Best Beginner Running Shoes

Best Beginner Running Shoes 2024: Jump Menu

Woman sitting in hallway tying up running shoes

(Image credit: Justin Paget / Getty Images)

The list in brief ↴
1. Best overall: Nike Pegasus 40
2. Best value: Puma Velocity Nitro 2
3. Best for marathon training: Brooks Glycerin 20
4. Best stability shoe: Asics Gel-Kayano 30
5. Most versatile: Saucony Ride 17
6. Best for heavier runners: Brooks Ghost Max

You don’t need to buy a lot of gear to start running, but one of the purchases it’s worth making is a pair of the best beginner running shoes. Running in the right shoes will make you feel a lot more comfortable, and should set you on the path to enjoying the sport in the long term.

While every runner differs in the types of shoe they like, I’ve tested hundreds and, for me, the best running shoes for beginners are generally cushioned shoes that prioritize comfort and protection—so you can get used to the activity without putting too much impact through the body. 

Versatility and value are important. You want a long-lasting running shoe that feels good for the different types of runs you might be doing when following a running training plan, especially if you’ve started running with marathon training because you got a spot in an event.

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Nick Harris-Fry
Nick Harris-Fry

I usually run 50-70 miles a week and have been testing and reviewing running shoes for more than five years. I’ve run in hundreds of different shoes from every major brand and have wide and deep knowledge of what’s available for runners of all levels, including the top options for beginners. 


I’ve picked several beginner running shoes below to suit different preferences and budgets, so whether you’re starting a fitness kick with a couch to 5K plan or a new runner who’s diving in at the deep end with endurance training, there’s an option for you.

The Quick List

Before diving into more detail on the best options available, here’s a top-line overview of the beginner running shoes I recommend. Click on any shoe to jump to it in the full list for more details.


Best Beginner Running Shoes 2024

Best overall

Nike Pegasus 40

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)
Best overall

Specifications

RRP: $130 / £114.95
Weight: 10.3oz / 292g (UK 9)
Stack: 33mm heel, 23mm forefoot
Drop: 10mm

Reasons to buy

+
Versatile and comfortable
+
Good grip
+
Reasonable value

Reasons to avoid

-
Not an improvement on Pegasus 39
-
Not as cushioned as others

The Nike Pegasus 40 is a well-balanced running shoe. It’s comfortable but fairly light and can be used for faster runs as well as easy ones. It’s durable and looks good, so you can wear it outside your training. It’s also a long-running and popular shoe, so it’s often found in sales, especially if you look at the previous version. The Pegasus 39 is just as good as or maybe even a little better than the Pegasus 40, in my opinion.

If you’re a heavier runner, or one just looking for the maximum amount of cushioning you can get, there are better options on this list. If you’re unsure of your preferences and want a reliable shoe that’s likely to please, the Pegasus 40 is a safe bet.

Read more in my Nike Pegasus 40 review

Best value

Puma Velocity Nitro 2

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)
Best value

Specifications

RRP: $120 / £105
Weight: 9.5oz / 271g (UK 9)
Stack: 33.5mm heel, 23.5mm forefoot
Drop: 10mm

Reasons to buy

+
Great value
+
Bouncy, comfortable midsole
+
Outsole grip is excellent

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as stable as other shoes
-
Upper can make your foot hot
-
Some may want more cushioning

The Puma Velocity Nitro 2 is good value at its listed price, but considering it’s almost always available at a discount, it’s exceptional value. The third version of the shoe is rumored to be launching in early 2024, so there will definitely be deals to be had on the Velocity Nitro 2.

The shoe is comfortable and works for almost any kind of run, and unless you want a max-cushioned option with even more foam in the midsole it should suit any new runner. The Velocity Nitro 2 also has an excellent outsole that grips well on light trails, as well as on wet or icy paved surfaces, so if you’re planning to hit park tracks along with roads it will cover both bases.

