Today, we’ll be reviewing some of the best running shoes for 5k races for men and women.
Whether you’re training to run a 5k, or you’re just running for fun, the right pair of running shoes can help the miles fly by.
After the success of our 2021 version, this is the 2022 update of this super-long article. We did our best to review the latest versions of some shoes and even completely replace others with newer models like:
- Saucony Endorphin Speed.
- Adidas Takumi Sen 8.
- Altra Escalante Racer.
- Skechers Razor 3 Elite
Without further ado, get one of the best 5k running shoes below and you’re good to go…
11 Best Running Shoes for 5k Races & Short Distances
Brooks Ghost 14
Neutral Pronation 〉 W: 8.8 oz 〉 M: 10.0 oz 〉 Drop: 12mm 〉 Stack Height: Heel: 36 mm 〉 Forefoot: 24 mm 〉 Road 〉 True to size
Featuring a 12mm heel-to-toe drop, the Ghost is the highest drop shoe in this list. But it is one of the best-selling running shoes and for good reason. Brooks has been able to refine the Ghost series to get the Ghost 14 exactly how runners like it. It’s a great neutral everyday trainer that can handle pretty much any run you throw at it.
Related: Brooks Ghost vs Saucony Ride
Why the Ghost 14 is good for you
The Ghost shines at 5ks, daily training, easy runs, and maybe medium runs like steazy pace stuff. If you’re going to be running a lot of miles and you’re not going to be doing super-fast trackwork, this is a great shoe for you because you’re going to get a lot of bang for your bucks.
This is also going to be great if you want a nice supportive neutral soft trainer that maybe allows you to pick up the pace a little bit if you’re feeling good at the end of your runs.
Beginner runners should definitely get the Ghost because your body needs a little bit of extra cushion when you’re first starting out and you’re injury-prone.
The Ghost 14 is not too soft that you feel like you can’t go fast and you feel that it’s limiting you, but it is soft enough that it’s going to give your joints, knees, and muscles a bit of a break from that constant pounding.
Just Me from Amazon says the Ghost helped her cut 2 minutes off of her 5k time. Read her review.
- Durable shoe that works for any situation you throw at it.
- Do-it-all running shoe (handles slow runs, fast runs, long runs, and short runs)
- Quality cushioning setup, premium upper materials that hold your foot very well, and a ton of rubber coverage on the bottom.
- Making DNA Loft all one-piece and not having any dual densities or playing around with the crash pads is a huge step in the right direction.
- Brooks’ first carbon-neutral shoe.
- Comes in a wide variety of widths and lengths.
It’s definitely not a light shoe, but I wouldn’t put it in the heavy category either. It just basically fits the bill for this neutral daily trainer.
The Tongue is not gusseted but still doesn’t slide from side to side.
Brooks is using DNA Loft which is their softest cushioning to date. It’s basically a blend of EVA foam, rubber, and air to give you that perfect balance between responsiveness, cushioning, impact protection, and durability.
Compared to the Ghost 13, the Ghost 14 now features a full-length DNA Loft compound from heel to toe. This gives you a much more consistent feel as you go through your stride.
Although DNA Loft is very soft, it’s not unstable or mushy. It’s just soft enough to feel really comfortable when you want to go super slow. So, if that’s something that worries you, I wouldn’t be too concerned.
The midsole offers enough rebound that it lets you go fast and have a little bit of energy return and snap when you want to kick it home a little bit when you’re feeling good or going downhill or just working off a tailwind.
I think that’s also partly contributed to the omega flex grooves. Flex grooves really allow your foot to have some nice flexibility in the forefoot and have an extra little snap at the toe-off of your stride.
Even after hundreds of miles, you can still feel the midsole retain its pop and you’ll never go out for a run and feel like the cushioning is feeling hard any time soon.
DNA Loft is certainly not as responsive as a racer would be, but you’re going to get a soft landing with each step and you’re not going to be putting too much strain and impact on your body.
Brooks is implementing a new comprehensive engineered upper mesh material all around the shoe with 3D Fit Print. 3D Fit Print applies structure to specific areas where the foot needs support while keeping weight down. It’s also a balance between the stretch and the fit of the upper to allow it to be more accommodating and more comfortable
The tongue is not gusseted at all, which is something they’re going to implement in the next model because that’s the way things are going, at least in my opinion.
But as far as a simple shoe goes, people don’t mind that because the fit is just fine and the tongue does not sway at all over the top of your foot.
Talking about the top of your foot, If you’re that kind of person who has issues with pain on top of your foot, a lot of that can be caused by uncomfortable uppers or cinching your laces too tight.
The shoe also has a really substantial heel counter. I would almost say this is the same heel counter as what was in the Brooks Adrenaline. The heel collar is extremely well-padded and extremely comfortable.
Overall, Brooks refined the upper to make it fit more foot types and just provide a better overall experience.
Everyone that talks about the Ghost talk about how it’s a pretty supportive neutral shoe and I could see why. It definitely locks your heels and ankles down really well. You’re not going to see a lot of slipping and it just feels like it’s holding your foot nicely.
This outsole actually might be the silent MVP of this shoe. It’s pretty thick and I’d say it almost contributes to a snappy feel in the shoe.
The Ghost 14 has quite a bit of rubber coverage from heel to toe. The grooves themselves are quite deep, which should help with traction and durability.
Brooks did make some minor tweaks to the outsole itself. They added some rubber in the midfoot section and the forefoot section between the flex grooves. The whole point of this is to stiffen up the midsole and provide a more stable and controlled experience as you’re going through your stride.
Also, Brooks is using a segmented crash pad on the bottom which is an integrated system of shock absorbers that cushion each step and stride. If you don’t feel the crash rail, that’s a good thing because it means it is effectively helping you ease the transition from your heel to your toe-off.
At this price, The Brooks Ghost 13 is a pretty solid shoe. The shoe offers plenty of versatility especially if you’re one of those people who likes a shoe to just wear for everything.
This is Brook’s first carbon-neutral shoe. So, if you’re someone who’s looking to make a purchase that doesn’t harm the environment or is looking to be a little more sustainable, this is your shoe.
Last but not least, a lot of runners consider the Ghost to be one of the best running shoes for couch to 5k.
