‘Polar Vortex’. Two dreaded words in the last few weeks for runners across much of Canada and the northern U.S. (albeit, a distant 2nd to ‘Global Pandemic’), looking to safely exercise outdoors this spring. Yet, with the weather expected to improve this week, now’s a good time to grab a new pair of kicks. Here’s my suggestions for 2020’s best running shoes, based on your running type and objectives.
1. Saucony Triumph 17: High-mileage training
305g men/261g women.
Drop ratio: 8mm.
$195 CDN/$150 USD. Avail. at Saucony.com/.ca
The Triumph 17 is Saucony’s flagship distance-running shoe and the most comfortable offering in this model’s history.
Saucony designed the Triumph 17 for those looking for the best running shoes to go the distance, from half-marathons to full marathons and beyond. The shoe is exceptionally comfortable and supportive, due to the integration of Saucony’s lightweight PWRRUN+ foam in the midsole. Also the midsole’s thermoplastic beads help soften the blow each time your foot makes contact with the running surface.
This latest edition of the Triumph comes with a new mesh upper, replacing the Saucony’s ISO fit band lacing system, which forms to the contours of your foot over time, for a more secure fit.
Relatively light, supportive and incredibly comfortable, the 17 provides a plush ride over the long haul.
2. Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next%: Best Carbon-fibre Shoe
The Alphafly Next% is all the rage, and for good reason. Distance-running god Eliud Kipchoge became the first human to run a marathon in under 2 hours in Vienna last October while wearing a prototype of these fancy carbon-plated kicks. In fact, Nike modified the model for competitive events after World Athletics deemed them as too good for competition.
In terms of design the Alphafly looks as though it has arrived from the future. This shoe proves truly superior for both training and race day, if you can justify the price tag. The Alphafly comes with a carbon-fibre plate, running the length of the midsole that propels you forward over the long haul faster than materials found in traditional running shoes. This fancy shoe also comes with Air Zoom pods in the forefoot and ZoomX foam in the heel for more comfort and added propulsion with each stride.
Finally, the shoe also has a lightweight Flyknit upper called Atomknit, with the same lacing system as the Vaporfly 4%.
Unfortunately you’ll have to wait until at least early June here in Canada to purchase the shoe. That said, patience is a virtue as this shoe is well worth it.
3. Asics GT 2000 8: Most Supportive shoe
The Asics GT 2000 8 is my bet for the best running shoe when it comes to performance that doesn’t skimp on stability.
It’s also lighter than previous versions for faster turnovers, and comes with an updated midsole, which I found notably softer than the previous model.
The upper’s new multi-directional engineered mesh for increased breathability is a key factor as the weather warms.
Yet it’s the GT 2008’s stability features that make this shoe shine, starting with its high-abrasion outsole, that provides ample traction in slick road conditions as noted on a rainy May test run. Further, the 8’s midsole construction contains ample rearfoot cushioning for smooth, stable foot strikes.
Asics has also added more EVA cushioning through the midsole for more comfort while maintaining the shoe’s responsiveness. Asics also designed the rear of the shoe to absorb more shock upon landing while aiding in preventing the foot from rolling inward. The same is true when it comes to the 8’s guided trusstic in the outsole. All in all a great stability shoe, especially for supinators.
4. New Balance 1500v6: Best Speed Training Shoe
Released in February, the latest 1500 comes packaged in a sleek new look, with a lighter, engineered knit upper for more support through the top of the foot.
New Balance has made the REVlite’s midsole lighter as well, up to 30 per cent more so than previous models, aiding in quick turnovers.
This REVlite isn’t a shoe for all of your runs, but it’s the best running for speed workouts, and at the right price. At a feathery 244 grams in men’s and 183 grams for women, the 1500v6 is an excellent shoe for your high tempo training sessions.
5. Adidas Ultraboost 20: Best Race-Day shoe
Performance meets comfort in this high-end Adidas offering. Employing the company’s Primeknit+ textile-based material in the shoe’s upper, the Ultraboost 20 forms more comfortably and securely to the contours of your foot than previous versions.
The 20 also comes with a cushy midsole that’s highly responsive, aiding in speedy turnovers as you’d expect in a premium, performance-based shoe.
At the shoe’s bottom, the outsole’s inside contains a webbed material that stretches to provide a wider area of surface contact for more traction on rainy summer runs. The outsole is also made of highly durable rubber for added protection against sharp rocks and other obstacles underfoot.
All in all, a highly impressive shoe built for speed that doesn’t skimp on comfort. Nor on price, however. That said, for more competitive runners, looking for one of the best running shoes in the industry.