11 of the best beginner-friendly running shoes

Ready to start pounding the pavements in 2024? Here’s our pick of the best shoes to help you on your way.

You can take your first steps in your everyday trainers but investing in a pair of specialist running shoes (and a good pair of running socks for that matter) will make your runs more comfortable and enjoyable in the long-term and reduce your risk of injury. Trust us, it’s well worth the investment.

What are the best running shoes for beginners?

Want to cut right to it? Here are our top recommendations for beginners, at a glance.

What to look for in a pair of running shoes

Choosing shoes doesn’t have to be complicated. Although there are a huge variety of styles and price points, all basically consist of a foam sole unit (known as the midsole) of varying thickness, designed to cushion impact, combined with a breathable and comfortable upper to hold the foot securely, without being too tight, and giving your toes room to move.

There is no one ‘best shoe’, as everyone has different needs. All sorts of factors – such as your biomechanics, weight and the shape of your feet – mean one person’s ideal option might not work as well for someone else.

If you’re buying for the first time, it’s a good idea to go to a dedicated running store where you can have your feet measured and get advice on shoes that fit well and provide the comfort and support you need. But if this isn’t an option, here are a few guide rules.

You might need to go bigger than normal

Common sense would dictate that if you wear size nine in regular shoes, then you’ll be a size nine in running shoes, but this might not be the case. When you run, the foot spreads inside the shoe more than when you’re walking, and is also likely to swell, so you might need to go up half a size. Check out this guide on fitting a running shoe correctly.

Be guided by comfort

If your new shoes aren’t comfortable then you won’t enjoy running in them. Try on a few different pairs to work out what feels best.

Use the rule of thumb

This will help you determine if a shoe is too small and that’s a good place to start when it comes to comfort on the run. With the shoe laced up and your heel against the back of it, there should be a thumb’s width of space between the tip of your big toe and the front of the shoe.

Types of running shoe

There are lots of types of running shoe, but those designed for running on pavements (road shoes) can be divided into two main categories:

Neutral: These shoes are designed for runners with a normal range of pronation – the natural inward rolling of the foot when it hits the ground – and can vary in cushioning. At one end there are performance (or ‘minimalist’) shoes, designed for racing or running fast, which are very light. At the other there are very cushioned (or ‘maximal’) shoes, with thicker midsoles designed for comfort across very long distances or those with heavier frames.

Support: These shoes, sometimes referred to as stability, structured or motion control shoes, are designed for those who overpronate when they run – where the foot rolls inwards a lot when it hits the ground. These runners may need shoes with good cushioning, along with some kind of support to moderate pronation – generally a firmer insert on the inside of the midsole.

The best running shoes for beginners 2024

Here’s out tried-and-tested selection of the very best running shoes for beginners.

1. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 40

Nike Pegasus 40

Nike Pegasus 40

A$190 at Nike.com

TypeNeutral, road
Weight283g (M), 232g (W)
Heel-to-toe drop10mm

A true staple, the Nike Pegasus 40 is a great all-rounder for both beginners starting out on their running journey and marathoners looking for a reliable workhorse. This classic daily trainer is now on its 40th iteration, which gives you an idea of its pedigree.

Designed for every kind of run – long and short, easy and hard – and every kind of runner, Nike’s React foam offers a springy feel and the double Air unit in the midsole makes for an even bouncier ride. The forefoot is wider for more space for your toes, while the upper, with its breathable mesh, is big on comfort. At just a pinch under $200, it’s also a good price if you don’t want to commit to a more premium price trainer (and you can often find it discounted for less, too).

2. Hoka Rincon 3

Rincon 3

Hoka Rincon 3

A$219.99 on Hoka.com, currently on sale for $129.99

TypeNeutral, road
Weight210g (M), 176g (W)

With a big hit of midsole cushioning delivering a soft-yet-stable landing in an incredibly lightweight package, the Rincon offers supreme comfort straight out of the box. It performs equally well on shorter, faster runs and longer, slower efforts too thanks to the rocker profile, which kicks in to aid midfoot-to-toe transition, smoothing foot strike and adding pop to take-off.

It also remains lightweight despite the huge wedge of cushioning thanks to the improved, and more breathable, vented-mesh upper. The other great thing about this shoe is the price – it’s no surprise then that we describe the Rincon 3 as ‘an absolute winner’.

3. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v13

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v13

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v13

A$260 at New Balance

Weight262g (M) 206g (W)
Heel-to-toe drop6mm

An ideal choice for anyone starting out in running, the 1080 is one of New Balance’s bestselling models. Whether you’re looking for a recovery day shoe you can sink your feet into, a long run shoe that can eat up every mile, or even a shoe to run your first marathon in, this is a safe bet.

The v13 is the brand’s most cushioned shoe yet. There’s additional padding around the heel collar and on the gusseted tongue – adding to the v13’s all-round plusher feel – with the tongue wrapping nicely around the midfoot. It’s also got a new rocker profile with increased forefoot stiffness. While this in no way makes the 1080 a speed shoe, it does give it a newfound responsiveness which makes it more of an all-rounder.

