1. Motion-control shoes are the most rigid, control-oriented running shoes. Designed to limit overpronation (or slow the rate at which a runner overpronates), motion-control shoes are generally heavy but very durable. They may include features such as a medial post (for pronation control), a polyurethane midsole (for midsole durability) and a carbon-rubber outsole (for outsole durability). Many are built on a straight last, which offers stability and maximum medial support.
Buy these shoes if: You are an overpronator who needs control features and places a premium on durability; or you wear orthotics and want a firm midsole and deep heel counter; or you are a heavy runner who needs extra durability and control. Runners with flat feet often do best in motion-control shoes.
2. Stability shoes offer a good blend of cushioning, medial support and durability. To provide stability, these shoes often have a medial post or two-density midsole. They are usually built on a semicurved last.
Buy these shoes if: You are a midweight runner who doesn't have any severe motion-control problems and wants a shoe with some medial support and good durability. Runners with normal arches often do fine in stability shoes.
3. Cushioned shoes generally have the softest (or most cushioned) midsoles and the least medial support. They are usually built on a semicurved or curved last to encourage foot motion, which is helpful for underpronators (who have rigid, immobile feet).
Buy these shoes if: You are an efficient runner who doesn't overpronate and doesn't need any extra medial support. Runners with high arches often do best in cushioned shoes.
4. Lightweight training shoes are lighter versions of standard trainers. Usually built on a semicurved or curved last, lightweight trainers are for fast-paced training or racing. Some lightweight trainers are relatively stable; others are not.
Buy these shoes if: You are a quick, efficient runner who wants a light second shoe for fast-paced training; or you want a racing shoe, but want more support and cushioning than you'd get from one of the pure, super-light racers.