Saucony Endorphin Speed 2
Neutral Pronation 〉 W: 7.1 oz 〉 M: 7.9 oz 〉 Drop: 8 mm 〉 Stack Height: Heel: 39 mm 〉 Forefoot: 31 mm 〉 Road 〉 True to size
The Speed is part of Saucony’s Endorphin lineup. The Shift is meant for those slow days, longer days, and recovery runs. The Speed is their tempo trainer with a nylon plate that can even be a race-day shoe. The Pro is their carbon fiber plate racing shoe designed for those elite races or very quick days.
Why the Endorphin Speed is good for you
Even though the Speed sits in between the daily trainer and the pro racer, this is definitely more a racing shoe than it is a daily trainer. So, the Speed is great for tempo days, threshold days, long runs, and race day. While it’s really great for half marathon and marathon efforts, it can also be used for your 5ks.
The Speed has that nylon plate and that high responsive cushioning.
Murza says the Speed helped him set 9 PRs including 5k. Read his review on Amazon.
- PWRRUN PB is the lightest most bouncy performance foam to date from Saucony.
- Midsole is not squishy but not stiff, neither.
- Nylon plate is softer and a little bit more forgiving and provides quick snappy rides and transitions.
- Speed Roll helps this 8mm drop shoe flow nice and smooth.
- FORMFIT upper is pretty pliable and can move around fairly easily.
- Improved lacing system keeps your foot secure.
- Durable XT-900 carbon rubber outsole.
- A bit slippery on wet roads.
The PWRRUN PB midsole is the exact same as the Endorphin Speed 1 and people seemed to love it so much. PWRRUN PB is not a soft and squishy foam, but it’s not a firm midsole foam, neither. It kind of sits in between.
While the midsole kind of looks like Adidas Boost, it’s completely different. PWRRUN PB is much lighter than Adidas Boost and is Saucony’s lightest most bouncy performance foam to date, which is why people seem to love it so much.
Another important thing to note about the midsole is the Speed Roll rocker geometry. This basically means they make the foam in a curved fashion so when you’re towing off, your foot rocks forward.
While the Speed has a pretty generous 8mm heel drop, that Speed Roll helps keep everything flowing nice and smooth through the gait cycle. It just does help you give that quick snappy toe-off feel.
The Speed has a full-length nylon plate from heel to toe. The plate really does stiffen up the midsole for quick snappy rides and transitions as you’re going mile after mile. Compared to a carbon fiber plate, a carbon fiber plate is much stiffer and much more rigid.
Some people prefer the nylon plate that gives you a little more flex and moves a little bit more with your foot while others prefer that super-rigid carbon fiber plate. It really comes down to your personal preference.
The downside to the Endorphin Speed and the nylon plate is that you’re not getting all that propulsion and that springiness that you get from the carbon fiber plate in the Endorphin Pro. But on the plus side, that rigid carbon plate makes the overall running experience in the Pro feel a little bit more firm and stiff.
So, while the Endorphin Speed still feels like a very fast shoe, it’s a little bit softer and a little bit more forgiving. I feel like it’s a lot easier to live with both for your training and even for your racing.
The Speed has a FORMFIT upper which is supposedly inspired by the mesh that’s on their track shoes. This upper is a fine layer of mesh and has some fused overlays that provide some additional structure to the mesh which is really pretty pliable and can move around fairly easily.
Saucony updated the lacing pattern for better lockdown and fit. They also completely redesigned the heel counter for a better lockdown and a more secure fit from what they had on the first version.
The outsole is Saucony’s durable XT-900 carbon rubber. You get quite a bit of rubber in the forefoot section while the rest of the rubber just outlines the bottom of the shoe with a little more in the high-impact heel zone.
All in all,
If you’re looking for a well-cushioned plated shoe that’s good for tempo training and/or race days, I highly recommend the Saucony Endorphin Speed. The midsole is fast and snappy and you have enough cushioning to push into some of those longer runs and even marathon days.
The Endorphin Speed is going to be a shoe you’re going to reach for multiple times a week just because it’s so much fun to run in.
FYI, this is a neutral runner and there’s not a lot in the way of pronation control. So if you do need a stability shoe, I recommend you use an insert or just go with a different kind of shoe.
Altra Escalante 2.5
Neutral Pronation 〉 W: 7.5 oz 〉 M: 9 oz 〉 Drop: 0mm 〉 Stack Height: Heel: 24 mm 〉 Forefoot: 24 mm 〉 Road 〉 True to size
The Escalante has been this huge hit for Altra, and it just blew up. It’s a shoe that a lot of runners really love because it not only performs well, it also feels and looks great.
Altra certainly took the feedback from runners and tweaked the Escalante a little bit and made a brand-new shoe that I’m sure you’re going to love.
This iteration of the Altra Escalante has a 28mm stack height in the heel and obviously 28mm in the forefoot because it’s a zero-drop shoe.
Why the Escalante is good for you
As one of the fastest 5k shoes, the Altra Escalante 2.5 is for anyone looking for a great shoe for their 5k and tempo runs. I feel it’s a more up-tempo shoe rather than a daily trainer like the Nike Pegasus, the Hoka Clifton, or the Brooks Ghost.
What’s really nice about the EGO foam is that it’s going to feel the same from mile one to 26. It just does not pack down or bottom out.
What’s also really nice about EGO foam is that it is dual-nature. What that means is that when you’re going slower, it’s going to feel softer, and then when you start to pick up the pace, it’s going to be a little bit more responsive and a little bit firmer.
Nadine loves the Escalante for her 5ks and 10ks. Read her review on Amazon.
- Zero-drop Ego midsole has a lot of rebound, it’s compression-resistant, and doesn’t bottom out.
- Has a natural foot shape design.
- Really responsive, enjoyable, quite a forgiving ride, and has good energy return.
- Promotes a slightly faster cadence than normal.
- A great run-to-brunch-to-run shoe.
- Helps off-load pressure on the ball of the foot.
- Seamless, comfortable, and accommodating upper.
- Features a very cool Dri-Lex Dri-Freeze upper material.
- Traction is very good on paths and roads.
- The zero-drop feature takes some getting used to.
This is a video to help you transition to zero-drop shoes if you’ve never run in one before.
Zero Drop EGO Midsole
Although the Escalante is zero drop, it’s far from zero cushion. The midsole is always runners’ favorite section in shoes. The Escalante 2.5 features an EGO midsole that’s quite rubbery, it has quite a lot of rebound, and it is compression-resistant.
