You may have heard of these innovative, Swiss-designed running shoes before. I had the chance to try a few models in 2018-2019 and was recently reintroduced to them whilst surfing the internet reading about the latest running tech for some content inspiration (as a running shoe nerd does). I decided to explore a few popular models of On Running shoes below, discuss the shoe technology and include a brief account of my own experience in a couple of pairs.
For a quick bit of context, On is relatively new to the running shoe market, appearing in 2010 and founded by three athletic and innovative running tech pioneers – Olivier Bernhard, David Allemann, and Caspar Coppetti.
Here’s the interesting thing I came across when reading about On Running – The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) released a study conducted with a pool of test runners, finding that On runners promote “lower pulse rates and lower blood lactate levels”.
Here’s a lovely photo of Roger Feder and the On Running founders + shoe tech experts, repping On Running. Not my own photography or content, sourced directly from ON, here.
According to the Wall Street Journal, On Running shoes set out to design a shoe that helped find a “middle ground” between the barefoot, minimalist running vs the cushioned running shoe debate.
On Running labels their sole technology ‘Cloudtec®’. Their website explains that the technology provides a soft, cushioned feel upon the downstride/landing, and then propulsion moving into the next stride. The aim when designing the technology was to create a shoe that doesn’t compromise cushioning for minimalism and minimalism for cushioning. Essentially, On Running promotes their footwear as an amalgamation of both, boasting a lightweight design.
The materials of the shoe are antibacterial (that’s pretty neat, huh), as per the On Running Website – this is super cool. No one likes nasty toes after miles and miles. The shoe upper also uses tape instead of stitching, which is better from a waterproof standpoint and aesthetically.
I personally tried the On Cloud X and On Cloud Flow. They definitely have a different feeling to other running shoes. I instantly noticed a kind of ‘massaging’ feeling on the soles of my feet, and found them quite comfy to work a 6-hour standing job shift I had at the time. Running my Sunday long run the day after, my legs didn’t feel fatigued from standing most of the day before – whether this was the shoe or not, I can’t be certain, but I don’t have too many suspicions.
The shoes are extremely lightweight, I felt very ‘free’ in them. Very different from a more traditional Nike Structure, Brooks Adrenalin, or Asics GT 2000. Not necessarily ‘better’ (this will vary based on individual needs, likes, and purpose), just very different. They are unique!
I can definitely vouch for the fact that the shoe has a very minimalistic design aesthetically, which is very Swiss in nature. They definitely stand out on the shelf amongst other shoes, mainly due to the ‘clouds’ on the sole (the cushioned sole segments, to describe them in the text). The design between the On Running Women’s Shoes and Men’s shoes didn’t vary too much, they’re pretty neutral. This is important as often I found particular colors of running shoe models didn’t sell if they were too exotic or ‘out-there’ for most customer tastes.
I loved the heel in the shoe, a lot of times I find with my extremely narrow feet, I tend to slip out of many shoe models at the heel. The On Runners I tried provided a secure fit at the heel.
Launched in late 2015, this shoe is a great all-rounder, meaning it is an excellent training shoe. It will work well on roads, even trail, track, and turf. The cushioning is on the softer side, making it a more ‘forgiving’ shoe in this sense. As expected with a training shoe, the On Cloudflyer provides more support (not a neutral shoe) and fits a bit wider. The shoe weighs 280g/9.88 oz and has a 7mm heel to toe drop. The general model is $159.99.
The model also comes in a Waterproof engineered design, coming in at $179.99 – On recommends purchasing a size up for all their waterproof models.
Launched in late 2016, the On Running website explains that the On Cloudflow was the first shoe of their collection to launch with a total of 18 Clouds (the sole, as I discussed earlier). The Cloudflow is best for both training and racing, particularly road racing.
Why? Because the cushioning on this model is more midway on the scale – not soft, but not completely firm. Therefore it can provide forgiveness on the downstride but doesn’t dissipate too many forces to impact the power through to the next stride. As expected with a training/racing model, it is a neutral fit.
The shoe weighs 8.29oz / 235g, with a 6mm heel-toe drop. The On Running website explains that the Cloudflow is great for faster training, 10km, half marathon, tempo runs, and longer intervals. The shoe is $139.99.
On Running discuss how 2017 was a year where the company chose to focus on designing performance shoes engineered for speed specific training and racing. The two models released were the On Cloudflash and On Cloudrush.
Definitely a racing shoe, these guys both have a 5mm heel-to-toe drop and are categorized as neutral stability.
The differences between the Cloudflash and Cloudrush is that one is more suited to Road Racing (The Cloudflash). Whilst both have more minimal cushioning compared to other On Running models, the Cloudflash has slightly more than the Cloudrush, to reduce the impact from cement/road/gravel etc.
The Cloudflash, therefore, could make a great interval/tempo/speed practice shoe AND racing shoe.
First launched in 2015, the Cloudflyer is categorized as a more supportive stability shoe that still retains the ‘lightness’ On runners are known for. Also primarily a training shoe designed for the road and other mixed terrains, it is great for mid-distance training and road training.
The Cloudsurfers weigh 11.64 oz/330g and have a 6mm heel-to-toe drop. They’re a bit heavier than other On Cloud models.
The On Cloudventure launched mid-way into 2016, designed specifically for trail running and the conditions mother nature can throw at us. The Swiss-style of engineering remains prominent, retaining the same lightweight properties as other On Running models. The cushioning is moderate on this model, which is necessary for a trail shoe requiring more stability in the sole for the harder off-road terrains.
They’re waterproof, have neutral stability, and as expected with a trail shoe, a more minimal 6mm heel-to-toe drop to prevent facilitating ankle sprains on uneven surfaces.
The shoe weighs in at 10.41 oz/ 295g, a little heavier than other On Cloud models.
