Best running shoes for older runners 2021

“If you had to pick one thing to make people healthier as they age, it would be aerobic exercise”, said James Fries, MD, an emeritus professor of medicine at the medical school and the study’s senior author. But there are a few more things to take care of when you age inevitably.

Finding the best shoes is certainly one of them. As running shoes are the only equipment you needed for this sport, and probably the most important one. Below are the 11 best running shoes for older runners, who don’t limit themselves by their age. Our recommendation is Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36.

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The 11 best running shoes for older runners

  1. Brooks Adrenaline GTS20 (Best for severe overpronation)
  2. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 (Do-It-All shoes)
  3. Brooks Glycerin 18 (Best for cushioning)
  4. Brooks Ghost 13 (Best for Bunions)
  5. Saucony Cohesion 12 (Affordable)
  6. New Balance Fresh Foam More 
  7. Asics Gel-Venture 6 (Best for Trail running)
  8. Asics Gel-Cumulus 21 (Affordable)
  9. Hoka One One Gaviota 2 (Overpronation)
  10. New Balance 990 V5
  11. Hoka One One Bondi 6

Whether you are new to running or you’re an experienced runner reaching your 40s, 50s, or even 60s, there are ways to make your running exercise fun, enjoyable, and injury-free. While some naysayers may tell you that running as you reach a certain age isn’t healthy or safe, the sports remain well liked among older people.

Are there any running shoes designed specifically for seniors?

The short answer is No. There is no department in big shoe brand companies designing running shoes that is only for seniors. And there is no need to! Because consideration to take when getting a running shoe is the same, whether you are an older runner, or someone in their twenties. 

That being said, senior runners do need to care about getting the right shoes for them more than younger runners do. If you are running into your fifth decade, you can’t afford to slack off when it comes to preventing running related injuries. 

Younger runners often neglect the need of choosing the right shoes, or replacing worn-out shoes, because it doesn’t affect them much. But as you age, it becomes much more important. If you have time, go to my ultimate guide on how to choose the best running shoes. If you have less time, keep reading. 

There are a few features you should be looking for when getting a pair of running shoes for senior runners. Note that these are best to have, but not necessary. Ultimately, it all comes down to personal running pattern and gait type. 

Moderate cushioning 

Many older adults will get a pair of super-cushioned shoes when they are doing their buying. Because the advice they heard is “super-cushioned shoes help you to absorb shock that will otherwise pass on to your joints and knee”. Such theory sounds intuitively correct. but it missed a few points.

Running shoes with thick and max cushioning usually have these 2 features:

  1. High stack height (distance between bottom of your foot and the ground). 
  2. Soft shoe insole

You can feel the squishiness when you’re standing in those shoes. These 2 characteristics make the running shoes relatively unstable compared to other types of shoes. Your body will have to constantly try to readjust during runs to keep yourself stable, which isn’t ideal for an older runner.

Other than that, this type of running shoe is usually heavier. Max-cushioning shoes are more suitable for experienced runners, who plan to run a full marathon, or people who need to stand and walk for a long hour due to the nature of work. If you enjoy a casual treadmill/ road running, running shoes with moderate cushioning is what you need. 

Durable outsole with good traction

A long lasting outsole with proper tread is what you should be looking for. Older runner’s legs don’t have the energy and strength as when they were younger. We can feel it no matter how much we don’t like to believe it. At least I do! A proper outsole provides you that stability you need during your road running or even trail hiking. Try a few jumps or a small run when you’re testing out the shoes. You don’t want it to get slippery only after you hit the road, or running on a smooth surface. 

Roomy toe box

Toe box of your running shoe should be wide and long enough to accommodate the ball of your foot, especially if you’re having any issue with metatarsal bone (bone of forefoot), which is quite common among senior runners. 

You can measure the fitting of your toe box in this way:

  1. Scoot you heel to the back of the shoes
  2. Press your thumb down at the top (space between your highest toe and the front end of shoes)
  3. You thumb should be able to reach to the bottom without obstacle
  4. If you toe get in the way, change your shoe size

Experts recommend shoes with net/mesh toe box to provide flexibility in toe area for older runners.  

Great support system

If you overpronate (arches of foot roll inward after landing), getting a running shoe with arch support stabilizes your run. You will see me labelling those shoes as “best for overpronation”. These are the shoes equipped with a medial post inside the midsole to correct your running pattern. 

Another feature of shoes with a great support system is rigidness around the heel collar (Padding on the top of the upper around the back and sides of the heel.)  You’ll want a running shoe with a rigid heel counter to lock your foot in place. 

