11 Running Shoe Recommendations From Philly Experts

Whether you run long-distance, outdoors, or just for fun, we’ve got a shoe for you.

Need a new pair of running shoes? We asked five Philly running experts to weigh in. / Photograph by Gary Brown

This post is part of our Running Week content. Stay tuned for more stories related to pounding the pavement.

It’s no secret that running is an endurance test. No matter if you’re sprinting, running a marathon, or doing intervals on a treadmill, being a runner takes mental and physical strength. On top of training and listening to that motivating inner voice, runners also need a good pair of shoes that offer support and stability.

Finding the right pair of running shoes isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of thing, though. Everybody (or should we say every foot ) is different  — some people have high arches while others have flat feet. Your stride and the type of running you do contributes to the equation, too. To help narrow down your options, we spoke with five local experts who are active in the Philadelphia running scene to find out which shoes they’d recommend for different types of runners. Whether you’re going the extra mile as a distance runner or dealing with orthopedic issues, try these running shoe recs on for size.

Distance runners

Runners who enjoy going the extra mile (and then some).

Recommendation: Mythos Blueshield 3 by Diadora.

“I train in Diadora’s Mythos Blueshield 3. This is a premium shoe with great cushion that can handle a lot of miles without feeling heavy or clunky. I also like that Diadora’s U.S. headquarters is in South Philly, and they support the local post-collegiate running scene alongside Philadelphia Runner (a great place to get a free shoe fitting). Plus, Diadora gets bonus points for cool color schemes!” — Kevin Brandon, team member of Philadelphia Runner Track Club


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Recreational runners

Those who run to stay active and social (think: enjoying those post-run brews).

Recommendation: Ghost by Brooks.

“ For recreational running, I’d have to go with the Ghost model by Brooks. It’s lightweight yet also provides proper cushioning and support. It’s an ideal shoe for road runners gearing up for their 5K, seasoned marathoners, and ultra-marathoners pounding the pavement through high-mileage training.” — Nick Malfitano, co-founder of East Falls Flyers

Runners who don’t like to wear shoes

Barefoot all the way.

Recommendation: Escalante 1.5 by Altra.

“These are lightweight, ‘zero drop’ shoes that work for runners who want to run more minimally, without a high heel or high cushion. It’s the closest you can get to barefoot running without hurting yourself on concrete.” — Takia McClendon, store manager of Philadelphia Runner (University City) and run leader of City Fit Girls


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Runners with orthopedic issues

Runners who experience everything from bunions to flat feet.

Recommendation: Saucony and New Balance (model dependent on ortho needs).

“ I would describe myself as primarily a recreational trail runner with ortho issues (flat and narrow feet, with bunions). The combination of these conditions can be tough because most folks with bunions like to get shoes with larger toe boxes to give their toes the room to get comfortable, but having narrow, flat feet make it more likely that my feet will move around too much and cause blisters. One thing that has helped me with this is learning different shoe-tying techniques that allow my foot to stay more secure while giving my toes the room they need.

I’ve also learned from the folks at Philadelphia Runner that looking at the material construction of my shoes is important. In particular, choosing a shoe that doesn’t have a seam where my bunions are, which would cause undue irritation. At times, I’ve had to sacrifice a cool-looking style because the seam was just in the wrong place for me. But it’s worth it to keep from irritating my sensitive feet.” — Carolyn Redmond, member of Fishtown Beer Runners

Runners who overpronate

Overpronation  happens when the outside of the heel hits the ground first, causing your foot to roll too far inward.

Recommendation:  Adrenaline GTS 19 by Brooks.

“This model is a mid-level cushion shoe that offers support around the heel and arches — necessary for any runner who overpronates. It’s lightweight, has a roomie toe box, and can hold up for short or long distance running.” —Takia McClendon


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Runners who are super fast.

Recommendation: Cloud X by On.

“ The On Cloud X is a great shoe for short, fast runs. It’s one of the most lightweight, flexible shoes on the market and keeps you low to the ground so that your feet and body are aware of your movements. I’d also recommend this shoe for bootcamp classes or the gym to keep you supported and stable during workouts. They also come in a lot of colors to match with your workout gear.” —Takia McClendon

Trail runners

Runners who prefer the outdoor terrain.

Recommendation 1: Cloudventure by On.

“These shoes perform really well on trail, as they are cushioned with On’s Cloud Element technology that adds maximum grip. Although they pick up rocks and have very skinny laces, they are great with draining and rough terrain. I wear these shoes during outdoor races and ultramarathons, like the Dirty German through Pennypack Park.” — Gary Brown, run leader for Chasing Trail


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Recommendation 2: Torrent by Hoka One One.

“I usually have on average two or three trail-running shoes in my closet. The Hoka One One Torrents offer what Hoka is known for: just the right amount of cushion. They are responsive to trail terrain, fit really well, drain quickly (which is something to keep in mind when running outdoors), and are sticky as anything. In Penns(Rocks)ylania, sticky is good.” — Gary Brown

Treadmill runners

Runners who don’t want to deal with the natural elements.

Recommendation: Arahi 3 and Clifton 5 by Hoka One One.

“ Some runners prefer shoes with lots of cushion to make them feel like they aren’t even touching the ground [a motivator for treadmill runners]. Hoka One One shoes, especially their Arahi 3 and Clifton 5, provide the most support. They aren’t always the most stylish, but if you’re worried about impact, these could be a great fit.” — Takia McClendon

Note: Shoe selection should always be based on your own needs. Each of our contributors advocate going to a specialty shop, like Philly’s own Philadelphia Runner , for a foot strike or gait analysis to help you determine your stride and fit you for your perfect shoe.

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