Best Running Shoes for Beginners 2022
Buyer's Guide | Fleet Feet
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 try something new and stick with it.
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 back up 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 2022:
- Saucony Ride 15
- Mizuno Wave Rider 26
- HOKA Clifton 8
- Brooks Ghost 14
- New Balance Fresh Foam 880 v12
- On Cloudgo
- Karhu Ikoni
- ASICS GEL-Cumulus 24
- Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39
- Altra Torin 6
Still got questions? Check out these FAQs on running shoes for beginners.
[This is part of the Fleet Feet Buyer's Guide for The Best Running Shoes 2022. Find all the best running shoes from the top brands for all situations.]
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 15
The Saucony Ride 15 is one of the best running shoes for beginners because it does everything well.
The Ride 15 features a full-length PWRRUN foam midsole that provides consistent cushioning and a soft, bouncy feel. Saucony redesigned the PWRRUN formula to make it softer and lighter.
A new redesigned midsole geometry lets you sit deeper into the footbed rather than on top of it. This allows for a better step-in feel, although testers felt like the Ride 15 runs a tad more snug than previous versions.
Fleet Feet runners said the newest version has a more flexible forefoot and more aggressive beveling on the outsole, which allows smoother transitions.
Mizuno Wave Rider 26
New runners will love the balance of cushion and support in the Wave Rider 26.
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 jacquard mesh to create an instantly comfortable fit as soon as you step into them. The Wave Rider 26 provides a reliable ride and cushioned feel that will put a spring in your step.
HOKA Clifton 8
The HOKA Clifton 8 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. The cushioning compound is new 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 8 can handle just about any type of run you can throw at it. From your first miles to your first race, the Clifton 8 is a reliable performer that will keep pace with your training.
Brooks Ghost 14
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 14 will have you sailing through your next run.
DNA Loft 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 14 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 v12
The New Balance Fresh Foam 880 v12 is one of the best running shoes for beginners because it delivers a reliable ride that grows with you.
New Balance maintained the performance runners of all levels love, but updated the Fresh Foam X midsole to provide a softer landing and more explosive take offs. An accommodating fit works for a variety of foot shapes, and the double jacquard mesh upper gives you strategic breathability and support.
The 880 v12 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 v12 will stand up to hundreds of miles of training.
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.
The Karhu Ikoni is one of the first shoes we reach for when finding the perfect 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 is 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, a unique Ortix footbed gives the sensation of arch support underfoot and Karhu’s M-Lock lacing system in the upper feels like the palm of a hand gently holding the top of your foot down.
In our review, testers loved how lightweight and cushioned the Ikoni is, and we think you will too.
ASICS GEL-Cumulus 24
More than two decades after it first debuted, the ASICS GEL-Cumulus 24 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 smooth transitions from landing to toe-off. ASICS added its FF Blast foam to provide a more cushioned and responsive ride. 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 24 has been around for two dozen years, but it hasn’t lost a step
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39
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 in the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39.
Beginners and experienced runners alike love the versatility you get from the Nike Pegasus 39’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 39 will be your trusted workhorse for every step you take toward your goal.
Altra Torin 6
The Altra Torin 6 is an easy-riding neutral running shoe that beginners will love.
Between the easy comfort and plush cushioning, the Torin 6 offers something for every runner. The lightweight mesh upper and updated heel supports your foot where you need it most.
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 6 uses Altra’s EgoMax midsole foam to create a smooth and responsive feel underfoot, so it’s durable enough to take on long walks or tough miles. The EgoMax 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.