Over a multitude of different surfaces and terrain and a variety of different paces, the Escalante is really enjoyable and a quite forgiving ride. It is really responsive and has quite a similar feel to the FuelCell Rebel and the Beacon from New Balance.
I certainly felt the zero-drop feature promoting a slightly faster cadence than normal. There’s some good energy return and some good protection underfoot from that Altra EGO midsole material.
You don’t have wild compression in the midsole as you get in a shoe with ZoomX or FuelCell. It’s a little bit more of a dense and robust compression with quite a lot of bounce and rebound. In the trail category, we talk a lot about door-to-trail shoes, and the Escalante is a great run-to-brunch-to-run shoe.
Last but not least, the zero-drop feature is going to help absorb shock and provide a natural running motion while being gentle on your Achilles. However, it does require some getting used to.
This feature also helps off-load pressure on the ball of the foot, which makes the Escalante one of the best running shoes for Metatarsalgia pain.
Comfortable and accommodating are certainly the two words I would use to describe the upper on the Escalante.
This design is actually going to hold your foot down a little bit better especially when you’re turning or going side to side. That’s going to give you a little bit more stability but retain that sock-like feel that you love.
They’ve also added some perforations to give you more breathability while keeping the upper seamless throughout to help with less irritation against your foot. Another thing Altra has done with this upper is they’ve added a little bit of thickness to the tongue to make it a little bit more comfortable.
They’ve also added this new Dri-Lex Dri-Freeze material. That Dri-Lex upper is actually going to cool your foot down as you sweat in the Escalante.
So, the upper has a lovely wide toe box, which is really quite apparent when you first put the shoe on. It’s got loads of room for your toes to move around, which is something that’s quite lacking in running shoes of recent time.
When you’re running, your toes splay out and it just feels a little bit more stable. If you’ve got a wider foot and your toes are always squeezed together, this is going to be ideal for you.
When you cinch up the laces on the Escalante, you’re certainly going to get a glove-like fit. The fit is very flexible and the shoe offers great lockdown.
You’ve got this really intriguing foot-shape outsole and traction is very good on paths and roads. Altra actually has decoupled the outsole more with InnerFlex technology to make it a little bit more flexible and durable as well.
To be honest, I think the Escalante is smashing value. I think you can even get away with wearing these just casually, and if you fancy bursting into a run at some point, it’ll be ready to rock.
All in all, if you don’t like the way some brands invest more on aesthetic design rather than performance, the Altra Escalante is just the bare bones. This is perhaps the Telecaster of running shoes.
It feels like you’re doing the running rather than the shoe, which is probably going to open up a few doors and opportunities for runners to improve their running form, fitness, and just generally enjoy running.
Asics Meta Racer
Neutral Pronation 〉 W: 6.2 oz 〉 M: 7.3 oz 〉 Drop: 9mm 〉 Stack Height: Heel: 24 mm 〉 Forefoot: 15 mm 〉 Road 〉 True to size
In the midst of the carbon plate hype, Asics has brought out their take on what the elite distance road racing shoe should be. The goal of the Meta Racer is to be as light and as minimal as possible while still being comfortable.
Why the Meta Racer is good for you
I can use the Metaracer from anywhere from a road 5k to a half marathon. I just don’t know if I would be taking this amount of stack height to the marathon distance. On the elite end, though, I can see some go up to a marathon.
It’s also going to be great for someone who loves ground contact feel and someone who prefers lower stack heights because you don’t want to feel wobbling out in your racing.
- Secure and breathable single-layer mesh upper.
- Bouncy full-length FlyteFoam midsole.
- Bottom-loaded carbon plate provides springy toe-off.
- Lightweight rubber outsole with added traction.
- Smooth and fast ride.
- Lower stack height gives the shoe a bit more of a stable controlled feel.
The only negative I have is that this shoe may not be enough cushioning for that average elite jogger to go the entire 26.2 miles. Now, the half marathon and down would be the sweet spot of the Meta Racer.
Also, it’s very expensive.
We have a full-length use of Asics’ FlyteFoam foam technology. Some FlyteFoams are firmer like in the Asics Evo Ride and then some softer like in the Glide Ride. The FlyteFoam in the Meta Racer sits somewhere in between but maybe a bit more on the bouncier end.
Asics say FlyteFoam is eco-friendly foam. But as far as the feeling, it feels similar to what FuelCell feels like for New Balance.
The real story is the carbon fiber plate. Under the FlyteFoam, you have the actual bottom-loaded carbon plate. Typically, with high stack height carbon plated shoes, the plate needs to be sandwiched between either the midsole or above the midsole to make the carbon plate more useful.
But the stack height of the Meta Racer is nowhere close to what the other brands are doing, which made it possible to have the plate bottom-loaded and still provide a springy toe-off when getting into your stride.
The upper is heavily weight-reduced, it’s exceptionally lighter, and it’s as transparent as an upper can be with no unnecessary padding anywhere.
We have a single-layer mesh upper that is the definition of breathable. There is ventilation throughout the entire toebox and around the side of the shoe including the flat racer-style tongue and some areas of the heel cup. Even the toe cap has a hole in it so that more air can get through.
This may not seem like a big deal for some, but overheating feet for a longer duration run is never fun. So, we appreciate the thought that Asics gave us because summertime will be here before you know it.
The mesh keeps a pretty secure fit. The Metaracer seems snug towards the top of the feet, but it ends up being completely fine when running. The toe box is surprisingly roomy for something that’s intended to be a racer.
While the mesh is accommodating, the heel of the shoe is more structured and maintains a good lockdown. It’s not too stiff or invasive and not too sloppy with the heel slipping around too much.
There’s just a tad of internal padding around the top of the ankle collar and around the heel. The padding is nice to have and doesn’t seem to add much weight.
From all the uppers that I’ve tried in carbon plated shoes, the Meta Racer is the best overall, or at least so far. It’s light, minimal, effective, and super breathable.
So, as far as I’m concerned, the upper is a solid A+.
The outsole is absolutely stunning and the wavy pattern just screams fluidity and motion. It looks like there’s a lot of rubber and it is and I think Asics are trying to keep the carbon plate in place.
