1. Lightweight - Don’t let its wispy feel fool you—Nike’s LunarElite+ is plenty sturdy for fast training runs. The 9.3-ouncer eschews the rigid medial post for an innovative, two-part system: a soft yet resilient foam core that’s encased in a supportive foam carrier. The result? Spring-loaded responsiveness and a plush heel-toe ride for a variety of gaits ($100; nikerunning.com).
2. Racer - Everything about the Brooks Green Silence is eco-friendly, from the laces (recycled plastic) to the construction (water-based adhesives only). But the mark of a truly sustainable runner? How it performs. The Silence fits like a glove and sprints like a gazelle—great for races short and long ($100; brooksrunning.com).
3. Go-To Trainer - Asics’ high-mileage classic just got even better. The GEL-Kayano 16 features a vertical flex groove in the midsole that frees your foot mid-stride for a more natural—and efficient—roll through toe-off. Bonus: The women’s version has been updated to accommodate a female gait ($140; asicsamerica.com).
4. Gentle Guide - There’s “motion control” (supportive, blocky) and “neutral” (cushy, less stable), and then there’s the Adidas adiStar Solution. It’s super-padded but still keeps the mild pronator in line. How? A dynamic heel crash pad prevents the foot from caving, to ensure a smooth stride ($120; women’s shown; shopadidas.com).
5. Naturalist - Barefoot running is all the rage, but if you’re new to minimalist shoes, go in easy. The Karhu Forward Fulcrum Ride has a bit more cushioning and structure than purists like the Nike Free, yet it still gives a good feel for the ground. It’s sleek and snappy but by no means flimsy ($130; available March 1; karhu.com).