We test and review fitness products based on an independent, multi-point methodology. If you use our links to purchase something, we may earn a commission. Read our disclosures.

Finding the right pair of shoes as a new runner can feel extremely intimidating. Online, you’ll see advice encouraging you to go to a running store and get your gait analyzed. While that can be helpful, it’s not really necessary for most new runners (assuming you don’t have any unusual pain when you run, in which case, speak to a physical therapist, podiatrist, or orthopedic specialist). 

That said, I wouldn’t go to your local Dick’s Sporting Goods and pluck a random pair off of a shelf with no prior guidance. Our guide to the best running shoes for beginners exists to help you, as a new runner, make an educated decision about your first pair of running shoes. We have top picks for road, trail, neutral, and stability shoes.

Running Since 2009

I’ve been running since 2009 in both long and short-course formats. I don’t claim to be particularly fast or good at the sport, but I do enjoy it, and with almost 15 years of experience under my (running) belt, I’m confident that I can bring you accurate and helpful shoe reviews. Plus, as a certified personal trainer, I’ve spent many years collaborating with podiatrists, physical therapists, and other health professionals to ensure my clients get the best possible results while remaining safe.

Best Running Shoes for Beginners in 2024 

Best Running Shoes for Beginners Overall: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22

Good for: Beginners who need an ideal blend between support, responsiveness, and cushion in road running shoes

Best for Beginners Overall

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22

GGR Score: 4.25 starstarstarstarstar
Community Score: 5 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Brooks supportive road running shoe
  • 15 colorways
  • Four widths available
  • Sizes: 7-15

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • 4 widths: Narrow, Medium, Wide and Extra Wide
  • American Podiatry Medical Association (APMA) Seal of Acceptance for products that promote good foot health
  • Brooks Run Happy Guarantee: Try for 90 days and return for no cost if you are not satisfied
  • Numerous colorways

Cons

  • Heavy shoe compared to counterparts at 10.2 oz
  • Less durable than previous Adrenaline models according to customer reviews
  • Customers report fit is narrower than previous models
  • Users experiencing discomfort and even blisters around the heel

Bottom Line

The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22 is a supportive shoe that has mixed reviews on comfort. Additionally, many users have had issues with the durability of the shoe, with parts failing within weeks of use.

The Brooks Adrenaline GTS is an absolute workhorse of a running shoe. While there’s no right running shoe for every runner, beginner or otherwise, I stand firm that the Adrenaline GTS gets most things right for many runners. 

brooks adrenaline gts 22

It’s a fantastic daily trainer and one of the best road running shoes out there, featuring Brooks’ bouncy DNA LOFT cushioning underfoot, a breathable mesh upper, medial and lateral GuideRails® for support, and segmented crash pad that helps with the transition from foot strike to toe-off. 

Whether your goal is to start with easy runs for general fitness or start working toward your first half-marathon right away, the Adrenaline GTS is a fantastic first-time shoe that will bring you to your finish line, wherever that may be. 

I’ve personally worn these shoes for several types of runs, from tempo workouts to interval training, and the versatility is my favorite thing about them. The Adrenaline GTS shoes have taken me through routes of pavement, cobblestone, sand, grass, and dirt trails, and have held up fantastically. 

I wouldn’t take these out in particularly wet conditions since, like most road running shoes, they feature a woven upper. They certainly won’t keep water out, but they do a pretty good job of combating sweaty feet via moisture-wicking properties. (Your running socks could also help—or not—with that.)

Heel-to-toe drop12 mm
Cushion levelMedium
Upper constructionBreathable mesh

Best Budget Running Shoes for Beginners: Saucony Cohesion 13

Good for: New runners who don’t want to commit to an expensive pair of shoes

Best Budget Running Shoes

Saucony Women’s Cohesion 13

GGR Score: 4.3 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Technical yet breathable upper provides a secure hold
  • Segmented rubber outsole with flexibility in forefoot
  • Neutral running shoe with VersaFoam cushioning designed to absorb impact and reduce pressure
  • Heel-to-toe drop/offset measure 12 mm
  • Best suited for walking and an occasional jog

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Multiple color options
  • Comfortable
  • Relatively affordable
  • Breathable

Cons

  • May run small
  • Narrow toe box

Bottom Line

Saucony’s Cohesion 13 is an affordable, neutral running shoe available in a wide variety of colors.