When you see how much rubber the shoe has, you might think this is going to add a bunch of unnecessary weight, but once you have it on foot, it feels much lighter than expected.
Many carbon plate shoes have very little rubber on the outsole to keep the shoe light, but in this case, you got a lightweight shoe with added traction and that’s why Asics call this a Grip outsole. As far as on the road, granite, and track, it does just that. It’s better on road than dirt and gravel. The Meta Racer is built for the road and I think it performs best on that.
So, traction is really great on roads and for 5ks, I think this is really going to be a winner in terms of wetter conditions.
All in all…
The overall ride is smooth and fast and the lower stack height gives the shoe a bit more of a stable controlled feel. The Metaracer goes as fast as you go without holding you back and the cushioning is enough to where you don’t feel beat after a longer or faster effort.
The lower stack height really helps the shoe feel a bit more engaged. I am very aware of shoes like the Vapor Fly and the Alpha Fly that are leading the way of carbon plate shoes, but for some, the amount of squish you get in those shoes can be a bit much for 5ks at times.
Asics Gel Kayano 28
Stability Pronation 〉 W: 9.3 oz 〉 M: 10.8 oz 〉 Drop: 10mm 〉 Stack Height: Heel: 23 mm 〉 Forefoot: 13 mm 〉 Road 〉 Runs large
The Kayano started in 1993 and built up an extremely loyal fanbase for people who are looking for a premium stability running shoe.
As one of the best Asics running shoes for 5k, the Kayano is still a very comfortable stability shoe to run in. So while Asics are trying to bring the Kayano to the modern running age, the shoe still maintains that classic stability experience that people have been coming to this shoe for time and time again.
Now with the Kayano Lite in the markets, what’s the difference between the regular Kayano and the Kayano Lite? The regular Kayano packs more technology to provide a better stable experience. The Kayano Lite is just one block of foam that has some cool shapes to provide stability.
In short, if you want to fully maximize your stability, go with the regular Kayano. Or, if you want something that’s a little bit lighter and a little bit more nimble that feels a little like a neutral shoe that does have some added stability, the Kayano Lite might be for you.
Why the Kayano is good for you
I would say the Kayano 28 is obviously for the overpronating runner that needs some stability and looking for a shoe to provide more support but also wants the comfort and the cushioning the Kayano 28 will provide.
Of course, with that new FlyteFoam Blast midsole foam, you’re also getting the bounce and a bit more oomph to the shoe and responsiveness as well.
If you’re someone that has run in the Kayano before and you’ve loved running in Kayanos, I don’t think you’re going to be disappointed with the 28.
So, if you want to just buy one shoe and just use it day in and day out, the Kayano 28 definitely checks all the boxes.
M. Mcconnell ran a great 5k the first time he wore the Kayano. Read his review on Amazon.
- Comfortable ride.
- The heel counter, lacing system, and upper all work together to give you a comfortable ride and solid lockdown.
- Really durable with a ton of AHAR+ rubber on the outsole.
- FlyteFoam Blast, Gel, and 3D Space Construction provide a stable ride without jolting your foot into the correct position.
- Bouncier and more responsive than the Kayano 27.
- Women’s version is a little bit softer than the men’s.
The upper is not very breathable for summertime, but it’s nice and cozy in the wintertime. And if you want a true max stability experience, the FlyteFoam Blast in the forefoot might be a little soft and mushy for you.
Because the Kayano is a stability shoe, let’s dive more into the stability elements of the shoe…
Instead of that classic medial posting, you’ve got this dual-density Dynamic DuoMax foam on the medial side to prevent overpronation. When you run and land, this foam is going to limit the amount that your foot is turning inwards.
You’ve got the Trusstic System which is a plastic piece that keeps the shoe from twisting even though the 28 features less plastic than the 27.
In addition to the dual-density cushioning, you also have something called 3D Space Construction. What that means is that there’s geometric shapes that are designed to collapse in a certain way within the midsole that guide your foot in a natural and stable manner. This is the same technology that was featured on the Kayano Lite.
Asics did a lot of updates here. They replaced the old FlyteFoam Propel with the new FlyteFoam Blast which originally debuted in the Asics Novablast. On the Kayano, you’ve got a huge chunk of FlyteFoam Blast in the forefoot and a small sliver as it goes towards the heel area. This means the Kayano is now more energetic, more cushiony, and bouncier as you go through your stride compared to the Kayano 27.
Because it’s the Gel Kayano, you do get quite a bit of Gel in the heel and a circle right underneath your forefoot for more shock absorption when you’re landing.
So the midsole is still really comfortable and really cushioned, but you’re getting some really good bounce and responsiveness to it.
The Kayano 28 is 23mm in the heel and 13mm in the forefoot for men and the women’s version is 25mm in the heel and 12mm in the forefoot.
The women’s version still features the women’s specific cushioning and so it’s going to be a little bit softer on their foot. The men’s version still offers the standard Asics 10mm drop while the women’s has a 13mm drop to offer that little bit extra support for the Achilles.
Overall, the Kayano is one of the best stability running shoes for 5k.
The Kayano 28 still has that dual-layered engineered mesh upper with some plastic overlays as you get near the laces area for added durability. The upper is really comfortable, fairly breathable, and pretty easy to move around.
The heel counter has been completely redesigned. Instead of that large piece of plastic directly on the back of the heel, the Kayano 28 has a low-profile plastic heel counter. On the inside, you do get quite a bit of padding, especially at the Achilles area to keep you nice and comfortable.
On the medial side, they continued with some internal taping to really hug and support your foot as it goes through motion. They’ve even taken the tiger stripes away from the medial side of the shoe.
Just like a lot of Asics shoes, the Kayano 28 has the hard-wearing AHAR+ (Asics High Abrasion Rubber+) on the heel area to really allow for a durable heel strike. Asics have reduced the depth of the rubber a little bit, which explains the slight reduction in weight in the Kayano 28.
As an important side note, the Kayano 28 is actually a thinner shoe compared to Kayano 27 and the Kayano Lite. I don’t think this affects the upper at all because the inside doesn’t feel narrower or loner. It’s just that you’re landing on a more narrower base than you had in the 27.
