Mateo also praises the Novablast 3, “This is one of my go-to daily trainers. It’s a super reliable shoe I can count on for easy jogs, uptempo workouts, and even long runs.” While it’s not designed for speed, the 30 millimeters of responsive foam underfoot make it capable of picking up the pace, she says. It’s also a great option for half-marathon and marathon runners who don’t want a more expensive, carbon-plated shoe.
This shoe provides stability without aggressively altering your footstrike (a.k.a. which part of your foot hits the ground first as you run), says Norris. “The support is ideal for runners who may overpronate (when your ankles roll in as you land) or have low arches, but don’t want a traditional stability shoe that impacts their gait too much.” The midsole features lightweight foam, which keeps this shoe from weighing you down at any distance. The previous version of the GEL-Kayano took the SELF Sneaker Award title of Best Shoe for Runners at Every Level thanks to its not-too-little, not-too-much approach to stride correction and support.
The GEL-Nimbus 25 offers a cloudlike ride, thanks to a bunch of things: a higher stack height (40.5 millimeters of shoe material between your foot and the ground) than its predecessors; lightweight, responsive cushioning in the midsole (similar to that of the Novablast); a softer outsole; a new breathable knit upper; and less heft overall. “It’s so plush and cushy, your foot just feels like it’s being hugged through every part of the gait cycle,” says Mateo.
Both Norris and Mateo recommend this shoe for race days and workouts where you want to pick up the pace. “The midsole foam is so bouncy and light, and it’s paired with a carbon plate and an aggressive rocker geometry to make you feel unstoppable,” says Mateo, who ran her current half and marathon personal records (PRs) in this shoe. It feels like a racing flat with only a 5-millimeter drop between the heel and toe heights of the foam, but offers tons of cushioning overall with a 39-millimeter stack height. Norris especially recommends this well-cushioned (but not too-tall) shoe for runners who find other carbon-plated shoes too unstable.
Looking to run long and go off-road? Then the Trabuco Max can be a great option. Its high stack height (28 millimeters of cushioning under the heel) will keep you comfortable, absorb shock, and protect your feet as you travel over all kinds of terrain, like rocks, roots, gravel, and mud. The outsole has lugs that follow an uphill and downhill pattern, to help you grip the ground no matter what direction you’re headed.
If the Novablast and Metaspeed (which our experts already love) had a baby, you’d get the Superblast. “The midsole combines a big hunk of lightweight and responsive foam and the bottom layer has a soft, bouncy foam. Despite its 45-millimeter stack height, there’s no wobbling; that bottom layer of foam helps stabilize the top, and the sidewalls kind of wrap up around the foot like a bucket seat,” says Mateo. There’s no carbon plate, but in Mateo’s experience running with the shoe, the glue that holds the two foams together adds rigidity without too much stiffness. “You’re not going to get quite the same pop of a plated shoe on tired legs, but this multitasker can handle long, easy runs as well as it can handle race day,” says Mateo.
The Glideride 3 is a solid choice for half marathon enthusiasts, as it combines responsiveness with cushioning, so speed and distance are supported—just what you need during a 13.1 mile race. The curved rocker bottom helps you smoothly push off with each stride, and cushioning at the midsole provides a springy rebound without weighing the shoe down too much. “This shoe makes easy runs and recovery runs feel light and smooth, even if your legs are tired. It can also work for longer runs, since it has ample cushioning,” says Norris.
The Materacer is one of Asics’ lightest shoes, weighing in at only 5.5 oz. Perfect for fast track workouts or race day, this airy shoe will feel barely-there on top, and like it’s propelling you forward underfoot, thanks to the carbon plate and a shape that promotes a rocking motion. Guidesole tech helps keep your ankle joint stable, so you conserve energy as you run—plus, it has less foamy cushion than some other Asics options, which can mean more speed.