How to choose the best running shoes

So, you’ve committed to taking your running to the next level. It could be your first 5k. You might be building towards a marathon. Or you’re focused on everyday running for health and fitness. Whatever your goals, you’re going to need to find the best running shoes for your situation. 

There is a lot of choice out there when it comes to choosing running footwear, so how do you find the best running shoes for you? Ultimately, choosing the right pair depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The kind of running you do
  • What surface you run on
  • Your running goals
  • Your experience level

In this guide, you’ll learn more about why running shoes are important and what factors you should consider when choosing a pair. You’ll also find examples of the best running shoes for different needs. 

How to choose the best running shoes

So, you’ve committed to taking your running to the next level. It could be your first 5k. You might be building towards a marathon. Or you’re focused on everyday running for health and fitness. Whatever your goals, you’re going to need to find the best running shoes for your situation. 

There is a lot of choice out there when it comes to choosing running footwear, so how do you find the best running shoes for you? Ultimately, choosing the right pair depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The kind of running you do
  • What surface you run on
  • Your running goals
  • Your experience level

In this guide, you’ll learn more about why running shoes are important and what factors you should consider when choosing a pair. You’ll also find examples of the best running shoes for different needs. 

Why purpose-built running shoes are so important

Head to a sports gear shop, and you’ll find hundreds of kinds of shoes with different features and designs. So what makes running shoes different, and why is it important to choose purpose-built running footwear - rather than more general sport or training shoes

Running shoes are built specifically for how your body moves when running. That sounds obvious, but this influences several key characteristics of their design:

  • Cushioning: Most running shoes place most of their cushioning in the rear. This is because your feet mainly strike the ground on the heel when running. Compare a running shoe with, say, a golf shoe. Cushioning in a golf shoe is distributed more evenly across the sole, since golfers shift their weight side to side, backwards and forwards. But when you’re running, you’re mainly striking the ground with your heel in the same place, over and again.  


  • Direction of tread: If you look at the tread (the grip on the bottom of the shoes) on running footwear, you’ll see that it follows a one-directional pattern since your feet follow the same motion throughout the running motion. Compare that to the soles of basketball shoes, for example, and you’ll see they have grip going in multiple directions to help with side-to-side movements you’d do in that sport. 


  • Weight: Running shoes are among the lightest kinds of footwear out there. Each shoe is designed slightly differently, but they all use extremely lightweight materials which allow you to move as easily as possible.

Why purpose-built running shoes are so important

Head to a sports gear shop, and you’ll find hundreds of kinds of shoes with different features and designs. So what makes running shoes different, and why is it important to choose purpose-built running footwear - rather than more general sport or training shoes

Running shoes are built specifically for how your body moves when running. That sounds obvious, but this influences several key characteristics of their design:

  • Cushioning: Most running shoes place most of their cushioning in the rear. This is because your feet mainly strike the ground on the heel when running. Compare a running shoe with, say, a golf shoe. Cushioning in a golf shoe is distributed more evenly across the sole, since golfers shift their weight side to side, backwards and forwards. But when you’re running, you’re mainly striking the ground with your heel in the same place, over and again.  


  • Direction of tread: If you look at the tread (the grip on the bottom of the shoes) on running footwear, you’ll see that it follows a one-directional pattern since your feet follow the same motion throughout the running motion. Compare that to the soles of basketball shoes, for example, and you’ll see they have grip going in multiple directions to help with side-to-side movements you’d do in that sport. 


  • Weight: Running shoes are among the lightest kinds of footwear out there. Each shoe is designed slightly differently, but they all use extremely lightweight materials which allow you to move as easily as possible.

Factors to consider when buying running shoes

There are plenty of different kinds of running footwear out there, all of which are designed for specific needs. For example, the best road running shoes have very different characteristics to trail running footwear. To help you narrow down your search, think about the following factors when looking for your next pair. 

Factors to consider when buying running shoes

There are plenty of different kinds of running footwear out there, all of which are designed for specific needs. For example, the best road running shoes have very different characteristics to trail running footwear. To help you narrow down your search, think about the following factors when looking for your next pair. 