Saucony Kinvara 12
Neutral Pronation 〉 W: 6.3 oz 〉 M: 7.5 oz 〉 Drop: 4mm 〉 Stack Height: Heel: 28.5 mm 〉 Forefoot: 24.5 mm 〉 Road 〉 True to size
The Kinvara series has been around for years and it’s truly become a classic in the running shoe world. It is back with a few tweaks and Saucony seems to be changing up their shoes a lot in their updates, including the Kinvara.
Why the Kinvara is good for you
The Kinvara is one of the best running shoes for 5k training.
It’s simple, it’s lightweight, it has everything you need for a wide variety of running needs from daily training to 5ks to tempo runs. It can even work as a session shoe if you want or even a race-day shoe for someone who wants that little bit of cushioning.
The Kinvara 12 has got that almost Saucony Endorphin-like treatment, but it is going to continue to maintain that Kinvara philosophy and feel that loyalists are going to enjoy.
Overall, if you don’t want to go into a carbon shoe or maybe you want to keep the price down, I think the Kinvara is in a nice sweet spot with the cushioning and the responsiveness.
AnonD uses the Kinvara for 5ks, track repeats, 15k, and half marathons. Read his review on Amazon.
- Really lightweight, comfortable, and breathable mesh upper.
- Upper is secure but still allows for a bit of stretch near the toe box.
- Really nice combination of PWRRUN midsole and PWRRUN+ topsole.
- Really smooth and poppy through the transition and toe-off.
- Strategic rubber in the heel and forefoot with lots of exposed material throughout the midfoot.
- Non-durable outsole (250 to 300 miles)
The Kinvara feels very much what you would expect in a Kinvara. It’s simple, it’s got the full-length PWRRUN midsole with that PWRRUN+ topsole. It is really smooth and poppy through the transition and to toe-off when you’re trying to pick up the pace in the Kinvara.
It’s got a little bit of bounce and it’s fairly light. However, I’d say if you’re looking for something a little bit more responsive, you might want to go with a shoe like the Saucony Freedom 4 which features that PWRRUN PB midsole. But for the Kinvara, it’s very in line with what you would expect.
The midsole is a little bit on the firmer side. Definitely, some of the earlier versions were a little bit softer, but I don’t think it is too jarring and it actually feels even a little bit smoother as you are going through your gait.
I think some of the small features like the split heel and flex grooves are really going to help create that smooth ride really at any pace.
The Kinvara 12 continues to maintain that simple philosophy. The upper is still lightweight, it’s a nice breathable mesh, it’s really comfortable on foot, and it gives you a nice midfoot lockdown. This mesh is similar to what we have in the latest update in the Saucony Triumph.
It’s not a super tight race upper so it has a little bit of room in the forefoot without being too roomy. Typically, the feel of the upper won’t change too much from year to year, but this Kinvara does feel different in one way – the padding.
Saucony seems to have added just a bit more padding around the heel cup and to the tongue. This update might seem to make the shoe feel stuffy, but you won’t be bothered by it because Saucony didn’t actually go overboard.
The feeling of the upper leans more towards how a traditional type trainer would feel. The heel cup is sturdy, the laces stay locked down, and the fit of the upper is secure but still allows for a bit of stretch near the toe box.
It is going to be a little bit on the narrower side because it has that performance fit, but really with only small changes in the overlays, it is going to continue to be that simple Kinvara experience that you’ve come to know year after year.
We talked about the change in the flex grooves and we’re also going to continue to see that strategic rubber in the heel and the forefoot and then again lots of exposed material throughout the midfoot.
I feel like durability is never going to be a strength with the Kinvara. You would expect to get about 250 to 300 miles out of the Kinvara 12, which is the norm for the Kinvara line.
You get a little bit of traction and everything you need for the roads. However, when things get a little wetter, you might get not quite as good traction as some of the other shoes.
Overall, while it’s not maybe the most exciting shoe currently in the line with these fancy plated shoes and highly responsive performance trainers, the Kinvara continues to be a very simple shoe that can do a lot of things very well. At this price point, there’s very few shoes on the market that deliver as much value as the Kinvara.
Read the full review of the Kinvara 11.
New Balance FuelCell Rebel v3
Neutral Pronation 〉 W: 5.8 oz 〉 M: 7.4 oz 〉 Drop: 6mm 〉 Stack Height: Heel: 26 mm 〉 Forefoot: 20 mm 〉 Road 〉 Run small
As one of the best 5k racing shoes, the Rebel v3 keeps a lot of what made the v2 fun and even improves upon the platform while maintaining its lightweight springy goodness. I can already envisage this taking over the Hoka One One Mach 4 in my daily trainer lineup.
Why the Rebel is good for you
The Rebel v3 is built for short fast or race scenarios while now being a solid choice for medium-length runs as well. It truly has become an all-day everyday trainer. So while this is more of your speed-day shoe, I did find the Rebel v3 surprisingly capable at easy runs.
So for me, it’s also going to get a lot of daily use as well and I’m going to use it in a wide variety of applications. In terms of using the Rebel as a daily trainer, I think it would be ideally suited for your regular easy runs and medium-length runs. I’m not sure this is something I want to take for the longest runs of my marathon training block.
So, from workout day to day training and even race day, people are going to really enjoy wearing the FuelCell Rebel v3.
Thomas says the Rebel is great for 5k training. Read his review on Amazon.
- See-through super-thin breathable upper.
- Great comfort and lockdown.
- Paper-thin tongue slightly sits offset so it wraps nicely around the top of your ankle.
- Has 2mm more cushion than the v2.
- Super-soft full-length FuelCell midsole is very responsive, very soft, and just provides an amazing pop at toe-off.
- Ndurance rubber on the outsole.
- Wider net base than the v2.
- Stiffens in cold temperatures
Probably the most important part about this shoe is going to be the price point. I don’t think there’s another shoe on the market that delivers this much performance, this much responsiveness, this amazing of a foam at this great of a price point.
The good news is the FuelCell Propel v3 still has that extremely responsive FuelCell foam that gives the shoe its magic feel.
The Rebel 3 has got full-length FuelCell cushioning and this is going to be the same compound we saw in the Rebel v2 and in the RC Elite v2. So, this is that autoclaved processed midsole which is very responsive, very soft, and just provides an amazing pop at toe-off.
The Rebel v3 is about 2 millimeters higher than the Rebel v2, which means it’s potentially a little bit more cushiony underfoot. However, it doesn’t feel too much more cushioned and it still feels very nimble and just that perfect blend of cushioning no matter the distance.