With running shoes averaging about $140 per pair these days, hitting the pavement may seem out of reach for new runners. That’s a lot of cash to spend on a pair of shoes you might not get full use of. 

Luckily, there are still some brands out there manufacturing budget-friendly running shoes, Saucony being one. I ordered the Saucony Cohesion 13 on Amazon for under 50 bucks all-in, and I’m pleasantly surprised. I also love this pair of shoes for walking.

(Worth noting: There are newer models, the Cohesion 14 and 15, but I think there’s a ton of value in the older 13s because most of the features are the same but these are more heavily discounted due to being an earlier iteration.)

RELATED: Black Friday Deals For Runners

saucony cohesion shoes

This is a nicely cushioned shoe with plenty of shock absorption in the midfoot thanks to the EVA grid foam midsole. The Cohesion is a neutral shoe, meaning it won’t help with overpronation or supination, but for beginners with a steady stride, they’re a good fit. 

The reinforced toe box prevents “toe punches” from puncturing the mesh—but to be frank, if you’re toe-punching your running shoes, you probably need to go up a half or full size.

Some customer reviews indicate that this shoe runs slightly small, but I ordered my normal size and it’s a perfect fit. I say if you’re in between sizes or want more wiggle room for the toes, go a half size up. 

Heel-to-toe drop12 mm
Cushion levelMedium
Upper constructionMesh

Best Neutral Running Shoes for Beginners: Brooks Ghost 14/15

Good for: Individuals who know they have a neutral stride and don’t need anti-pronation support.

Best Neutral Running Shoes

Brooks Ghost 14

GGR Score: 4.8 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Neutral running shoe from Brooks 
  • Brooks’ first carbon-neutral shoe 
  • 32 colorways 
  • Moderate cushioning and heel-to-toe drop

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • 3 width options: Wide, Medium, Narrow
  • American Podiatry Medical Association (APMA) Seal of Acceptance for products that promote good foot health
  • Brooks Run Happy Guarantee: Try for 90 days and return for no cost if you are not satisfied
  • Many colorways

Cons

  • Longtime Ghost wearers find these to be less comfortable than previous models
  • Some buyers dislike the toe box
  • New midsole construction: Switched from combination of DNA LOFT and BioMogo DNA Foam to all DNA LOFT

Bottom Line

Brooks has made some changes to the Ghost 14 so that it is softer than ever. This change has been received with mixed reviews among runners and longtime Ghost wearers.

Pop quiz! Take your shoes off and jog a few steps in place. Really do it, with vigor! Did you notice your arches flattening against the ground? 

I know you weren’t paying attention to that, so try it again and take note. If your answer is no, congratulations, you can purchase the Brooks Ghost running shoes. If your answer is yes, keep reading through to our next pick, which is for runners who overpronate. 

The Brooks Ghost is my favorite neutral running shoe ever. I ran in the Ghosts exclusively for many years, with the exception of testing other shoes for my super cool fun job. Like the Adrenaline GTS, the Ghosts are made with 100% DNA LOFT cushioning in the midsole. This cushioning supports you from forefoot to heel without being too squishy or too responsive—it’s an ideal blend for neutral runners. 

brooks ghost 14 on runner

Note: The Ghost 14 and 15 are largely similar, but the newer 15s feature the DNA LOFT v2 cushioning, which Brooks says contains a less dense foam for a more lightweight shoe. Interestingly, the shoe weight for the 14 is listed as 9 ounces even, while the weight for the 15 is listed as 9.1 ounces. This is really splitting hairs for beginners, anyway, but I thought it was worth mentioning if you’re seeking a shoe based on the midsole material.

The Ghosts have slightly less cushioning and motion control than the Adrenalines, since they feature a thinner midsole and lack the GuideRails. That’s precisely why they’re so great for neutral strides: You won’t experience any stiffness with the Ghosts. Your feet and ankles will be free to flex in the most natural, comfortable way. 

RELATED: Best Treadmill Running Shoes

Heel-to-toe drop12 mm
Cushion levelMedium
Upper constructionMesh upper

Best Stability Running Shoes for Beginners: Mizuno Wave Horizon 6

Good for: Beginner runners who overpronate and could benefit from a stability shoe

Best Stability Running Shoes

Mizuno Wave Horizon 6

GGR Score: 4.55 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • MIZUNO ENERZY Foam and an asymmetrical foam wave with rubber wall creates a cushioned stability shoe
  • MIZUNO WAVE plate runs along the underfoot to disperse energy from impact
  • Carbon rubber outsole claimed to be more durable
  • MIZUNO ENERZY CORE is stated to improve comfort and performance
  • Stretch woven upper

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Stability shoe
  • Cushioned
  • Breathable
  • Grippy
  • Good impact absorption

Cons

  • Long break-in period
  • Some reports of the insoles sliding

Bottom Line

The Mizuno Wave Horizon 6 is a stability running shoe with ample cushioning designed to offer both optimal comfort and support on your runs.