Read more in my Puma Velocity Nitro 2 review

Best for marathon training

Brooks Glycerin 20 standard upper

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)
Best for marathon training

Specifications

RRP: $160 / £150
Weight: 11oz / 314g (UK 9)
Stack: 34mm heel, 24mm forefoot
Drop: 10mm

Reasons to buy

+
Exceptionally comfortable
+
Long-lasting outsole
+
Great for long runs

Reasons to avoid

-
Bit heavy and awkward for fast running
-
Better value elsewhere

The Brooks Glycerin has long been known for its comfort. While there are shoes with more foam packed into their midsoles, the Glycerin 20 undoubtedly delivers a high level of protection. It’s perfect for new runners embarking on a marathon training plan. 

When testing the Glycerin 20, I found that the longer the run, the better it felt, with the nitrogen-infused midsole staying bouncy and comfortable throughout. It’s not a light or particularly speedy shoe, but if you’re training for a first marathon it’s versatile enough to handle any faster runs you have on your plan, and it really shines in long runs, including the full 26.2 miles on race day.

Read more in my Brooks Glycerin 20 review

Best stability shoe

​​Asics Gel-Kayano 30

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)
Best stability shoe

Specifications

RRP: $160 / £180
Weight: 11.1oz / 315g (UK 9)
Stack: 40mm heel, 30mm forefoot
Drop: 10mm

Reasons to buy

+
Soft and smooth ride
+
Stable despite high stack
+
Comfortable

Reasons to avoid

-
Cheaper options available

If you’ve undertaken gait analysis and been told you should get a stability shoe, the first thing to know is you’re not obliged to do this. In general, the advice we’ve always had from physios is to opt for a running shoe that feels good regardless of stability. But if you want a stable shoe to start running in, the Asics Gel-Kayano 30 is an excellent option.

This is mainly thanks to the high stack of soft cushioning in the midsole, which makes the Gel-Kayano 30 so comfortable. The shoe has a wide base and sidewalls of foam that your foot sits in, so it’s still stable despite being such a tall shoe. The rocker design means the ride is smooth. Even if you haven’t been told you need a stability shoe, the Gel-Kayano 30 is a great, protective option for new runners. It is expensive, though, and if the price is too high, the Puma ForeverRun Nitro is a good stability option for beginners that comes in cheaper.

Read more in my Asics Gel-Kayano 30 review

Most versatile

Saucony Ride 17

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)
Most versatile

Specifications

RRP: $140 / £135
Weight: 10.8oz / 306g (UK 9)
Stack: 35mm heel, 27mm forefoot
Drop: 8mm

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable
+
Good outsole
+
Cheaper than Triumph 21

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavier than previous Rides
-
Not versatile
-
Flimsy lace eyelets

The Saucony Triumph line has long been a great option for new runners—it was the shoe I used when getting into the sport—and the Triumph 21 would have been the perfect pick here if not for Saucony updating its Ride shoe to be similar to the Triumph 21, but cheaper.

The key similarity is the midsole, which is made from Saucony’s PWRRUN+ foam. This is soft without being too squishy, so it’s comfortable but doesn’t make the Ride 17 unstable. It also has a little bounce, so the Ride 17 can be used for a variety of training and races when you’re first starting out, as opposed to just being a comfort-focused shoe.

Read more in my Saucony Ride 17 review

Best for heavier runners

Brooks Ghost Max

(Image credit: Nick Harris-Fry / Future)
Best for heavier runners

Specifications

RRP: $150 / £140
Weight: 10.7oz / 304g (UK 9)
Stack: 39mm heel, 33mm forefoot
Drop: 6mm

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable 
+
Smooth ride
+
Durable outsole with good grip

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the liveliest foam
-
Not very versatile

Heavier runners will often put more impact through their running shoe, and indeed their body, so it’s worth having extra cushioning in your shoe to protect from that impact as you get into running. The Ghost Max is a more cushioned version of Brooks’s popular Ghost 15 shoe, which is also a great beginner option. I prefer the Max to the Ghost 15 because of that extra cushioning but also the rocker design of the shoe, which creates a smooth ride that also helps to reduce the impact of running, while increasing the Ghost Max’s versatility.

Read more in my Brooks Ghost Max review


Once you’ve decided which running shoes to buy, the next step is to choose a running training plan. This free couch to 5K plan is a great place to start.

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.