Today, we’re going to be reviewing 6 of the best recovery running shoes for men and women in 2021.
First off, recovery runs are usually defined as a shorter easier run that’s done within 24 hours of a harder session.
That could be intervals, maybe on a track, a really taxing tempo run, or perhaps a really long run.
Without further ado, let’s dive right into it.
Best Recovery Running Shoes
New Balance Beacon v3
Heel-to-toe drop: 6mm
Stack height: Heel: 29mm / Forefoot: 23mm
Weight: Men’s size 9: 7.8 oz. (221 gr.) / Women’s size 8: 7.1 oz. (198.4 gr.)
The Beacon is an extremely versatile pleasant running shoe that’s going to be great if you’re looking for only one shoe to do a lot of things, and there’s not a lot of shoes that I could say that for.
It’s a distraction-free, smooth-riding, versatile shoe that can handle a variety of paces.
It bridges the gap between a low-profile lightweight tempo shoe and a neutral recovery trainer.
- It’s great for easy-pace recovery days.
- It feels effortless to be up there at those faster paces.
- It’s great for speedwork work on the track as well as 20-mile long runs.
- It could just feel as comfortable at marathon paces as it feels at recovery pace.
The upper feels like it’s tailored to fit your feet. It’s accommodating, comfortable, and it has superb lockdown.
The Beacon feels like a softer and more of a premium performance daily trainer in the upper.
The soft heel counter flares away and stays away from your heel unlike the Fuel TC and the Propel where it flares upwards.
The tongue is padded but it’s not gusseted so it might slide sideways during runs.
It has a wide toe box and it’s snug in the midfoot.
If you have a wide foot, it fits pretty good out of the box. And, if you have a narrow foot, you can cinch it down to get a nice fit.
Related: 12 Best Running Shoes For Wide Feet
The Beacon has always been a shoe where your foot sits inside the midsole instead of on top of it.
The biggest change is that its midsole is now thicker.
It still has a 6mm drop, but it’s now 29mm in the heel compared to 26mm in the forefoot of the Beacon v2.
There have been big debates online about whether the midsole is actually Fresh Foam or Fresh Foam X.
I guess it’s just Fresh foam, and I think Fresh Foam X is an evolution of Fresh Foam rather than something completely new.
The Fresh Foam X on the New Balance 1080 is a more springy and bouncy foam that is also able to absorb the impact of all those road miles.
It is slightly softer and lighter, but the Beacon provides you with a firm forefoot to push off from.
I’m not saying it super insolates you from the road because you’re still going to get a lot of road feel and you’re still going to feel connected.
The Beacon has got a softer and more cushioned ride than the Beacon 2. So, it’s more suited to long-distance running than the previous versions.
The heel and raised sidewalls cup your foot, which helps keep your foot centered, which increases stability.
The outsole hasn’t changed much from the previous versions. The lugs are rounded and they have a wide indentation on them.
The outsole durability is not great on the Beacon because you’re mainly going to run on bare Fresh Foam.
Overall, what makes the Beacon so great is that…
- Is a fantastic shoe.
- It is versatile enough for a range of paces and distances.
- Is light enough to go fast in.
- Still has a cushioned smoother efficient ride when comes to the pace.
- It’s responsive enough.
- It’s not too sloppy.
- It can definitely go for the long runs and short runs.
- It doesn’t feel like it’s a hot shoe and you can get a lot of really great summer miles on it.
All in all, the New Balance Beacon makes you feel nimble and graceful as a runner and it makes you feel lightweight and I’m happy New Balance didn’t ruin the Beacon and they’ve actually made it better.
- Very versatile.
- Smooth ride.
- Comfortable upper with no heel slippage issues.
- A bit heavier than the Beacon v2.
- Not for narrow feet.
- Tongue might slide sideways.
Saucony Freedom 3 & 4
Heel-to-toe drop: 4mm
Stack height: Heel: 28mm / Forefoot: 24mm
Weight: Men: 9.4oz. (269 gr.) / Women: 8.5oz. (241 gr.)
