The lightest on our list, the Mizuno Wave Ekiden 10 is one impressive shoe. The upper fits like a second skin, moving with your foot as it stretches and bends rather than bunching or sliding against it, which can cause irritation. The extra-grippy outsole provides incredible hold so you can really dig into the ground and get on your toes for speedy races and training sessions.
The undeniably cool woven upper of these APL kicks is made from a textile called TechLoom, which provides a seamless construction that withstands wear and tear, fits like a glove, and promotes air flow. Flexibile reinforcements on the side of the shoe react to your movements, giving you added support during sprints and lateral movements. Plus, the outsole is engineered with less rubber, making the shoe lighter and creating a more natural running position because of the less severe drop from heel to forefoot.
It's normally smart to have a couple pairs of running shoes, one for speed training and another for mid-distance running. But, the GEL-Hyper Speed can do both. The lightweight shoe has gel cushioning in the heel to absorb shock and make the transition between the two workouts seamless and super comfortable. A perforated sockliner drains sweat and heat to keep your feet dry; and fewer stitches and seams minimize irritation.
Brooks' lightest and quickest road-running shoe will help you chase down a personal best in a marathon or 5K. These racing flats are engineered for maximum efficiency and energy return thanks to cushioning in the midsole that adjusts to your specific weight, pace, gait, and running surface. Pods of cushion encased in rubber in the outsole propel your steps, giving you an added dose of energy. What's more, the stretch-woven material of the upper is perforated, so the sock-like fit is breathable to boot—perfect for steamy summer runs.
There are asymmetrical compression zones that cradle your foot and move with you—to maximize heel-to-toe transitions when you're sprinting. The upper is made from a woven material called Dyneema, one of the world's strongest fibers, which gives the shoe extra durability and flexibility.
The Kinvara 7 features a special type of cushioning in the heel that's positioned closer up to your foot. A traditional shoe layers a sockliner, followed by a structural board, and then midsole cushioning. Saucony puts an extra layer of cushioning closer to your foot, between the sock liner and structural board, and adds compressed cushioning in the heel pad of the midsole. This gives you better ground contact, pressure distribution, and power. The upper is constructed to be light and feel like nothing's there.
The Speed 300 IGNITE is made to be a racing shoe, meaning it has less cushioning and weight, so nothing holds you back during sprint sessions. The upper is void of overlays and seams for those seeking ultimate comfort. Inside, at the toe of the shoe, there's a "propulsion zone" that spring-loads your steps as you sprint to give you more speed. Added cushioning at the midsole ensures you get that energy-filled springy feeling.
Smooth and sleek, the Fresh Foam Zante is made with a mesh upper and engineered mesh through the midfoot of the shoe to support your arch in longer distances. And while the cushioning is soft, it also gives you an aggressive toe spring so you can dial up the speed and conditioning work.
The Distance V shoe is getting an update—in tech and color—this summer. The upper is more ventilated and has fewer seams to better conform to the shape of your foot. A full-flex zone in the toe box allows your feet to expand, vertically and horizontally, as you strike the ground and drive yourself forward. You can expect the same trampoline-esque membrane underfoot to give you greater power and that five-lug platform (in all Newton shoes) for added stability. In addition to the suede tongue, the padded rim around the inside of the shoe, and the anatomical stretch panels for your foot's bones and toes all remain the same.
The Tracer gives you the springy, cushioned ride you expect from Hoka One One with the lightness of a race shoe. Its upper reduces water retention so your feet won't be weighed down if you're plowing through puddles on a rainy day. Plus, strategic rubber placement underfoot provides durability without a heavy feel.
The Nike Zoom Streak LT 3, unlike some other racing shoes, is crafted with a wider forefoot to increase toe spring, giving your feet the room they need to spread. This also means you have a more responsive shoe underfoot. To capitalize on this, there's a full-length cushioned midsole running the length of the shoe, as well as a Nike Zoom air pack in the heel for even more lightweight, reactive padding. A mesh upper offers breathability, while an arched band over the forefoot locks your foot in place to prevent excessive side-to-side movements. There's even a crash rail to ensure your stride stays smooth and even.
Want a marathon shoe that will go the distance without any extra weight? The low profile of Adidas' Adizero Adios 3 fits the bill. The neutral shoe has a mesh-like upper to let heat and moisture out; and overlays around your midfoot provide added support. The full-cushioned midsole gives every stride a little extra boost; and its outsole is made from Continental™ Rubber for extra grip in slick, wet conditions.
New to the Reebok family, the ZPrint 3D has unique foot-mapped bottoms with cushions under hotspots, or high-impact zones. This helps reduce wear and tear, and propels your feet for take off. You'll stay sure-footed thanks to a "perimeter grid" that keeps the edges of the shoe grounded and stable. What's more, comfort is maximized with a low-cut design at the ankles for a full range of motion.
The knit upper is virtually seamless and super breathable, great for when the temperature (or the intensity of your workout) rises. What's unique to these GoMeb Speed 3 shoes—the type Meb wore when he won the 2014 Boston Marathon—is there's a stability plate midfoot for added support and security when you run. The near-neutral position and the lightweight memory-retention midsole both add to the comfort of the shoe.
Altra's One 2.5 is designed to improve your form whether you're running, racing, hitting speed drills, training, or simply walking. The neutral do-it-all performance shoe keeps you close to the ground with a zero drop platform that's said to naturally align your feet and back, and improve posture to minimize impact—even when your legs get heavy at the end of your intervals or hard run. The flat bottom is also said to strengthen your Achilles and lower calf muscles since there's no elevated heel. As for improving foot splay, the toe box at the front of the shoe is wider and doesn't pinch in to keep your big toe straight and allow your feet to expand as they strike the ground for more stability and speed.