Finding the right pair of shoes is a highly subjective exercise, but we've simplified the task by reviewing our top new models. For our entire list of shoe reviews and videos, read the complete Spring 2012 Shoe Guide.
Mizuno Wave Creation 13 $150
Height: 36.6 mm (heel); 24.9 mm (forefoot)
Weight: 12.7 oz (M); 9.6 oz (W)
Are you a heavy-set runner looking for firm footing with each step? Then check out the Creation 13. It absorbs the weight of beefier runners without feeling mushy. That's due to a nontraditional midsole featuring two plastic plates separated by rubber shock absorbers. But even smaller runners can appreciate the Creation. Like 113-pound Nicole Potvin. "The shoe forms to my foot in all the right places," says the five-time marathoner from East Lansing, Michigan. "I often roll my ankles, but I haven't had that problem thanks to the stability in these shoes." Potvin was also one of several testers who raved about the shoe's upper, which is extremely flexible and conforms to almost any foot type (Find out your foot type by taking this simple test). One recurring complaint: Color bleeds from the shoe's fabric and stains socks.
Bottom Line: Offers excellent stability and locks the arch snugly.
More: The Importance of a Proper Shoe Fit
K-Swiss Blade Max Stable
37.3 mm (heel); 26.5 mm (forefoot)
12.4 oz (M); 10.2 oz (W)
Compared with the Creation, the Blade Max offers a snug fit, especially for normal- to narrow-footed runners. What's that? You have pretty wide feet? Then you may want to look elsewhere as the shoe's upper material doesn't have much elasticity. That said, the upper is seam-free, so it's not likely to cause blisters or hot spots. You'll also notice the Max Stable uses a flat-bottomed outsole (called Full Contact Road Control Bottoms). So, where many shoes have a bit of empty space beneath the arch and the road, here the entire outsole is in contact with the ground, improving stability and traction. Be aware that the sole's wide treads are a vacuum for small rocks and debris. Learn how to make your running shoes last longer.
Bottom Line: A shoe whose sole delivers a faster-than-expected feel.
More: 4 Exercises to Increase Your Running Speed
Editor's Choice: Brooks Trance 11
36.0 mm (heel); 25.5 mm (forefoot)
12.5 oz (M); 10.2 oz (W)
"Ooh la la!" That's Cheryl Miller, an 80-mile-a-week runner from East Lansing, gushing about the Trance 11. "I felt as if I were running on clouds." Miller isn't our only smitten wear-tester: 26 of 29 rated this shoe above average or better. Credit the rave notices to smart cushioning. Brooks essentially has made three different versions of the Trance, each with a varying amount of foam density in the midsole. The women's version uses the softest, lowest density amount because women have lower body masses and do not need a thick, firm sole. By contrast, there's a firmer version for midsize guys (men up to a size 10.5 foot), and the even-bigger guys get the firmest, most dense foam of all. (Note: The cushioning and flexibility scores to the right reflect a men's size 9.) The result? Each pair of the Trance feels like it's made just for you. Because, in a way, it is.
Bottom Line: A shoe suited for bigger runners with normal to flat arches.
More: 10 Tips to Run Better and Recover Faster