New Balance Fresh Foam X 860v12 ($135)

(Photo: Courtesy New Balance)

Best Support

With a traditional medial post—a dense section of foam in the midsole—you’d expect the 860v12 to perform like a garden-variety stability shoe. But a layer of New Balance’s energetic foam compound sits directly underfoot, providing pep. A roomy toe box and narrow heel cup hit the sweet spot for some testers, while others craved a snugger fit. (Men’s 11.4 oz, women’s 8.9 oz; 10 mm drop)

Men’s Women’s

Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next Nature ($300)

Best for Long-Distance Training

Don’t be fooled by the slapped-together, prototype-ish appearance. This sustainable version of Nike’s fastest marathon shoe works as well as the original. It has a 70 percent recycled midsole and a 50 percent recycled carbon-fiber plate, leading one tester to gush, “Soft on impact, but super fast and a helluva lot of fun!” If you’re a runner gunning for a podium finish, the Next Nature is the highest-performing eco-racer on the market. (10.3 oz; 4 mm drop)

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ASICS Gel-Nimbus Lite 3 ($160)

(Photo: Courtesy Asics)

Best for Overall Comfort

With a plush mesh upper and a stretchy knit tongue, the Nimbus Lite 3 resembles an adequately supported snug sock. Impact-absorbing gel under the rear foot reduces shock, while energetic foam in the rest of the midsole adds flexibility, comfort, and relief during long outings. Thanks to an upper made from 70 percent recycled materials, wearing this shoe feels good in more ways than one. (Men’s 9.2 oz, 10 mm drop; women’s 8.1 oz, 13 mm drop)

Men’s Women’s

Skechers GoRun Speed Freek ($200)

(Photo: Courtesy Skechers)

Best for Fast Efforts

With a secure, low-volume fit, energetic cushioning, and Goodyear rubber strategically placed on the outsole, this shoe rides like a cornerhugging race car. A carbon-infused, H-shaped plate sits under the forefoot to aid speedy efforts. The responsive midsole combines cushy foam with a firm carbon plate for quick, bouncy rebound, while the featherweight, breathable mono-mesh upper adds to the sleek feel. (Men’s 7 oz, women’s 5.8 oz; 4 mm drop)

Men’s Women’s

Hoka Mach Supersonic ($150)

(Photo: Courtesy Hoka One One)

Best for Everyday Training

The Mach Supersonic is a light-weight, highly responsive option for speed seekers who don’t want to sacrifice comfort. Thanks to a nicely padded tongue and heel collar, and a slightly stretchy mesh upper, testers couldn’t wait to pull it on. But it’s the incredibly springy cushioning that makes running in this Hoka such a joy: a soft layer of foam sits right below the footbed and on top of a light, responsive base, the catalyst for a nifty launchpad effect. (Men’s 8.3 oz, women’s 6.9 oz; 5 mm drop)

Men’s Women’s

Saucony Ride 15 ($130)

(Photo: Courtesy Saucony)

Best for Marathon Training

Marathon trainers tend to err on the heavy, boring side, because distance runners are after ample cushion and support. But the Ride 15 isn’t that kind of shoe. This version is an ounce lighter than the previous iteration, and new midsole foam provides greater stack height, for a faster but still comfortable ride. The footbed is set slightly into the midsole, creating a foot-cradling effect we appreciated. Plus, a beveled heel and toe-spring shape contributed to notably smooth transitions. (Men’s 8.8 oz, women’s 7.8 oz; 8 mm drop)

Men’s Women’s

Topo Athletic Magnifly 4 ($130)

(Photo: Courtesy Topo)

Best for Foot Splay

Fans of zero-drop shoes that accommodate full toe splay will enjoy this comfy number. Testers thought Topo’s proprietary dual-density foam was a major improvement that delivered softer landings. With its wide toe box and flexy feel, they found the Magnify notably better for cruisey miles than for setting PRs, where a quick toe-off is key. And everyone was wowed by the upper: hot summer training was no match for this shoe’s incredibly breathable mesh. (Men’s 8.7 oz, women’s 7.1 oz; zero drop)

Men’s Women’s

Under Armour Flow Velociti Wind 2 ($160)

(Photo: Courtesy Under Armour)

Best for Intervals

This neutral trainer had us moving like the wind. We loved how the one-piece midsole delivered a smooth, consistent transition from soft landings to snappy toe-offs—ideal for up- tempo runs. A quick tug on the laces engages zigzagging tape lines woven into the mesh upper, creating a locked and loaded sensation that screams Go time! An embedded Bluetooth chip transmits data to the MapMyRun app (Android and iOS), a nice perk for real-time analytics fiends. (Men’s 8.3 oz, women’s 8 oz; 18 mm drop)

Men’s Women’s

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