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Buyer’s Guide: Tri-Friendly Running Shoes

From our 2020 Buyer's Gude, shoe suggestions for triathletes hitting the roads this spring.

Running has become a hugely popular way of staying fit during the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. For most triathletes, though, spring is always a great time to get some new running shoes.

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Triathletes have always been fans of lightweight training shoes – most of us aren’t running more than three or four times a week, so we can get away with a shoe that isn’t built for day after day abuse. The other benefit is that many lightweight trainers are plenty quick enough for racing – offering some much-appreciated support and cushioning to help tired legs get through the final leg of the race and get to the finish line. 2020 promises to be an exciting year on the running shoe front – here are some exciting options to check out.

Asics Gel DS Trainer 24


You know a shoe’s been popular when the company launches the 24th version of it. The latest version of the Gel DS Trainer is super-sleek and ready to help you to a fast run split this season. The FlyteFoam Lyte midsole is the lightest midsole material Asics makes, providing lots of cushioning, but the shoe still maintains a firm, supportive feel. That’s in part to the Impact Guidance System that makes is easy to move from heel strike to toe-off and augmented by the rearfoot Gel cushioning and dual intensity midsole system that adds even more support. The end result is a lightweight, fast and supportive shoe that’s perfect for training and racing.

Hoka One One Rincon


With a huge amount of Hoka’s signature cushioning that many credit with saving their running careers, the Rincon is a lightweight speedster that makes it easy to run fast either in training or racing. The mesh upper is very breathable and there’s a special heel tab that makes it easy to pull on in transition. All that impressive cushioning comes thanks to the full compression EVA midsole, while the Meta-Rocker design makes it easy to roll from your heel to your toe as you look to up the pace.

New Balance 1400 V6


The race-ready 1400 is back and uses the same REVlite bottom unit that virtually forces you to run fast. There’s a new lightweight mesh, breathable upper with a FantomFit support cage in the 1400 V6 that offers a supportive fit, especially around the midsole. With a tongue that’s inspired by New Balance’s spike collection and barefoot ready internal construction, this is a great shoe for triathletes who need to fly through transition and don’t have time to grab a pair of socks. Once out on the run, the 10 mm drop makes it easy to roll on to your toes to maintain a fast turnover and cadence, all of which will get you to the finish line that much faster.

Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2


As you can read in our special gear section on carbon plate running shoes, Nike’s Vapourfly has been a monstrous hit for those looking for a fast race-day shoe. Those looking for more durable option to the Vapourfly will want to check out the lightweight (231 g) Pegasus Turbo 2. It features a breathable mesh upper and a partial inner sleeve from toe to midfoot that will keep your foot comfortably supported even on your longest efforts. It also features the ZoomX midsole for outstanding energy return, so you’ll enjoy the same benefits that have been turning the marathon record books upside down over the last few years.

Saucony Kinvara 11


There’s a reason you’ll see so many Kinvaras in transition zones – the lightweight wonder has been a hit for triathletes since version 1. The 4 mm offset works extremely well to help roll forward as your trying to pick up the pace, while the new PWRRUN cushioning system is lighter and offers more energy return than the old EVERUN materials in previous versions of the Kinvara. The extremely breathable upper will be appreciated on hot summer days – all of which means this will be another popular shoe for triathletes looking for a  great all-around training and racing shoe.

Under Armour Machina


Joining in the competition for carbon-plate running supremacy, the Machina also incorporates Under Armour’s MapMyRun technology so you can track and analyze your running metrics once you’re done your workout. The Pebax propulsion plate, inspired by sprint-spikes, is designed to enhance the energy return of the shoe and keep your foot stable as you push off, making it even easier to get up to speed and stay there regardless of the distance. We’ve always been huge fans of the HOVR cushioning technology, but that seems to work even better here, making this a great option for both training and racing.