We review some of 2012’s best running shoes to rack up the tri training miles in

Here we put 12 pairs of supportive running shoes through their paces to see which are best for everyday use.

Check out more recent running shoe reviews here. Find more group tests from Triathlon Plus in our other best triathlon gear reviews.

New Balance 860v2
£85
Weight 336g
www.newbalance.co.uk

The 860v2s are a solid pair of trainers that stick to the tried and tested combination of high-density foam on the medial (inside edge) of the sole with plastic midfoot support. Right from the first run, they feel supportive, comfortable and very stable, great for overpronating heel strikers. There’s little sense that the feet are being manhandled by stability features thanks to a relatively flexible forefoot, which also provides a natural foot roll. The 860v2s do feel a bit heavy though, and are much more suited to long endurance runs than interval or track work. We found the toebox on ours a bit narrow, but New Balance offer different width fittings so just try before you buy.

Verdict
Good quality, cushioning and support make them feel great from the moment they’re on.

Performance 4/5
Value 5/5
Overall 4/5

Triathlon Plus Top Value Award, issue 39

Puma FAAS 800
£85
Weight 326g (UK 10)
www.pumarunning.com

Puma have taken the running shoe back to basics with the FAAS 800. Free from inserts, hollows and gimmicks, the FAAS 800 is a simple, comfortable trainer that makes running easy. Great-looking from the lateral side, flipping the trainer around reveals a thick medial heel that provides stability and prevents excessive over-pronation. Out on the road, a combination of lightness and the extremely flexible sole makes it easy to get up to speed and get on with the business of running, providing a sumptuously cushioned transition from heel-strike to toe-off that feels really natural. They also remain comfortable over long sessions thanks to soft interiors and a wide tongue, though they don’t quite offer the same level of support as the Mizunos or New Balances.

Verdict
Comfortable and natural feeling with enough support for everyday use.

Performance 4/5
Value 4/5
Overall 4/5

Saucony Progrid Guide 5
£94.99
Weight 329g (UK 10)
www.saucony.co.uk

According to Saucony the ProGrid Guide 5 utilises ‘The Geometry of Strong’ which certainly sounds catchier than ‘the difference in height between the heel and forefoot is now 8mm rather than 12’. Saucony claims this differential means the Guide 5 leads runners to land closer to the midfoot rather than heel, which returns better cushioning and a stronger toe-off. One committed heel striker did find the foot landed further forwards but rather than feeling stronger, the initial feeling was that the shoes were ‘slappy’. Once used to them though, the Guides are smooth and fast feeling – a light shoe but offering good stability and a pleasingly breathable and soft upper. However, the cushioning isn’t the most pillowy you’ll find.

Verdict
Light, stable and fast feeling. Cushioning could be plusher, especially in the forefoot.

Performance 3/5
Value 3/5
Overall 3/5

Nike LunarEclipse 2
£95
Weight 355g (UK 10)
www.nike.com

Just as we can’t get our heads around pink football boots, there’s part of us that still prefers white runners. We’ll put aside our prejudice for the LunarEclipse 2s though as they’re a very competent pair of shoes. In fact, The Lunarlon midsole is a treat – light, smooth flowing, plushly cushioned yet responsive and surprisingly stable despite not using a traditional higher density foam under the arch. The supportive feel is aided by the excellent upper that grips the foot snugly with the new Dynamic Fit cradle and the special ‘heel clip’, plus a horseshoe shaped heel cup on the insole. Nike came up with the first Eclipse as a one-shoe-suits-all answer to having your gait ‘diagnosed’ and we weren’t sure it worked, but version 2 feels more successful.

Verdict
Supremely comfortable upper and midsole offers surprising levels of support.

