighter than its predecessors without losing any of the cushioning that creates its comfortable ride. New runners will like the Altra Torin 4.0 for building up to bigger mileage.
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.