My All-Time Favorite Running Shoes 2013

Add in about 5 more pair and it will be pretty accurate

Over the past 40 or so years that I have considered myself to be a runner, it seems that I have always been searching for the mythical “perfect” running shoe.

TheWife thinks I am crazy and that I have a running shoe obsession (fetish) and you know something she might be right.

However, I am ever hopeful of one day finding my “perfect” running shoe – if it actually exists.

You know that running shoe that lets me run faster, farther and keeps me injury free.

Especially since the 1980’s, when running shoes, seemed to really take off.

Like most runners, I have several pairs of running shoes, in closets, hidden under my bureau (dresser), in boxes out in the garage or someplace in both of my vehicles (you never know when you are going to need to suddenly go for a run), besides the 4 pair that I am currently have in my running shoe rotation.

I tend to have a lot of initial and 50 mile running shoe reviews, but not so many 300 or 500 mile reviews. My experience is that far too many running shoes feel great for that first 100 miles and then by the time they get to the 300 mile mark, they either wear out too quickly or have some other quirks that make it so that I choose not to run in them any longer.

Over the years I have spent a small fortune trying to find that mythical and illusive perfect shoe. Although I think that I might have come close a few times, I am still haven’t found THAT perfect running shoe – for me.

Different Shoe Companies

It isn’t like I have been totally loyal to a particular running shoe company either, if a running shoe is out there and appealed to me, I have probably tried it out or will be trying it out, in the near future.

Here are most of the brands that I have tried at one time or another or even multiple times: Adidas, Altra, Avia, Asics, Brooks Running, Converse, Earth Shoe, Etonic, Mizuno, New Balance, Nike, North Face, Pony, Puma, Skaja, Saucony and Teva.

Looking back I haven’t shown much brand loyalty. However, over the past 6 months I have pretty much stuck with 2 brands: Mizuno and Altra, except for a quick trip down memory lane and a deal on a pair of Brooks Pure Flows that I couldn’t resist.

My Favorites

Out of all the shoes that I have run in, which shoes come closest to approaching that mythical perfect running shoe for me?

  1. Blue Adidas Marathon Trainer with the Dellinger Web (3 pair)
  2. Brooks Villanova (1 pair)
  3. Saucony Hurricane 5 (4 pair)
  4. Asics Gel Kayano 11 (4 pair)
  5. Nike Air Presto (3 pair)
  6. Mizuno Elixir 7 (1 pair)
  7. Nike Free 4 v2 (1 pair)
  8. Altra Instinct (2 pair)
  9. Nike Air Pegasus (4 pair) 2 original and 2 more around 2007/2008
  10. Mizuno Ronin 4 (1 pair)

There are several shoes that I am wearing right now that might crack or climb this list before they are done, but none have the go back and have to have them again status yet. The reason that when I could I added in the model number is that sometimes brands get too smart for their own good and screw-up a great running shoe in the name of improving it.

1. Adidas Blue Marathon Trainer w/Dillinger Web


Adidas had one of those near mythical perfect shoes as far as I am concerned – the Adidas Marathon Trainers with the Dillinger Web. They were a low profile, a lightweight shoe with just enough cushioning for me – a lot like today shoes that I would consider light-weight trainers.

One thing that I learned that you had to take out the board last and put a different insert into the shoe to make them more flexible and comfortable, but once I made those modifications, these were my favorite shoes of all time. Yes those running shoes on the cover of Jim Fixx’s “Second Complete Book of Running” are the Adidas Marathon Trainers are the ones that I covet.

I have had three pair of these shoes and each pair lasted well past the 500 mile mark and literally fell apart when I stopped wearing them. I have been looking for another pair for several years and have yet to find a pair and unfortunately probably won’t – they don’t make them anymore.

I did find a pair of reproduction Adidas Marathon Trainers on Eastbay, but they were not the same as the original or least my fond memories of them and I did not like them at all (not even for just walking around).

Who knows maybe I now run differently than I did back in the 80’s and this style of shoe no longer works the same for me? I have a feeling that if these shoes were to come out on the market today, the curved last would be a bit too much for my feet and they wouldn’t attain this position.

2. Brooks Villanova

Screen shot-click on image for site

I bought pair of Brooks Villanova in 1977 and ran in them until 1979. They were a simple, very light and comfortable shoe that I ran up to 5-6 miles in. I do remember that when I got up to the 5 mile mark or so, my right foot tended to fall asleep?  I didn’t stop running in them until my foot came out through the side of one them. I am not sure how many miles they had on them when I finally replaced them, but have a feeling it was probably a lot, since I was living on Cape Cod (Otis and Falmouth) and ran a lot down there.

3. Saucony Hurricane

In the early 2000’s I ran almost exclusively in Saucony Hurricanes and was very happy with them. However, the prices began to creep up and eventually were costing $120 or more for a pair of shoes, which was too much for me at that time and I would have to think twice about even today. What was really nice s that there was a Saucony Factory outlet up in Bangor, that had these shoes a lot more reasonably priced, when that closed, I had to search for a new Shoe to run in.

