Best Triathlon Running Shoes

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Best triathlon shoes

You’re training for your upcoming triathlon season and you need a new pair of running shoes.

Buying the right pair of triathlon shoes for training and racing if you use different shoes is just as important as buying a wetsuit or bike.

Related: Best Triathlon Cycling Shoes

After swimming and biking, you’ll want a pair of shoes that will support your feet and doesn’t feel too heavy.

In this guide, I’ll discuss training versus racing shoes, how to buy shoes, and review the best triathlon shoes for training and racing.

I’ve selected these shoes since many triathletes of different levels and distances spoke highly of them.

Best Running Shoes for Ironman and Marathon

1. Saucony Endorphin Pro 3

saucony endorphin pro 3 for triathlon

The Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 is a clear upgrade from its predecessor in several ways.

Firstly, the new model is more cushioned and comfortable than the older version, making it ideal for long-distance runs.

Additionally, the Endorphin Pro 3 is bouncier and lighter than its predecessor, making it easier to pick up speed.

Finally, the updated design provides a more secure fit, helping to prevent blisters and chafing.

Overall, the Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 is a significant improvement on the older model, and is sure to be a popular choice among triathletes and runners.

If you’re looking for a shoe that will help you break your speed record, the Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 Running Shoes are perfect for you. With its ultralight PWRRUN PB and carbon fiber plate, this shoe will have you crossing the finish line in no time.

Additionally, it features SPEEDROLL Technology, FORMFIT, a single-layer engineered mesh upper, and XT-900 outsole with reinforced high-abrasion zones. So whether you’re a seasoned runner or just starting out, these shoes will provide you with the performance and comfort you need to reach your goals.

Saucony based their newest shoe on extensive research and tests to produce on that is light, spring-like, and is very supportive. This is compared to shoes like Hoka and Nike. In short, this shoe combines the best of Hoka and Nike.

The Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 is 7.2oz/204g (men’s size US9). This weight makes the shoe comparable and a real “contender” against it.

The shoe has a carbon plate that is the full-length of the shoe and a PEBA midsole foam. This gives the shoe stiffness and absorbency power so your legs, back, and ankles will stay fresh throughout the run. This creates a rounded heel and toe cushion around the shoe like and a full-length cushion sole. All attributes of both Hoka and Nike, but less-chunky looking.

Saucony developed SpeedRoll Geometry which is supposed to help propel you forward as your toe leaves the ground.

The PEBA midsole foam is more flexible, durable and lighter compared to other foams used in different shoe brands. And, this type of foam is replacing EVA foam (Ethyl Vinyl Acetate) because it also has better energy returns.


Saucony’s Endorphin Pro 2 and Pro 3 shoes are perfect for triathlon races of different lengths, from sprint triathlon to Ironman distance, and for running races from the 5k to a marathon.

Triathletes who bought this shoe like it because it is light and doesn’t look as chunky and kid-like as the Hokas. Most people who have used Nike or Hoka like them because the support and weight are similar.

The shoe is light so that most can get through long workouts without feeling like their feet are too heavy at the end. Nearly all triathletes and runners who run in these shoes like them because they are dependable. They know how the shoes work with their bodies so that they feel physically and mentally prepared on race day.

I recommend these shoes to those who like Nike shoes but want something with a little more support. If you need even more support, then Hokas might be a good option to look into.

The Endorphin Pro 3 is an excellent option for triathletes looking for a fast and comfortable racing shoe. It provides a great ride for any distance, and is sure to help you achieve your best performance.

hoka carbon x3 review

2. HOKA Carbon X3

The Hoka is a lightweight and a maximally cushioned shoe. The Hoka Carbon X3 is chunky-looking shoes with the newest technologies and extra cushioning to give you a fully supported run.

The shoes aren’t all fluff and no muscle.

The shoe has a carbon fiber plate that is located closest to the outsole or ground. This ensures that all the shock and bumps in the roads are absorbed in the carbon fiber. So your legs, knees, and ankles don’t feel the vibrations. It helps your legs stay fresh and can power you every step of the run.

