ACTIVE Spring 2020 Running Shoe Guide

Hoka arahi


HOKA ONE ONE Arahi 4

The HOKA Arahi 4 breaks free from the idea that a stability trainer needs to be stiff and heavy to provide support where runners need it most. The J-Frame midsole technology seamlessly pairs denser foam on the heel and the inside of the foot with softer, more forgiving foam on the forefoot for a responsive ride that's both firm and faster than expected. Naturally more suited for longer-distance endeavors (but could easily be a 10K machine), the shoe handles changes of pace surprisingly well and is a natural choice for everyday runners who both train and race with the same pair of shoes. It's not the most flexible cushioned shoe we've tried, but the midsole rocker combats this by promoting a smooth transition and an agile underfoot feel. Pair this exceptional midsole technology with the highly breathable upper (note the toe box runs a tad narrow), and HOKA's update on the popular and delightfully versatile Arahi will no doubt be a fan favorite.

One Favorite Thing: "The responsive midsole is my favorite aspect of this shoe. It's supportive without being harsh and cushioned without being deadening."
One Area for Improvement: "Durability might be an issue with these shoes. I noticed significant wear after only 20-or-so miles, and the rubber isn't particularly grippy on wet or sandy surfaces."

Style: Stability Road
Price: $130
Weight: 9.6oz
Drop: 5mm

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Hoka elevon


HOKA ONE ONE Elevon 2

Hoka's Elevon 2 makes its perfect debut at an unprecedented time in the world, with more people turning to running to stay fit than ever. The shoe has been equipped with all the right components to keep an array of new and seasoned runners in motion day after day. The versatility of this shoe is what makes it a universal option. From the moment you lace up, you'll notice HOKA's new "support wings" feature that allows the runner to select the best lacing pattern for a customized fit. Even the shoe's tongue has been redesigned with a notch cut out and thinner profile that lays over the wearer's foot perfectly.  

The shoe has been beefed up with an extended heel and denser cushioning throughout the sole that disperses and absorbs impact from even the heaviest heel strikers. Its wide base grips the road like velcro, supplying an extra dose of confidence on sharp turns and slick roads after a spring shower.

One Favorite Thing: "On surfaces where my other shoes slide out from under me, this shoe didn't hesitate or falter one bit. I was confidently able to turn, pivot and race right over some of the slickest and slippery paths."
One Area for Improvement: "All the great cushioning comes at a 'stiff' cost, and I feel that the only thing this shoe is missing is more flexibility."


Style: Neutral Road (Cushion)
Price: $160
Weight: 10.1oz
Drop: 5mm

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Hoka mach


HOKA ONE ONE Mach 3

HOKA proves you don't have to sacrifice comfort for quickness in its latest iteration in the Mach line. Building off the success of the Mach 2, runners will rejoice when they discover the shoe's upgraded features. A new airy and even-more-breathable jacquard fabric has replaced the mesh from before and provides a snug structure and cradling through the midfoot that was previously missing. Combined with an integrated tongue, stay-in-place laces and new pull loop in the back, HOKA spared no detail in the Mach 3's design.

One Favorite Thing: "It's the Mach 3's upper half that wins me over, but I'm not sure what aspect I like best.  Is it the pull loop in the back?  The integrated tongue?  Or, is it the material's breathability that I know will keep my feet happy during hot days ahead?"
One Area for Improvement: "The shoe's overall stiffness. It wasn't plush enough to wear them throughout the day."

Style: Neutral Road
Price: $140
Weight: 8.6oz
Drop: 5mm

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Hoka speedgoat


HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat 4

The HOKA Speedgoat 4 is designed for one thing: long distances over technical terrain. Sure, the shoe is on the slightly heavier side, but what it lacks in lightness, it makes up for in protection. The outsole features the fan-favorite Vibram Megagrip rubber that has traction and grip galore, even through wet or loose surfaces on the steepest of grades. The updated midsole features HOKA's new, more lightweight and responsive foam that has better-than-expected rebound while providing the classic soft, cushioned ride runners have come to know from the brand. Don't forget about the upper either—the mesh fabric breathes exceptionally well for being woven tight enough to keep out dirt and debris (and also drains nicely when wet). This may not be the shoe you'd turn to for a 5K or 10K trail race due to its weight and volume of cushion, but it's certainly the obvious choice for long-distance races or daily training.

One Favorite Thing: "The Vibram megagrip outsole is a stand-out feature, providing tons of grip with its full-coverage rubber compound, as well as tons of traction both ascending and descending with the 5mm lugs."
One Area for Improvement: "The tongue is super thin, which is great for keeping the overall weight down, but it's almost too thin to the point where if I cinch down the laces for more technical terrain, it starts to dig into the top of my foot over time."

Style: Neutral Trail
Price: $145
Weight: 10.8oz
Drop: 4mm

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La Sportiva


La Sportiva Jackal

The La Sportiva Jackal is marketed as a shoe that provides both a cushioned and stable ride. From the supportive feel that cradles the foot to its breathable yet water repellent exterior, the Jackal lives up to its promises. It is lightweight and durable with supreme cushioning and excellent support that doesn't feel rigid. The rock guard and traction grips provide great underfoot protection and confidence on technical terrain. For trail runners seeking a shoe that is adaptable to a variety conditions, the Jackal ticks every box.

One Favorite Thing: "It is really a tie between the way this shoe hugged and supported my foot from the moment I put it on, and how dry it kept my feet in wet conditions. After 3 hours in variably deep and snow-packed trails, my feet were still warm and dry."
One Area for Improvement: "The shoelaces are extremely long. I had to stop after a few miles in to tuck them in! Even with a double knot, there was a lot of excess shoelace for my liking."

