I’m calling this the ultimate sneaker review because I am going through athletic shoes that I think are the best for running, weight training, circuit workouts, walking, errands and more. I will also share my favorite splurges and my favorite budget picks. Basically, if you need new exercise sneakers, I’ve got you covered.
Also, for each sneaker, I linked the exact ones I have and love. AND I shared the cutest colors available. I don’t have many skills but one I do have is finding a good style then searching for the cutest colorway out there lol.
THINK OF SNEAKERS AS AN INVESTMENT!
Many years ago, a coworker shared with me her “dollar per use” rule for justifying whether a purchase was a good buy or not. Here’s what you do… take a look at the item and think how many times you’ll realistically use or wear it.
A sequin dress for a NYE party? Probably not more than 2-3x and if I’m being honest, I have a dress just like that in my closet that I wore once. A pair of sneakers? Think how many times you’ve slipped on your sneakers. I’ve easily worn some of my athletics shoes 100s of times!
For every use, subtract $1 from the price of that item. The goal is to get that number down low enough to justify the use for the price
Example $100 sneakers worn 100x = you got your money’s worth! A $300 prom dress worn once = $300/use, eeeek. You see what I mean?!
HOW MUCH SHOULD I SPEND ON GOOD WORKOUT SHOES?
I don’t think anyone should tell you what you should spend on sneakers. Everyone’s budgets are different and part of healthy living is making purchases within your budget. I think the dollar per use is a great guide for smart shopping, but always look for the best options within your price range.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: for running shoes the overall fit is very important, which will obviously vary person to person. Try on running shoes in person! And lots of them!
You want to make sure you have enough room in the toe box (front of shoe): squished toes = blisters. It’s important that the upper portion of the sneaker is seamless or has minimal rubbing. The arch is important in that it contours the arch of your foot, providing enough support. A good running shoe should have enough flex for your foot to bend in its natural stride.
Most importantly, a running shoe should hug your foot. It shouldn’t be tight but there certainly shouldn’t be wiggle room.
Brooks Ghost 11 (here) – these were suggested to me many times and came up on a lot of top running shoe pick reviews I read when shopping for running shoes and I agree with the hype. I go in and out with my love of running but when I want to go for a longer run, these are the shoes I choose.
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18 (here) – 3/3 of my girlfriends who are into running all independently chose these ones so I thought it was worth mentioning even though I don’t wear these.
Adidas Ultraboost (here + I want these so badly) – these are my go-to shoes for shorter runs like when I’m just jogging around my neighborhood. The fit is so perfect for my feet. The arch support and cushion gives me a feeling of springing from stride to stride. I’m very up front that I’m not a “runner” (just a girl who occasionally runs) lol so these may not even make it on most running shoe lists but if you’re my style of runner, you’ll likely love these too.
HEAVY WEIGHT LIFTING / LEG DAY SHOES
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: low to the ground, wide base and a fit that hugs your foot. When you’re lifting heavy – think leg day – you want shoes that feel like you’re not wearing shoes. This is why you’ve likely seen some people train without shoes in the gym. You want to feel low to the ground and planted when lifting.
Adidas Swift Run (these) – these, to me give me so much “sticking power” (I totally made that term up) but I mean that I just feel planted when I wear these shoes. There’s some support and cushion; the toe box and base of the shoe is roomy and wide so when you get in your stance, you stay there.
APL Techloom Bliss (these) – warning, skip over these if you don’t like to splurge on sneakers. These are ridiculously priced but when I saw the blush color, I had to have them. To my delight, they are AWESOME for lifting days. Low to the ground. Fit my foot. Love them!
Converse (these) – now honestly, I don’t find these shoes super comfy but I know a lot of people love them for lifting for all of the reasons I described above so I wanted to include them. You’ll feel planted to the ground which is exactly what you want when squatting, deadlifting, etc. Plus, they’re very affordable.
CIRCUIT WORKOUT / CROSS TRAINING SHOES
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: cross training shoes are shoes that serve several different purposes. This is how most of my workouts are. I may warm up on the treadmill or spin bike. I’ll then lift. I’ll add in circuit/cardio elements like burpees, squat jumps, and jumping jacks. So, I need my shoes to keep up with my workouts.
For cross training and circuit style workout shoes, I look for a few things: traction, cushion, and most importantly fit.
Traction is important for the circuit/cardio/plyometric movements I throw in. Think of shoe traction like tire traction… if you wear it thin, you’ll notice when you break. This is also why it’s very important to get new shoes when you really need them: injury prevention!
Cushion is important because I do some higher impact movements. What saves your joints is both form and proper shoes. I like enough cushion without feeling bulky.
Finally, fit is essential and this varies person to person. These sneakers need to fit your foot so that there is little wiggle room, yet they should not be tight or rub.
Nike Free Run (these) – I have so many pairs. I like that these sneakers feel as though they form to my feet. They hit all my check marks – traction, cushion and fit. They’re my lightest shoes which I love but I do feel the traction wears down fastest of all the shoes I am sharing today. STILL, they’re awesome and I’ve scored pairs for $55.
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus (these) – a pricer option than the one above but I find that these offer the best cushion and support without feeling bulky and heavy. These fit my feet perfectly and have awesome traction.
Adidas Swift Run (these) – I can’t say enough about these shoes. Great traction. A very comfortable fit. They have a little less cushion and support than the Zoom Pegasus but are more affordable. Super versatile overall.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: a walking shoe will have a similar checklist to running shoes, but because the impact is much less than with running, I prefer to prioritize comfort and lightweight.
Nike Free Run (these) – these shoes are so light weight and comfortable. They’re perfect for walking!
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: cuteness and comfort lol (notice that it went 1. cuteness and 2. comfort). Honestly, I run most of my errands in whatever workout outfit I wore that day so it’s not like I change shoes for errands. There are plenty of weekends when I’ll throw on a pair of jean, a cute top and then I pick out “sneakers” – I have been OBSESSED with slide on sneakers. I could wear cute flats but honestly, as a mom and as someone who enjoys comfort, these are great options.
ESPADRILLE SNEAKER SLIDE ONS (these …on major sale FYI) – you’ve seen me wear these 100x. They have an espadrille base so they are definitely a bit more summery.
SNEAKER SLIDE ONS (here + here) – I just bought both of these pairs for fall. I loved the green suede but I also had to get gray because I felt they would go with so much.
SLIDES (here) – did anyone else wear these in their soccer days? I totally did and now I’m just as obsessed.
FAVORITE SPLURGE: APL techloom bliss (these) – they slide on. They’re beyond cute. The color options are out of this world. BUT, they come with quite the price tag.
FAVORITE BUDGET BUY: Adidas Swift Run (these) – I feel like the price of sneakers get more and more expensive every year so at $85 it’s kind of hard to call these a budget buy but I am picking them for that because these go on sale often! I got one of my pairs for $60 which I think is good for a quality, brand name sneaker. If I could only wear 1 pair of sneakers for everything, I would pick these so I can’t recommend them enough.