For people who pronate while running, a stability shoe is ideal. The best stability shoe for beginner runners: the Mizuno Wave Horizon 6. 

Pronation is the term for the collapsing of the arches upon ground impact. Pronation can range from very mild to very severe to the point where it’s affecting your hip and spinal alignment. If you fall into the latter camp, it’s best to get your gait (walking/running pattern) analyzed and work with a podiatrist to find the right shoes. 

mizuno wave runner 2

If you experience mild pronation—meaning, your arches do collapse but it doesn’t bring you severe pain, discomfort, or significant alterations to your gait—a stability shoe might be all you need to fix it. 

The Mizuno Wave Horizon has a lot of great features, but in particular, I want to call out the medial rubber wall. This small rubber plate cradles the arch of your foot and prevents inward rolling so your arches don’t flatten out upon contact with the ground. 

Additionally, these shoes feature a wide toe box and wide crash pad, plus the MIZUNO WAVE® plate which aims to more evenly disperse the energy from impact. Together, these features help prevent pronation and support a more neutral stride. 

Heel-to-toe drop8 mm
Cushion levelMedium
Upper constructionTightly woven textile

Best Trail Running Shoes for Beginners: Saucony Peregrine 12

Good for: Beginners looking to leave city running for trails 

Best Trail Running Shoes

Saucony Peregrine 12

GGR Score: 4.5 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Trail running shoe from Saucony 
  • Available in 2 widths: standard and wide 
  • 13 colorways: 6 for men and 7 for women

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Gaiter compatible
  • PWRRUN cushioning
  • EVA sock liner for added comfort

Cons

  • Wide option only available in black
  • Limited reviews
  • Customers complained about durability

Bottom Line

The Peregrine 12 is a lightweight trail shoe for those looking to speed through trails as fast as possible.

Featuring Saucony’s widely loved PWRRUN cushioning, the Peregine 12 is a lightweight but stable and comfortable trail running shoe. Some of our tester’s favorite features include the PWRRUN-cushioned sockliner, low heel-to-toe drop of 4 millimeters, flexible upper construction, and PWRTRAC outsole, which helps you dig into any terrain. 

Matt, husband of GGR writer and product tester Lauren Strong, was our guinea pig for these shoes. He tested several pairs for us and ultimately concluded that the Peregrines were the most comfortable pair out of them all. 

“They seem pretty durable and meant for going outside,” Matt says, “and they look rugged in the right spots. There is reinforcement over the toe box and edges of each side for some additional support.” 

Saucony Peregrine 12

He thinks the mesh upper feels more durable than a road running shoe (which it should) and thanks to the large outsole lugs, Matt felt super stable on ice, snow, dirt, and mud—but was very aware of said lugs on flat, smooth surfaces, to the point where the shoes felt like soccer cleats. 

Matt also thought these had good arch support and the heel clip was nice and snug. He also liked the durable heel tab on the back for pulling them on and off. Yippee for shoes you can slide on!

RELATED: Best Running Shoes for High Arches

Heel-to-toe drop4 mm
Cushion levelModerate
Upper constructionDurable mesh with targeted reinforcements

Best Cushioned Running Shoes for Beginners: HOKA Clifton 8

Good for: New runners who need a lot of cushion and shock absorption

Best Cushioned Running Shoes

Hoka Clifton 8

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Neutral running shoe
  • Made with recycled and vegan materials 
  • 16 colorways for women and 19 colorways for men
  • 2 widths: Regular, Wide

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Very cushioned and supportive
  • Springy foam midsole
  • Comfortable for all-day wear
  • Wide range of sizes

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Too much cushion for some runners
  • Not as versatile as other running shoe options

Bottom Line

The Hoka Clifton 8 has mixed reviews on comfort and many reviewers found the shoe to be too narrow.

Often, beginner runners find themselves shocked at the toll impact takes on their ankles, knees, hips, and even lower back. Besides perfecting your running technique (which we highly recommend), choosing heavily cushioned shoes can help ease some of that impact.