The Freedom is going to be great for recovery days and tempo runs. It’s nice and low to the ground.
The outsole has got a thin layer of rubber from heel to forefoot, which is going to offer just the right amount of durability and traction you need for your daily training and recovery efforts.
With the Freedom 3 and 4, we’ve got a completely revamped design. It is a quite versatile shoe that has a very responsive underfoot feel.
The Freedom series has always been known as a performance trainer with a highly responsive midsole.
The midsole features the newest compound PWRRUN+. You’ve probably seen this on some of the latest Saucony shoes. PWRRUN+ is even lighter and more responsive.
The Freedom 4 has got Saucony’s most responsive midsole compound to date called PWRRUN PB.
Both the Endorphin Pro and Endorphin Speed have a carbon plate and a nylon plate respectively, but the Freedom has no plate in the midsole.
Moving on down to the outsole, we’re going to see a very similar design to the past version. We have that TriFlex crystal rubber.
Crystal rubber is very flexible and it also has plenty of durability and traction when you’re picking up the pace on the roads.
Finishing this shoe off, we’ve got that knit mesh upper. It’s light, it’s breathable, it’s everything you need to keep your foot snug and locked in no matter the pace.
The Freedom 4 has got a thin and breathable engineered mesh design.
It’s got some suede overlays in the forefoot and in the heel but overall a very simple design with fantastic midfoot lockdown.
Overall, featuring an all-new design from top to bottom, the Saucony Freedom is now even lighter and more responsive while still maintaining that flexible and low-to-the-ground experience you’ve come to expect from the series.
- Tongue is secure.
- Very comfortable ride.
- Great midsole.
- Durable outsole.
- Not very versatile like the Beacon.
- Not very cushioned in you’re after cushioning.
Saucony Guide 14
Heel-to-toe drop: 8mm
Stack height: Heel: 32.5mm / Forefoot: 24.5mm
Weight: Men: 10.5 oz (283 gr.) / Women: 9.6 oz (255 gr.)
The Guide 14 is a stability shoe and it is in that mid-cushion stability category.
The stack height is 32.5 millimeters in the heel and 24.5 millimeters in the forefoot giving you that 8-millimeter offset.
Everyone knows that you don’t want too soft of a ride and you don’t want too hard of a ride.
One update Saucony’s made with the 14 over the 13 is that they’ve reformulated the PWRRUN foam to it and it’s great.
It’s going to provide responsiveness, a soft underfoot feeling, and a livelier sensation than what you’ll feel out of a more traditional stability shoe that feels a little more block-like.
From a support standpoint, one thing that has evolved as far as the Guide is concerned is Saucony moved away from a second-density post in favor of a TPU frame that’s meant to provide structure and support.
This TPU Guidance frame on the medial side is actually one of the best-looking stability postings.
It runs through the medial side and then wraps underneath and actually goes through the midfoot and into the interior part of the midsole.
So, they’ve created a 90-degree wrap that’s very nice and subtle and it kind of disappears into the shoe.
On that medial TPU frame, there’s actually 45-degree angle columns that stretch from the top of the TPU frame to the medial side of the TPU frame, which is going to provide a great amount of structure and support on the shoe.
Overall, the Guide is going to guide your body through the natural gait cycle while also giving a lot of structure and support through there.
Combined with that guidance frame, the 3D engineered fascia in the upper helps give 360 degrees of support in this shoe giving it a really great secure fit all around.
Going along with the 3D engineered fascia is the newly constructed streamlined FORMFIT that is going to wrap the foot around in complete comfort for it.
Then, they’ve really improved the fit of this heel counter in the way that it’s going to wrap the runner’s foot.
When we look at the outsole, you’ll see the XT-900 rubber that is a really pliable material and extremely durable.
The TriFlex crystal rubber outsole gives a lot of flexibility to the shoe allowing it to bend with your foot and not feel too rigid.
Overall, if you’re a Saucony Guide fan, I think you’re going to continue to like this. Or, if you’re just a stability wearer looking for a great recovery shoe, it’s a great option for you.