Below are the 11 best running shoes for older runners:

1. Brooks Adrenaline GTS20 (Best for severe overpronation)

For Men:

For Woman:

Facts

  • Terrain: Road/Treadmill
  • Activities: Casual Road Running, Long Distance Running
  • Heel offset drop: 12mm
  • Pronation: Severe pronation
  • Arch type: Low Arch
  • Arch support: Motion Control
  • Weight: 302g(Men) 266g(Women)
  • Strike Pattern: Heel strike

Features

Outsole: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20 uses blown rubber, a kind of air-injected rubber(mixed with air during production process). Blown rubber is lighter, softer and more flexible than the traditional rubber (carbon fibre) used in the majority of running shoes. However, many experienced runners I know argued that traditional carbon fibre is more durable than the newly designed blown rubber, although it might not have the features. 

Midsole: The highlight of this shoe is in its midsole. It’s specially designed for runners with severe overpronation. (If you want to know more about this term, check out my ultimate guide). Adrenaline GTS 20 provides runners who need a support system with their GuideRails support technology. It keeps your foot in place in the case of excessive movement. Overpronators and even neutral runners who have poor gait cycle should make use of this feature to correct their striking and toe-off pattern. 

Another feature to stabilize your run is DNA loft foam that is located under the heel section. It keeps your heel in place to prevent your foot from sliding during excessive movement. Overall, this is a moderate-cushioned midsole that is suitable for overpronator. 

Upper: FlexFit upper is a double layer mesh that is designed to keep your foot comfortable and breathable.  Inner layer is a softer, thinner material to protect your root from blisters. Outer layer is a thicker material that is harder and more durable. The firmness in shoe upper helps to secure the runner’s foot in place, yet doesn’t sacrifice flexibility. Despite the double layer upper feature of this shoe, Brooks was able to come up with lightweight upper structure.

Highlight(s): Suitable for runners with severe overpronation. The shoes were praised for its high quality midsole, and wide toe room from runners. Many buyers like its modern looking upper. Some people complain about its heel section, saying that it is too narrow. Overall, people with overpronation are satisfied with the performance offered. If you are an older runner with severe overpronation, this shoe is definitely a good choice.  

Pro(s):

  • Roomy toe-box
  • High quality midsole
  • Modern-looking design
  • Firm but flexible shoe upper 

Cons(s): 

  • Narrow heel section for some runner

2. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 (Do-It-All shoes)

For Men:

For Woman:

Facts

  • Terrain: Road/Treadmill
  • Activities: Casual Road Running, Long Distance Running
  • Heel to toe offset(drop): 10mm
  • Pronation: Neutral
  • Arch type: High Arch
  • Arch support: Neutral 
  • Weight: 283g(Men) 227g(Women)
  • Strike Pattern: Heel strike

Features

Outsole: Nike ‘crash rail’ design divides the rubber sections with grooves. Durable outsole is made up of carbon rubber. It works together with a bouncy midsole to give you flexibility and traction. The rubber outsole grip very well on most running surfaces. Many experienced runners praised this shoe for its durable outsole. 

Midsole: Like its previous Pegasus 35, Nike uses the same cushioning unit (Zoom Air) to run through the whole midsole. Zoom Air unit is placed above the EVA foam to enhance its responsive and bouncy features. This makes the midsole firmer than other conventional running shoes. But firmer midsole doesn’t equate to lack of cushioning. A removable blown rubber insole combined with zoom unit and EVA foam offers sufficient cushioning for daily training and long distance running events. 

Upper: Upper unit is made of engineered mesh. Nike uses stretchy textile material to build its shoe’s upper, this allows the shoe to adapt to the shape of your foot in the case of swelling on bending. Breathing holes were designed to promote air circulation and keep your foot cold. A strip of reflective material is placed on the back of the shoes, it makes the shoes visible in a dark environment. 

Highlight(s): Most buyers came out with positive feedback after getting this shoe. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus has come a long way since its first version 4 decades ago. It’s known to be the running shoes built for everyone, whether you are a novice or an experienced runner. With its durable midsole and responsive midsole, it receives praise from many runners communities as expected. If you don’t want to take chances, this popular brand is the safest choice! 

Pro(s):

  • Responsive midsole
  • Durable outsole
  • Good lacing system and heel collar design (Hold your foot in place)

Cons(s): 

  • Shoes can be narrow for some people

3. Brooks Glycerin 18 (Best for cushioning)

For Men:

For Woman:

Facts

  • Terrain: Road/Treadmill
  • Activities: Casual Road Running, Marathon Training, Long Distance Running
  • Heel offset drop: 10mm
  • Pronation: Neutral
  • Arch type: High Arch
  • Arch support: Neutral 
  • Weight: 389g(Men) 255g(Women)
  • Strike Pattern:Heel strike

Features

Outsole: Brooks place different rubber materials for the heel and forefoot section on its outsole. HPR Plus rubber is located at the heel section to offer you the grip feature during striking. Blown rubber is placed at the forefoot section to provide you responsiveness during toe-off.  Flex grooves structure designed by brooks in this shoe allow the shoes to bend naturally during heel-to-toe transition. 