Coffee For Runners: The Benefits of Caffeine for Athletes
If you participate in sports competitions regularly, it’s likely you would’ve heard athletes discuss the use of caffeine for performance-enhancing benefits. Just walk down a busy street with coffee shops near popular running or biking trails on a weekend morning, and you’ll often find cycling or run groups having a brew. Coming from Australia, coffee is a big deal. In Melbourne and Sydney in particular, Coffee is an art. You could spend a whole day exploring different coffee roasters and the varied eclectic atmosphere they create for you to sit and enjoy your brew. I’ve enjoyed exploring coffee shops in my new city, Boise.
Caffeine For Runners: Is Caffeine good for runners?
Caffeine is often recommended for runners as it can have a slight performance-enhancing effect if the individual times their ingestion correctly to their race/event start time and correctly for the duration or distance of the race. Caffeine can cause an upset stomach, better known as G.I distress for runners if the athlete is not used to coffee when training. However, if the individual is able to take on board coffee, their awareness, alertness, the focus can increase and their perception of effort may be decreased. What’s not to love about that? I’m personally a big fan of coffee before racing.
Here’s an even niftier trick you can consider which I came up with whilst out on a long run one Sunday morning. I practice this regularly to get the optimum race-day advantage. As a regular coffee drinker, many would agree that we become slightly immune to the effects of coffee over time. Considering this, I only drink decaffeinated coffee and tea, or no coffee at all, up to 5 days before a race. Whether it is a placebo effect or not, I can’t be sure, but I know I definitely feel the effects of the caffeine when I drink coffee on race day after no coffee for a few days (a temporary coffee fast, you could call it). On the day of the race, if it is an early start time, I take on board 2 shots, and if it is in the evening, up to 3. I’m buzzing and ready to go!
The only drawbacks of using caffeine is the risk of GI distress, the need to urinate and potential jitters. Getting the jitters isn’t such a big issue for distance runners, as our sport doesn’t require us to be still to execute a good performance (unlike an archer, or 100m sprinter on the start-blocks, for instance). To avoid GI distress, we train the stomach in practice to be able to handle varying amounts of caffeine, well before race day.
Should I drink Caffeine before a run?
For many runners in particular, including myself, coffee is a big part of my morning routine before training or races. One study evidently highlighted that more than two-thirds of Olympians use caffeine as a pre-workout supplement. In the hotter months, particularly when temperatures can hit 45 degrees C or 100+ Fahrenheit here in Boise, I’ll reach for the cold brew pre-run. In winter when it is significantly cooler, it’s a double shot latte or Americano. Investing in a coffee machine is your best bet for convenience and financially, especially if you’re a student or student-athlete.
I love how my morning cup of coffee increases my alertness and awareness. Most of the time I find myself running in the mornings within 30-1hr after hopping out of bed (especially in the summer). I’ll pair my coffee with a small snack to help with the digestion of the coffee and satiate my hunger during the training session. A pre-run snack that pairs well with coffee is normally a bowl of cereal with non-dairy milk or toast with jam/honey or nut butter.
If you’re an individual who believes they can’t eat before or close to a run, I urge you to train yourself to be able to take on board something, including a coffee. Training is time to practice for race day – you can survive a few uncomfortable running sessions in the short term, to invest in optimal long term nutrition.
Does Drinking Coffee make you run faster?
There’s evidence to support the benefits of caffeine in endurance-based sports. Most caffeine supplements are 2-3 shots dense (80-120 milligrams), as this is believed to be the best amount to consume to improve performance. Many online sources discuss using 5mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight. With 1 cup of coffee containing around 95-120 mg of caffeine, you may have to have a double shot or two cups to get the full effects.
Coffee works to improve your performance in a few ways. Most notably, it can reduce your perceived levels of exertion during difficult endurance activities, including running.
Caffeine has a pretty short-acting effect, so from personal experience, I like to have 1 shot an hour out from the race, and another shot 30 minutes before. I take these in caffeine strips such as Revvies (https://www.revviesenergy.com/) in which each strip is equivalent to one shot of coffee. This reduces any chance of stomach upset which might be experienced if a coffee, particularly one with dairy milk, is ingested too close to the gun time. I’ll have 1 strip 30 minutes before the race, and 1 just before I line up for the race if I’m using Revvies.
The stomach can also be trained to take caffeine on board close to a race. I can have a black coffee with a dash of milk up to 45 minutes before an event, as long as I ensure I get to the bathroom before the start, this is no issue for me. I’m firing and ready to run fast!
The best way to practice caffeine intake and experiment with supplements is during training phases/periods. You can afford to make mistakes during these times – this is why it is called practice! Mastering your nutrition needs as an athlete doesn’t happen without trial and error.
Best Caffeine Supplements for Runners
For a great, convenient pre-race option (especially for Aussie based athletes, as this brand is AUS based), I use Revvies Energy Strips. They are super simple to take, simply place a strip on your tongue and allow it to dissolve. It and can be taken during a run, and right up until the start of a race. Talk about convenience! If you’re sensitive to caffeine, 1 strip is generally enough, however, if you’re a regular drinker, 2 strips are better. Revvies don’t recommend consuming more than 5 strips a day. They have 2 flavors – Arctic Charge and Tropical Hit. I personally like Arctic Charge best as it reminds me of a piece of mint gum.
Run Gum is a popular worldwide caffeine supplement used by athletes. Unlike Revvies, Run Gum is exactly what it says it is…a gum. You chew it for 5-10 minutes to effectively absorb the caffeine, b-vitamins, and taurine ingredients in the gum. Run Gum states that this immediately boosts alertness and energy, without causing stomach upset.
In terms of general caffeine supplements, I really like Tailwind. They pride themselves on natural, organic supplements that are anti-doping approved (remember to always check your supplements on GlobalDro – this is the responsibility of the athlete). For a recovery based option containing caffeine, I have used their ‘Caffeinated Coffee Rebuild’. This is great for post-session when you need a kick-start to your day. It helps to replenish depleted glycogen stores, rebuild muscles, and restore electrolytes to your body. I like to blend my sachets into a smoothie to go on my way to work, class, or morning errands. This sachet is made with organic rice protein, healthy fats from coconut milk, and a few carbohydrates added for recovery purposes (3:1 ratio of protein to carbohydrates within 30minutes of exercise is the optimal timing for recovery according to Accredited Sports Dieticians). Get yours here.
