Triathletes know that there are a lot of moving pieces that go with triathlons. They require a lot of different equipment if you truly want to do it to the very best of your ability. Most equipment isn’t required or really all that highly regulated, but most triathletes find certain things to be absolutely necessary. One of the things that is considered very necessary is a very good pair of shoes for the run.
Top Triathlon Running Shoes Comparison Chart
There are challenges that face triathletes that do not face regular runners, so this buying guide is going to help you walk through some of those and help you determine what kind of shoe you need in order to help you reach a better time in your race. After we’ve gone over the ins and outs of what you need, we’re going to take a look and the top running shoes for triathlons that you can get this year!
Triathlon Shoes Buying Guide
Triathlons vs Normal Running
There’s no doubt that both triathlons and running are hard physical activities that require a lot of time and effort to get good at. Both tax the body to the extreme at times and both are really very similar. But triathlons do have other challenges that just aren’t always present with regular running.
With triathlons, you’re going to be competing in two other events, basically. You’re going to be swimming and then biking before you even get to the run. This means you’re going to be much more tired than someone that is just running. This is not bashing or running, but it’s a fact! So you’re going to need a shoe that is a little bit more responsive to your needs there.
One of the things that can be found is an all-purpose shoe. This is something that will allow you to come to the end of the swim to put on and then you’ll be good to go until the end. This type of shoe will be very good for both the bike and running sections. It’s difficult to find a good shoe like this, but it is possible. If you are wanting to find a shoe like that, then just know they are out there and you will have to look for them! Remember, that transition times are a key factor in triathlons, so this may factor into your decision.
The distance of your race is a major factor in what kind of shoes you wear. For races that are much shorter in length than Ironman races, transition times are going to prove to be much more crucial. So having one pair of shoes for the bike and run could be very beneficial in that case. Or even a pair of shoes that you already have tied and can just slip into would do you a world of good as well!
But the distance is a big factor here as well because of comfort and durability. Running long distances stresses and strains you and your shoes. Shoes won’t last forever, and many are suggested to be changed after 500 miles or so. But, you have to remember that certain shoes are going to do better with you than others for longer distances. Some shoes will likely do you well no matter if you’re running one mile or a whole marathon, but they could be different the further you go.
Maybe you have a shoe that you are very fast in for short periods of time, but they are very uncomfortable when you wear them for a long time. This is something that’s very normal to see in everyday shoes, so it’s a possible example that you might encounter one day. Those shoes, despite being fast over the short haul, are ultimately going to slow you down when you start hurting, blistering and aching. So, you have to be very aware of your specific needs sometimes when you select a pair of shoes!
The temperature outside can also be a major influence on you when you’re running. Not all triathlons are done during the summer, so you may need a different pair of shoes if you are running during the winter or even if you’re in the rain! Great tri running shoes for the summer will be very breathable, which will allow your foot to feel less sticky and sweaty. To be breathable, mesh is often used and it essentially creates an open space in the shoe. This open space is great like we’ve said in the summer, but it’s horrible in the winter because you’re not producing near as much sweat likely. This open space will allow the cold in and it could make you very uncomfortable. And the answer isn’t always easily available like oh just throw on some thick socks. If you do that, the shoe may not fit correctly! You may be able to overcome this, but you also may not. So you will have to factor weather in when selecting a good pair of shoes to run in a triathlon with.
You’re Going to Get Wet!
This is an obvious statement, but it’s something you’re going to have to learn. For beginning triathletes, you don’t always need to go all out on buying a bunch of equipment. Maybe you are just trying it out for the first time. You’re not going to want to invest a ton of money right away in something you may not continue to do. So maybe you’re going to use a pair of running shoes for both the biking and running sections. Well right before the bike section you’re going to have been swimming. So you’re going to come out of the water a little bit wet. Your shoes are going to have to be able to deal with this, as are you, in some manner. Not all shoes will do well with being wet, so you have to be careful to find one that is good at staying together and performing optimally while sogged with water.
Biking with Running Shoes
Because there are few rules surrounding what kind of shoes you have to wear during a triathlon, you are free to choose what you feel is best for you. So, you can wear the same shoes, as discussed before, for both the run and the bike portions of the race. It must be said, though, that this is not done by many expert triathletes. Experts tend to have shoes for the bike ride alone. The reason why is that these types of shoes have grips in them to grip the pedals better. Whether you want this feature or not is up to you, but it should be known that there are advantages and disadvantages to your decision to either wear running shoes or cycling shoes. There are some select ones that are dual purpose, but those will likely cost you more money and will be harder to find as well.