Performance 4/5
Value 4/5
Overall 4/5

Zoot Ultra Kalani 2.0
£95
Weight 303g
www.zootsports.com, www.k2sports.com

The Zoot Ultra Kalani 2.0 shares some of the same features as its racing brother, the Ultra TT 4.0, including easy-on heel and tongue, asymmetric lacing and an entirely seamless interior sock to avoid chafing. The Kalanis are a neutral trainer that offer a fair bit of support, though the heel cup and tab felt a little loose. The CarbonSpan+ in the sole means they’re very rigid and all too easily revert to a harsh, unforgiving plod. However, for those who are very light on their feet, they offer a springy toe-off promoting a high cadence. Fit is snug, so they’re definitely a pair to try before you buy. Not as successful as the Zoot race shoes we’ve tried and the style won’t be to everyone’s tastes.

Verdict
Comfortable and easy to get on but harsh feeling on the Tarmac.

Performance 2/5
Value 3/5
Overall 3/5

Asics Gel-cumulus 13
£100
Weight 340g
www.asics.co.uk

While the Gel-Cumulus 13s don’t offer much in the way of stability control – nor do they claim to – they remain one of the more supportive and shock absorbent pairs of shoes on test. The Achilles is hugged by a high heel tab while the rest of the upper holds the foot firmly but without constriction. The midsole foam and Asics’ trademark heel Gel maintain a luxurious comfort from heel strike to toe-off while the toebox is wide enough to allow the toes to spread and airy enough to keep them cool. Like the Pumas, the Gel-Cumulus 13s just let you get on with each run in peace without too much fuss or interference with your natural stride.

Verdict
If you’re a neutral runner looking for long-run comfort, the Cumulus are a great pair of shoes.

Performance 4/5
Value 3/5
Overall 4/5

K-Swiss Blade Max Stable
£100
Weight 380g (UK 10)
www.kswiss.co.uk

With the Stables, K-Swiss combine their popular blade technology with a supportive upper and heel cup along with additional arch support and a plastic wedge in the heel to cater for high-mileage stability and correct moderate overpronation. Slipping the Stables on, the heel feels well protected and secure, while the toes are treated to a soft material layer to avoid chafing that remains remarkably airy when running. The solid heel can be quite unforgiving if you’re a heel-striker, making it all too easy start slapping the ground, but flex through the mid- and forefoot is good. The Blades help cushion midfoot impact and promote an easy leg turnover but suffer from a tendency to grab and hold grit in between them.

Verdict
A comfortable, solid running shoe with good cushioning that suffers from a clunky heel.

Performance 3/5
Value 3/5
Overall 3/5

Mizuno Wave Inspire 8
£100
Weight 310g
www.mizuno.co.uk
Though not spectacular looking, the Inspires offer superb support with an Achilles-hugging heel tab, firm, stabilising heel and Mizuno’s Wave insert for arch strength – all of which help to reduce overpronation and inspire confidence when running. The Mizunos are instantly comfortable thanks to a smooth inner and soft tongue as well as a wide, airy toe box that allows the toes room to move and breathe. A combination of the Wave and ap+ midsole offer amazing shock absorption and cushioning while there’s plenty of mid and forefoot flexibility thanks in part to the SmoothRide inserts. This makes the Inspires easy to run in, while also being incredibly supportive. Light enough for long-course racing, the Inspires offer amazing performance for the money.

Verdict
Light, supportive and comfortable; everything you want in a pair of mile-eaters.

Performance 5/5
Value 4/5
Overall 4/5

Triathlon Plus Gold Award, issue 39
Triathlon Plus Peak Performer Award, issue 39

Pearl Izumi Synchro Fuel RD II
£109.99
Weight 298g (UK 9)
www.pearlizumi.com, www.madison.co.uk

This evolution of Pearl Izumi’s best-selling running shoe looks great and has a snug, supportive fit. The wide, comfortable toebox is seamless and the heel cup holds reassuringly well. Out beating the roads, the Syncro Fuel RDIIs feel light, low and fast, with just enough support to correct mild overpronation. The wide tongue and laces maintain comfort during lengthy sessions without pinching. Despite a fairly rigid sole, the Energy Foam takes away most of the sting on foot striking, though they’re not as cushioned as others on test, so suit lighter runners best. The positive toe-off also promotes a quick leg turnover, making them a good choice for long racing as well as training. However they are a little pricey and come up small, so try before you buy.