The Clifton 8 is a HOKA best-seller. Customers love the ample cushioning and the early-stage rocker in this shoe, which makes transitions smooth and comfortable. The Clifton 8 is a neutral shoe with symmetrical cushioning without any additional motion control features, like the Mizuno medial plate or the Brooks GuideRails. This means it’s best for runners who do not over-pronate or over-supinate. 

Hoka Clifton 8 Treadmill Running Shoes

Our tester thought the Cliftons were a bit too “orthopedic” for her personally, but sees a lot of value in them for runners who desire more cushioning and shock absorption. 

At 7.2 ounces per shoe, these are insanely lightweight for the level of cushion they provide. So lightweight, in fact, that our tester questioned the durability a little bit. However, our team has tested several pairs of HOKAs and have yet to have any problems with durability. 

It’s true that the uppers on HOKAs tend to be comparatively thin, but that’s one of my favorite HOKA features, as it makes the shoes fantastic at wicking sweat and keeping your feet dry and stink-free. 

Heel-to-toe drop5 mm
Cushion levelHeavy
Upper constructionMesh

Best Long-Distance Running Shoes for Beginners: ASICS Gel-Cumulus

Good for: Beginner runners who plan to work up to long distances

Best Long-Distance Running Shoes

Asics GEL Cumulus 24

GGR Score: 4 starstarstarstarstar

Product Highlights

  • Lots of color options to choose from
  • Improved heel fit
  • Wide range of sizes available
  • Neutral support rating 
  • Available in different widths

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Features the Ortholite X-30 sockliner
  • Reflective accents across outside improve visibility
  • FF Blast Cushioning system
  • Rear and forefoot Gel Technology Cushioning Systems

Cons

  • Some customers felt the shoelaces were a little too short
  • Doesn’t include a padded tongue

Bottom Line

This shoe is designed for those who want to run long distances with advanced cushioning and high-quality materials. If you’re not a runner and are just looking for a great overall shoe that will be comfortable and supportive, this could work for other activities, as well.

Long-distance running for a beginner might mean 1 to 3 miles, but as you build up your stamina, you may want to start running longer distances. If you plan to train for a long race like a marathon, you’ll need shoes that can keep up. 

We recommend the ASICS Gel-Cumulus, a popular running shoe designed for neutral runners and those who have mild supination. Supination is when the pressure on foot strike is primarily along the outside of your foot and your little toes.

Starting with the Gel-Cumulus 24, the shoe utilizes ASICS’ FF BLAST™ cushioning, newer midsole technology it has started implementing in various models. It’s slightly more lightweight than the FLYTEFOAM® cushioning in the 23s and prior models, although previous iterations are still great for new runners.

The Gel-Cumulus features gel cushioning in the forefoot and in the heel, along with a molded sockliner for comfort and a crash pad design that promotes full contact with the ground. The engineered mesh upper is quite breathable, too, and we love the AHARPLUS™ rubber outsole that’s designed to be more abrasion-resistant than previous models. 

While we didn’t test the Gel-Cumulus specifically, we’re confident in our recommendation based on our experience with five other ASICS pairs of running shoes.

Heel-to-toe drop8 mm
Cushion levelModerate
Upper constructionMesh

Other Running Shoes We Tried and Researched

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12: This is a good pick for runners who have wide feet, and they’re one of the best pairs of running shoes our tester, GGR performance editor Anthony, can find in his size (a men’s 15).

Adidas Ultraboost: This is more of a workout shoe than a running shoe, although it could work as a short-distance or speed training shoe.

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39: The Nike React foam in the Air Zoom Pegasus is certainly bouncy, but our tester didn’t find them to be anything spectacular overall. 

Altras: I’m a big fan of Altra running shoes all-around and have tried many pairs. However, I don’t think zero-drop shoes are the right choice for beginners.

saucony ride shoes

On Running Cloud X: These are “athletic AF” and super stylish according to our product tester, but we don’t think they offer the right support for new runners.

Saucony Ride: These are a heavily, but softly, cushioned runner. We like them, but feel there are better options for beginners.

Saucony Endorphin: There are five versions of the Saucony Endorphins; this is the brand’s racing line designed with ultra-lux materials. They’re overkill for beginners, in our opinion.

ASICS Gel-Nimbus: Our tester found these to promote a toe strike too heavily and felt that the shoes lurched her forward. They might be a good option for runners who tend to heavily heel strike.

