We recruited a team of amateur athletes representing all ability levels to wear test some of 2013’s best new models to help you find your perfect fit.
Mizuno Wave Elixir 8
Built on Mizuno’s firm yet responsive Wave platform, the Wave Elixir 8 walks the line between structured and explosive. The sturdy sole offers a little more protection than many lightweight trainers, yet still creates a responsive feel that helps snap through a quick stride. The fit is tuned to be tight—it creates a solid bond with the foot when running at any speed. While some might find the semi-rigid sole and race-inspired fit to be a little aggressive for an everyday training shoe, it’s a perfect tool for up-tempo training or longer races. Runners who are accustomed to more minimal footwear could definitely use this shoe as a long-distance trainer.
9.0 oz (men), 7.3 oz (women) / 12mm heel-toe drop
“Provided a perfect amount of structure while still allowing me to feel like I was running barefoot.”
Karhu Flow 3 Trainer Fulcrum
Light, flexible and low to the ground, this shoe finds a happy medium between minimalist and cushioned lightweight trainer. As such, it’s versatile—a good choice for different types of running, from long, slow, distance (for lighter, biomechanically efficient runners) to uptempo workouts, and racing from 5K to the half-marathon. Given that it’s so low to the ground and flexes so easily, the ride is predictably natural, free and uninhibited, well-suited for those with any running style but a heavy heel-striking gait. A firm wedge of foam under the heel seems to aid propulsion and add structure without negatively impacting stride. The updated Flow has a slightly more relaxed fit compared to other shoes in this review.
8.5 oz, 7.0 oz / 8mm heel-toe drop
“I really liked how lightweight it felt without lacking sole cushioning.”
Asics GEL-Lyte33 2
While the second version of the GEL-Lyte 33 is light and cushioned like the first incarnation, this one offers a more consistent ride, thanks to a more secure upper and innovative flex grooves under the heel for a natural foot motion. (It’s also about a half-ounce heavier than the first version, but it’s barely noticeable.) Our testers found this shoe to be responsive enough to be a good go-fast shoe for tempo runs and longer races, but forgiving enough to use frequently as a lightweight trainer. The test team deemed it most suitable for lighter or faster runners with efficient biomechanics.
8.4 oz, 7.0 oz / 6mm heel-toe drop
“I would recommend it for tempo runs or road races half-marathon and longer. It is truly versatile for a variety of speeds and distances.”