By Brian Metzler
Although summer won’t officially arrive until June 21, the summer running season is already underway in many parts of the country. (And yes, it’s still snowing in some of the mountainous regions of the West, but May (snow) showers will still bring June wildflowers in those regions.) To me, summer running is all about fitness, fun and adventure, as well as creating a strong aerobic base for fall races.
No matter where any of us are on our training spectrum right now—either super fit, just getting started or somewhere in between—we can all benefit from a good pair of training shoes that can log a lot of miles during those summer months.
Here’s a look of six of the best durable, high-mileage workhorse shoes I’d recommend for summer running.
Altra Rivera 3, $140
Weights: 8.2 oz. (women’s size 8), 9.8 oz. (men’s size 9) Heel-Toe Offset: 0mm (28mm in the heel, 28mm in the forefoot)
Altra continues to evolve under the ownership of the VF Corp conglomerate, and many of the changes to the brand’s shoes have been for the better. The Rivera 3 is an everyday trainer built on a zero-drop platform and a medium-thick midsole height that provides a good amount of cushioning and exceptional feel for the ground.
Best for: For runners who appreciate shoes with a level platform, the Rivera 3 can be a versatile, do-everything training shoe, a long-run specialist or even a fast-workout option in a pinch. I love this shoe for easy runs, but I did manage to do a spontaneous fartlek session that included 6 x 3-minute segments at an up-tempo pace.
Plus: The Rivera 3 features a sleeker version of Altra’s Slim-Footshape Fit, giving it both a lower volume interior and a slightly narrower footprint. That means it feels like a lot of other neutral-oriented everyday trainers available at stores without losing the special sauce of the level platform that makes it uniquely an Altra shoe.
Adidas Ultraboost Light, $190
Weights: 9.2 oz. (women’s size 8), 10.5 oz. (men’s size 9)
Heel-Toe Offset: 10mm (30mm in the heel, 20mm in the forefoot)
Adidas started the midsole foam revolution in running shoes in 2013 when it released its first shoes with Boost foam, a material made from compressed TPU pellets that provides outstanding shock-absorption and energy return. Now it’s making it lighter. The Ultraboost Light has a midsole made from Light Boost, a new formulation that is 30 percent lighter than the brand’s previous cushioning platforms. The decreased weight gives the shoe a more agile and responsive sensation on the run.
Best For: I loved this shoe for long runs and recovery runs. While it’s not a shoe meant to run marathon race pace, it felt comfortable and energetic at moderate paces on two 10+ mile runs I logged, as well as the numerous shorter maintenance runs I did at slower paces.
Plus: Adidas says the Ultraboost Light has a 10 percent lower carbon footprint compared to previous Ultraboost shoes. As part of the brand’s goal of being able to use 90 percent sustainable materials by 2025, the yarn in the upper is made from 50 percent Parley Ocean Plastic and 50 percent recycled polyester.
ASICS GEL-Nimbus 25, $160
Weights: 9.1 oz. (women’s size 8), 10.2 oz. (men’s size 9)
Heel-Toe Offset: 8mm (40.5mm in the heel, 32.5mm in the forefoot)
ASICS entirely revamped its GEL-Nimbus training shoe, most notably with 20 percent more FlyteFoam Blast+ Eco foam in the midsole than the previous version, a 4mm increase in thickness from heel to toe and a lower heel-toe offset (now 8mm, down from 10mm in the men’s version and 13mm in the women’s version). There’s also a new PUREGEL cushioning pod in the heel that improves impact absorption with less weight than the previous GEL pods.
Best for: The plush interior feeling and soft, resilient ride of this maximally cushioned cruiser. It’s an exceptional shoe for long runs and recovery runs, which, if you’re like most runners, probably makes up the bulk of your weekly running.
Plus: Fortunately, the Nimbus 25 no longer has a midfoot Trusstic system (aka clunky plastic midfoot shank, which allows the new midsole formulation to serve up a smooth, uninhibited transition from heel to toe without any torsional rigidity.
Brooks Ghost 15, $140
Weights: 8.8 oz. women’s 8; 9.8 oz. men’s 9
Heel-Toe Offset: 12mm (34mm in the heel, 22mm in the forefoot)
You can’t go wrong with a pair of Brooks Ghost in your quiver. The latest version is built around the brand’s responsive and durable DNA Loft foam for high-mileage training, but it’s slightly lighter, softer and more lively than the previous version. The shoe also has a segmented crash pad that helps to absorb shock and provide a smooth transition from heel to toe.
Best for: What makes this shoe exceptional is that it’s good at everything but not extraordinary at anything. It’s great because it’s a comfortable, smooth-riding and reliable shoe that doesn’t have any major flaws.
Plus: The new 3D Fit Print air mesh upper is soft, stretchy and seamless, offering a good mix of comfort and security as it forms around the unique shape of you foot with just enough structure to provide a locked-down fit. I always seem to have a pair of Ghosts in the truck, knowing that I can lace them up in a pinch for a group run or even a hour-long jaunt on smooth dirt trails.
New Balance Fresh Foam 880v13, $140
Weights: 7.2 oz. (women’s size 8), 10.2 oz. (men’s size 9) Heel-Toe Offset: 10mm (32mm in the heel, 22mm in the forefoot)
The New Balance 880 v13 has been updated with a more comfortable, slightly firmer and livelier ride. Although this shoe is fairly low-to-the-ground, there’s a little bit more Fresh Foam X in the midsole, which offers a good mix of softness, responsiveness, stability and durability.
Best for: This is a great everyday training built with a more traditional design of shoes that were popular before the advent of maximally cushioned shoes. It offers a lot of shock-absorbing softness, but it also has more proprioceptive feel for the ground and better agility than most everyday trainers. If you appreciate that old-school feel on the roads, this is a good one to consider.
Plus: The new heel collar design features more padding, providing a snug fit that prevents slippage and blisters. The shoe also features a premium Ortholite sock liner that adds extra cushioning and support to the feet.
Saucony Endorphin Speed 3, $170
Weights: 7.2 oz. (women’s size 8), 8.1 oz. (men’s size 9)
Heel-Toe Offset: 8mm (36mm in the heel, 28mm in the forefoot)
Saucony has quietly been making some of the best training shoes on the market the past few years, and the Endorphin Speed is a best-in-class model that keeps improving. The new version of the nylon plate embedded in the midsole—now with a more dramatic S-curve and lateral wings—contributes to an even more energetic rolling vibe than the previous two editions of this shoe and it offers more lateral stability as your foot rolls to the toe-off phase of a stride.
Best for: This shoe is truly a do-everything everyday trainer that is cushy and comfortable enough for long runs, but light and energetic enough for just about every kind of up-tempo workout. The PWRRUNPB foam midsole is so lively that it helped me run about 30 seconds faster per mile on my longer runs than I had expected and it provided loads of springiness for faster intervals and post-run strides. I’ve said this before, but this is by far my favorite shoe of the past year, and although I have run hundreds of miles in my latest pair, they still feel fresh and vibrant every time I run in them.
Plus: The Endorphin Speed 3 incorporates Saucony’s FORMFIT design, which is a combination of how the shape and material of the upper moves and stretches while keeping your feet locked down to the footbed. It’s a foot-hugging upper that allows you to make precise, efficient footstrikes at any pace.