Gels containing caffeine are a great way to consume more caffeine on top of your normal cuppa pre-run or top up your caffeine stores whilst you’re out running, biking, swimming etc.
From personal experience, I would practice in training and sessions using different brands of caffeinated running gels to ensure you don’t have a stomach upset on race day, and train the body to digest it effectively. This is because the rate of caffeine absorption and the effects vary from person to person. Maurten, a reputable sports nutrition company state that this varies based on weight and how used to caffeine the individual is.
Maurten is an extremely popular brand, with Eluid Kipchoge to thank for a large amount of promotion when he used the brand to fuel his victory in the 2018 Berlin Marathon. They recently released a gel known as GEL100 CAF, containing 100mg of caffeine per serving, and 25g of carbohydrates for some extra fuel whilst you’re on the run. The great thing about this caffeinated hydrogel is it is preservative, artificial flavor and colorant free. All these nasty additives can cause stomach upsets which are unwelcome come race day. Get a box of 100 servings here.
The Ultimate Guide to ASICS, Nike, Hoka One One, Brooks, and Saucony Road Running Shoes
Selecting the right pairs of road running shoes for your everyday jog or training run is super important, as it is likely to be the footwear you’ll spend most of your time training in. Picking the best road running shoes doesn’t have to be tricky. A bit of research can go a long way in making a purchasing decision. Even better if the shoe company will let you order a few sizes to try, and return the ones that don’t fit. Sometimes the small business online running stores will allow you to do this if they are local to your area.
In this first section of my best road running shoe guide, I explore some of the best road running shoes from two of the most well-known road running shoe brands: Nike road running shoes and Asics running shoes.
In the second section, I’ll discuss Hoka running shoes, Brooks running shoes, and Saucony running shoes.
Nike Running Shoes
Shoe 1: Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37
A well-known and widely used shoe, these guys are an all-around good training shoe. I particularly love using them on the roads and gravel paths. They also do work surprisingly well on trails. I put this down to the neutral structure of the shoe, cushioning in the foam, and flexibility in the upper. Too much rigidity makes the runner prone to an ankle sprain and not enough cushion is uncomfortable on rocky, spiky surfaces. Available in both a normal or wide fit, they cater well to different foot widths. I gathered from the website reviews of the Pegasus 37 that the shoe fits true to size. From running in these shoes personally, I can confirm this. I’ve never had issues that correlate with ‘fit’ when wearing the Pegs.
In terms of shoe tech, Nike has utilized its ‘Nike React Foam’, which is intended to be cushioned and responsive. I agree, in my opinion, this is a very cushioned shoe, and it is noticeable whilst running. I like to use it for a few of my jogs and mid-length longer runs. I found that the shoe didn’t need much time to be ‘broken in’, which is super nice with my consistent running and takes the stress out of thinking about that aspect of footwear.
I do however want to note that I find when you wear the shoe on a longer run, the foam tends to work better for the next run if you give it a day to ‘recover’. I get around this by alternating the running shoes that I use. The shoe foam seems to have more spring if you don’t use it on back to back days. Nike calls the shoe model’s cushioning system ‘Nike Zoom’. Nike states that it utilizes “pressurized air and tightly stretched fibers to absorb impact” and return energy to the runner, which in turn reduces the load stress on joints.
The mesh upper (this is a shoe tech term, referring to the fabric part of the shoe) on the Nike Pegasus 37 is thinner than the Peg 36’s, meaning it is more breathable however still retains the upper flexibility Peg users love.
It has a 10mm heel drop. A pair of Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 is $120USD. Get yours here.
Shoe 2: Nike Air Zoom Structure 22
I also use the Nike Zoom Structure 22 shoe alongside the Nike Zoom Pegasus 37 as a part of my training shoe rotation. My foot structure is quite flat (I pronate, a lot!), meaning I’ll often lean toward a shoe that has more structure for a general training shoe. This isn’t as important in a race or speed work shoe purchase decision. The Nike Zoom Structure 22 offers more structural support and less cushion in the sole than the neutral Pegasus 37 shoe discussed above, so it makes for a good alternative shoe choice on every other day. I don’t like to get extremely used to one shoe either, changing it up here and there allows for muscle adaption to a larger variety of scenarios, shoes, and surfaces.
Nike promotes that the shoe is sleeker and more lightweight. I do agree that the Nike Structure 22 fits my narrow foot better than the model previous, mainly due to the thinner, tighter mesh upper. Nike has made their lacing system on this shoe better than I previously recognized before, as it hugs the top surface of my feet nicely.
Nike Structure 22 also has a 10mm heel drop. Interestingly, Nike has integrated what they call crash pad technology into the heel, to reduce the impact on joints, tendons, and ligaments upon foot contact with the ground. It also helps with the over-pronation correction process. I do notice the extra midfoot support in this shoe model, which is no surprise as it is called the ‘structure’ for a reason.
Nike has integrated their ‘Zoom Air unit’ in the forefoot of this shoe, which provides a low-profile cushioning but retains the desired responsiveness, they explain. This shoe from experience is not as great on trails due to its supportive and structural features. It truly is a road running shoe for everyday use.
A pair of Nike Air Zoom Structure 22 comes in at $120USD. Get your pair here.
Asics Running Shoes
Shoe 3: ASICS Gel Nimbus 22
This is arguably Asics best neutral road running shoe for everyday use. I personally have tried the shoe and enjoy it for regular runs. Most Asics shoe users purchase Asics for the GEL, a defining tech feature of the brand’s running shoes. The GEL unit in the heel of the shoe (shown in red in the above image) has the role of cushioning on the down-stride and providing a good level of responsiveness on the kick-back section of the runner’s stride. For most runners, landing on the heel is the first point of contact with the ground in their stride, hence why the GEL is cleverly integrated into the heel of the shoe. Naturally, in human body functioning and biomechanics, the heel is designed to be able to absorb the most shock upon ground contact.