The bigger change with this is going to be the slightly more democratic feel that we’re going to see with the FuelCell Rebel v3. The net bases have been widened out just a little bit more and so it should be a little bit more inherently stable.
The Rebel 3 is going to continue to offer a very thin and lightweight experience. In the forefoot and then moving into the midfoot, we’re going to see these large breathable holes that are just going to create a very breathable on-foot experience.
The Rebel offers a fairly narrow performance fit in the heel and into the midfoot, and then as you get into the forefoot, it opens up just a little bit more. I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a roomy forefoot, but it offers just the right amount for a fast-performance trainer.
The material is also going to continue to be extremely thin and very lightweight and it’s what helps round this shoe together and helps keep it in that 7.4 oz range.
There’s some strategic rubber in the forefoot and in the heel, which is going to offer all the traction and durability you need for those miles. Just like the Rebel 2, the v3 has plenty of exposed midsole in the midfoot to continue to help keep that weight at a minimum.
Overall, the Rebel v3 is going to continue to be that fast performance shoe, but those slightly wider bases are just going to make the shoe a little bit more accessible to an even wider range of runners and make it an even more versatile shoe for any day of the week.
It is going to take a lot of those key characteristics that people loved in version 2 and further elevate them to be an even more versatile performance trainer. So, I think the FuelCell Rebel v3 should be a part of any serious runner’s daily training lineup.
New Balance FuelCell Propel v3
Neutral Pronation 〉 W: 7.7 oz 〉 M: 8.9 oz 〉 Drop: 6mm 〉 Stack Height: Heel: 30 mm 〉 Forefoot: 24 mm 〉 Road 〉 True to size
The FuelCell Propel came out in 2020 and it was that faster slightly more versatile and really value-oriented performance trainer. It was just a fun shoe to run in.
Why the Propel is good for you
First off, the Propel v3 is a great price. It is a close cousin with more cushion and no forefoot plate to the Fuelcell Rebel. It’s really amazing if you’re a midfoot to forefoot striker. The Propel v3 is great for 5ks, 10ks, and all the way up to a half marathon to get your new PR because it’s light and fast.
The Propel v3 is great for easy days and everyday training. You could also take it out on a middle distance or long run. It might be a little more challenging for a tempo day because it’s a little heavy and just not incredibly responsive for that.
Again, the Fuelcell Propel v3 is a comfort-oriented shoe and it’s not a performance racer like you might have with the Fuelcell Rebel.
Chris runs 5x 5ks a week in the Propel. Read his review on Amazon.
- Related: Best Running Shoes for 10k Races
- FuelCell midsole is extremely soft, comfortable, and cushioned, and has a noticeable rebound.
- Crystalized well-decoupled rubber outsole provides enough durability.
- Very flexible and more stable than the Propel v2.
- Has a wedge in the lateral side to provide extra traction when you’re rounding your corners.
- Light and comfortable synthetic mesh upper with a bootie construction and a wide toe box.
- Stitched-in Trace Fiber technology to provide midfoot and heel support.
- Comes at a price that’s hard to beat.
- Collar rubs ankle because of the shoe’s high Achilles.
Midsole & Outsole
The midsole has the same FuelCell foam as the previous versions. It is extremely comfortable and really soft and has a very noticeable rebound and tons of cushioning to handle your daily training while also having a close enough feel to the ground to pick up the pace. The midsole actually deflates and kind of pumps you back forward.
It’s also interesting to note how wide the heel platform is, which allows this very soft midsole to actually be very stable.
The outsole is crystalized rubber in the forefoot and then a little bit in the heel. So the outsole does not have a ton of rubber and I think the rubber placement is on the right areas to provide enough durability to just keep getting the miles in day in and day out.
This also allows the quite full coverage really well-decoupled outsole to be very stable as well and also to move along really fast and smooth. The Fuelcell Propel is a very flexible shoe and maybe a bit too flexible for some. However, it’s a very comfortable ride.
On the lateral side of the midsole, there’s a wedge, which is the other big story about the Fuelcell. Most shoes people run in do not have such a feature and most runners just feel curious about it.
But what is it good for?
Simply, when you’re rounding your corners going quickly, you’ll be really glad that you have this wedge. This feature is there to provide extra traction and durability on the lateral side of the outsole.
FuelCell vs Other Foams
Fuelcell is much more exciting than Nike’s React foam and it kind of has a lot more bounce than the Epic React. It is actually quite close in feel to Nike ZoomX. However, it’s not quite as sprightly or springy but definitely approaches it. I would say the Fuelcell is softer than Skechers Hyper Burst foam which has kind of a springy but denser feel to it as well. Compared to other New Balance foams such as Fresh Foam, Fuelcell is much more forgiving and exciting.
The Propel has a new synthetic mesh upper that has a bootie construction and a wide toe box with absolutely no overlays. The upper is light, comfortable, and it looks great. I feel like it adds even more value to an already great price shoe.
The upper is very neat and amazingly simple with what New Balance calls Trace Fiber. These are stitched-in support designed to provide midfoot and heel support.
A lot of shoes only have the knit construction by the ankle and call it a bootie construction. The Fuelcell, though, really goes all-in with the bootie construction and you have an upper that really hugs on your ankles just like a sock would, but it’s not tight or uncomfortable.
The eyelets are completely woven into the upper so you can still pull tight but you still have that really lightweightness up top.
Adidas Adizero Adios 6
Neutral Pronation 〉 W: 7.8 oz 〉 M: 8.6 oz 〉 Drop: 8mm 〉 Stack Height: Heel: 32 mm 〉 Forefoot: 24 mm 〉 Road 〉 True to size
The Adidas Adios 6 is one of the best running shoes for 5k and 10k. While it looks to continue on the Adios legacy, the shoe has some very similar features but we’ve got that new age foam that’s just going to provide a little bit more pop to your step.
Why the Adios is good for you
You can use the Adios for 5k to 10k, and then we’ve seen record attempts all the way up to the marathon. The Adios 6 isn’t meant to be all of your runs. It’s for racing, it’s for your fast tempo runs, it’s for your faster brick runs…
LightStrike is a foam that feels kind of firm at lower speeds. However, once you really start to hit and push off on the ground a little bit harder, it loosens up a little bit and it gives all that force back to you as you’re picking your foot up off the ground for the next stride.