Style: Neutral Trail
Price: $140
Weight: 10.5oz
Drop: 7mm

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Mizuno horizon


Mizuno Wave Horizon 4

Straight out of the box the Mizuno Wave Horizon 4 is different than other stability shoes on the market. Much more supple and noticeably more cushioned, this shoe will give those needing a little more support the option to still have that cushion they desire. However, at 11.3oz the shoe is a little heavy for weight weenies, so keep that in mind if you're a runner looking for your next PR. 

For your first few runs in the Wave Horizon 4, our tester suggests playing with your lacing patterns. The larger heel box (while nicely cushioned) did require a heel loop lacing technique to get that perfect fit. Overall, the shoe is a great go-to, everyday trainer that will give runners needing a little extra support miles of smiles.

One Favorite Thing: "The level of cushion for a stability shoe will be well received by those looking for more cushion on long runs."
One Area for Improvement: "It's hard to get the best of both worlds when it comes to stability and weight, but this shoe's 11-plus ounces is noticeable and heavier than other stability shoes on the market."

Style: Stability Road
Price: $160
Weight: 11.3oz
Drop: 10mm

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Mizuno inspire


Mizuno Wave Inspire 16

You may think stability means guide rails or a medial post, but Mizuno flips the script with the Wave Inspire 16. The first thing our tester noticed was the increased flexibility in the midsole. Mizuno is known for its stiffer midsole, but this is a pleasant departure. The drop is also pretty significant, coming in at 12mm for men's models and a whopping 14mm for the women's. If you're not used to a shoe with this much drop, we suggest taking it for a serious test ride in the store before purchasing. This element makes the Wave Inspire 16 perfect for mid-mileage runs, like a 10K or half marathon, with nothing faster than a tempo workout pushing its capabilities. As for the upper, the Wave Inspire 16 gets the Waveknit treatment, providing comfort and breathability to the traditional design.

One Favorite Thing: "I love that Mizuno offers the Inspire with Waveknit and a more traditional upper, letting runners choose their preferred material.
One Area for Improvement: "I feel like the drop goes a little overboard. For me, it was too steep."

Style: Neutral Road
Price: $135
Weight: 10.1oz
Drop: 12mm

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New Balance tempo


New Balance Fresh Foam Tempo

The New Balance Fresh Foam Tempo is an update on New Balance's Zante model. It offers the same lightweight cushioning and super responsive feel. This is a great shoe for runners who prefer a minimal shoe with a flat to moderate heel drop. When asked what the one thing is our tester would improve about the design, she said, "Nothing! It's honestly my favorite shoe."

One Favorite Thing: "I love the responsiveness, relatively flat heel drop and perfect amount of cushioning that this shoe provides."
One Area for Improvement: Nothing! It's honestly my favorite shoe. I'd be interested in seeing how it looks/feels with a sock like bootie, but that is more fashion than function."

Style: Neutral Road (Cushion)
Price: $110
Weight: 9.1oz
Drop: 6mm

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New Balance more


New Balance Fresh Foam More v2

Our tester was immediately excited to try the Fresh Foam Mores. The shoe is different from the ones she normally wears—they remind her a lot of HOKAs (plenty of midfoot cushioning and a low 4mm drop). The heel fit was fantastic; the fabric is seamless and our tester didn't experience any slipping or blisters. This is a great shoe for runners looking for a cushioned ride, and while it wouldn't be our first pick for speedwork, it works especially well on long and easy runs.

One Favorite Thing: "The heel fit was great—the fabric was breathable and relatively seamless. I never worried about blisters, even wearing them right out of the box."
One Area for Improvement: "The shoe looks a bit 'bulky'—there's a lot of cushioning in the midsole, and my personal style preference is something a bit more streamlined."

Style: Neutral Road (Cushion)
Price: $160
Weight: 10.3oz
Drop: 4mm

Note: New Balance suggests sizing up half a size as this shoe runs short.

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New Balance 880


New Balance Fresh Foam 880 v10

The Fresh Foam 880 is a solid shoe for distance runners and marathon training. Its breathable fabric and lightweight, cushioned ride are great for higher mileage and casual runners. It has a relatively steep 10mm heel drop, so that's definitely something to keep in mind if you prefer a more "level" design. For runners who like "a little more shoe" to protect their joints or like the concept of HOKAs but haven't found their perfect match with the brand, this is a good option.

One Favorite Thing: "The knit fabric was very breathable—great for hot or rainy runs!"
One Area for Improvement: "The 10mm heel drop is not for everyone."

Style: Neutral Road (Cushion)
Price: $130
Weight: 10.7oz
Drop: 10mm

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Nike


Nike React Infinity

The general consensus about Nike's React Infinity is that it's a great daily trainer for helping prevent injuries for runners pounding the pavement day after day. The high arch adds a bit of stability to an otherwise neutral shoe, and the React foam and "rocker" shape allows the wearer to transition to their forefoot faster when running. The new Flyknit upper is breathable and fits the wearer's foot well, but the material is not very flexible, potentially causing issues for those with a naturally wide foot. The cushioning is on another level—we'd even compare it to some HOKAs—but it still manages to remain light and responsive. Like some other brands, Nike's React Infinity features rails to help overpronators maintain a more neutral foot position when running, yet not impede the traditional neutral runner either.

One Favorite Thing: "Is it weird to say the tongue? It's stretchy enough to position it perfectly for running yet not so much so as to slip around once I get it in place."
One Area for Improvement: "The high arch was just not for me and took more breaking in than I'm used to."  

Style: Neutral Road
Price: $160
Weight: 9.6oz
Drop: 12mm

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