Asics have continued to utilize their trusty Flytefoam propel technology in the midsole of the shoe to enhance energy return. Asics note that their Flytefoam (a mixture of different foam materials) is 55% lighter than industry standards of foam in other running shoes.
Despite being a neutral shoe, Asics still ensures to include a stability piece (shown in black in the image above) underneath the arch of the food. I really enjoyed having this piece integrated, but not dominate the entire mid-section of the shoe as many other training/road running shoes have. It’s modest and effective.
The mesh upper provides adequate breathability and is pretty supportive. More so than the Nike model road shoes. Nike traditionally tends to have less support in their mesh uppers, preferring a more flexible mesh technology fabric.
The Asics GEL-Nimbus 22 comes in at $150USD. Get yours here.
Shoe 4: ASICS GT-2000 8
Before I started running in college where Nike is our gear sponsor, I swore by Asics GT-2000’s as my training shoe. I still own a pair that I use as apart of my regular shoe rotation. Like its cousin, the Nimbus 22, the GT-2000 8 also re-introduces the famous GEL component in the heel, for cushion and shock absorption. I personally find, that unlike shoes such as the Saucony Kinvara or Hoka One One which have a lot of under heel cushioning, this has a firmer feel underfoot. This is something to keep in mind, based on your own preference.
This shoe differs from the nimbus as it has extra supportive features, more suited to an over-pronation runner’s foot type. This shoe includes a more aggressive supportive piece in the midfoot section, as you can see in the sole view image (light grey) below. This piece increases the stability and support provided by the shoe to the foot.
The lightweight Flytefoam technology is also utilized in the Asics GT-2000 8, just as it is in the Nimbus 22. The mesh is also great from a water-proofing standpoint. It is lightweight, provides good cover to the foot but also is very breathable.
This shoe is a training shoe for everyday use, best suited to the roads and gravel paths. From personal experience, it doesn’t do well on trails and uneven surfaces. This is because the midfoot piece doesn’t allow for much flexibility and reactivity when making contact with rocky surfaces. It also gets slashed up. This happened to me. I now buy trail-specific shoes. Like the other road running shoes I have discussed, this shoe has a 10mm heel drop.
A pair of Asics GT-2000 8 comes in at $120. Get your pair here.
Best Road Running Shoes Guide Part 2: Hoka One One, Brooks and Saucony
After looking at some of the best road running shoes Nike and Asics have to offer, I thought it was also important to look at some other well-known running shoe brands that offer other diverse styles and models. Selecting the right pairs of road running shoes is a very personal experience based on your own goals, foot type, surfaces most often run on, and race + training distances and mileage. There’s a lot to consider. By writing these best road running shoe guides, featuring shoe tech descriptions, reviews, and my own personal experience, I hope to make the decision process a bit easier for you.
In this second section of the best road running shoe guide, I explore some of the best road running shoes from three of the most well-known road running shoe brands: Hoka One One running shoes, Brooks running shoes, and Saucony running shoes.
Hoka One One Running Shoes
Shoe 1: Hoka Clifton 6
Side/Front on View
Hoka One One is best known for its well-cushioned running shoes. The Hoka Clifton 6 is a great road running shoe, as the cushioned sole provides a softer ride and reduces the stress impact of concrete/tar roads on the joints. Did you know that the body must absorb 6x your body weight in shock when your foot makes contact with the ground when running? Crazy huh, so it’s always good to have a bit of cushion on your everyday road running-specific shoes. It could potentially minimize stress injury risk.
The shoe is neutral in terms of stability – if you look at the sole view image below you’ll see that there are no dominating stability pieces integrated into the shoe sole or midfoot as such. This doesn’t necessarily mean the shoe isn’t a good fit for an over-pronator/more flat-footed runner. I personally have a foot that is labeled ‘over-pronator’, however, I prefer to run in neutral running shoes and place a custom orthotic/form-orthotic in the shoe for biomechanical adjustment purposes.
Interestingly, the heel-to-toe drop on this road running shoe is 5mm, compared to the usual 10mm in the Nike and ASICS road running shoes I reviewed in the first post of this series.
I wanted to point out the change in the upper Hoka One One has integrated into their new Clifton 6 model. Hoka has addressed complaints of the fit in the upper by improving the lacing and lockdown system. From my experience working in running specific stores in Australia, I found that Hoka shoes tend to fit wider feet better. The Hoka One One Speedgoat was the best fitting Hoka shoe for my narrow feet. This is something to consider.
A pair of Hoka One One Clifton 6 comes in at $130USD. Get your pair here.
Shoe 2: Hoka Carbon X-SPE
This shoe is one of Hoka One One’s latest releases and boasts features such as reactive, energy-returning cushioning, and a carbon plate (hence the name Carbon X-SPE). I personally tried a pair of these a couple of days ago. I immediately noticed that they are extremely cushioned, the upper does not provide much support, and they feel very light under-foot.
This shoe was released in response to major brands such as Nike, releasing the various Vaporfly models. It’s a new kind of racing flat, very non-traditional in a sense. What we are seeing today is highly cushioned long-distance road racing shoes that have a ‘sweet spot’ on the sole of the shoe to gain maximum propulsion when the foot makes contact with the road.
Hoka One One explains that this shoe is extremely lightweight (8.7oz for a Size 9 shoe), with the usual Hoka signature rocker design, optimal for a smooth gait and road running purpose. The foam was designed to integrate comfort with speed. Comfort is a really important factor in Hoka – it is what the customer looking for a Hoka is seeking when they try on a pair. The top layer of foam has comfort in mind, whilst the bottom layer and the lightweight carbon plate are engineered to optimize propulsion/energy return for the runner.
The upper is quite different from other Hoka shoes on the market, as they have decided to model off other brands and integrate a mesh bootie. The upper is also tongue-free, which prevents possible discomfort from rubbing or bunching ( I personally love this feature, I’ve had issues with the tongue of running shoes before.)
