The 9 Best Running Shoes Under $100, So You Can Break Your Personal Records, Not Your Budget
It doesn’t matter whether you’re hitting the road five days a week or have only just completed your first mile, you need to have a good running shoe. That said, you don’t have to drop a ton of money to get a quality sneaker. Case in point: These nine superstar styles that can take you from training for the Thanksgiving 5K all the way through preparing for your first marathon, none of which will break the bank. Read on for the 9 best running shoes under $100.
1. New Balance Fresh Foam Roav
This sleek road-running shoe has a lightweight design that’s best for shorter distances (maybe six miles or less), although the namesake foam in the midsole does provide superb cushioning for a full day of walking, running errands or simply being on your feet. While some runners love the higher ankle, which offers a bit of extra support, others found it rubbed them the wrong way, literally. Socks that come up higher, to form a barrier between your skin and the shoe should help break these in (without any blisters). One more thing to note: I’ve found that most New Balance styles to run a half-size smaller than other brands, so you might want to consider sizing up.
2. Brooks Revel 3
We may be talking specifically about running shoes, but the Revel 3 is a particularly great option for those who like to switch things up between lifting weights at the gym one day, a sprint workout on the track the next and a jog around the park the day after that. Yep, this is an incredibly versatile shoe. The soft midsole offers more than enough support for those with mid to high arches, although if you’re hoping to run long distances (say, 10 miles or more), we suggest choosing a style with more cushioning.
3. Asics GEL-Pulse 11
If you’ve been hoping for a shoe that can take you from 5K training to half marathon prep, here it is. This Asics style offers more cushioning than the two options above, especially at the back of the foot. In fact, multiple reviewers noted that the cushy heels helped reduce or eliminate pain caused by plantar fasciitis when they ran. Although the GEL-Pulse does provide some stability, it’s designed for those with neutral pronation, (i.e., your foot doesn’t tend to roll in or out when you run), so it won’t lock your foot in place quite like a high-stability model. This is a great starter sneaker if you’re planning to run varying distances over the next few months.
4. Skechers GORun Pure 2
If you don’t associate Skechers with high-performance running shoes, it’s time you reconsider. You may have loved its platform styles back in the ‘90s, but Skechers has since rolled out a number of truly competitive running styles, led in part by world-class marathoner Meb Keflezighi, who signed on with the brand after leaving Nike in 2011. The GORun Pure is a super-lightweight option for those whose typical neighborhood jog falls somewhere between 5K and 15K (any longer and you’ll want a more heavy-duty sneaker). Reviewers raved about just how comfy these running shoes are, both underfoot and along the upper portion, and that there was very little break-in time required.
5. Nike Free RN 2018
Sure, you could splurge and drop a whopping $250 on Nike’s ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%, aka the shoe Eliud Kipchoge wore to break the two-hour mark in the marathon, but with so many great options under $100, we’ll gladly save the extra cash for something else. For those who prefer shorter distances, the sleek Free RN is both incredibly comfortable and provides excellent bounce, so you can truly just pull them on and forget about them. The upper and tongue are all one piece (designed to look like a regular two-part upper), which means there’s no chance of the tongue slipping or rubbing around mile four. Nike’s site does note this style runs small, so consider sizing up by either a half or even a full size.
6. Nike Renew Run
Another awesome under-$100 option from Nike is the Renew Run. You can definitely go further than a 5K in these thanks to a foam midsole that offers plenty of cushioning for everyday jogs. While it appears this style also tends to run small (going up a half size is recommended), the super-stretchy upper is light and flexible, providing more room in the toe box. Our tip: Wear taller socks for the first few runs to prevent the higher ankle from giving you blisters.
7. Asics GT 2000
These came at the recommendation of a former Division I track-and-field athlete who has been wearing this exact style for 12 years. “This was what my coach recommended I wear when I first started, and I’ve never looked back. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I can always find them for relatively cheap,” she told us. Indeed, the GT 2000 offers great stability for both neutral and overpronated feet, a major bonus for both newer runners who could likely do with some additional strength training and those who are hitting the road five or six times a week. The high-density shock absorption of the gel sole ensures your feet will be just as comfortable on a 13-mile run as they would be on three-mile run. Full disclosure: the newest versions of the GT 2000 typically retail for $120, but older styles can always be found for under $100.
8. New Balance FuelCell Echo
The goal of the FuelCell midsole is to give you the most energy-return possible with every stride—in other words, it’s built to help you run faster and get more out of every run. It helps that the Echo is also incredibly lightweight, so you practically forget the shoe is even there (the sign of a perfect running shoe, in our opinion). While that lovely light feeling and the added spring in your step might make you feel like you could run and run and run for hours, you should probably cap your mileage at the 10-mile mark or at least no more than a half marathon.
9. Reebok Forever Floatride Energy 2
Similar to the FuelCell Echo, this Reebok style has a very responsive midsole to bring that extra bit of bounce to your runs. At just 7.3 ounces, it’s also lighter than a lot of the shoes on this list. Reviewers also liked how the shoes worked just as well for treadmill runs and lifting sessions as they did on the road. And just like the Asics GEL-Pulse 11, this a great shoe for beginners who aren’t entirely sure what distances they want to cover or what level of stability they need. However, it’s also great for avid runners who prefer a totally neutral running shoe.