- Responsive and soft underfoot.
- Seamless stability guidance frame.
- Streamlined design.
- Very comfortable.
- Blends durability, style, and performance.
- None that I can think of.
Nike Epic React Flyknit 2
Heel-to-toe drop: 10mm
Stack height: Heel: 28mm / Forefoot: 18mm
Weight: Men: 9.9 oz (280 gr.) / Women: 8.5 oz (226 gr.)
The Epic React is one of Nike’s long-distance running shoes.
The Epic React really does best for distances that are about 5 miles or less and you can use it on a variety of speeds because it’s pretty lightweight and nimble.
It’s really great for longer recovery runs and anything where you might be doing a little bit more of a heel-toe kind of pace.
With the really large area in the back with lots of React cushioning, the Nike Epic React is the shoe that you would want to be reaching for if you had like an easy 7 or 8-mile long’ish recovery/active recovery type of run.
We still have a one-piece flyknit upper that definitely delivers that sock-like fit.
It does fit a bit tight at first, but after about two runs in the shoe, it is good to go on the width side. Lengthwise, it still runs true to size.
The flyknit in this update is just a tad more structured. It seems to be a tighter weave or just use a sturdier knit.
So, the stability of the upper is noticeable between the old version and this version.
Besides aesthetics, the new Nike swoosh is a low-key way to make the knit a bit more structured around the midfoot to kind of tighten everything together.
The new heel counter does not go up as high. Although it may not be as supportive, but in reality, it’s quite the opposite.
The heel counter is substantially stiffer throughout the heel area and the plastic piece is actually harder than the same piece on the 1.
So, the heel lockdown is a bit better but the stiffness in the heel will take some runs to get used to.
The bread and butter of this shoe is the React cushioning.
There’s a full-length React midsole with a plastic heel clip to help with the stability of the ride.
If you were a fan of how the cushioning felt in the previous version, you will definitely love how this one feels.
It has that soft feel without feeling sloppy. It provides a nice bounce-back while going through your stride.
Whether you land on your midfoot or your heel, the React provides great cushioning throughout.
The outsole is simple. It has a lot of exposed React and some rubber on the forefoot and on the heel.
Even with the lack of reinforced rubber through the midfoot area, you won’t really have any issues with the durability performance-wise.
So, everything holds up pretty well as far as functionality, and traction on road-like surfaces is where the shoe shines.
If you’re someone who wished the Nike Epic React Flyknit was just a bit more secure and a bit more structured, I think this is a no-brainer.
- Great snug-fitting fitting upper.
- Great React midsole.
- Offers a great cushy landing.
- Comfortably transitions from easy recovery runs to speed work to long distances.
- Exposed React reduces traction and durability.
- Not for wide feet.
- A bit expensive.
Nike Vomero 14
Heel-to-toe drop: 10mm
Stack height: Heel: 22mm / Forefoot: 12mm
Weight: Men: 9.9 oz (280 gr.) / Women: 8.6 oz (244 gr.)
This is a great Nike recovery shoe.
With the Vomero, you’re going to be able to run a variety of distances and paces.
Everything from a shorter run of 3 miles to a long run of over a half marathon distance for a tempo or an interval run and a variety of distances in between.
You can read our full comparison of the Nike Vopero vs Nike Pegasus.
- Great cushioning offers soft landings and smooth transitions for heel strikers.
- Responsive midsole for snappy toe-offs.
- Great React / Zoom Air combo.
- Comfortable and secure upper.
- Very durable.
- 10mm drop needs more cushioning for forefoot runners.
- Lacks consistent cushioning for marathon.
Heel-to-toe drop: 0mm
Stack height: Heel: 30mm / Forefoot: 30mm
Weight: 10.2 oz. (289 gr.)
Who is Metaride for?
The Metaride offers plenty of comfort, efficiency, and a surprising amount of energy mile after mile for distance and recovery runs.
- It’s a slower recovery shoe to use when your feet are beat up from earlier workouts.