The one review which I found on the website explains that these shoes are well suited to long-distance road running, and road races specifically from 10k to the marathon. The 5mm heel to tow drop is more modest than other road running shoes I have explored in these blog posts, which supports its purpose as a road racing shoe.
The Hoka One One All Gender Cabron X-SPE shoe retails for $200. Get yours here.
Brooks Running Shoes
Shoe 3: Brooks Glycerin 18
The new model of the Brooks Glycerin 18 features better cushioning (a trend found in most new road running shoes being released on the market at present) and more room to move in the upper part of the shoe. The integration of increased stretch in the upper will allow more varied foot types to fit this Brooks model, which increases the potential suitable market for the shoe. This shoe is a neutral shoe, best suited to a neutral foot type, or an over-pronator who may use an orthotic or corrective piece. I do know that this shoe has a fairly high arch, which is something to take into consideration if you prefer a shoe that feels ‘flatter’. This may be a good shoe for foot types that do require some extra arch support.
Like most road running shoes I’ve looked at, the Brooks Glycerin 18 has a heel to toe drop of 10mm. Interestingly, it is fairly lightweight for an everyday road trainer, at only 9oz for a mid-range size of the shoe.
From a technical side, the midsole (foam part of the shoe) has utilized more of Brooks’ DNA LOFT midsole foam technology to increase cushioning. Brooks also desired a shoe with more traction this time around as you can see on the Sole View of the shoe I’ve included above.
What is DNA LOFT midsole technology? Brooks explains that it is a mix of EVA foam, rubber, and air. Their latest shoes are meant to be their softest and most forgiving yet. If you enjoy a cushioned, soft underfoot feelings, with a bit of arch support – check these shoes out.
The Brooks Glycerin 18 is available for $150USD, get your pair here.
Shoe 4: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20
Brooks has been releasing Adrenaline GTS model shoes for 20 years now, so they’ve had quite a while to re-think the design of the shoe but keep the same features Adrenaline users love, apparent. What’s new in this shoe is Brooks ‘GuideRails’ support technology.
GuideRails are described by Brooks to have a supportive function, “minimizing deviation of excess knee movement (which) can help stabilize your run”. Guiderails hug either side of the heel in the upper part of the midsole structure. See the image above from the Brooks website. When the foot makes contact with the ground, the Guiderails prevent an inwards collapse of the knee, which compromises stability, form, and therefore the whole kinetic chain.
Everyone I’ve met who has used a Brooks Adrenaline seems to really enjoy the shoe. Unlike the Neutral Glycerin, this shoe is more supportive in design and has a higher heel to toe drop of 12mm. Similarly, it also features DNA LOFT technology in the bottom part of the midsole and boasts cushioning as all the new lines of Brooks’ shoes seem to do.
Brooks has improved the mesh upper to be more lightweight, by structuring it to streamline and hug the foot better.
One review I read explained how they loved the cushioning in the heel and the comfort features of the shoe. Another user said that their feet are highly arched and structured, and the shoe gave them feet aches. This is likely due to the shoe being too structured for this particular runner’s foot type. Another runner described the new mesh design as more snug, and the lacing system didn’t require super tight lacing to hold the foot nice and secure.
A pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20 comes in at $130USD – they’re available online here.
Saucony Running Shoes
Shoe 5: Saucony Triumph 17
The Saucony Triumph 17 is Saucony’s most cushioned shoe, designed for long runs. The protective cushioning is intended to return energy for economical running and reduce load impact on the runner’s joints – potentially assisting in injury prevention and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMs). The shoe has an 8mm heel to toe drop and is designed for a neutral foot type. This shoe isn’t a shoe for a foot that needs a ton of support but could work well if you’re looking for beginner’s long-distance road racing shoes due to the comfort and cushioning factors.
Saucony notes that the cushioning in this shoe is 28% lighter than their previous best-cushioned shoe. This is a feature of Saucony’s new shoe technology from the end of 2019 – PWRRUN+. They note that this foam is extra springy, absorbing 5% more impact than their previous foams, enhancing the energy return of the shoe. They also note the increased flexibility, allowing “for powerful take-offs” and “softer landings”. Durability is also a key factor – they stress that this foam lasts longer, which potentially could increase the mileage life of the shoe.
Interestingly this foam isn’t EVA based like most road running shoes. They explain that PWRRUN+ features are more adaptable, flexible, and responsive to the runners foot and gait.
The Saucony Triumph is available online for $150. Get your pair here.
Shoe 6: Saucony Guide 13
The Saucony Guide 13 is one of the company’s more structured road running shoes, great for logging training miles. Saucony explains that this shoe provides a great balance of cushioning and stability/supportive features – the best of both worlds. The great thing about this shoe is that it is very versatile. I’ve tried it on gravel roads, single-track trail (not the super rocky kind), roads, and grass. It works well on each. The shoe suits a foot type that requires more support, due to the integrated stability features. I myself have flat feet (over-pronate), but enjoy a bit of cushion. Therefore, a shoe balanced with cushion and support, like the Saucony Guide, suits my needs.
From a shoe tech standpoint, like the Triumph, it also has an 8mm offset and PWRRUN cushioning technology which I discussed earlier. What is different between the Triumph and the Guide is the medial TPU guidance frame. TPU stands for thermoplastic polyurethane – which is lightweight, longer-lasting, and extremely durable compared to most other outsoles (the bottom part of a shoe). Saucony explains that this assists the natural gait cycle of the runner.
The upper is designed with FORMFIT technology – this is in place to allow the shoe to fit a wide variety of foot types (wide, narrow, toebox and heel discrepancies etc).
Right now the Saucony Guide 13 is on Sale for $89.95 USD down from $120. Get your pair here.
Water intake is absolutely crucial in facilitating blood flow to the key parts of the body that are under stress when we run. It’s common knowledge that blood carries oxygen, nutrients, and sodium to working parts of the body, those being our heart, lungs, and muscles. When dehydration occurs, our blood thickens, reducing the rate of blood flow to these key systems and body components, reducing performance and placing undue amounts of stress on the body. Think of it like this – blood transports our fuel: food and water! Generally speaking, the harder you run, the more water your body will use.
