There’s a lot to take in, when it comes to running shoes. Walking in to a store and seeing a wall of shoes can be overwhelming, so I’ve constructed this handy guide to the major shoes of the major brands, as well as a small key for understanding it.
Light: These shoes are generally very light and responsive. If you want to work on your speed, they’re the way to go. Usually US$100-110.
Standard: If you’re not sure, start here. These have a fair amount of cushion for most needs. Usually US$115-130.
Max: These come with a lot more cushion than the previous two categories, but the downside is that they’re among the heaviest shoes. Usually US$140-160.
Max+: A relatively new category, shoes listed here will come with all the bells and whistles, and may even be fairly stylish. Usually US$170-210.
Budget: Normally having cushioning that fits between “Light” and “Standard”, the Budget category can skip on the latest materials and technology. They would have been cutting edge, five years ago. Still, they can get the job done. Usually US$75-90.
Neutral: Most runners will fall into this category. It is essentially a “normal” shoe.
Guidance: For runners that roll their ankles inward a little, stability shoes can help with knee pain. They end up being about an ounce heavier than neutral shoes.
Stability: These are generally reserved for runners who are injured, heavy, or have very flat feet.
* As science and runners’ needs change, more shoes are beginning to straddle the line between guidance and neutral support. Nike has fully embraced this idea and the Vomero and Odyssey are such shoes. Expect more brands to follow suit in the future (Brooks is arguably there as is).