The fit is perfect. The wide mid midsole is made for those who have wide feet. Or those whose feet swell a lot during their runs. It will support your feel and offers a stable, big base you can’t miss.

Why does this shoe almost look like platform sneakers?

It’s the technology between the insole and the outsole. Of course, there is the carbon fiber plate just above the outsole. But before getting to the insole you also have a layer called “Profly” and another called “X” which has an Eva compound that is resilient and sits right above the carbon fiber plate.


Triathletes who have bought Carbon X3 didn’t do it for its looks. They did it for the shoe’s technology and how they felt during and after their runs.

The rubber sole with the carbon fiber plate gives them a stable base to last for 30+ mile runs and long days in the shoes. This would be a good choice for those who are marathon runners. Many runners and triathletes can train for long-distance races easily since their legs and feet are rarely sore after a long workout. The one drawback is the weight.

I recommend this to anyone who needs a lot of support for their feet, legs, and back.

3. Nike AlphaFly Next% 2

nike alphafly next% 2 review

The Nike Alphafly Next% 2 is a new generation racing shoe that provides good responsiveness with ZoomX and Zoom Air pods in the forefoot. It has a carbon plate and wider, more continuous forefoot to create a stable ride.

It takes the key aspects of the Alphafly and refines them, making it even better than before – although it does come with a weight gain.

It has a 8mm drop, and a 40mm heel, 32mm forefoot stack. This allows for a more rolling motion with a slightly lower profile and pressure. The Air Zoom pods with Zoom X cushion below also help to make the ride more comfortable. The 5mm wider base at the heel and forefoot makes it more stable, and easier to transition forward, even from a heel landing. 

The shoe is also 0.5 oz / 14g heavier due to the wider base, but it still comes in at about 8 oz / 227g US9. The Atomknit 2 upper fits the foot well and is more structured than the previous model. 

However, due to its size, runners may find that it doesn’t perform as well on courses with lots of twists and turns or uneven roads. Additionally, the shoe is significantly more expensive than other carbon shoes available on the market. 


If you’re looking for a great pair of shoes to help you tackle your next triathlon, check out the Nike AlphaFly Nex% 2.

These shoes are built for speed and agility, and feature a number of innovations that make them perfect Nike running shoes for Ironman and marathon races. They provide an excellent level of comfort and cushioning. However, they can be a bit pricey, and they don’t handle tight corners very well.

4. Asics Metaspeed Sky+

asics metaspeed sky+ review

As triathletes, we all want to feel efficient and fast. And that’s exactly what you’ll experience when you put on a pair of Metaspeed Sky+ shoes.

From the moment you start picking up the pace, you’ll feel the bounce and smooth turnover that makes these shoes so special.

The Metaspeed Sky+ is all about efficiency, so it really shines in half marathon and above distances. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be used for shorter efforts – it just kicks into gear a little bit more when used for endurance events.

The Asics Metaspeed Sky+ is a speed-focused racing shoe. The shoe features a full-length carbon plate for stiffness and a lightweight MOTION WRAP upper for a snug, comfortable fit. The midsole geometry has been updated for improved toe-off, and the FF Turbo foam provides a bouncy, responsive ride.

The outsole is covered with rubber for grip and protection, and the shoe weighs 7.2oz/204g (size US9). The offset is 5 millimeters (33 millimeters/28 millimeters).

Asics designed the Metaspeed Sky+ and Edge+ shoes specifically for stride and cadence runners, respectively. If you are a runner who wants to increase your stride length and enjoy a bouncy gait, the Sky+ is the perfect shoe for you. With its lower drop and carbon plate positioned higher in the midsole, the Sky+ will return more energy to your foot with each step, helping you run faster and longer.

It features a carbon plate in the forefoot that provides a quick and fluid response to impact, helping you to maintain a consistent race pace. Additionally, the FF Blast midsole foam provides lightweight cushioning that helps you to stay comfortable throughout the race.


If you’re looking for a race-ready shoe with an impressive turnover, the Asics Metaspeed Sky+ is a great option. With its carbon plate and updated “FF Blast” Midsole, the shoe delivers efficiency gains that come into their own at half marathon and marathon distances. So if you’re looking to speed up your race times, the Metaspeed Sky+ is a great choice.