1. Running surface

What kind of surface do you plan to run on? There are different sorts of shoes built for different kinds of surfaces. They basically fall into three categories:

1. Running surface

What kind of surface do you plan to run on? There are different sorts of shoes built for different kinds of surfaces. They basically fall into three categories:

Trail running shoes

Run on muddy, stony, uneven surfaces? Then a trail running shoe is ideal. They have chunky lugs on the soles, which give you extra grip. They often have cushioning along the entire sole, since you’ll be running on unstable surfaces so need to protect your entire foot. Many trail running shoes use water resistant uppers to keep your feet dry when splashing through puddles. 

UA Bandit Trail 3 for men and women: Specially built for trail running, with crazy cushioning, traction that grips even muddy terrain, and the extra protection trail runners need to keep going.

2. Your running goals

Your personal running goals will have a big influence on the kind of shoes you choose.

  • Distance: As a rule of thumb, the longer the distance you cover, the more cushioning you’ll want. Someone training for a marathon will need more cushioning than someone doing 3k on a treadmill, for instance. UA HOVR™ Sonic 6 for women and men: Built insanely light and supportive so nothing will hold you back. And paired with soft, springy UA HOVR™ cushioning that pushes you forward—you'll crush those run drills.


  • Speed: If smashing a PB is your goal, some kinds of running shoes are better than others. For example,the best carbon plate running shoes use advanced technology to help propel you forward. UA Flow Velociti: A full-length, carbon fiber plate adds propulsion, while rubberless UA Flow cushioning makes this racing shoe light and grippy.


  • Competitive vs casual: Are you aiming to run in races, or are you more of a casual runner looking to improve your health and fitness? The best everyday running shoes tend to be solid ‘all rounders’ - they’re perfect for regular, short to mid-distance runs. Try the Charged Impulse 3 range for women and men. Competitive running shoes tend to have more specialised features to help with speed, cushioning or different running surfaces - such as trails.  

2. Your running goals

Your personal running goals will have a big influence on the kind of shoes you choose.

  • Distance: As a rule of thumb, the longer the distance you cover, the more cushioning you’ll want. Someone training for a marathon will need more cushioning than someone doing 3k on a treadmill, for instance. UA HOVR™ Sonic 6 for women and men: Built insanely light and supportive so nothing will hold you back. And paired with soft, springy UA HOVR™ cushioning that pushes you forward—you'll crush those run drills.


  • Speed: If smashing a PB is your goal, some kinds of running shoes are better than others. For example,the best carbon plate running shoes use advanced technology to help propel you forward. UA Flow Velociti: A full-length, carbon fiber plate adds propulsion, while rubberless UA Flow cushioning makes this racing shoe light and grippy.


  • Competitive vs casual: Are you aiming to run in races, or are you more of a casual runner looking to improve your health and fitness? The best everyday running shoes tend to be solid ‘all rounders’ - they’re perfect for regular, short to mid-distance runs. Try the Charged Impulse 3 range for women and men. Competitive running shoes tend to have more specialised features to help with speed, cushioning or different running surfaces - such as trails.  

3. Your pronation

Pronation is a technical term that describes the movement of your feet when they strike the ground. There are three kinds of pronation:

  • Neutral: In neutral pronation, the outside of the heel comes into contact with the ground first, while your toes are still pointing up. The foot then ‘rolls’ in, and most of the sole of your foot comes into contact with the ground. You then push off with your front foot - with most of your toes pushing away. 


  • Overpronation: With overpronation, the outside of the heel hits the ground first. But when your foot rolls in, your feet aren’t flat on the ground. Instead, they roll further, and most of your weight is on the inside of your foot. When you push off from the ground, it’s mainly your big toe that pushes away. People who overpronate often have ‘flat feet’, where the arches have collapsed. 


  • Underpronation (AKA supination): If you underpronate, the outside of your heel hits the ground first. But your foot doesn’t roll in, and most of your weight is carried on the outside of your foot. You push off the ground with your smaller toes. People who supinate often have high arches.  

The majority of people have a neutral running pattern, and so will be fine with neutral running shoes. Neutral running shoes place almost all cushioning in the heel area, and have a fairly flexible midfoot. 

But if you overpronate or underpronate, consider choosing a pair of stability running shoes. Because most of your weight is shifted onto the inside or outside of your feet, that places a lot more stress on them, compared to people with a neutral running style. Stability shoes basically provide a stiffer upper and extra support in the midfoot to help reduce strain. 