How do you know if you’re dehydrated whilst running?
There are a number of easily identifiable symptoms which I’m sure you’ve heard of before. The first one is feeling thirsty. It is true that you’re already dehydrated, or on a path to dehydration if you feel thirsty. So drink before you feel the signals. Other symptoms include (this list is not exhausted):
Increased fatigue and feeling a lack of energy
Dryness in mouth
Stomach upset, often runners complain of gastrointestinal (G.I) distress
Cramping of muscles – for me personally, my calves cramp at night sometimes causing a bad sleep if I haven’t had enough water in the day
Seeing stars, feeling dizzy and/or lethargic
Inability to/and or difficulty concentrating
In 2007 the American College of Sports Medicine stated that “dehydration = 2% of body weight degrades aerobic exercise performance in temperate-warm-hot environments and that greater levels of dehydration will further degrade exercise performance.” Thus, the aim is to begin exercise well hydrated, and maintain fluid levels throughout long bouts of exercise, and replenish afterward. It’s pretty simple really. If you can, step on the scales first thing in the morning, before you go on your next long run, and immediately on return, step on the scales. If a bodyweight loss is greater than 2%, “endurance performance will suffer.”
From a medical standpoint, dehydration is caused when running by a number of factors, including respiratory losses (sweating and heavy breathing), substrate oxidation (burning energy, measured from indirect calorimetry measurements), water oxidation and lack of water availability to the bladder. With all these factors combined, up to 2% of body mass loss can potentially occur.
Does dehydration affect running?
We need to remember that around 60% of our body is composed of water, so it makes up a fair amount of our total body weight. As discussed above, if the runner were to lose roughly 2% of their body mass, endurance performance will decrease. This means a slower pace, reduced recovery ability, and an all-round bad experience. Why let something you can control and plan for race day, ruin your run? If we drink fluid in the correct amounts, timed well, we can ensure better performance on your next run or race day.
Have you ever heard of the term “bonking” or “hitting the wall”, in association with running? Bonking means a sudden loss of energy and a high onset of fatigue. Dehydration can contribute to “bonking”, which essentially leads to a drastic reduction in athletic performance and a potential inability to continue the athletic activity. It is also largely a result of a lack of glycogen availability to send to the muscles and liver. I’d recommend for events longer than an hour, sipping on a carbohydrate-electrolyte solution, alongside easy to digest snacks to prevent bonking. For events less than 1 hour, staying well hydrated in the days before, the morning of and afterward is crucial.
Another thing to consider is some people sweat more than others. This can be to do with the person’s gender, size, and weight. What this means for the runner, is it is a very personalized approach. The plan must be tried and tested. Don’t try something new on race day, or too close to race day.
How do you avoid dehydration when running?
The top priority is to replace water that has been lost through sweating post-exercise for shorter running sessions and sip on water for sessions longer than 1hr. It is also important to maintain hydration throughout the day, including before exercise. No need to go overboard, however, a glass of water in the morning, first thing can really help kickstart the day and set you up for a better run. As someone who hasn’t drunk enough water in the past, I recently made it a habit to have a glass of water as my first task in the morning, and I have felt better throughout the day as a result of this.
An Oxford Academic article observed the relationship between dehydration and endurance performance in competitive athletes. The main takeaways from this article are the importance of beginning exercise well-hydrated for longer bouts of endurance exercise (which can be monitored by urine color; pale is generally better), and encouragement of mouth-rinsing with sports drinks throughout the activity.
It is possible that Mouth rinsing Carbohydrate solutions could be beneficial for endurance performance, i.e running. This process involves sipping and swishing around a “carbohydrate-electrolyte solution” in your mouth during the endurance event. Whilst there has been little study on the potential benefits of this method, the evidence suggests that endurance performance around 1 hour in length if the “subject has fasted”, can have a beneficial effect on performance. I have done this myself in races around 10km, and longer runs, however not in a fasted state. What I did find from a performance standpoint is less hunger upon finishing my run, I didn’t feel as fatigued at the end, and I felt I could’ve run further if I desired. I do believe there is something to be said for this. This particular study revealed that “studies using functional MRI and transcranial stimulation have provided evidence that carbohydrate in the mouth stimulates reward centers in the brain and increases corticomotor excitability.” Essentially, the brain is tricked into improving performance which is likely associated with corticomotor excitability.
How do you hydrate before running?
I personally like to drink a glass of water in the morning first thing, with a light snack if I am doing a morning run. If I am going to run a little later in the day, I’ll ensure I’m sipping regularly. If I have access to a hydration formula, like Nuun, SOS Hydration, or Hydralyte Sport as examples, I’ll add a tablet to my water bottle for the day. This is even better than water from a hydration standpoint. I’m a big advocate for finding a personal balance for training, recovery, and a racing strategy. This can improve your performance and ability to recover well. During a race or long run, I like adding Tailwind powder to my bottle as it is a preservative-free (better for you, and your gut!), electrolyte and carbohydrate solution.
I want to break down my personal race strategy so you can see an example:
48 hours before a race, I ensure I am sipping on water regularly, and having an electrolyte tablet at least once a day. I don’t want to be dehydrated on any day leading into a race. (Unless of course, you are deliberately practicing dehydration for a race environment/personal factor of performance)
Morning of the race, I make sure to have a glass of water first thing and sip on water (not excessively), up until 30-45 minutes before the race. The reason I point out not to overdo it is because a glugging gut can hinder performance.
For longer races around 10-21km (10km is a personal preference, not necessary unless hot conditions) utilize aid stations, and don’t carry a personal water supply unless necessary. In trail events, however, I often carry water and others will do the same due to the nature of the race. For marathon and ultramarathon distances, personal aid station drinks are a good idea. This should be pre-planned, tried and tested well before race day for this scenario.