Verdict
Comfortable with reasonable support and cushioning best for lighter runners.

Performance 4/5
Value 3/5
Overall 3/5

Brooks Trance 11
£115
Weight 337g (UK 9)
www.brooksrunning.co.uk

Brooks have always been a reliable brand when it comes to making reliable shoes. That hasn’t changed with the Trance 11 – if you want stability you’ll find it here. A big, firmer density medial post and a plastic arch support reduces overpronation, while a superbly comfortable and snug fitting upper adds extra support. Cushioning is aided by Brooks adaptable DNA gel – they say it reacts to the force applied and disperses pressure accordingly – in the midsole and a semi-independent ‘caterpillar’ crash pad on the outside of the heel gives a smooth feel. Despite all this, the Trance isn’t a plush shoe: they’re a little weighty and lighter testers found them a particularly firm ride.

Verdict
Great upper, smooth feeling and stable shoe. The firm ride and weight won’t be to all tastes.

Performance 3/5
Value 3/5
Overall 3/5

Newton Sir Isaac
£120
Weight 309g
www.newtonrunning.co.uk

Newton’s patented Action/Reaction technology uses ‘actuator lugs’ that protrude from the outsole to give better cushioning and energy return when you land on the mid- to forefoot, and a slightly lower heel to discourage heel striking. In the Sir Isaac, this effect is less pronounced than in other Newtons, making them a good introduction for heel-strikers anxious about changing the way they run. Once you’re used to it they feel fast, responsive and natural, with plenty of cushioning and flexibility. The rest of the upper is comfy, supportive and airy. Fitting feels small, so going up half a size is recommended. We know people who are committed converts to these shoes and to forefoot running, and if you’re one of them you can’t buy better.

Verdict
A love it or hate it shoe, but a great choice for wannabe forefoot strikers to up their mileage.

Performance 5/5
Value 3/5
Overall 4/5

On Cloudrunner
£125
Weight 350g
www.on-running.com

The strange-looking loops on the sole of the Cloudrunner are designed to give protection on during high-mileage Tarmac training and reduce horizontal as well as vertical impact forces; little teeth inside the loops catch on to each other on impact to help you push off. We certainly noticed the cushioning but with it comes a feeling of height and slight disassociation from the ground; when running at slow to steady speeds, we felt the movement of the Cloudtec tubes, giving an odd feeling like riding on a flat. However, at faster speeds the energy return was much better and we liked the flexibility of the ride. The placement of the heel lugs, quite far forward, also helps encourage midfoot striking if you’re looking to change your gait.

Verdict
An interesting, flexible shoe that runs better faster and gives loads of protection.
Performance 4/5
Value 2/5
Overall 3/5

OVERALL VERDICT

At the risk of hedging our bets here, we’d like to start with a disclaimer: the lowest scoring shoe here might be the one that suits you better than any. Running gait, and therefore shoe choice, is so individual that it would be wrong for everyone to dash out in search of our Gold Award winner. What we have tried to do, though, is choose the shoes we felt lived up to their individual job descriptions best and offered best value for money. The cost of running shoes is on the rise, so while £85 is not to be sniffed at, the trustworthy New Balance 860V2 represents solid value for money, and those of you who like their kit to be traceable can take peace of mind from the fact that these are made in the UK. Awarding our Peak Performer badge is trickier as there are some great pioneering shoes on offer from Nike, On and Newton – the latter scoring a perfect 5/5 for Performance because no shoe offers a better introduction to forefoot running. However, after much wrangling we’ve given both our Peak Performer and overall Gold Award to Mizuno’s Wave Inspire, a shoe that offers a rare blend of support, cushioning and an instinctive, smooth ride, at what is – these days – a pretty reasonable price.