3. Your pronation

Pronation is a technical term that describes the movement of your feet when they strike the ground. There are three kinds of pronation:

  • Neutral: In neutral pronation, the outside of the heel comes into contact with the ground first, while your toes are still pointing up. The foot then ‘rolls’ in, and most of the sole of your foot comes into contact with the ground. You then push off with your front foot - with most of your toes pushing away. 


  • Overpronation: With overpronation, the outside of the heel hits the ground first. But when your foot rolls in, your feet aren’t flat on the ground. Instead, they roll further, and most of your weight is on the inside of your foot. When you push off from the ground, it’s mainly your big toe that pushes away. People who overpronate often have ‘flat feet’, where the arches have collapsed. 


  • Underpronation (AKA supination): If you underpronate, the outside of your heel hits the ground first. But your foot doesn’t roll in, and most of your weight is carried on the outside of your foot. You push off the ground with your smaller toes. People who supinate often have high arches.  

The majority of people have a neutral running pattern, and so will be fine with neutral running shoes. Neutral running shoes place almost all cushioning in the heel area, and have a fairly flexible midfoot. 

But if you overpronate or underpronate, consider choosing a pair of stability running shoes. Because most of your weight is shifted onto the inside or outside of your feet, that places a lot more stress on them, compared to people with a neutral running style. Stability shoes basically provide a stiffer upper and extra support in the midfoot to help reduce strain. 

4. The general conditions you run in

Tend to run in hot places? You’ll want super breathable shoes like UA HOVR™ Machina Breeze. Pound the streets of a rainy city? You’ll want something that’s water resistant like UA HOVR™ Phantom 3 SE Storm. Live in a cold climate? Insulated running shoes like the UA HOVR™ Phantom 3 SE Warm Running Shoes are the way to go. 

4. The general conditions you run in

Tend to run in hot places? You’ll want super breathable shoes like UA HOVR™ Machina Breeze. Pound the streets of a rainy city? You’ll want something that’s water resistant like UA HOVR™ Phantom 3 SE Storm. Live in a cold climate? Insulated running shoes like the UA HOVR™ Phantom 3 SE Warm Running Shoes are the way to go. 

5. Your age

Kids and youth runners have slightly different needs to adult runners. Since they weigh less than adults, youth shoes use lighter materials and don’t need to offer the same levels of cushioning.

5. Your age

Kids and youth runners have slightly different needs to adult runners. Since they weigh less than adults, youth shoes use lighter materials and don’t need to offer the same levels of cushioning.

The best running shoes for different needs

Once you’ve decided on what kind of running you need your shoes for, you can then narrow down your search. At Under Armour, we build tough, game-changing running shoes that help you run better. And we’ve engineered different types of shoes for different situations. 

The best running shoes for different needs

Once you’ve decided on what kind of running you need your shoes for, you can then narrow down your search. At Under Armour, we build tough, game-changing running shoes that help you run better. And we’ve engineered different types of shoes for different situations. 

Best running shoes for beginners

Just started your running journey? Get ready for one of the most rewarding adventures of your life. 

UA Charged Revitalize running shoes give you lightweight, flexible and cushioned running gear which gives you everything you need to get into the sport. The key is the use of our unique Charged Cushioning®. It absorbs the impact of your foot strikes and returns energy - helping you spring forward with every step. The shoes are super lightweight and breathable, and you also get a deluxe foam sockliner for added underfoot comfort.

Best running shoes for beginners

Just started your running journey? Get ready for one of the most rewarding adventures of your life. 

UA Charged Revitalize running shoes give you lightweight, flexible and cushioned running gear which gives you everything you need to get into the sport. The key is the use of our unique Charged Cushioning®. It absorbs the impact of your foot strikes and returns energy - helping you spring forward with every step. The shoes are super lightweight and breathable, and you also get a deluxe foam sockliner for added underfoot comfort.

The best neutral running shoes

Neutral running shoes give you more cushioning in the rearfoot, and have a flexible mid and front foot so you can flex your feet and push off with maximum ground contact. 