- It’s a durable daily trainer.
- If you have a heel-toe foot strike, it might be good for your slower and moderate days.
- It’s great to build weekly miles and log the miles without injury.
But, I will not attempt any speed work or tempo workouts in this shoe. I tried doing some faster strides and I feel like that I was going to trip and fall.
The upper is made up of two different types of material.
You have a circular knit right above the toe box, which definitely enhances the comfort of just having a shoe on foot.
Breathability is one of the best that I’ve seen from Asics in a while. It is a bit stretchy, but with the use of stiffer mesh around the toe cap and midfoot, the shoe is still able to contain your foot in well.
The combination of the knit and the mesh work well and I think this is a style that Asics should keep if they want to go the safe route of making a good upper.
In the heel, you also have a reinforced heel counter that gives the shoe more than enough structure.
However, the heel area is a bit more rounded, which typically is an issue for me. So, I had to do the runner’s knot which helped.
As for the rest of the upper, you have that Asics logo glued on, which it would have been more cool if they would have made it part of the weave of the shoe, but that’s more of a nitpick.
The Metaride took the one thing from the Asics Gel Nimbus that is actually really good, the fit.
The toe box is wide enough to not feel too cramped, and going with your normal running shoe size is surely the way to go.
The tongue is not attached in the same way like a lot of shoes today with the whole one-piece upper trend, but it really isn’t a bad thing.
The tongue is moderately cushioned and it has pretty good padding.
The laces prevent the tongue from moving around too much. It’s a bit of an old-school method, but it still works.
Overall, the upper is nice and comfortable.
Let’s move to where the Metaride gets interesting…
In the midsole, we have a few things going on.
Right under your foot, you have two layers of FlyteFoam, one is softer and one is harder to give you both cushioning but also responsiveness.
FlyteFoam is Asics’ more resilient and more durable foam that is supposed to provide a balanced cushioned feel.
On the bottom of the shoe, you have FlyteFoam Propel, which is Asics’ newer blend of FlyteFoam that’s supposed to provide the shoe with a bit more of a balance and rebound effect.
Sandwiched right between both foams, you have some good old Asics Gel. Gel is meant to provide some top-end shock absorption through your stride and a softer landing zone for you.
The outsole uses what Asics calls their Asics Grip and it has a large cutout through the midfoot where you can actually see some of the FlyteFoam.
The traction on the Asics Metaride is noticeably good on most surfaces and it almost reminds me of Saucony’s crystal rubber, which is a good thing.
- Good fit.
- Midsole gives both cushioning and responsiveness.
- A bit heavy for long-distance running.
- Not good for speed work or tempo workouts.
So, there you have it. These were some of the best recovery running shoes. If you’ve ever run in a shoe and it performed great for your recovery runs, please share your experience with us.
Best Recovery Running Shoes
Do you really know what recovery runs are and how to do them?
In the next section, I’m going to be going through everything that you need to know about recovery runs, what they are, how to do them, and why to do them as well.
What Are Recovery Runs
Recovery runs are usually defined as a shorter easier run that’s done within 24 hours of a harder session.
That could be intervals, maybe on a track, a really taxing tempo run, or perhaps a really long run.
Basically, any kind of session that’s going to put extra stress on your body.
When to do your recovery runs is entirely dependent on your own schedule, but as an example, you might do a recovery run on a Monday if you’ve done a really long run on the Sunday.
If you’re already doing quite high mileage, then you may end up doing a recovery run in the afternoon or evening after doing a harder tempo session for example in the morning.
So, in terms of regularly scheduling recovery runs to your workouts, it might be that if you’re already running four times a week or more that you have those recovery runs planned in.
If you’re running three times a week or less, then there’s probably less of a need to put those recovery runs in because those three workouts will be super targeted.
So, listen to your body and do what’s best for you.
If you’re feeling a bit tired or sore after those runs, it might be time to throw in a recovery run.
Why Do Recovery Runs?
