Cushioning Running Shoes: Quick Overview
Cushioned running shoes make up one of the largest segments of the running shoe market.
Most cushioned shoes fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum of available options: more cushioning than minimal models, but without major support or corrective elements.
The Right Runners for Cushioned Shoes
Meant for runners that have little to no pronation, cushioned running shoes provide protection and shock absorption with little to no additional support for strong pronators or issues like exceptionally high or low arches.
Cushioned shoes are appropriate for runners with all types of footstrike, though the additional shock absorption and comfort elements of traditional cushioned running shoes tend to appeal most to heel-strikers.
Key Features of Cushioned Running Shoes
Typically, the selling points of cushioned running shoes are focused on shock-absorbing elements, such are the foam making up the sole, as well as featured added for comfort in the upper section such as additional padding around the ankle and along the foot. In general, cushioned running shoes tend to be great all-around trainers for many runners.
Cushioning Running Shoes: Versatile Workhorses
They provide plenty of protection from the pounding of many miles of training, while still providing enough versatility to make them a good go-to shoe for longer slow runs, faster tempo runs, and even speed workouts on the track.
Fit and Feel
There is a wide spectrum of fit and feel in the cushioned shoe market, providing options for every preference. Shoes with firmer cushioning tend to provide a more supportive ride, while softer cushioned shoes are typically more responsive and provide a bouncier feel. Many companies are now offering lighter weight, more minimal cushioned options as well, which we will cover in another round up soon.
Nike Air Pegasus+ 30
The Nike Air Pegasus+ 30 is a classic in the cushioned running shoe world. Featuring plush, soft cushioning and a smooth ride, it’s a great all-around trainer, and would be an excellent option for beginners and high-mileage runners alike.
With such a long history, the Pegasus has earned its place as one of the top cushioned running shoes on the market, and is definitely a shoe worth trying. Check out the review of the thirtieth edition of the Pegasus here.
Nike Zoom Vomero+ 8
Nike’s Zoom Vomero 8 is meant for a runner who is focused on cushioning and impact protection above all else. As one of the most cushioned shoes on the market, the Vomero is heavier than many others.
To some, it can feel a bit clunky, especially for runners looking for an all around shoe that will be appropriate for long runs, speedwork, and racing. Runners that need additional cushioning, however, will appreciate the Vomero’s softness and impact absorption. For more details about the Vomero, see Daniel’s review.
Asics Gel Cumulus 15
The Cumulus 15 is Asics’s go-to cushioned shoe. Featuring plenty of cushioning and a smooth and flexible ride, it’s a great all-around shoe. With Asics’s patented gel in the most high-impact parts of the sole, the Cumulus 15 provides a little extra protection where it’s needed most.
The gel also adds a softer, almost squishy feeling as the foot hits the ground, so some runners may need to adjust to this slightly different feel. Overall, however, the Cumulus 15 is a solid option for many runners, and continues to impress. Take a look at Daniel’s review for the full details.
Asics Nimbus 15
The Nimbus is quite similar to the Cumulus, but offers a bit more cushioning and softness than it’s sister shoe. The forefoot of the shoe is where the differences are most notable, which would make it a great option for runners that enjoy the feel of the Cumulus, but need a little additional protection in the forefoot.
The Nimbus also has significantly more memory foam through the upper portion of the shoe, which gives it an overall softer, more plush feeling. Check out the full review from Daniel here.
New Balance 880v3
Lighter than some of the other shoes in the cushioning category, New Balance’s 880v3 offers a smooth ride and eases the foot through a full motion from heel to toe. More responsive than most traditional cushioned shoes on the market, the 880v3 has a springier feel than many of the other more popular offerings.
Overall, the 880v3 is a cushioned shoe that offers a smooth and bouncy ride, and is appropriate for a variety of workouts. See Taylor’s take on the 880’s for more details!
Brooks Ghost 6
The Ghost is a great all-around cushioned trainer. With slightly firmer cushioning than Nike’s offerings, the Ghost allows the runner to really connect with the road. Though somewhat firmer than the Pegasus or the Vomero, the Ghost is still extremely flexible and boasts an incredibly smooth ride.
Winning awards since the beginning, the Ghost is meant to appeal to a wide swath of runners, and would also be a great starting point for runners looking for a new shoe. Check out the full review here.
Brooks Glycerin 11
The Glycerin, also from Brooks, is essentially a beefed up version of the Ghost. With all of the smoothness and flexibility offered by the Ghost, but with a bit more cushioning. The Glycerin would be a great option for runners that want a little extra protection from the pounding of everyday miles, but don’t want to sacrifice a smooth ride. Check out Jim’s review for more details.