UA HOVR™ Sonic running shoes are incredibly light and supportive, and feature our soft, springy UA HOVR™ cushioning. They also have a seamless forefoot - that means loads of flexibility for neutral running styles too. 

The best neutral running shoes

Neutral running shoes give you more cushioning in the rearfoot, and have a flexible mid and front foot so you can flex your feet and push off with maximum ground contact. 

UA HOVR™ Sonic running shoes are incredibly light and supportive, and feature our soft, springy UA HOVR™ cushioning. They also have a seamless forefoot - that means loads of flexibility for neutral running styles too. 

The best trail running shoes

Trail running shoes need to give you tough grip, water resistant uppers, and serious cushioning. 

UA Bandit Trail running shoes for men and women give you everything you need to take on the toughest off-road adventures. You get insanely durable outsoles, a super responsive Charged Cushioning® midsole and a breathable two-toned mesh upper. 

The best trail running shoes

Trail running shoes need to give you tough grip, water resistant uppers, and serious cushioning. 

UA Bandit Trail running shoes for men and women give you everything you need to take on the toughest off-road adventures. You get insanely durable outsoles, a super responsive Charged Cushioning® midsole and a breathable two-toned mesh upper. 

The best running shoes for speed

Looking to smash your PB? Fast running shoes are designed to give you an edge in your training. They’re super lightweight, responsive and use game changing features such as carbon plates. 

Our best carbon plate running shoes for speed include the New York marathon-winning UA Flow Velociti Elite. Not only do you get a full-length, carbon fibre plate for incredible propulsion, the shoes also use our rubberless UA Flow cushioning and outsole system. Unlike traditional foam midsoles, UA Flow offers incredible cushioning but is also insanely hard wearing. That means the shoes don’t need a rubber outsole - which equals a lighter shoe. 

The best running shoes for speed

Looking to smash your PB? Fast running shoes are designed to give you an edge in your training. They’re super lightweight, responsive and use game changing features such as carbon plates. 

Our best carbon plate running shoes for speed include the New York marathon-winning UA Flow Velociti Elite. Not only do you get a full-length, carbon fibre plate for incredible propulsion, the shoes also use our rubberless UA Flow cushioning and outsole system. Unlike traditional foam midsoles, UA Flow offers incredible cushioning but is also insanely hard wearing. That means the shoes don’t need a rubber outsole - which equals a lighter shoe. 

The best marathon running shoes

Grinding for 26.2 miles is incredibly tough. So, you need shoes that give you responsive, bouncy cushioning all the way to the finishing line. 

Men’s and women’s UA Infinite Elite running shoes offer incredible, lightweight support, mile after mile. You get extra-springy UA HOVR™+ cushioning that keeps on giving back. Super breathable uppers. And a heel collar for added comfort and lockdown. 

They don’t make marathon running easy. But they do make it easier. 

The best marathon running shoes

Grinding for 26.2 miles is incredibly tough. So, you need shoes that give you responsive, bouncy cushioning all the way to the finishing line. 

Men’s and women’s UA Infinite Elite running shoes offer incredible, lightweight support, mile after mile. You get extra-springy UA HOVR™+ cushioning that keeps on giving back. Super breathable uppers. And a heel collar for added comfort and lockdown. 

They don’t make marathon running easy. But they do make it easier. 

Under Armour: building some of the world’s best running shoes

At Under Armour, we’re continually innovating to build the world’s best running shoes. Whether it’s our innovative carbon plate running shoes that win elite marathons, developing new cushioning technology like UA HOVR™ that is more durable than traditional foams (so your shoes last longer), or the creation of unique shoes built for rain, cold weather or the heat, everything about our running shoes is made to give you an edge. 

Discover some of the best running shoes for men, women and kids. Or for help narrowing down your search, use our shoe finder tool

Under Armour: building some of the world’s best running shoes

At Under Armour, we’re continually innovating to build the world’s best running shoes. Whether it’s our innovative carbon plate running shoes that win elite marathons, developing new cushioning technology like UA HOVR™ that is more durable than traditional foams (so your shoes last longer), or the creation of unique shoes built for rain, cold weather or the heat, everything about our running shoes is made to give you an edge. 

Discover some of the best running shoes for men, women and kids. Or for help narrowing down your search, use our shoe finder tool