- LightStrike and LightSrike Pro midsole is ultra-responsive, and light.
- Torsion system prevents twisting, gets loaded, and then snaps back.
- Thick and dense Continental rubber does a fantastic job in terms of grip.
- A lot of exposed rubber and cutaways help cut down on weight.
- Lightweight and well-ventilated Prime Green mesh upper.
- Upper and tongue are comfortable on top of your foot.
- Thick outsole might collect tiny pebbles.
- Cinching down the laces might cause pressure on the top of the foot because of the thin tongue.
We’ve got a fairly low-to-the-ground design and we’ve got two foam compounds. In the heel and then moving up slightly into the forefoot, we’ve got a LightStrike foam which is going to be light and responsive.
Then, up in the forefoot at that top layer, we’ve got the ultra-responsive LightStrike Pro. This is Adidas’ lightest and most bouncy midsole compound. We’ve seen it in the Adios Pro 2 and now it’s featured partly in the Adios 6. LightStrike Pro is like this puck of premium foam material toward the forefoot where you’re going to be landing on some of your faster runs.
Actually, LightStrike reminds me a lot of DNA Flash in the Brooks Hyperion Tempo.
There’s also a torsion system. Initially, the Adidas’ torsion system was something that was just meant to prevent the shoe from twisting around too much. However, it’s evolved over time. While it still serves that function, it also has a little bit of propulsive effect where it can get loaded and then snap back as you’re taking off for your next stride.
The Adios 6 has Continental rubber in the heel and the forefoot and then of course the torsion unit that the Adios is known for in the midfoot. This is going to provide a little bit of rigidity.
Continental rubber is doing a fantastic job in terms of grip. Compared to the Adidas Prime X and the Boston 10, the rubber on the Adios 6 seems to be very thick and it also seems to be very dense. There’s still quite a bit of exposed foam and there’s lots of cutaways to help cut down on weight.
So, making such a lightweight shoe while still having a ton of thick rubber, good job Adidas. This outsole is fast on the road and it’s also decent for trails.
On the upper, there’s a simple layer of Prime Green mesh which is this very ventilated mesh that is very strong. There’s a couple of suede overlays over the toes and some underlays as well that provide some additional structural support. This mesh design actually reminds me a lot of past versions of the Adios. The upper has got some suede overlays in the forefoot and heel.
The tongue is very thin and has a couple of strategic little pads on the top just to prevent the lacing system from putting too much pressure on the top of your foot.
The fit is really good and strikes that balance between having enough room that your toes don’t feel crunched but also feeling snug and locked down enough for your workouts.
In conclusion, the Adios series is that tried-and-true Adidas racer. Many of you probably know this, but in case you don’t, over the last 6 to 7 years, the Adios lineup has been at the top of the leaderboard for a lot of the major marathons as far as the elite competition.
The Adios definitely reminds us of the Boston 9, but it’s different than a lot of the Adios shoes of the past. The Adios 6 is definitely taller than previous Adios shoes and that’s a change that I can certainly appreciate. Overall, with version 6, we’re going to see that same traditional design but in a little bit more of a new age package.
Skechers Razor Elite
Neutral Pronation 〉 W: 5.4 oz 〉 M: 5.4 oz 〉 Drop: 4 mm 〉 Stack Height: Heel: 28 mm 〉 Forefoot: 24 mm 〉 Road 〉 True to size
This is a shoe I’ve been extremely excited about because it takes philosophies from two of my favorites, the more versatile Razor 3 and the Elite carbon plated racer the Speed Elite. Mash these together and what we have is the final version, the Razor Elite.
Why the Razor Elite is good for you
The Razor Elite is great for threshold days (faster than tempo days) and track workouts where you don’t want to pull out spikes. And if you want to use this shoe for racing, we’re going to go 5k, 10k, and maybe half marathon.
At 5.4 oz, this is one of the lightest running shoes for 5k and 10k on the Skechers line. It does come in lighter than two of their racing options, the Speed Elite and the GoMeb Speed 6.
So, while I will use this mostly for workouts, I think it’s going to be a great option for race day just because of how ultra-lightweight this shoe is.
- Unbelievably light (5.4 oz)
- Hyper Burst midsole provides a soft ride, energy-return, responsiveness, and tons of bounce.
- Carbon plate offers more torsional rigidity but doesn’t feel intrusive or stiff.
- Goodyear rubber outsole is grippy and helps you stay surefooted on wet pavement.
- Paper-thin mesh upper is very breathable and pretty snug (race-shoe lockdown)
- Outsole is not very durable.
- Not for marathons.
We’ve got a high level of Hyper Burst cushioning and it’s actually the same tooling we see in the Razor 3. The midsole is a versatile design which is very highly responsive and can really be used for a wide variety of training needs.
In the forefoot, you’ve got a carbon-infused forefoot plate. It is similar to what we see in the Speed Elite, but it doesn’t have that exposed winglet design.
This midsole is going to be a little bit different, but it offers a little bit more torsional rigidity up in the forefoot. You’re going to notice a little bit of rigidity and a little bit of aggressiveness, but you don’t notice that plate too much.
The Razor Elite is all about keeping weight at a minimum and you see that with the outsole. We’ve got a very similar design to past versions of the Razor. The outsole has very thin very lightweight Goodyear rubber which adds a little bit of durability and a little bit of traction.
The outsole does have some exposed midfoot foam to help keep weight down. So the Razor Elite is not going to be quite as durable, but again, it’s a more elite performance training option.
We’ve got an ultra-lightweight upper which is nearly identical to what we see in the Speed Elite. It’s very thin and very breathable. When you get it on foot, it’s pretty snug and provides that race-day feel.
With the Razor 3, I felt like the shoe was a little bit snug, the Razor+ was a little bit more adaptable, and now the Razor Elite is a truly more race-day experience that is going to keep your foot locked in.
Of course, the heel counter is pretty much nothing and it collapses in. It’s very light and very thin and it is going to help keep this shoe ultra-lightweight.
The Razor Elite just feels faster, lighter, and it feels more ready to pick up the pace. It has the elements of the Speed Elite, has that rigidity, and has the ultra-thin locked-in upper. Again, at 5.4 oz, it’s right up there with a lot of the racing competition but even has more stack height.
