The gentleman’s guide to the vice and virtue of actually having one
The number of running shoes a guy can own is much like the number of cycles he may possess, always n+1, where ‘n’ is the maximum possible integer that said chap can achieve without having his partner throw him out of the relationship, house, et al.
There is some truth to the notion that all races are not run (well, cannot be, but also should not be) in the same pair of shoes. Just like a mountain bike would be useless in a time-trial sprint, wearing heavy water-tight shoes with deep-grooved grips to run a marathon is not a smart plan. It will lead to unnecessary fatigue for one, and sometimes improper gear can also leave you open to injuries. Here then, are a few broad categories under which you can file your sneakers (for more detailed reviews, try runrepeat.com). These can also be used as possible explanations to your partner in case of, as the impolite phrase says, s***-meeting-fan.
Low-cushion race-day shoes
It’s true: Running with low-cushion shoes always places you at an advantage to run a faster time. Trouble is if your leg muscles aren’t up to the task; then they just tire early in the race and lead to aches, pains, cramps, and even injuries. But once you are in form, these will get you across the line soonest.
Adidas Adios Boost 3: Among the best race-day flats by far. Gentle boost cushion on the mid-sole and extending into the heel, good continental rubber grip outer soles, and a tight toe box. May not be suitable for people with broad feet.
On Running Cloudflash or Cloudrush: A Swiss brand which is still designed and made entirely in its country of origin. They ship all their ware the world over and even with the first-class delivery charges, they work out to be much cheaper than most imported shoes available off our shelves. One caveat: they wear out fast.
Puma Speed 300 Ignite: This sits comfortably between the Speed 500 Ignite with rich cushion and the leaner Speed 100 Ignite. Good for fast runs with ample support (even if a little stiff), but a worthwhile contender for this list.
Reebok Astroride: Reebok makes shoes which appear low on frills and yet pack in all the essentials: seamless uppers, foam linings, ample cushion, good looks. This one is, by far, the most affordable shoe in this article; great value-for-money stuff.
Nike Zoom Pegasus and the Zoom Vaporfly 4%: The 4% shoe (a) only helps if you are already fast and (b) you would have to be faster still to get a pair every time they become available! But it is a race-day beast, merging good chunky cushion with extreme aero-features and a low drop. The Zoom Pegasus, Nike’s most successful running shoe, is still out there and will perform comparably well for most mortals.
High-cushion training shoes
These are slightly heavier than the previous and may seem a bit clunkier at times. That said, they will protect your feet and knees from the constant wear-and-tear that hard training can bring. Also, once you are fast in heavy shoes, imagine how you’ll fly in race-day shoes. Also good for those who are overweight.
Adidas Ultra Boost: All that cushion for the pushin’ makes this a soft, soft ride. Get the regular version (as opposed to the uncaged one) for more ankle support.
ASICS Gel Kayano: Stepping away from foam and into the gel zone, ASICS leads the category with the Kayano 24. The Nimbus 20 Platinum is similar, but with a little less support (i.e. more neutral). With a responsive mid-cushion and grippy uppers, ASICS enjoys strong patronage in running communities, and it isn’t uncommon to find people who wear the same model their entire running lives.
Puma Speed 500 Ignite: This shoe manages a fine balance between weight and cushion. For marathon training, this should be a top contender for your cupboard space.
Sometimes, you need a versatile pair which can pack into your luggage easily. The essence of this shoe is to be light yet cushioned enough. Sure, you can train and run races in them too, but that just reduces the number of shoes you can own.
Puma 100 Ignite: A low-drop lean shoe with soft uppers that collapse easily into the shoe, thereby making them ideal as travel gear. I have run 5-10k races in them too, and they were great.
Nike Free RN Flyknit: This is among the lightest shoes out there, but given their extremely low support structure, I would recommend this only if you have done enough miles to have strong legs. Anything less and you could end up doing yourself harm. But in the hands (or feet) of a seasoned runner, these shoes are like limb extensions.
Urban and running sneaks
There should always be a shoe which is good for your runs, but also commands street cred. These are the type that make the gym-to-jeans transformation look seamless.
Nike Air VaporMax Flyknit: Air DNA, knit uppers, and very easy on the eye. Runs are a breeze and looking good comes naturally to the Air series.
Reebok Fast Flexweave: The latest Reebok innovation: lovely (and durable) open-8 pattern knit uppers, a low-drop carbon-rubber sole, well-priced and extremely cool looks to boot.
ASICS Tiger Gel Kayano Trainer: With their knit uppers and buxom cushion, this is a blend of the functional with the fashionable. The Kayano 24 skeleton with knit mesh uppers features in some quirky colour combos.
The writer is a sommelier and writer who took up running, cycling, swimming to ensure that nothing keeps him from living up to his bon vivant ways