If lockdown has seen you pounding the pavements in a bid to stay healthy and sane, it might be time to reward yourself with some smart new kicks.
Decent running shoes aren’t cheap – but they can be very important, helping protect your feet and joints throughout the body, from injury.
Plus, finding that dream pair – that fits just right and puts a spring in your step – really can enhance performance and make it all that bit more fun and comfortable.
We tried out five running shoes new this season, all ideal for pavements and urban jogs. Here’s how we got on…
1. Brooks Ricochet 3 Women’s Road Running Shoes, £120 (brooksrunning.com)
What’s new? Thanks to an updated combo of BioMoGo DNA and DNA AMP technology, the new Brooks Ricochet 3 is lighter than ever. Additional design tweaks also promise improved breathability and a more secure fit.
Key specs and features: Typical for Brooks, these are ideal for road running, with medium/high arches and a substantial sole designed to maximise impact absorption and provide smooth transitions as you pound those pavements. Soft knit uppers promise flexibility and comfort along with stability around the heel.
Verdict: From the first stride, these felt great – the perfect balance of light, bouncy and stable. As someone whose joints are far happier running on grassy surfaces than roads – but will run on pavements if that’s all the weather and location will allow – the Ricochet 3s instantly elevated my comfort levels. If cushioning is your top priority, an absolute winner. (Review by Abi Jackson)
2. Salomon S/LAB Phantasm Running Shoes, £165 (salomon.com)
What’s new? A barely-there mesh upper and funky, curved midsole made from lightweight and responsive foam makes the Phantasm S/LAB an impressive race shoe, from a brand known for its trail running trainers. It’s also one of Salmon’s lightest shoes yet.
Key specs and features: These minimalist race shoes are made for running fast and hitting new personal bests on the track. Inspired by the brand’s ski heritage, Salomon says the bouncy midsole geometry helps you feel like you’re levitating off the pavement. Elsewhere, a seamless, featherlight collar offers a breathable ride, while wide lugs offer a nice grip on wet surfaces.
Verdict: A lunchtime 5K felt so much more enjoyable in these. Comfortable and cushioned, it really does feel like you’re springing from foot to foot during the harder kilometres. Even with narrow feet, the mesh provided a breathable but secure fit, and I liked that there wasn’t loads of padding constricting my toes. (Review by Liz Connor)
3. New Balance Women’s Fresh Foam 1080v11, £135 (newbalance.co.uk)
What’s new? New to New Balance’s Fresh Foam range, these combine a super-comfy underfoot experience with a breathable soft knit upper, making this shoe lighter than its predecessor, while also providing additional stretch and support.
Key specs and features: Utilising cutting-edge data-to-design, the 1080v11 blends UltraHeel technology – which hugs the back of the foot for a snug, supportive fit – with the brand-new upper to provide 360-degrees comfort, particularly for high-mileage runs. The materials incorporated offer superior breathability too, as well as an attractive design.
Verdict: Ankles can really take a bashing when pounding pavements, but these seriously cushion the blow. As well as looking stunning, they perform well, thanks to a really close fit. This can make them take a bit longer to get on an off, but it’s worth the patience. Comfy, supportive and good-looking, they’re the perfect running buddy. (Review by Claire Speadbury)
4. On New Generation Cloudswift, £135 (on-running.com)
What’s new? These updated Cloudswifts promise improved fit thanks to tweaks in the internal reinforcements, plus enhanced traction on wet surfaces. On’s CloudTec® and Speedboard™ impact-absorbing technology and outsole design’s also undergone some repositioning and re-engineering, promising even better cushioning and optimised natural rolling motion.
Key specs and features: Cloudswifts are specifically designed for urban runs – think swift 5ks. On’s trademark CloudTec® (the idea is it feels like ‘running on clouds’) means lightness and soft landings are key design features. A lot of research has gone into the soles, with the aim of maximising support of the foot’s natural rolling motion too. It’s all meant to help remove the thinking work – so you can just lace up and run, rather than worrying too much about correcting yourself as you go.
Verdict: On’s have quite a unique design, which might seem a little unusual at first – but once you get going, it all clicks. My first impression is how super light – yet very sturdy – these feel. Tackling a hilly road route, I’d normally be thinking lots about adapting my stride for the inclines and declines – but with the Cloudswifts on my feet, I confidently just keep going. There really is a sense that the shoe is adapting for me, absorbing impact and supporting my stride wherever my weight falls, which makes for a super fun run. (Review by Abi Jackson)
5. Asics Gel-Nimbus 23, £155 (asics.com)
What’s new? The 23rd version of Asics’ Gel-Nimbus running shoe continues to add new and improved technology. The 23 includes gender-specific features, designed to offer more tailored support, while improving absorption and stability for longer runs.
Key specs and features: The new 3D space construction technology helps female feet engage with the midsole as you run, and the gel provides a more comfortable strike with each stride. Made with breathability in mind, there’s a soft mesh upper and stretchy midfoot panel to help generate better flexibility. Improved support and comfort for longer distances are key design elements.
Verdict: Super snug, despite being half a size bigger than my usual running shoe, the support and cushioning is clear from the second I step into these runners. Reliably comfortable around every area of the foot, you know you’re in safe hands with a Gel-Nimbus. (Review by Claire Spreadbury)