Not all shoes are made equal. But we all love a little bit of cushioning while running. While you’re running, you are likely to place pressure about twice your body weight on your legs. To reduce this stress, a good cushioned pair of shoes can help. However, extra cushioning can be detrimental to joint health, because it reduces the sensation of the impact (and not the impact itself).
Now, cushioning is not for everybody. For example, minimalist or barefoot runners maintain that, over time, they generally learn to move in a way that is less jarring on their limbs. The best way to understand if cushioning works for you is to try out a pair of shoes and see how it feels for you. To make that easier, here is a list of four cushioned shoes that you can choose from, depending on your budget.
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Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38: One pair of shoes for everything
If you want cushioning with enough comfort for long runs, then look no further than the Pegasus 38 from Nike. This shoe is meant to be an all-rounder, especially if you don’t plan on buying multiple pairs for your different training formats (Beginners, this one is for you). The Pegasus 38 features a very slight upgrade on the Pegasus 37 by way of a wider toe box. You can customise it further, by changing the fit of the shoes adjusting arch height, traction material, laces, methods of entry with a traditional or FlyEase option, all with a little extra price.
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The uppers aren’t super airy, so while the shoes are perfect for running during the autumn and winter months, they may feel hot during peak summer months. Nike’s Zoom air technology gives an extra bounce for your runs (making them quite a good choice for your tempo runs). If you turn the shoes around, you will notice tiny lugs on the underside—these signature Pegasus waffle lugs help with traction, even as you run on trails or roads. My well- worn pair have withstood both with flair, but I did that feel wet roads are a little tricky to maneuver in these.
The Pegasus 38 has a cushioned tongue which is also attached to an inner sleeve, preventing a tongue slide. A fully-gusseted tongue means your foot stays locked in even as you clock in the miles with pressure distributed evenly across the foot. I even tried it for a few CrossFit-style workouts and they worked pretty well as long as I wasn’t trying to lift heavy weights. All things considered, these are good shoes that are designed to last long, while coming in at a comfortable price point.
₹9,995; available at nike.com/in
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adidas adizero adios pro 2.0: Shoes for race day magic
The last pair of adidas shoes I wore was remarkably heavy. And when I had mentioned it to the brand, they said I should just wait for a month for a big surprise. And so, enter the adios adizero pro 2. Feather light and comfortable, these are some of the best racing shoes I have worn. The first day I went out in them, I felt a bit unsteady on my feet while walking. But this vanished as soon as I started my run, throughout which I felt faster and more in control. The reason for the instability is the heel bevel on the lateral side (a cutaway section of the foam in the midsole).
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I was puzzled by this, so I asked adidas about it. “The purpose of this is to stabilise a foot through overpronation. More foam on the medial side protects against overpronation and helps stabilise the foot through the gait cycle and flowing more securely through toe-off. So, while walking it feels unstable, while running at a faster cadence it feels significantly more stable,” explained Nick Roche, the global product manager-Running FTW, adizero at adidas.
The shoes come with a rear-foot plate and (visible) carbon fiber rods for an aggressively fast ride. The uppers have a super thin mesh, making the shoes breathable during extremely fast runs. Would I run in these regularly? No. They are priced at the higher end and designed for race day. So keep these for fast, long runs, and race days only. They’re certainly not meant for trail runs, because I nearly twisted my ankles a few times when I wore them while trail running. These are responsive shoes, but it would be a waste to wear them for anything less than a 10km run. So, unless you like covering long distances at a decent pace, buying them may not be justifiable. But if you do, this is one of the best options out there.
₹21,999; available on adidas.co.in
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Reebok Liquifect 180 3.0: Shoes for eas, daily running
The Reebok Liquifect 180 3.0 looks great with a no-nonsense design. But my experience of wearing them has been a tad bit disappointing. The only reason for it has been the fit. I have come to expect Reebok shoes to be the kind which might not be the fastest, but gives me decent speed and mileage and is comfortable for daily runs. Given this, I found that the Liquifect 3.0’s midfoot segment hugged my foot a bit too snug for my liking. I felt that the tongues were biting into my skin and that kept me distracted during my run. Maybe a thicker sock or a larger size would have solved the problem (tip: try one size larger at the store and try jumping a bit to see if it moves too much).
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That apart, the shoes do the work they’re meant for quite well. They come with full length cushioning that makes them comfortable for all types of foot-strikes. The outsoles, made of a rubber compound, are quite impressive, and can take on the road and trail equally well. There is a slight gel like addition at the heel which helps with shock absorption even more (yay for us heel strikers!).
₹6,599; available at www.shop4reebok.com
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Puma Magnify Nitro SP: Shoes for daily long runs
If your budget is slightly higher, then you should try out the Puma Magnify Nitro SP. The attractive colourway (multi-coloured stripes on the shoes meant to represent runners all over the world) makes them great even as regular lifestyle wear. The shoes have the most cushioning in the entire range of Nitro products (all of which have nitrogen-infused foam to make them more bouncy), so you can trust them to be comfortable for long, easy runs.
The PUMAGRIP technology lets you run on any kind of surface (I tried trail, grass and on road) and in any weather condition. It doesn’t have any extra support for pronators but for anyone with a neutral stance, these are reliable shoe. They’re not super light (at 250-350g, the same as the Reebok Luquifect and the Nike Pegasus) and can feel a bit chunky if you try to run fast in them, but they don’t get heavy or lose breathability after a long run. They have a plush feel, with padding around the collar and heel. Overall, they’re very comfortable, but only as a daily trainer.
₹13,999; available at in.puma.com