Best Running Shoes for Half Ironman and Half Marathon

1. Saucony Endorphin Speed 3

saucony endorphin speed 3

There is not a one-size-fits-all running shoe, as every athlete has their own specific needs and preferences.

However, in recent years, the Saucony Endorphin Speed has become a fixture in our best running shoes round-up as the ultimate all-rounder.

The Saucony Endorphin Speed is designed for racing, training and everything in between. If you’re looking for a versatile shoe that can do it all, the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 should be at the top of your list.

Endorphin Speed 3 has a nylon plate that makes it almost as fast as the best carbon plate running shoes, but it’s still comfortable enough to use for your regular training. I was worried that the Endorphin Speed 3 might not be as good as the first two versions. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The shoe is still fast and comfortable, and it offers great value for the price.

Saucony has made some changes to the Endorphin Speed 3, which makes it a better option for more runners. The main changes are that the shoe is now more stable, with a wider base and wings on either side of the S-shaped nylon plate in its midsole. There is also more foam in the midsole, making the shoe more cushioned.

The Endorphin Speed features a foam in the midsole that is based on Saucony’s PWRRUN PB material. This material is designed to provide maximum comfort and support while still being lightweight and responsive.

The Endorphin line from Saucony is built for speed, and that starts with the Speedroll tech in the midsole. This technology essentially creates a rocker effect, which leads to a smoother transition from heel to toe.

In addition to being more comfortable, this also helps to reduce fatigue and provides a more efficient stride. The result is a shoe that is perfect for runners who are looking to shave seconds off their personal best. With its innovative design and focus on performance, it’s no wonder that the Endorphin line has quickly become one of Saucony’s most popular offerings.

The shoe features a mesh upper for breathability, lightly padded tongue and heel. The outsole is wider than on previous versions of the shoe, providing more surface area for grip.

Even at its inflated price, the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 remains the best all-round running shoe available. It has a versatile ride that is perfect for race day and everyday training.

Saucony’s Endorphin Pro 3 is a true super-shoe, designed for runners who need a little extra bounce in their step. The Speed 3 is Saucony’s most popular model, and for good reason – it’s light, comfortable, and provides plenty of support. However, the Pro 3 is Saucony’s newest model, and it’s designed for long distance runners who need even more support than the Speed 3 can provide.

The Pro 3 is bouncier, softer, and provides more support than the Speed 3. As a result, there is a clear difference between the two models. If you’re looking for a shoe that can provide you with an extra edge on your run, the Pro 3 is the way to go. However, if you’re looking for a comfortable, supportive shoe that won’t break the bank, the Speed 3 is still a great option.

There is a case for having both in your rotation because they serve different purposes.

If you are a one-shoe runner, the Speed 3 is the best in the business.


I would say that the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 is one of the best Saucony shoes for triathlon I’ve ever worn. It feels just as lightweight as a Kinvara, but brings noticeably more cushioning and support. This makes it perfect for long runs or races, from Sprint triathlon to the Ironman, from 5K to the marathon.

2. HOKA Rocket X

hoka rocket x review

If you’re looking for a shoe that will help you achieve your fastest marathon time yet, the HOKA Rocket X is the perfect choice.

With its carbon fiber plate for responsiveness and lightweight construction, this shoe will help you feel fast and powerful mile after mile.

So if you’re ready to take your running to the next level, lace up a pair of Rocket X and let them take you to the finish line!

It’s lighter, faster and more enjoyable to run in than the Carbon X3, making it the perfect choice for racers and everyday runners alike. 

The Rocket X isn’t your average carbon racer – it’s got a comfortable and smooth ride, perfect for runners who want to feel the ground beneath them.

If you want to run quickly and smoothly, this is the perfect shoe for you. With its rocker-style sole, you’ll move effortlessly through your foot strike, so you can focus on your speed and not on your feet.

If you are new to running in carbon fibre shoes, the Rocket X is a great option because it is forgiving and doesn’t require perfect form.