4. Saucony Triumph 21

Saucony Triumph 21

Saucony Triumph 21

A$259.99 at Saucony

Weight279g (M), 250g (W)
Heel-to-toe drop10mm

Featuring Saucony’s luxurious PWRRUN+ foam cushioning and PWRRUN and PWRRUN+ sockliner, these epitomise the feeling of running on marshmallows. All your runs will be soft and light while the internal geometry will create a forward propulsion sensation to avoid that dragging feeling. On this latest iteration, there’s also a new flat-knit upper for increased comfort and a more ‘locked in’ feeling.

5. Mizuno Wave Rider 27

Wave Rider 27

Mizuno Wave Rider 27

A$240 at Mizuno AU

TypeNeutral, road

The Wave Rider 27 has seen a few tweaks from the previous iteration, with a roomier and more accommodating toe box that may be favoured by those with wide feet, and increased durability to help you get more kilometres out of it.

The ride is smooth, stable and spongey, with enough cushioning to keep you comfortable on easy runs and long runs. This comes from the Mizuno energy foam in the midsole, which achieves a good middle-ground between feeling firm/rigid and squishy/plush.

It’s an incredibly comfortable shoe to wear for those new to running too, with a new heel counter that pulls the foot into the platform better than the previous model, and a moderate amount of internal padding in the collar.

6. On Cloudmonster


On Cloudmonster

A$259.95 at On Running Au

TypeNeutral, road
Weight275g (M), 230g (W)

They may look strange, but these shoes are weird for a reason. The ‘Cloudtec experience’ (hollow pods in the midsole) is designed to propel you forward, making runs easier and more energised. Above the large pods sits the Speedboard – a plastic plate that acts as a stabilising element to the larger midsole and also helps produce a solid platform for push-off, giving the shoe a reassuring sense of propulsion.

Out of all the On running shoe models, the Monster excels in cushioning; striking a good balance between ultra squidgy and very firm. This makes them a great option for easy and long runs alike.

7. Brooks Ghost 15

Ghost 15

Brooks Ghost 15

A$249.99 at Brooks AU

TypeNeutral, road
Weight278g (M), 221g (W)

A hugely popular shoe with first-time runners, Brooks is well known for its comfort and cushioning. The Ghost 15 doesn’t disappoint with its DNA LOFT V2 cushioning, which is soft without being too squishy. The 12mm drop also makes for a really stable feeling as the foot sinks into the shoe and is held firmly in place by 3D Fit Print stretchy upper.

8. Asics Gel Cumulus 25

Gel-Cumulus 25

Asics Gel-Cumulus 25

A$220 at ASICS

TypeNeutral, road
Weight255g (M), 225g (W)

An everyday shoe that copes well with short and long distances, this model is built with comfort in mind — and it’s the most cushioned Cumulus yet. From the upper to the FF Blast foam underfoot it oozes softness, but it does sacrifice some pep underfoot. Rearfoot and forefoot impact is absorbed through the Pure Gel technology and Flytefoam Blast + cushioning making this a great shoe for both heel and forefoot strikers. Despite all the padding it is not a weighty shoe (in fact, it’s lighter than its predecessor) meaning it provides kilometres of comfort without dragging your feet down.

9. Brooks Glycerin 20

Glycerin 20

Brooks Glycerin 20

A$269.99 (ON SALE FOR $199.95)

TypeRoad, neutral
Weight286g (M), 258g (W)

A second entry for Brooks – a running shoe brand which is hugely popular among new runners. The advantage of this model is that it comes in a neutral and support version (GTS), so runners who tend to overpronate and roll inwards when their foot strikes the ground get GuideRail tech to keep excess movement in check. They are also supremely comfortable with DNA Loft v3 foam which provides a gentle ride.

10. Adidas Supernova Rise

Adidas Supernova Rise

Adidas Supernova Rise

A$220 at Adidas AU

Weight277g (UK 8.5)
Heel-to-toe drop6mm

Adidas have really been missing a do-it-all daily training shoe for some years now – something that offers up comfort and consistency when tackling a variety of training runs. The Supernova Rise changes that.

A jack of all trades and a master of none, this shoe will most likely satisfy all running needs for those looking for something they can throw on regardless of the session that awaits.

The ride isn’t very soft nor too hard, and there is a nicely balanced sensation of cushioning and responsiveness that offers up feedback and a sense of ground feel whilst keeping things smooth and supple. Easy kilometres tick by, the shoe can handle a long, slow run too and faster tempo feels very manageable.

11. Decathlon Kiprun KS900


Kiprun KS900

Mens: A$150 on sale from $219 / Womens: A$170 at Decathlon AU

TypeRoad, neutral

Let’s be honest, running shoes cost a lot of money, especially if you want to ensure they are comfortable and fit correctly. But there are some brands offering slightly more affordable choices which can be a good place to start. The Kiprun KS900 is a decent starter shoe from Decathlon coming in at just under $200. They provide spongey foam cushioning and offer greater stability via a wider sole. Plus they are ‘guaranteed’ to last up to 1000km, making them good value for money.

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