4. Asics Kayano

Asics were my second pair of running shoes, the old Blue Tigers were a great shoe and I wore them for Cross Country and Track in high school, when I wasn’t wearing spikes.

Screen shot from

I wore the Kayano 11 for almost two years and really loved the shoe. While it is considered a motion control shoe, it felt lighter and more responsive than most of them and I put a ton of miles on this model of shoes (4 of them) over a two year period.

I found a special deal where I was able to pick up 3 pair of them for $50 each (the Kayano 13 was on the shelves), so I have had a total of 4 pair of the Kayano. The shoes changed and I didn’t have access to those great deals and this shoe eventually priced itself out of what I want to pay for a running shoe.

5. Nike Air Presto

I have probably run in more Nike running shoes than any other shoe company. My Nike running shoes include the Waffle Trainers, Yankees, Equators, Shox (2 par), Pegasus (4 pair), Odyssey (gets an Honorable Mention), Nike Sock Racer (yes the Yellow BumbleBee shoe), Air Flo (which I still have and ran in for a while this fall), and Air Presto (3 pair).

Nike Air Presto

The Nike running shoes that were my favorites were the Air Presto model. I really liked the fit and feel of the Air Presto enough so that I purchased 3 pair of them before I couldn’t find them anymore. I liked the no laces design, I have been slowed down more than a couple times from shoe laces untying. I used them for tempo runs, treadmill and track speed workouts.

6. Mizuno Elixir 7

This is the shoe I got free from Mizuno as part of their Mesamashii Project last year. I really loved the shoe, how light it was, the fit and most of all how they felt when I ran in them. The second week I had them I ran a 1:41:12 half marathon in them.

However, they definitely promote a heel landing form of running for me and since I really wanted to stop that style of running and move to a more forefoot landing, I stopped running in them.

I still have them, just in case I decide to give up on changing my form and just want to run. At 282 miles, the shoes look damn near new with hardly any wear on the sole or uppers. Even though I have had only one pair of these shoes, I know that I could put them on and run a marathon in them tomorrow!

I am only going to write about these 6 pair running shoes, in the interests of keeping this post to a reasonable length. The other shoes in my top 10 were/are good shoes, but had certain quirks or characteristics that I just couldn’t get by or don’t have enough miles on them yet to warrant a higher ranking.

The reality is that

I have run in literally hundreds of running shoes and have learned a lot about straight lasts, curved lasts, semi-curved lasts, uppers, insoles, midsoles, outsoles, blown rubber, hard rubber, velcro, laces/no laces, BOA lacing, pronation, supination, flat feet, high arches, motion control, dual density, EVA, Dillinger Web, racing flat, light weight trainers, track shoes, zero drop, stack height, ramp angle and all so many other “techno buzz words” that have been used to describe and market running shoes over the last 40 years.

Finding Pot of Gold

The problem with running shoes to me is, finding that perfect one is like trying to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It is elusive and most of us never find it – least I haven’t.

What works great for someone else, doesn’t always work at all for you. That means when you read a great shoe review by other runners or even me, it does not mean that you have the same good or bad experience they or I have had with those same shoes. It means that you have to do some of the leg work (yeah I know bad) yourself to find your perfect running shoe.

Therefore, we keep searching and chasing, always looking for that magic shoe that is going to let us run injury free for big mileage training.

My question to you is?

  • Which running shoe is your favorite running shoe of all-time?
  • Why did you stop running in them?

Now wear (I know where) is that damn new shoe review for the 2013 running shoes!!!!!  I just know that my perfect shoe is in there 😉

See you out running.

6 thoughts on “My All-Time Favorite Running Shoes 2013

  1. Great post. I lost count of the number of shoes I've tried. You made me think of the first real pair of running shoes I had. They were Nike's. I think like the ones on the first Jim Fixx book. Before then I ran in court shoes. How many miles do you usually get from a pair of shoes?

  2. Haley – I don't know if we will ever find that elusive perfect running shoe, I am still looking after 30 to 40 years, but I remain ever hopeful :-).

    Jerry – Thank you. The red book shoes were Asics, but Nike had a very similar pair. It seems 200-300 is typical, before I start getting knee pain, but I have high hopes for a couple of ones that I am running in now. but I have to figure out why my right foot keeps hurting so much in socks.

  3. For years I just did whatever worked, but now that I have become a 'serious' runner over the last year or so I have become more concerned about it. I currently love both my Nike Free 3's and New Balance Minimus. I know we've talked about the pebble-problem with the Nike's … but I love the fit and feel.

    I have made an interesting observation lately – my current project at work has me traveling to a different state to one of our manufacturing facilities, where I work long days, am mostly in a hard-floor cleanroom area and need to wear steel-toe shoes. So suddenly my running shoes need to work around my day-wear. Something I never worried about before!

  4. I love the fit and feel of the Free's, it is just the geography of where I do most of my running that stops me from going back to them right now, someday I probably will try them again, because they did work very well for me.

    I have had jobs where steel toes shoes are necessary and wearing them a lot can be tough on the feet, don't envy you for that.

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