Here’s the preachy section of the buying guide, but it will do you well to pay mind to it. Running shoes need to be a snug fit. This is going to protect you over time, and it will not do you any harm. Ever! If they are this way, you’re going to be much safer. Running shoes are meant to help you move as quickly as possible, and the best way to help them do their job is to have the proper size. You need to have yourself just a little bit of room in the shoe. If the shoes are too tight, you’re going to have your toes rubbing up against the liner. This is very likely to cause blistering, and it may lead to slower times or you having to even drop out of the race itself. However, if the shoes are too loose, you also will cause problems. In addition to having the shoe move up and down your foot in a very annoying manner, you will have to readjust your running style or gait. This is an unnatural thing to do, and it has been known to cause injuries in the back and knees over time. Don’t let this become an issue by buying the correct size! In order to do that, it’s always wise to go somewhere and try on shoes first. Online shopping is great, but it is quite tricky to get the correct size if you’ve never had the specific shoe before. You can always come back to online shopping later!
One more thing before moving is the fact that you are going to be full of adrenaline when you reach this stage of the race. This means you’re going to be pumped up, which means that your muscles will be much larger and will be swollen than when you began the race. This means that getting the correct size can be tricky if you’ve just been standing around doing nothing before you try them on. A great tip is to always try to do some sort of exercise before you try on and purchase a pair of shoes. This will help you find a much better fit, and you will be much happier overall.
Please Wear Running Shoes!
Running shoes are designed with one purpose in mind: to help you move forward. Running shoes aren’t like other types of shoes. Other shoes may be great for helping you move side to side, but they will pale in comparison to what running shoes will provide for you. So, it’s pretty important to find a pair that is meant to run in instead of just getting any old pair of shoes. They will likely not hold up very well for you. Remember, running on hard ground, is very high impact, so you will need something that can absorb shocks. Just because a basketball shoe, for example, absorbs shocks, does not mean that it will absorb them at a very heavy pace like running.
How you run, (aka. your gait) is an important factor. Here are some examples of what you might want to look for. Whether you are someone who strikes the ground with their toes first, or there heels is very important. Maybe you do neither, and you land on the middle of your foot (you are rare). Those things can influence your shoes for sure. In addition to this, how your foot’s weight is distributed is also important. Some people put the pressure of their feet towards the outside of the shoe. Others put it toward the inside. For those that roll their feet outward, they’ll want to look at stability shoes. For those that roll them inward, motion control shoes are the best type for them. For people in between, or “neut l” foot runners, they are most likely open to many more options.
Protection vs Speed
This is something that has to be quickly mentioned. A lot of the choices you’re going to see will allow you to choose from protection or plain out speed. Generally, the lighter the shoe the faster you will go and the less protection you are going to have in the way of shock absorption and the such. Another thing to keep in mind, though, is that the lighter the shoe the less durable it is likely to be as well. So, many of the shoes that we’ll look at will be great for use in competitions, but maybe not quite as great for training. If used for training, they’ll function fine, but they may not last as long as training-specific shoes.
Best Triathlon Running Shoe Reviews
It’s not a huge surprise to see ASICS at number one on any list having to do with running shoes. Both genders have great colors to choose from, and both shoes have elastic laces, which make them much easier to get on and off of the foot. They both have a sockliner that is great for airing out your wet foot throughout the race, and they also have excellent grip in areas where it’s wet! The price isn’t bad, either, as they can run from moderate to slightly above moderate, but nothing really bad at all!
- Good price
- Great for transitions
- Keeps you dry
- Not for wide feet
- Not as comfy as previous offerings
if you’re looking for something stylish, easily seen, and in a moderate to slightly above moderate price level, then the Zoot is your answer. Both have just one color, but they are very flashy, maybe too flashy for some people. They are fully synthetic with very little mesh appearing to have been used and they have a huge protruding curve to them in the front that will try and make you more comfortable over the course of the race. The fastening system is also quite different, but it appears as if they’d be easy to pull on in a hurry.