The Rocket X is an excellent all-around racing shoe that can also be used for training. It is stable and provides a smooth ride, making it comfortable for long runs. There are no major flaws with this shoe, making it a versatile option for any runner.

3. Nike Vaporfly Next% 2

nike vaporfly next 2

The Vaporfly NEXT% 2 is still a strong contender for the best racing triathlon shoes, even with all the new carbon plate shoes.

The main reason for this is its excellent quality, which Nike has only made small tweaks to with the second version of the shoe.

Nike updated it’s VaporFly to be more breathable and relieve any pain you might experience on the top of your feet.

The updates on the Vaporfly NEXT% 2 include a breathable engineered mesh in place of the Vaporweave material used in the original Vaporfly NEXT%. The engineered mesh should help keep your feet cooler and more comfortable, especially during long runs.

Nike used feedback from top athletes such as marathon runners and Kona qualified triathletes to make this an all-around shoe for distance and fast runners.

To keep your legs feeling fresh, Nike increased the support in the midsole, which doesn’t compromise the weight of the shoe. The added support is to help your legs stay and feel strong during the run.

This might be especially important for those who race Half Ironman triathlons. You know your legs are already tired from the bike so having a little more support at the start of the run would be welcome.

And, for those whose heels feel stiff after the bike, the Achilles heel now has a foam pad, which is for relief purposes.

As with other high-end Nike triathlon shoes, this one has a full-length carbon fiber for increased stiffness and support. This would be important for those who are going the distance and sometimes over different terrains. You want the shoe to absorb most of the shock and bumps in the road.


Triathletes who have bought the shoe like it because it is lightweight. And the added midsole support is great for those who feel like they need more cushion in the middle or even end of the run. The traction is great for the shoes. Most triathletes feel that they can trust the shoe in the wettest conditions. Or, if they want to go on a trail run they can do so.

I recommend this shoe for those who need support for their whole foot instead of just parts. This shoe will cushion and aid you as you make your way to the finish line.

4. Adidas Adios Pro 3

Adidas Adios Pro 3 review

The Adidas Adios Pro 3 is a top-of-the-line running shoe designed for experienced triathletes and runners. The shoes feature extra foam under the forefoot which gives them a snappy feel and makes them easy to run in. Additionally, they are designed to be more responsive, thanks to the EnergyRod 2.0 system. This system is made up of carbon energy rods that are now in a single structure, making the shoes more efficient and easier to run in.

The Adidas Adios Pro 3 has been redesigned with a tighter upper that may not be ideal for everyone. Those with wide feet should consider going half a size up, while runners with narrow feet will have no issues. These shoes are especially good for tempo sessions, as they allow you to run for longer without feeling tired. However, beginners should not purchase these shoes, as they require more control over your stride.

The Adidas Adios Pro 3 is a great choice for runners who are looking for a lightweight and responsive shoe. The Lightstrike Pro foam provides extra bounce and energy return, making the shoe feel light and fast. And despite the extra foam, the shoe weighs slightly less than its predecessor, thanks to the new lightweight upper.

Best Running Shoes For Daily Mileage

1. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39

Nike Pegasus 39

The Nike Pegasus is a light-weight and supportive shoe that will make a great option for trainers.

Nike’s Feather-light Flymesh shoe technology gives the middle of your foot and arch support. While the heel is turned away to let your Achilles breath.

These triathlon trainers are great for an entry-level triathlete running on any terrain. The shoe’s waffle-inspired outsole provides grip on any surface.

Half Ironman to full Ironman triathletes might pick this shoe for its support without sacrificing speed. Of course, if you need a shoe that supports the middle of your foot, then this shoe would be an option- no matter your distance.


I’d recommend this shoe for middle to long distance triathletes who want a supportive shoe without the added weight.

2. HOKA Clifton 8

Hoka Clifton 8

The HOKA Clifton 8 combines comfort and speed to make this a great trainer option for any distance triathlete.

If you’re a middle-distance, this might be a good option for you. It’s supportive, comfortable, yet light and speedy.

Triathletes have experienced neutral stability with a moderate amount of cushioning while running in these shoes.

