Best Running Shoes for Beginners 2024

Buyer's Guide | Fleet Feet

By Mandy Wahl, Evan Matsumoto, Tom Rivett 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 2024:

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 2024. 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 17

Shop Now

The Saucony Ride 17 is one of the best running shoes for beginners because it does a little bit of everything.

“Because this shoe has such smooth transitions between walking and running, it would make a great beginner shoe for those focusing on run-walk intervals,” says Mandy in our Saucony Ride 17 review.

Its generous stack of high energy return PWRRUN+ foam delivers a responsive ride, while improved ground contact and a newly engineered mesh upper keep your runs smooth and comfortable.

If you’re just starting to run or getting back into your running routine, the Ride 17’s forgiving and supportive ride makes it an excellent choice as your go-to shoe.

Mizuno Wave Rider 27

Shop Now

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

Shop Now

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 16

Shop Now

The award-winning Brooks Ghost is a great shoe for beginners and experienced runners alike.

Between the immediately comfortable step-in fit and the lightweight cushioning underfoot, the Ghost 16 will have you sailing through your next run.

Nitrogen-infused DNA Loft v3 foam is bouncy and responsive to energize your run, and a durable outsole makes this shoe a great investment for starting your running routine.

Comfort is key for beginning runners. The Ghost 16 sports a padded heel collar to prevent uncomfortable chafing and rubbing on the run, while the lightweight mesh knit upper is breathable so you can feel (and look) cool as you build up your mileage.

Read more in our Brooks Ghost 16 review.

New Balance Fresh Foam 880 v14

Shop Now

The New Balance Fresh Foam 880 v14 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 of the 880 that runners of all levels have come to love thanks to the Fresh Foam X midsole that gives you soft and cushioned landings. An accommodating fit works well for a variety of foot shapes, and the new streamlined mesh upper gives you strategic breathability and support.

The 880 v14 is approachable for new runners thanks to its no-fuss fit and feel. 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 in your training, something that we noted by running, walking and doing a variety of workouts in our New Balance Fresh Foam 880 v14 review.

Engineered with a durable rubber outsole, the New Balance Fresh Foam 880 v14 will stand up to hundreds of miles of training.

On Cloudgo

Shop Now

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

Shop Now

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 26

Shop Now

The ASICS Gel-Cumulus 26 has been around for over 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, while the FF Blast™ PLUS foam provides a light, soft and responsive ride.

Its versatility makes it a perfect shoe for beginners. In our ASICS Gel-Cumulus 26 review, we tested this shoe out in a variety of activities from walking around Orlando and timing swim meets to half marathon training and it held up great during everything. Plus, the flared-out heel helped to provide a lock-down fit and prevent blisters, which is ideal for beginners.

Celebrating its 26th iteration, the ASICS Gel-Cumulus 26 is still one of the most consistent running shoes around.

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 40

Shop Now

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

Shop Now

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.