- Very flashy
- Very comfortable
- Quick to put on
- Runs small
- Takes time to break in
You can imagine we try out a lot of shoes, but I have to come clean on this particular shoe: I own a pair ’cause they’re the ultimate!!! I could talk about them all day, but here’s the unique feature that sets them apart from the competition; They are made for proper, ergonomic running form. That is, they are made for running with a forefoot strike! What does that mean? Well, let’s put it this way; If I asked you to run in your barefeet (or even just jog) 30 feet down the driveway, I will give you a 100% chance that you would NEVER land on your heel.
You would run exclusively on the front of your foot (between toes and mid-foot). But, when most runners slap on a pair of running shoes, they immediately start landing on their heels. This is categorically WRONG as far as kinetics and kinesiology is concerned, but that doesn’t stop shoe manufacturers from making shoes that encourage heel strike running. TSK! TSK!
The Newtons have it right! And, to encourage fore-foot strike running, Newtons feature a less padded heel, and “lugs” or chunks that stick out of the sole at the forefoot, that contract and then spring out to give you more distance and efficient propulsion with each step. Pretty snazzy I’d say!
All Newtons have EXTREMELY good ventilation! So much so, that you can always see what color socks you’re wearing right through the shoe material. If I put in another way, you Northerners will get it; you WON’T want to wear these casually in the winter since your feet will freeze within a few minutes – that’s how “well-ventilated” they are!
- Very cool looks
- Ultra-revolutionary technology
- Potential to change your running philosophy!
- Not the cheapest shoe
- Potential to change your running philosophy 🙂
If you’re looking for a shoe for a moderate to high price that has a multitude of great colors and looks, then look no further. This is also a great running show with a synthetic and rubber make up. It has a lot of mesh all around it to help you air out a little better as well. That’s the difference between this and a regular running shoe. It has a bit of curve toward the top of the foot, but not as pronounced as the second item on our list was. This has a very flexible outsole to the shoe, and you are able to remove the insole and replace it easily with whatever insole you need to install in its place.
- Tons of colors to choose from
- Very breathable
- Removable insoles
- A little stiff
- Not a lot of toe room
if you are looking for a great looking shoe with a lot of breathability built into it, then look no further. This shoe is priced about the same as all of the others we’ve seen so far, and it’s built with a ton of mesh. It might not be so great on cooler days but certainly will get the job done when it’s warmer. It is a classic lace-up shoe that will have to be tied, so it’s down a little on the list in comparison to others. The toes do curve up a little, but it’s only slightly noticeable to the eye at a glance. It has technology built in to make the inside very plush and comfortable to wear for you.
- Very breathable
- Great for warm days
- Very comfortable
- Runs a little small
- Probably not great for cooler days
These Adidas shoes right here might come at a higher price than the others on our list, but they do serve a specific purpose besides just making you look great with a number of color options to choose from. These are great stability trainers, so they are great for anyone that tend to roll their feet outward when they stand, walk, and run. These are made from synthetics, but they also have a lot of mesh at the front of the foot. They aren’t as open as the Nike, however. The ‘boost’ in the name is referring to its new, more cushioned response this time around. These are a little bit heavier than many we’ve seen on the list so far, so they might make a little better training shoe than just an all-around competition shoe. They do need to be laced up, so that’s why they are a little bit lower on the list than most of the others one.
- Awesome looks
- Very comfortable
- Great stability trainer
- Not as quick in transitions
- A little expensive
Editor’s Choice for Quality, Value and Customer Satisfaction!
Conclusion & Recommendations
It is absolutely critical to remember that running shoes are not all the same. Each person has a different need that should be addressed, so you must keep this in mind when you are searching for a pair of shoes. It’s great to have a really nice look and style to your shoe, but it will mean little in the end if your shoe is uncomfortable! Remember, you need to have a good pair of running shoes with you in order to protect yourself as your feet as going through a lot of trauma and potential pain over the course of a race. Also, it’s wise to think about what you want to spend money on and what you want to be doing (or not doing) during the transitions of the race! Once you’ve made all those determinations, you can get to the task of buying the perfect tri running shoe, and then you’ll be cutting your personal best in no time!
And finally, it’s SUPER critical to note that our review does not (and simply cannot) extensively cover ALL the best triathlon running shoes on the market. We did indeed exclude some very competent shoes that might even be better for YOU than some that we’ve reviewed. If I were you, I’d check out all these options in addition to our reviewed shoes! Happy shoe hunting!