The shoe’s sole is made of EVA foam and rock-like geometry. The foam offers soft and responsive feel to the shoe while the rock-like geometry helps propel you forward. The rock-like geometry also helps absorb some shock which makes your run smoother.

The shoe’s outer sole is also made of EVA foam with some rubber where it is most needed.

The shoe’s upper is made of breathable mesh but doesn’t let any gravel or dust particles penetrate the shoe.

Above the shoe’s mesh, there are overlays, which are thin straps on the base of the shoe (mid-sole). These overlays are placed to give the shoe more structure

In terms of fit, the shoe fits identical to its predecessor. The heel is securely fitted with room in the toe box for most foot widths.


Many triathletes recommended it because the shoe is very versatile due to its cushioning and neutral stability. Personally, I think it’s better suited for middle-distance, I have friends who do Ironman training and even competing in them.

3. Brooks Ghost 14

Brooks Ghost 14

The Brooks Ghost 14 is a shoe that is a good option for trainers or racer shoes. It is light and supports neutral gaited feet with a dependable upper. The shoe weighs 12 oz which is considerably lighter than its predecessors. But, it is still heavier compared to other shoe brands.

Compared to the Brooks Ghost 14 this one is less harsh on the foot and has a softer toe bumper so your toes won’t feel squished and you’re less likely to get blisters. The new version also has a more flexible upper which makes toe offs. And, finally, the shoe has a deeper mid foot cavity which is more comforting and supportive to some runners out there.

The upper part of the shoe is made with wide mesh holes that let your feet breathe during the run and they’re less likely to get super sweaty. Although, they will get a little sweaty from all the hard work you’re doing.

The shoe’s midfoot has a pattern of 3D Fit Print which doesn’t squeeze your foot too much but also provides ample structure and support for you.

The midsole is stiff and is supposed to cater to neutral gaited runners. But some found it frustrating that there were so many features that were too light and there wasn’t enough support in some places. Depending on your feet, you might find the midsole to be too stiff for you.

Other runners have noted that the heel is very firm for those who identify as heel strikers but for others, there was too much support in that part of the shoe. Some think it would be nice to have more flexibility in the sole and lose some weight in the heel.

The shoe’s outsole was created with a lot of rubber which is great for traction on slippery surfaces. Some runners feel that the grooves help soften the shock from the road and make their runs more comfortable and flexible. However, some notice that the rubber doesn’t cover the entire midsole and is cut short at the sides.

On the road, triathletes say that the shoe lacks a lot of bounce and a propelling feeling like other racing shoes. And, some even report that the shoe feels stiff especially in the heel. And, most report that the shoe wasn’t especially soft or stiff; it just was a middle ground shoe. It doesn’t stick out as something spectacular, but it works for some who don’t need all the bells and whistles.

Triathletes who have bought the shoes like them because they actually look good aesthetically. Most running shoes look too chunky or the coloring isn’t what they’re looking for. For walking around, the shoe is very comfortable and it has a very breathable upper which is a nice touch. The runners have some issues with the shoe such as being heavier than other racing shoes that they could have bought. And, the heel is very inflexible which is only good for people who are heel strikers.

I recommend this shoe as a training or walking shoe. If you are a heel striker these shoes would be a good option to consider.

4. Saucony Kinvara 13

Saucony Kinvara 13

The Saucony Kinvara 13, while a well-cushioned and lightweight, gives you the support for your training runs. This shoe is designed for short and middle distances triathletes since it gives your whole foot support.

Saucony uses its PWRRUN top sole construction technology to give you the most energy returns and constant support on your runs. The FORMIT technology will give you contoured footbed, making the shoe versatile for any foot.

Saucony also incorporates engineered mesh to support your foot and give it room to breathe during your run. All while supporting your foot.

This shoe is a good option for short and middle distance triathletes and especially for ones who have neutral pronation.


Generally, I’d recommend this shoe for those who are training for their first triathlon. You can use it in a race as well. For longer distances, I might say this shoe would be good for training and you might need a different shoe for racing.