So, for 5ks, 10ks, and maybe half marathon, this is going to be a great racing option. It’s lightweight, it’s responsive, and it really offers an even more performance-oriented version of the fan-favorite Razor. At the end of the day, the Skechers Razor Elite is really going to bring the entire Skechers performance line together.
Adidas Takumi Sen 8
Neutral Pronation 〉 W: 6.8 oz 〉 M: 6.8 oz 〉 Drop: 6mm 〉 Stack Height: Heel: 33 mm 〉 Forefoot: 27 mm 〉 Road 〉 True to size
In 2022, it seems like 5k/10k super shoes are going to be the norm, and the first company to release theirs is Adidas. The Takumi almost seems like the Adios Pro 2 got hit with a shrink ray.
The Takumi Sen is back and it’s been revamped from top to bottom. We’re seeing carbon fiber plates, we’re seeing maxed-out stack heights, but now with the Takumi Sen, we’ve got a very unique option that’s going to offer that super foam design.
Why the Takumi Sen is good for you
The Takumi Sen 8 has got some of those plate features that offer those efficiency benefits but in a little bit more stripped-down package. It is going to be one of the best running shoes for 5k and 10k potentially up to the half marathon.
It works quite nicely for longer intervals and fartlek sessions and you may even still be happy with it during the rests between your reps. I wouldn’t necessarily go for an easy jog or an endurance run because there are better shoes for that.
Coming in at 6.8 oz, the Takumi Sen is a nice step down from the Adios Pro 2. It’s a little bit lighter, a little bit more aggressive, and it’s one of the short-distance running shoes.
- Same LightStrike midsole on the Adios Pro 2.
- Lighter, more nimble, more flexible, and a little bit more geared to those faster races than the Adios Pro.
- Energy rods technology delivers stiff torsional rigidity, but it’s more natural and a little bit more adaptive.
- Continental rubber on the outsole and tacky material on the lateral side.
- Mesh upper is extremely light, extremely breathable, and extremely thin.
- The Takumi Sen 8 is going to confuse many runners who are familiar with the previous models.
The midsole has got a full-length LightStrike Pro foam material that runs from the forefoot to the heel. This is the same compound we see in the Adios Pro 2, but it’s going to be stripped down a little bit more.
We’ve got 33 millimeters in the heel and 27 millimeters in the forefoot for a 6-millimeter heel-toe-drop. This is going to be about 7 millimeters lower than the max stack Adios Pro 2. This means the Takumi Sen 8 is just a little bit lighter, more nimble, more flexible, and a little bit more geared to those faster races.
The first thing you’re going to see on the outsole is that energy rod plate kind of peeking out. We saw the energy rod in the Adios Pro 2 and it’s designed to deliver that stiff torsional rigidity. But as opposed to a standard carbon fiber plate, it’s going to be just a little bit more natural and a little bit more adaptive. Adidas use the energy rod setup and it seems to be working really well for the athletes.
The outsole features that Continental rubber up in the forefoot and a little bit on the medial side. Then as you move over the lateral side, you’re going to see that tacky outsole material kind of go down through the midfoot into the heel. This tacky material is what we saw in the Adios Pro 2 and it’s going to be a little bit lighter weight than the Continental rubber, but it is going to come at the expense of maybe not being quite as durable.
The Takumi Sen 8 has that seller mesh 2.0 design. We keep seeing it in the Adizero product and there’s a good reason for it. It’s extremely light, extremely breathable, and extremely thin. This might be the thinnest material on the market and it really is built for race day.
The upper has a nice lockdown in the midfoot, but this shoe is very minimal in the heel. There’s pretty much no heel counter because this is built to be as light as possible.
Now, where does the Takumi Sen 8 fit in a racer’s lineup?
With the Takumi Sen, you get a lot of the benefits of super shoes on the market specifically the Adios Pro 2. However, the Takumi is stripped-down, it’s lighter, it’s more aggressive, and it really is built for the 5k and 10k, which is the distances that I tend to do the most.
Moving into 2022, we may see more shoes in the super shoe department that are a little bit more stripped down and a bit more geared towards those shorter distances, but now, this is going to be the only shoe on the market and I think it’s safe to say that this is going to be the best 5k/10k shoe.
Where to buy these 5k running shoes
How To Run A Fast 5k
While it’s fun to race, turning up to a 5K every week isn’t really going to get you that super fast time you’re after. You might see improvements, to begin with, but after a while, your times may plateau.
So the best way to improve your time is by including some specific sessions aimed at improving your speed and threshold levels. I would generally recommend doing a speed and tempo run per week.
A speed session is as it says really. It’s a session designed at improving your running pace. You want to do this on a flat and smooth course which does lend itself to an athletic track, but a smooth trail will do just as well. For this speed session, I recommend you do 8 lots of 1-minute hard above your 5K pace with a 1-minute walking recovery between each.
They’re designed with short reps so that you can get the best speed out of yourself. As you progress, you can increase the duration and the number of reps. The next step would be something like 6 lots of 2 minutes with 1-minute recovery.
I’m fairly sure you have experienced that when you get that surge of lactic acid, it can be pretty hard. When you’re pushing yourself to the limit and your muscles become overwhelmed with lactic acid, it just begins to slow you down.
So the idea of the tempo run is to bump up the point at which you start to produce that lactic acid. Hopefully, you won’t get that burning leg feeling quite as quickly.
Let’s take an example. For a runner whose 5K pace is 3.40 per kilometer, we can calculate that their tempo pace should be somewhere around 4 minutes a kilometer – that’s around 10% of his/her 5K pace.
For this session, you can do 2 lots of 3 kilometers at tempo with a 3-minute walking recovery between each rep.
You can track your pace with a watch like the Garmin GPS watch. For those that don’t have a GPS watch, you can always run by feel and I would recommend something around 7 out of 10. This should feel hard, struggle to breathe, but manageable. So if someone added 1 kilometer at the end of the rep, you could do it.
- Try not to set a new PR at your local 5k every week.
- Start doing a tempo session and a speed session variation.
- You need to look at your running technique.
- Your pacing can make a big difference to your overall 5K time.
So there you have it, these were some of the best running shoes for 5k. If you have run a 5k and swear by your shoes, please share your experience in the comments section below.