Running Shoe Reviews
The search for the right cheap running shoe is highly personal. No two people's feet are the same, so a model that works for your friend or an anonymous running shoe reviewer may not be appropriate for you.
Our research focused on running shoes for high arches (neutral running shoes) and for normal arches (neutral or stability running shoes). We researched motion-control running shoes for flat arches but didn't find any budget models worth noting; we did identify one just outside our price range.
Running Shoes Comfort.Comfort, which here means the fit is right and support and cushioning are generous, is the factor users mention most often in running shoes reviews.
The Saucony Kinvara 3 (starting at $65) takes first place in the race for best budget running shoes. A very detailed review by the expert at Running Shoes Guru says the Saucony Kinvara 3 has improved with every updated version, resulting in a smooth and comfortable run with this newest model. The same excellent cushioning, a wider toe box, more durable outsole, and a redesigned upper that mimics a sock-like feel put this neutral running shoe in the winner's circle, the review concludes. At Foot Locker users almost unanimously agree that it's comfortable like none other, with plenty of support and a fit that makes you want to run.
Our pick for best budget stability shoe, the Saucony Guide 6 (starting at $100), impresses users who posted on Saucony's website. The men's version of the shoe is said to be comfortable and supportive straight out of the box -- especially the heel cushioning, and one running shoes review at Amazon asserts that the shoe improved his shin splints far more than other models he's tried. The women's version lags just a tad in running shoe reviews on the Saucony site due to a slightly off fit -- users recommend buying a half size up -- but aside from that, comments indicate the shoe is as supportive, comfortable, and well cushioned its male counterpart.
The other budget running shoes on our list also score high on comfort. The midsole on the neutral Asics Gel-Blur33 2.0 (starting at $68) is slightly firmer and more supportive than the previous version of the shoe, according to a review by Runners World. The arch support attracts special notice in comments posted at Zappos, where users report the shoe is plenty comfortable and supportive for short and long runs. Running Shoes Guru likes the superb heel cushioning and flexible and lightweight feel, although heel slips prevent the reviewer from awarding it a higher rating. (Note: Almost every review we read indicates that the Asics Gel-Blur33 2.0 runs a bit small, and ordering a half size up significantly improves the fit.)
With some minimalist undertones in what is really a neutral shoe, the Brooks PureConnect 2 (starting at $90) is a favorite among users who commented at Zappos. One reviewer who runs up to 30 miles a week likes the flexibility and lightness that give a minimalist-shoe feel, adding that they fit like a glove (on narrow feet) and provide excellent arch support. The Brooks PureConnect 2 sports a unique feature called ToeFlex in which the big toe is separated from the others by a one-inch split. Running Shoes Guru concedes his initial skepticism about the split design of this neutral shoe, but says it actually allows for more independent movement and power when pushing off and doesn't impede comfort.
Then there's the Nike Zoom Structure+ 16 (starting at $98), a stability shoe that gets lackluster reviews. The Nike Zoom Structure+ 15 (in phase-out mode) was Nike's best stability running shoe, but as Running Shoes Guru explains, the new Structure + 16 isn't just an updated shoe, it's an entire makeover that falls short. The biggest change involves the disappearance of Nike's tried-and-true medial support post and the insertion of a wedged midsole instead. This new design doesn't provide the needed support or stability, the running shoes review continues, and the midsole begins breaking down before logging even 50 miles. Users seem to agree. Comments posted on the Nike website are salted with complaints about sore legs, painful feet, inadequate support, and several cases of tendonitis and shin splints. Nike Zoom Structure+ 15 fans are sadly disappointed by this update (as is this researcher). As if discomfort isn't enough of a downer, Nike Zoom Structure+ 16 shoes are hard to find online.