5. Skechers GO RUN Ride 10

Skechers GOrun Ride 8 Review

Skechers GO RUN Ride 10 is a lightweight shoe with superb cushioning and rebound energy for a smooth run. In addition, the shoe breathes and has knit upper which makes it comfortable on your feet. All for an affordable price.

Skechers might come as a surprise as an option to use for triathlon training, but it ranks high for its comfort and support while being very light on your foot.

Hear my reasons for why this shoe might be a great fit for you.

The shoe’s sole has FLIGHT GEN foam material which is designed to be lightweight yet responsive. This would make your runs very efficient and keep your feet secure.

The shoe’s upper part has breathable knit material, which makes it seem nearly perfect. The shoe’s gusseted tongue makes it easy to slip the shoe on and off; making transitions even easier.

The shoe’s upper holds the foot securely in place with room for movement without causing blisters.


I’d recommend this shoe to anyone who wants a good pair of trainers for short distance triathlons or a racing shoe for middle distance. They are compared to the Hoka brand I reviewed earlier, but with a cheaper price tag.

6. Mizuno Wave Rider 24

Mizuno Wave Rider 24 Review

The Mizuno Wave Rider 24 is a “no-brainer” when it comes to picking a long-distance training and racing shoe. The Wave Rider model consistently delivers a high-performance without much change from its predecessor.

Similar to its predecessor, the shoe’s sole is made of U4ic and U4icX foams which makes it feel softer on the foot. In the heel to the midsole, Mizuno’s parallel wave plate technology makes the shoe feel firm and stable for long-distance running.

The shoe’s upper has made improvements from the previous model. There’s more cushioning for the midfoot and heel which leaves more room in the toe box. However, this new feature can feel tight for the midfoot and heel areas.


I recommend this shoe for anyone who wants a reliable everyday training shoe. It’s best for middle to long distance races if you want minimal to moderate support. If your feet are narrow, the shoes might not feel tight.

7. On Running Cloudflyer

On running Cloudflyer

The On Running Cloudflyer is just what it sounds like; you’ll feel as though your feet are as light as a cloud. These are extremely light trainer shoes that have great stability for any distance.

On is a up and coming brand from Switzerland that specializes in light shoes with a moderate amount of support. The iconic pods on the bottom of the shoe’s sole make not only the shoe but also the brand standout. Their ultra-thin laces also set the company apart.

On to the specifics of the shoe:

  • The sole has more durable and lighter foam for the midsole, which makes the shoe incredibly light and responsive to your running style.
  • The pods on the bottom of the shoe’s sole are wider than its predecessor, which will help stabilize your foot and help keep you moving forward with ease. However, the pods near the ball of the foot are not as flexible, which may make your foot sore during the “break-in” period.
  • The shoe’s upper part looks as if it is an everyday shoe, but with the formfitting support and comfort of a running shoe.
  • The shoe breaks out with its unique adaptive v-modeled external heel cap to keep the heel from slipping and supplements the memory foam insole.
  • The shoe comes with its own lacing system called star lacing which is supposed to be secure and has an adaptable fit.

On’s heel technology actually straightens your heel in the shoe, which then straightens your ankle and rest of your leg. All of this makes you run more naturally.


I’d recommend this shoe for any training and racing distance. This shoe might be able to take your running to the next level with minimal effort. This shoe can deliver on energy rebound, responsiveness, and stability every time you run.

Best Running Shoes for Triathlon Training and Racing-A Comprehensive Guide

Best Triathlon Running Shoes

If you’re a triathlete, you know how much gear you need throughout training and on raceday, notably for swimming and biking. You might think the run is one leg you don’t really have to think about. You throw on your shoes and go, right? Not so fast. When transitioning from the bike to the run, the main goal is to put on your shoes and get out to the last part of the course as quickly as possible. Finding a quality pair of triathlon-specific running shoes can make a huge difference when it comes to speed and overall comfort. If you’re struggling to fit your foot into a shoe or tie the laces, you’ll be spending more time in T2 – instead of crushing the course. For some, running shoes can be the difference between a personal record and an almost-record.

