Running isn’t always about speed. Sometimes, a smooth cruise through the neighborhood is rewarding enough. But just like you wouldn’t pick a sports car to haul your groceries, you wouldn’t want to gently jog around the block in a pair of race-ready marathon shoes.

Enter cushioned running shoes, the family SUV of running footwear. With loads of plush comfort that rivals the coziest mattresses, these silhouettes can be a great option for those wanting a less strenuous running experience. It’s not about how fast you get to the finish line with cushioned running shoes but how enjoyable the ride was.

Before we hit the road and journey through the best cushioned running shoes on the market today, it helps to understand just what these plush silhouettes are and who can most benefit from them.

Why Wear Cushioned Running Shoes?

Most running shoes incorporate some level of cushioning, but the distinction of cushioned running shoes lies in the degree of cushioning they offer. These shoes provide a maximum level of plushness, resulting in exceptional shock absorption and an overall comfortable running experience. They are easily identifiable due to their foam midsoles and, at times, their prominently elevated stack heights. When it appears as though the upper part of the shoe is seamlessly integrated with a cushion, you’re likely looking at a maximal cushioned running shoe.

While many runners may dream of a sensation akin to running on clouds with every step, it’s essential to recognize that heavily cushioned running shoes may not be the ideal choice for every running style. Because of their primary emphasis on providing plush support, there’s limited space within the shoe design for incorporating stability features or components that correct one’s gait. As a result, cushioned running shoes are most suited for neutral runners. Individuals who experience pronation or supination may find it more suitable to explore alternative options or consider utilizing a comfortable insole in conjunction with corrective footwear.

Despite their inclination towards neutral runners, cushioned running shoes remain versatile for various training disciplines. They are well-suited for long-distance running, delivering ample comfort, especially when your mileage extends into double digits. Additionally, cushioned running shoes naturally align with short-distance jogs and leisurely neighborhood walks. However, it’s important to note that the generous underfoot cushioning can add extra weight to the shoe profile. Therefore, if your training focus centers on tempo and speed, there are alternative, lighter footwear options available to meet those specific needs.

BEST OVERALL CUSHIONED RUNNING SHOE

Hoka Bondi 8

BEST UPGRADE CUSHIONED RUNNING SHOES

Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit 2

BEST BUDGET CUSHIONED RUNNING SHOE

Saucony Triumph 19

BEST CUSHIONED RUNNING SHOE FOR DAILY TRAINING

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12

MOST VERSATILE CUSHIONED RUNNING SHOE

Asics Gel-Nimbus 24

MOST FASHION FORWARD RUNNING SHOES

On Cloudmonster

BEST CUSHIONED SHOE FOR WALKING

Adidas Ultraboost 22

Brooks Caldera 6

BEST CUSHIONED RUNNING SHOE FOR RECOVERY TRAINING

Brooks Glycerin 20

BEST CUSHIONED RUNNING SHOE FOR TEMPO TRAINING

Saucony Endorphin Speed 3

BEST CUSHIONED RUNNING SHOE FOR THE GYM

Under Armour UA HOVR Phantom 3

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