When you wake up with stiff legs and feeling tired, you might well question the wisdom around going out for a run to make yourself feel better.
So, a 20-minute jog can make your legs feel looser and give yourself a little bit more energy.
But, if you really do feel completely zonked, then it’s absolutely fine to take a rest day and put those feet up.
I’m not saying that recovery runs are going to fix everything, so it’s totally fine to take a rest day.
You are the best judge of your own body, so listen to it and do what you think is best.
It used to be thought that going for a recovery run can flush out lactic acid from your body, but in reality and looking at the scientific studies behind it, that’s not actually the case.
After a hard session, lactic acid levels return to normal within about an hour.
So, with recovery runs, they can loosen up your legs.
What do they actually do?
Running really easily can help bring body adaptations to both your muscular and cardiovascular structure.
You might not be flushing out lactic acid, but you are bringing blood flow to the muscles, which can really help.
You’ll also be doing these recovery runs in a fatigued state, which can help increase your fitness.
Because you’re already feeling tired, pushing through that even though you’re running slowly and easily can really help boost your fitness levels, which is why recovery runs are done in a fatigue stage to help you improve your fitness.
How Long Is A Recovery Run?
The most common questions about recovery runs are how far and at what pace you should be running them.
The answer there is it really doesn’t matter. It’s entirely up to you. You need to go on feel with recovery runs so it needs to feel easy.
It should never ever be too fast or too long that it compromises your next key run.
Personally, when I go out for a recovery run, I don’t even take my watch, or if I do, I don’t look at it because pace really doesn’t matter when it comes to recovery runs.
So, set yourself a time, maybe go out for 20 minutes or half an hour, but never ever get hung up about the pace of a recovery run.
You should be able to easily hold a conversation at the pace that you’re running recovery runs.
Sure, your legs might feel a little bit stiff and sore, but the actual pace and the feel of it should feel easy.
Sometimes, I might even make a phone call while I’m doing the run because then I know that I can talk at the same time as running, which is the ideal pace for a recovery run.
How Should I Feel
Sometimes, it takes a mile or two for your legs to really start feeling okay in a recovery run.
That’s absolutely normal.
However, don’t add a little bit extra run because you feel okay. That’s not the point of recovery runs.
Sometimes as runners, we might feel embarrassed or self-conscious for running slower, but you really don’t need to worry about the pace for recovery runs.
Follow the example of the elite Kenyan runners, the Kenyan shuffle runs that they do often are around 11 to 12 minutes per mile pace.
So, follow their example because they know what they’re doing.
One thing to be aware of though is when you are running slower, your form can change.
- Just make sure that you’re picking your feet up.
- Keep that cadence going as well.
- Don’t forget to just make sure that you’re running in a way that you’re feeling comfortable.
- Don’t let your form be affected.
Recovery Runs vs Easy Runs
If you’re now wondering what the difference is between recovery runs and easy runs, it all comes down to how you feel on the day.
Sometimes, the pace that you run your recovery runs at might end up being faster than what you would run an easy run and vice versa.
It really depends, which is why as I keep saying “recovery runs are not reliant on your pace,” so don’t get hung up on it at all.
With an easy run and a recovery run, what you should be thinking about is that your recovery run is to aid your recovery.
So, a longer run at a slower pace is still going to stress your body out because you’re doing extra miles.
Likewise, a shorter run but run at a faster pace is going to stretch your body out too.
Recovery runs need to be somewhere in the middle where they’re not too long, not too short, and not too fast. They are pretty slow.
So, think of recovery runs as a completely different gear to easy runs. They are more like very easy.
However, if all of this sounds horrible to you and you really can’t face the idea of getting out for a run once you’re tired from your hardest sessions, then that’s absolutely fine as well.
Why don’t you try going for a bike ride or you could go for a swim or even just a walk.
Anything to get those aching legs moving will help with your recovery.
There’s no point in doing something labeled as recovery if don’t want to do it or you don’t feel like it’s going to help you recover.
So, hopefully, I’ve given you a good idea of some of the best recovery running shoes.