Triathlon Running Shoe Laces

Of all the unique characteristics of triathlon shoes, most of them serve one simple purpose: to help you move quickly. The most basic (and some would argue the most important) feature is the type of laces. Unlike typical running shoes, triathlon shoes have elastic ‘speed laces’ that allow you to put the shoes on quickly but securely. Instead of struggling to tie your shoes, all it takes is a simple tug of these special laces and you’re off on the run.

Fast Transitions: Socks or No Socks?

A good triathlon shoe will also have a liner that enables you to run sockless. Not only will this help your speed in transition, but the material will stretch to account for swelling and to cool the feet. Because tri shoes have vented midsoles and drainage holes they won’t retain moisture; they’re designed to allow water/sweat to drain out of the shoe (and not seep in when you’re sloshing through a water stop). In turn you’ll feel lighter and will avoid dreaded blisters and chafing.

Cushion Running Shoes

Depending on the type of runner you are, there are different options for insoles to complement your gait. The level of cushioning varies by model but generally, triathlon running shoes are much lighter and are designed to aid in efficiency. They encourage a midfoot strike and quick turnover while still offering some support. Another small but extremely useful feature? Loops on the heels and tongue. They’re there to help slide the shoes on quickly.

Triathlon Training vs Triathlon Racing Running Shoes

Before I get into details, let’s make one thing clear.
There is not a more difference between a shoe for runners and one shoe that triathletes use exclusively.
However, there is a difference between trainer shoes and racing shoes, which is what you might need to know.

In general, training shoes have more cushioning than racing shoes. They will last longer and you can log 200-400 miles on them. Training shoes will also weigh more than racing shoes.
Conversely, racing shoes have minimal cushioning and support and are very light. They have a specific design and are great if you compete in the sprint, Olympic or half Ironman triathlons.

For a full Ironman or any running above that distance, you can use your trainers or have a second pair that you keep “new” for race days.
You can always use your trainers for short-course triathlons too if you’re on a tight budget.

However, once you get more competitive, it might be worth it to have a second pair.
Remember, at the end of the day, it comes down to what works best for you.
If you want to train in and compete in the same shoes, for now, that is ok, and there’s nothing stopping you from doing so.

Now, that you know the difference between racing and training running shoes, let’s talk about how to buy them.

How to Buy Triathlon Training and Ironman Shoes

Before you buy triathlon running shoes, you need to answer two questions:

  • What type of race will you be training and competing in most regularly?
  • What type of gait do you have?

Don’t know the answer to these questions?

I’ll give you a brief overview to help you!

Types of Racing

Determining what type of races, you’ll be doing most regularly is important and affects your comfort level during the race.

Below you’ll find a summary of what types of shoes you can use for different distances.

Short Distance

Short distance triathlons are typically sprint and Olympic distances.

In those races, you’ll see many elites and professionals wearing a racing flat.

These types of shoes are for those who want a light-weight shoe with minimal support.

In shorter distances, speed and efficiency mean everything. Not just on the course but also in transition.

If you want a triathlon specific racing flat, you can search for ones that have elastic laces, a loophole on the heel so you can slip into your shoes even faster.

Of course, for longer distance triathlons, speed in transition isn’t as significant in the long run.

Middle Distance

Half Ironman triathlons fall into the middle-distance category and require a different shoe than sprint and Olympic distance triathletes.

In these races, you’ll have more support and cushion than a racing flat, but still lighter than what you might be training in.

Most elites and professional middle-distance triathletes wear either racing flats or a shoe between a racing flat and trainers. It just depends on their preference.

After the first two legs of the triathlon, you might want more support for the run than you anticipate. It’s different from running just a half or full marathon.

Ironman Distance

Full Ironman triathlons fall into the long-distance category and therefore require the most support compared to the other two distances mentioned.

You’ll want ironman shoes with quite a bit more cushioning to get your feet through a marathon after swimming and biking such long distances.

Many experienced Ironman triathletes will go for a very supportive shoe with the maximum amount of cushioning. Or, will wear a shoe similar to the ones in the previous section. Again, it depends on preference.