How We Picked and Tested the Best Running Shoes for Beginners

By wearing them, of course. 

To be more specific, our product testers have tried out more than 50 pairs of walking shoes for men and women as well as running shoes for our guides to the best shoes. 

In the first three months of 2023 alone, we’ve collectively walked and run thousands of miles across different types of terrain, from the pavement in big cities to rural trails covered in ice. 

We take detailed notes about the shoes we test and collaborate across our team about which shoes belong on which lists. 

Saucony Kinvara 13 Treadmill Running Shoes

Benefits of Running Shoes for Beginners

The benefits of buying good running shoes as a beginner are the same as buying good running shoes for an experienced athlete. The right footwear will: 

  • Absorb a proper amount of shock to minimize joint impact
  • Provide energy return and responsiveness to boost and, if needed, correct your stride
  • Stabilize the arch and ankle for over-pronators and over-supinators
  • Create smooth transitions
  • Prevent a heavy heel strike or heavy toe strike 
  • Cradle the heel
  • Eliminate foot, ankle, and shin pain while running

Buying Guide: Best Running Shoes for Beginners

A diagram showing the anatomy of a running shoe

Keep these considerations in mind as you shop.

Upper

This is the part of the shoe that covers the top of your foot and where the lacing mechanism lives. On most running shoes, it’s a woven textile, usually a form of mesh. It should be flexible and breathable, but durable. You may need a different type of upper, such as GORE-TEX, if you plan on running in wet conditions.

Insole

This is the part that hugs your foot. It should be soft and form-fitting without feeling restricting. 

Midsole

The midsole is the underfoot cushioning. It varies in thickness and density across brands and models. The ideal midsole provides ample cushioning without being too squishy. It’s also good to have a bit of bounce.

Outsole

The outsole is the rubber bottom of the shoe. The type of outsole you need depends on the type of terrain you plan to run on. If you plan to run trails, for instance, you should choose a trail shoe with deep lugs that can dig into the earth. They’ll feel a little bit like cleats. For road running, flatter outsoles are fine.

Toe Box

This is where your toes and forefoot go. It should be roomy enough so that none of your toes are pinched or squeezed together, but form-fitting enough so that your foot doesn’t wildly slide around. Like in Goldilocks, it should be just right.

Laces

It may sound trivial, but laces can make a big difference in the overall experience of a shoe. You don’t want laces that are too short to tie, but you don’t want them so long that they flap around after being tied. Take a moment to play with the laces in your hands, too, to find out if they are flexible or stiff. Stiff, starchy laces aren’t ideal.

FAQs About Running Shoes for Beginners

Some commonly asked questions about running shoes for beginners are:

Can I run in my walking shoes? 

Some walking shoes perform fine for short, easy runs. However, walking shoes aren’t always designed with the shock absorption needed for running. If you can only get one pair, it’s likely a better bet to buy running shoes and use them for walking and running.

What are the types of running shoes? 

There are many types of running shoes, including neutral, stability, trail, road, cushioned, minimalist, and zero-drop. 

How much should a beginner spend on running shoes?

Running shoes generally hover between $120 to $160 these days. Generally, we recommend that beginners purchase their first pair at the low end of that range, or even lower, such as with our best budget pick: the Saucony Cohesion 13. 

Further reading

Bear Crawl Exercise: Unleash the Beast with This Underrated Bodyweight Exercise Cover Image
Bear Crawl Exercise: Unleash the Beast with This Underrated Bodyweight Exercise

Wanna get a great full-body workout with barely any equipment? All you need for a full-body workout is the bear crawl. Check out our expert guide right here! Read more

XTERRA Treadmill Reviews: Performance, Sport, and Compact Series Machines Cover Image
XTERRA Treadmill Reviews: Performance, Sport, and Compact Series Machines

Check out our XTERRA treadmill reviews for all the juicy information about these cardio machines. Read more

Texas SuperFood Review (2024): Is This Supplement Worth Your Green? Cover Image
Texas SuperFood Review (2024): Is This Supplement Worth Your Green?

Texas SuperFood Review (2024): Is This Supplement Worth Your Green? Read more

Best Home Treadmill for Running (2024): Expert Picks Cover Image
Best Home Treadmill for Running (2024): Expert Picks

Check out the 7 best home treadmills for running on this in-depth roundup from Garage Gym Reviews. Read more