Post-race, it’s important to replenish lost stores. I like to drink an electrolyte solution and aim to consume a couple of cups of water in the 30 minutes after a race. Normally 1 before cool-down and another after. Keep sipping on water throughout the day, and the day after whilst the body recovers from the effort.
Don’t forget that it is also optimal to refuel carbohydrate and protein stores within 30-1 hour of hard/long effort or race finish for maximum recovery benefit. Carbohydrates will top up your depleted glycogen stores and protein will help kickstart muscle tissue damage.
Is it ok to drink water during a run?
Absolutely. If I’m doing a long run, I’m a big fan of carrying a water bottle in a belt with me, often with some tailwind solution if the run is 75 minutes or more. If this is a no-go for you, you could potentially design your run route around access to water (water fountains/bubblers, run via home). If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere more rural, or a running around trails, planting water bottles might be a good idea. Think of it as a mini aid station!
What about over-hydrating?
Yes, there is such a thing as drinking too much water. This is known as hyponatremia and can be just as dangerous as dehydration, if not more so. The key to knowing what hydration plan or method is going to work best for you personally, is through processes of trial and error. In sports medicine terms, being over-hydrated causes a low sodium level in the blood and blood volume is reduced. The hormone ADH (anti-diuretic hormone) is released, which retains water. This dilutes the blood, lowers the sodium levels, and prevents consistent blood flow and necessary nutrient transportation to the body.
Some nifty tips to hydrate well, and save money
Save your money with the fancy electrolyte tablets and instead try a small amount sweetened iced tea powder sachet (I use these)
Try making your own hydration drink. I love the Run Fast Eat Slow Cookbook recipe. It’s all about sodium content, a bit of carbohydrates and water of course!
Eat watermelon after running with your meal – it’s got simple carbohydrates for quick glycogen replenishment and has a nice water content.
Selecting the best 5k Running Shoes to optimize your race is important to the athlete. It is essential to find the best-fit considering factors such as the individual’s foot type, biomechanics, race, and training goals, training level (from weekend warrior to elite athlete), weekly/monthly mileage, and speed. For elite athletes, selecting the best racing flats for 5k is important. Now is the perfect time to find your best shoe before races start up again, hopefully in a few months. There’s time to test and try shoes out on varied surfaces, research shoes, and talk to fellow teammates or training partners before you commit to purchase. I’ve found quite a few nifty running shoe discounts online as companies desire to increase profits and sales turnover in an unstable economy at present. Try any of these, dependent on your location, to find your best 5k running shoes:
These shoes are in no particular order, and there are many more that I’d recommend also, so just comment or contact me and I will be able to provide insight into other shoes on the market. I tried to be brand diverse, exploring a few different shoes on the market to give an all-around overview of what is available.
Shoe 1: Nike ZoomXVaporfly Next%
These shoes have earned worldwide acclaim, and you may have heard of them before as these snazzy shoes have been worn by Eluid Kipchoge and Mo Farah to run some very speedy times. Having worn these shoes before, I instantly noticed the bouncy cushion under my feet, linking it to the ‘energy return’ and optimization of running efficiency Nike promotes under the label of these shoes. The engineering behind this is the ultra light-weight carbon fibre plate in the midsole of the shoe, cushioned between two ZoomX foam layers. This ZoomX foam is Pebax-based, meaning it is lightweight, provides optimal cushioning and optimal energy return. This time around, Nike footwear engineers have added 15% more ZoomX foam on the Next%, compared to the previous model, the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%, increasing the energy return even further than 4%. This is according to Nike engineers and independent studies conducted (see https://bit.ly/3duMjnF)
The traction on the sole of the shoe ensures grip on the track, wet or dry road and even works well on gravel surfaces. These shoes have a 40mm sole, and a 9mm drop, which means they are very well cushioned and can help prevent muscle fatigue leading up to race day. I have personally felt less muscle fatigue the day after a session in these shoes. Further, the Vaporweave upper is a woven blend of thermoplastic polymers and nylon which have water and sweat resistant properties. The laces are looped through slashes on the sides of the shoe, requiring no band and securing the feet nicely for a comfortable fit.
Weighing in at around 190grams, this shoe is lightweight and speedy, but not at the compromise of cushion and comfort.
These shoes are a little pricey, retailing for around cheapest price $180-$300 USD, but I find most reputable stores are retailing them for $250USD (based on online figures). Grab yourself some fresh kicks here: https://swoo.sh/3boPR9c
Shoe 2: Asics Lyteracer TS 7
I thought I’d throw in an Asics shoe as this company has some pretty decent shoes for road racing and I often find they are under-explored as an option for athletes. Particularly those requiring a bit more support in the foot. The shoe is a great all-rounder, versatile on the track and road. I would use this shoe for shorter distance road races, like the 5k, up until the marathon (however watch the wear and tear, it is important to not wear an overused shoe for a marathon, it’s a long way). You want to break in a shoe, trial it out, and feel comfortable to run in it for the full 42.2km.
This shoe has a 10mm heel drop (or gradient), slightly more than the Nike Next%. This ensures good absorption on hard surfaces through the heel/midfoot dependent on the athlete’s biomechanics when in the landing part of your stride. Asics claims that the “Speva Foam midsole” combined with the “high-abrasion rubber improves durability to ward off wear and tear”, allowing the shoe to be used for larger amounts of mileage before a new pair is needed (https://asics.tv/3boPP14) This is a plus. Then again, I always say it is dependent on the runner’s biomechanics, the surfaces the shoe is used on, and how often the shoe is used in the athlete’s shoe rotation which determines the mileage a shoe can handle…..
Further, I always find Asics suits narrower feet, like my own. The lacing system also allows for a tighter, supported fit in this sense. I always prefer this extra support. Why? If I going to be running on the road and harder surfaces a lot, I want my foot to be landing with optimal placement in relation to my biomechanics, to reduce my risk of injury. The shoe needs to work with my body, not against it.