When you’re buying a shoe for your Ironman, think about how your legs will be feeling. They might be tired and you’d want the extra support over a lightweight shoe.

You may find a shoe that works for both training and racing, especially for middle to long-distance.

In that case, I recommend buying two pairs. Use one for training and the other for races and the initial break-in period.

Off Road

Xterra or cross terrain triathlons fall into the off-road category.

You’ll want a shoe with more grip when you’re going up and down dirt or rocky paths.

For the cushioning v weight debate, it will, again, come down to personal preference.

If you’re doing long-distance off-road you might want more support than a short-distance race.

Types of Gait

By now, you might have an idea of what type of shoe you will need.

The next step is to determine what type of gait you have. This will help you pick out a shoe that fits your foot.

Don’t worry, no matter what type of distance you do, there is a brand that will suit your type of gait.

If you don’t know your gait, or what a gait is, you’re best off going to your local running store.

Bring your old pair of shoes, tell the store what you’re training for, and the experts will take it from there!

For those who don’t know, a gait is the set of actions and reactions that your foot performs while you’re running with support, cushion, and balance.

At the store, you’ll be told if you have a neutral, overpronation, or supination gait.

Neutral Triathlon Running Shoes
Neutral Gait

A neutral gait means that your shoes have centralized wear, down the middle of the ball of the foot. You’ll be fitted in a neutral shoe with some shock absorption and medial support.


An over pronation gait means that your shoes have been worn down the inside of your shoe’s sole. You’ll be fitted in a stability shoe with firm support for your arch and overall higher stability to a neutral shoe.


Supination (Underpronation) gait meant that your shoes have been worn down on the outer sole of the shoes. You’ll be fitted in a shoe with the most arch support and overall stability compared to other shoes.

By now, you should be more versed with the types of shoes available and what type of gait you might have.

I realize that I’ve thrown a lot of important tips and tricks for buying a good pair of running shoes for triathlons.


Remember, many of the brands I listed above might sound like the shoe for you, but you won’t know until you try it one.

Found out what type of gait you have (neutral, overpronation, or supination).

After you know what gait you have, then you must understand about what your training program and what types of races you’ll mainly do.

Remember, if you’re racing in short-distance triathlons you may not need a shoe with a lot of support.

Or, if you’re doing an Ironman you might be looking for a shoe with the right balance of support and cushion for your feet.

Or, you could be looking for a shoe that supports something between sprint and Ironman triathlon distances.

Most importantly, you need to find the shoe that fits your fit the best and will help you train for your next triathlon.

Good luck with training and racing in your upcoming season or first triathlon!

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Ryan Jones

Ryan Jones is a USA Triathlon Level 1 Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 3 Certified Coach. Since graduating college, Ryan has coached over sixty triathletes, runners, cyclists, and swimmers. He focuses on helping them select appropriate goals and guiding them towards achieving them.

3 thoughts on “Best Triathlon Running Shoes”

  1. Thanks Mate,

    Yours Comments were very helpful in choosing my shoes.

    Also the fact that I had 10 shoes to choose from meant the store manager was able to pick out the type of shoe most suitable.

    I ended up choosing initially option three and nine.

    However when it came to comfort I was sold on the Saucony Kinvara 10.
    I took back the New Balance 2Ante 4 as the support in the heal was inadequate.
    The replacement shoe was item 7 which I have chosen for my competition shoe being light and firm.
    Thank you once more for the advice.

    Yours Sincerely
    Thomas A Mc Henry ( Middle distance in the past but now novice Sprint Triathlon)
    U W A Athletics Club in Western Australia

  2. Which Hoka one one do you use for full Ironman or other long distance runs? My last two shoes were Arahi 4. However I see more mentioning of Rincon, Clifton 6 and Carbon X. What’s your experience or knowledge? I am buying a new pair today.

    • Hi Dave,

      Arahi is a motion control shoe whereas Clifton, Bondi, Ricon and Carbon X is a neutral shoe-so first make sure which one is right for you.
      Bondi 6 is good for training, Clifton’s and Carbon X for racing.
      I would use Clifton 6 for long distance and Carbon X for short like sprint and standard.


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