Finding the right pair of shoes is a highly subjective exercise, but we've simplified the task by reviewing 13 top new models. To find the best pair for you, answer the questions in this flowchart. Your choices will lead to a set of options tailored to meet your needs and preferences
For the complete list of shoe reviews or to view the video reviews of each, visit the Complete Fall 2012 Shoe Guide.
More: Running Shoe Guide for Dummies
Saucony Omni 11
Saucony has significantly overhauled many of its flagship shoes, making them lower profile and lightweight. It did the same with this update of the Omni.
We found the 11 to be a considerable improvement over the previous version, which some wear-testers said felt clunky. According to measurements taken at the RW Shoe Lab, the Omni 11 is nearly two ounces lighter than the 10 (which weighed 12.6 ounces for a men's size 9) and sits closer to the ground. To bring the shoe to an 8 mm drop, Saucony lowered the heel height (to 36.9 mm from 40.9 mm) and slightly raised the forefoot (to 27.7 mm from 24.4 mm).
Testers say the shoe felt a bit heavy, but found the ride to be responsive and well-cushioned.
"It really wraps around the foot, feels great, and gives nice support," says Michele Belisle, 41, of Emmaus, Pennsylvania, a longtime wearer of the Omni.
- Flat-arched runners will find many happy miles in the Omni.
Height: 36.9 mm (heel); 27.7 mm (forefoot)
Weight: 10.7 oz (M); 8.9 oz (W)
Forefoot cushioning is the softest of any shoe we tested in this guide.
Arch Lock improves the midfoot fit and helps lock the foot down. (Before deciding on a new running shoe, take the test to find out what your foot arch type is.)
Flat bottom keeps the sole in contact with the ground longer.
More: A Runner's Guide to Understanding Pronation
Mizuno Wave Alchemy 12
The Alchemy is all about stability. Two plastic plates help protect the foot by slowing its inward roll and absorbing impact. Sandwiched between layers of midsole foam, the plates soften what you feel underfoot. Even so, it is the firmest traditional shoe in this guide—leading some wear-testers to feel a "breaking-in" period was necessary.
- A protective trainer for larger or injury-prone runners. (Run pain-free by following the 10 Laws of Injury Prevention)
Height: 35.5 mm (heel); 23.1 mm (forefoot)
Weight: 11.5 oz (M); 9.2 oz (W)
More: 8 Exercises to Prevent Foot Injuries
Adidas Supernova Sequence 5
Adidas rolled out a satisfying update of the Sequence. Previous versions felt heavy to wear-testers—the Sequence 4 topped the scales at 12.9 ounces. RW
Shoe Lab tests show the 5 is lighter by 1.2 ounces, more flexible, and offers better cushioning. To save weight, Adidas removed the external heel counter—a plastic piece that holds the foot in place at heel-strike—and slimmed down the stability post that runs along the inside of the arch.
- A high-mileage trainer for moderate overpronators.
- Height: 33.8 mm (heel); 22.9 mm (forefoot)
Weight: 11.7 oz (M); 10.0 oz (W)
Crash pad offers extra protection for heel-strikers.
Three stripes in the Adidas logo function to lock down the foot.
Rubber from tire maker Continental provides extra grip.
More: Overpronation: Why It Happens and What You Should Do About It