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.
After swimming and biking, you’ll want a pair of shoes that will support your feet and doesn’t feel too heavy.
There are hundreds of pairs of shoes to choose from and I know it can be overwhelming to figure it out.
In this guide, I’ll discuss training versus racing shoes, how to buy shoes, and review the top ten shoes for triathlon training and racing.
Top 10 Triathlon Running Shoes in 2020
1. HOKA One One Clifton 5
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.
2. Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo 35
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.
This shoe is 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.
3. Saucony Kinvara 10
Saucony uses its EVERUN 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 distance triathletes and especially for ones who have a 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.
4. Asics Noosa FF 2
Asics designed this shoe with a triathlete in mind and sets it apart from other running shoes you can choose. This shoe goes on quickly, for a smooth transition, provides sock-less comfort, and are light and supportive.
For this model, Asics uses their WET Grip Rubber outsole technology which helps you grip the surface. This might give you more assurance that you can race and train even on the wettest days of the season.
Asics’ FlyteFoam technology also sets it apart from other shoes. This feature helps give you great energy returns for long runs and quick bursts near the end of your races. FlyFoam also helps keep the shoe light and reactive.
I’d recommend this shoe for long-distance triathletes for its grip technology and FlyteFoam to give you an extra boost on your long runs and races. If you want a shoe that is lightweight and efficient, check out this option. You might be happy with it.
5. Saucony Freedom ISO 2
You can expect the same performance from a previous or different model with these exceptions:
• The shoe is 3mm taller because of the added EVERUN technology in the shoe’s sole.
• The crystalized rubber outsole now has grooves cut into it. This adds more flexibility to the shoe.
• The upper part of the shoe is made of ISOKIT which improves breathability and won’t overheat your foot.
• The shoe’s toe box is slightly wider than the previous model.
• The shoe is heavier than its previous model.
Most people who run in these shoes say the shoe is the most durable one they’ve owned. Even though the shoe is light-weight runners never felt that their support or comfort was compromised.
I’d recommend this shoe for short-distance triathletes or those who want a trainer for a neutral pronation. Or, for those who want a durable pair of training shoes, no matter the racing distance.
6. Skechers GOrun Ride 7
Skechers GOrun Ride 7 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.
7. Mizuno Wave Rider 22
The Mizuno Wave Rider 22 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.
8. Brooks Launch 6
The Brooks Launch 6 is a reliable shoe for neutral gait runners that has an updated look to an old line of Brooks Launch model. This shoe is good for short and middle-distance training and middle-distance racing.
The sole’s springy cushioning is from its rubber sole. From toe to heel, rubber is supporting your foot through your entire race or training run.
The Brooks Launch 6 has BioMoGo DNA technology in its sole. This allows the shoe to adapt your unique foot and gait as you break in the pair. This technology also gives more cushioning and twice as much energy return than its previous model.
The shoe’s upper part is made out of breathable mesh, which makes it seem like there’s nothing on your foot. The toe box is also very forgiving and allows for many widths of feet to fit in there.
I’d recommend this shoe for those who are training for sprint and Olympic distance triathlons. Or, if your training runs mostly consist of speed work.
9. New Balance Zante 4
The shoe is recommended for those who are training for long distance triathlons or want to use them for a recovery training run. This shoe is best suited for short-distance racing. The shoe is the lightest of its kind but offers less cushioning than its predecessor.
The shoe’s unique sole technology allows it to follow your specific foot gait from pushing off to striking the ground. The sole sits on one piece of Fresh Foam. While the pattern of convex and convex hexagon pattern on the shoe allows the show to adapt to your foot.
The standout problem is with the outsole. Although it has a nice pattern, is no indication of its performance. It’s a piece of rubber and it provides good but not great traction. You can take this shoe in rainy weather, but sharp turns may be dicey.
The upper part of the shoe is made of mesh near the front of the foot and hugs the rest of the foot to keep it secure. The tongue has a secure hold on the midfoot and the shoe’s higher heel keeps the foot in place.
I’d recommend this shoe for short-distance and middle-distance racing and any type of training. The shoe has the perfect balance between cushion and support. It’s a simple shoe you can rely on for your next season.
10. On Running Cloudflyer
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.
Running Shoes for Triathlon Training and Racing-A Comprehensive Guide
In this guide, I’ll discuss training versus racing shoes, how to buy shoes, and review the top ten shoes for triathlon training and racing.
Triathlon Training vs Triathlon Racing Running Shoes
Before I get into details, let’s make one thing clear.
There is not a significant 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 running shoes, let’s talk about how to buy them.
How to Buy Triathlon Training and Running 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 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.
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.
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 a shoe 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.
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.
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!