The shoe is designed for those who have a neutral or under pronation type, however over-pronator type feet can also use this shoe (I am a over pronator) for racing and workouts as this is not as essential. Over-pronation means when the foot naturally rolls in more than usual. Neutral explains itself in a sense, “neutral”. My training shoes are more important to me to have stability features for over-pronation than a racing flat.
The women’s model weighs around 179grams whilst the mens is 235grams.
The new version 6 of the 1400 shoe has had some upgrades! The upper is now lighter in weight, yet maintains the same firm structure to optimize stability for a racing flat. This can be hard to find in other racing flats from other brands. An important feature for those with wider feet, is the roomy upper. New Balance tends to make shoes that suit wider feet, so I always take this in to account (I have an extremely narrow foot). The REVlite foam is continued from the older versions. It is well cushioned to the preference of many road racers, so New Balance have intelligently kept it on board as a key feature to this shoe. The Fantom Fit support cage allows for a secure midfoot fit according to New Balance, however it still maintains breathability, being constructed from a synthetic air mesh. The new tongue design also improves the fit of this shoe, compared to the old models. They took this from their track-specific footwear which I found very interesting. Faster shoe = better fit and vise versa….
This is the heaviest shoe I’ve looked at so far, weighing in around 240grams (7.2 ounces). Like most of the racing flats, it also has a 10mm heel to toe drop. Also the cheapest pair so far, these guys retail for $99.99 USD. Grab a pair here: https://bit.ly/2y9NrwW
Shoe 4: Adidas Adizero Takumi Sen 6
These are a great pair of lightweight racing flats. They are super responsive, have a low heel to toe drop, and according to Adidas, acquire a “foot-hugging fit”. The Lightstrike cushioning is designed from EVA, however this particular EVA recipe has drawn from basketball shoe foam, allowing for optimal energy return particulalry through the midsole. A bit like the Nike Next% described earlier. The upper is made from a single-layer celermesh which is new to this shoe model and has a seamless appearance. It fits a little bit like a built-in bootie, which is super cool. It is lightweight, breathable, and holds the foot in nice and snug.
The outsole is made from “quickstrike rubber”, allowing for a fast and sleek toe-off with good traction. The shoes are designed for speed! A US Size 9/UK Size 8.5 mens weighs in around 197 grams. They are a little heavier than the Nike Next%, but lighter than the Asics and New Balance options. Saucony wins in the weight department for 5k racing shoes, however. For some more quick stats, the 5mm midsole drop suits the flat and fast style and design of this Adidas shoe. It is designed to be responsive to the individual’s biomechanics and optimize energy return.
One thing to note from some feedback is that the toebox fits narrower at front than previous Adidas racing flat models. So if you have particulalry wide feet, maybe consider trying this on in store, or looking at the New Balance option or Brooks options.
This shoe stands out because it is super lightweight, weighing in around 170 grams. This is largely thanks to the SSL EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) foam midsole, which also absorbs shock well and thus suits the road and track environments. The soft, minimalist upper aligns with the overall lightweight design of this shoe. The lowest heel to toe drop, at just 4mm, makes it suited to its label as a super-speedy road racing flat. Saucony have taken into account the importance of a road racing shoe that works well in varied weather conditions, with a wet-grip upper rubber, and lugs in the forefoot rubber for excellent traction when the athlete pushes off with their toes.
I would keep in mind however, that the upper fit is tight. I experienced this trying the shoe on, however once my foot was inside the shoe, the toe box had plenty of room (too much for my extremley narrow foot in fact!). The shoe is also not optimal in the rain in terms of water absorption. However, many are willing to compromise this for an ultra-lightweight racing flat.
Similar in price to the Asics and New Balance, they come in at around $80- 100 USD. Get your pair here: https://bit.ly/2WHgORh
So, what are the best shoes for running a 5k?
I can’t pin down exactly what the best shoe is. It is very much up to the individual and their needs. What might be my ultimate shoe may differ for another athlete. I see this all the time in the sport, it is very natural. However, to be more specific, needs include the fit, current training level/position, mileage, race goals both short and long term, advice of an experienced running shoe expert (in Australia and America, I take advice from my coaches, sports podiatrist, physiotherapist and running shoe specific stores like Running Science or Pace Athletic). I have personally used the Asics Tatherzeal, Asics DS Trainer and Racer, Nike Zoom Vaporfly Next%, Nike Air Zoom Streak 7 and Asics Gel Feather-Glide. These have all worked well for me. If you like a low heel to toe drop and minimal stability, go for the Nike Air Zoom Streak 7. Cushioning, I’d say the Vaporfly’s. For good stability, a bit of support and speed, either of the Asics are the go. In saying this, it has been a while since I have done a road race as I am a collegiate athlete.
I decided to speak to my Australian coach Gary Howard, co-founder of Australian running group Run Crew (see https://www.runcrew.com.au/) to gain some insight from someone who has been on the scene as an experienced athlete and coach for quite some time. I very much respect his opinion! The coaches at Run Crew are bloody brilliant. Specializing in distances from 800m-ultramarathons, the coaches here tailor the training to your needs, and will write online programs for you no matter where you are in the world. They also run sessions in Sydney which I attended regulalry when I lived in Sydney, and smaller coordinated groups around Australia I believe.
Gary explained that he generally found (from experience and studies) that most are better in Vaporfly, but he has seen the Nike Streak LT be a good shoe if the individual is conditioned appropriatley to wear it. He mentioned that some good in between shoes are the Nike Streak, New Balance 1400 (discussed above) and Adidas Takumi Sen (also reviewed above). Thanks Gary for the input! Give Run Crew a look if you’re interested in joining the squad or obtaining an online runninng especially during this unstable time where we all have to socially distance from each-other for the greater good of society.)
Again, it’s all about the individual preference. I like to gather as much information and research as possible (from reliable, experienced human sources and online). I also can’t stress the benefit of trying a pair on and going for a light jog around the store if possible, and getting your foot mechanics assessed by a qualified podiatrist. This is how you ensure the optimal shoe and runner team fit. Ultimately, you’ll run a better 5k. Happy running!