The most important lesson learned from the minimalist running shoe explosion is that every runner needs different footwear for different workouts. There is no perfect shoe. We wear-tested some of the best running footwear—from slipper-style minimalists to sturdy trainers designed for maximum support—to evaluate the attributes most important for each shoe style. The shoe you need is probably in here—just don’t count on filling all your needs with a single pair.
This article was originally published in the July/August 2013 issue of Inside Triathlon magazine.
Falling between a traditional trainer and a race flat, these are suited to any run, from a jog to an interval workout.
Buzzwords: Zero-drop, broad
This shoe feels punchier than most cushioned trainers thanks to the moderately stiff zero-drop sole. “It doesn’t exactly launch off the pavement but feels more lively than a typical high-mileage shoe,” said our tester.
Weight and support
Despite the zero-drop sole, the robust yet semi-firm cushioning makes the Torin a dependable platform for both slow and fast workouts. This shoe hits the mark for athletes looking to adopt a mid-foot strike, or for current mid-foot strikers looking for a trainer suited to slower efforts.
Torin is the opposite of the slipper-like fit of many traditional racing flats. “My arch felt solidly connected to the shoe, but my toes still had plenty of room to spread out,” said our tester. The heel also has a bit of freedom.
Buzzwords: Speedy, flexible
The ride feels like the combination of a barefoot shoe and a racing flat. “It’s got a racy feel and puts you in touch with the road,” our tester said. “It’s super flexible and provides good energy return.” Extreme flexibility makes it best as a strength-building tool to be used during strides and short tempo workouts.
Weight and support
The sole is very unstructured. While it provides a little more stability than the Nike Free 4.0, this shoe was the second most malleable. It feels feather-light on the foot—just don’t count on it for support.
Despite lacking the overlays that add structure to the fit of many shoes, the GOrun2 has a slipper-like feel that secures the foot without squeezing it. The tester found no restriction in the fit, yet it seemed solidly connected even when running hard.