Midsole: Like its previous version, Brooks uses its DNA LOFT technology – a long lasting foam to create a relatively thick cushioning system. Despite its thick cushioning, it surprised many runners by having a relatively lightweight. Many buyers expressed their satisfaction with its responsiveness during the toe-off phase. Above the midsole is the OrthoLite sockliner, which is said to have anti-moisture and antibacterial properties.  

Upper: A stretchable double-jacquard mesh is used to promote constant air circulation around your foot throughout the day. To add extra comfort to your foot during movement, a plush interior lining is used to complement the existing soft mesh fabric. This shoe’s upper receives numerous positive feedback from existing buyers from various online shopping sites. Sets of synthetic print(3D print technology) are present in the left, right, and heel side of the shoe not only to add colour to the shoe upper, it also results in firmer upper with long lasting integrity. 

Highlight(s): Without surprise, this shoe impresses many runners with its overall shoe quality. If you like a more soft and cushioned feel, the midsole of these shoes is going to impress you. Many runners use this shoe for casual running, and even marathon training. With its cushioned EVA midsole and firm shoe upper, many have said that the shoes are comfortable to wear.

Pro(s):

  • Comfortable shoe upper
  • Outsole with great traction
  • Responsive and highly cushioned midsole

Cons(s): 

  • Some people don’t like its colour
  • A buyer complaint that the shoe doesn’t have enough arch support

4. Brooks Ghost 13 (Best for Bunions)

For Men:

For Woman:

Facts

  • Terrain: Road/Treadmill
  • Activities: Casual Road Running, Marathon Training, Long Distance Running
  • Heel offset drop: 12mm
  • Pronation: Neutral
  • Arch type: High Arch
  • Arch support: Neutral
  • Weight: 286g(Men) 250g(Women)
  • Strike Pattern: Heel strike

Features

Outsole: Blown rubber(air injected rubber) is used in its construction of the entire outsole. This material is more light and flexible than the conventional rubber. It’s designed to protect the shoes against abrasion in road running. Like many other Brooks running shoes, Flex grooves structure designed by Brooks in this shoe allow the shoes to bend naturally during heel-to-toe transition. The deep trenches in the midfoot allow your foot to move naturally during the toe-off phase. 

Midsole: Upgraded from its previous version (Brooks Ghost 12), DNA Loft cushioning now extends to the full length of this shoes.It makes the ride soft, but not squishy. Many customers are surprised by the shoe’s responsiveness despite the soft cushioning. Another technology Brooks uses for its midsole is BioMoGo DNA, it is a foam that is placed above the EVA rubber(DNA Loft). It strikes the right balance between stability and long distance comfort.

Upper: Like many Brooks running shoes. This shoe uses woven cloth to make up the shoe upper. Many buyers like its soft construction, the material adapts to the natural shape and motion of your foot as you run with this shoe. Brooks specifically upgrade their shoes upper from its previous version for a more secure fit and breathability. 

Highlight(s): A mesh toe box in this running shoe makes it a great choice for runners with bunions, it’s advisable to get a larger size pair if you have a bunion. It is also designed to give you soft landing. The shoe is well known for its protective outsole, soft midsole and breathable upper construction. If you like to get a pair of running shoes for casual walking or road running, this shoe is surely worth considering. 

Pro(s):

  • Roomy toe-box
  • Great traction
  • Modern-looking design
  • Breathability

Cons(s): 

  • Not as stylish according to some buyers
  • Outsole not durable, according to one buyer

5. Saucony Cohesion 12 (Affordable)

For Men:

For Woman:

Facts

  • Terrain: Road/Treadmill
  • Activities: Road Running, Marathon Training, Long Distance Running
  • Heel offset drop: 12mm
  • Pronation: Neutral
  • Arch type: High Arch
  • Arch support: Neutral 
  • Weight: 264g(Men) 218g(Women) 
  • Strike Pattern: Heel strike

Features

Outsole: XT-600 rubber – a highly durable compound, is responsible for protecting the midsole against rough surface. It provides good traction and is decently flexible. However, one tester claimed that the material lost some of its grip on the wet surface, but overall the impression was positive. 

Midsole: The midsole has a very nice and soft feel. It contains 2 layers of rubber to provide runners with comfort cushioning. Top layer rubber is a soft spongy rubber to provide your foot a soft platform to stand on. The GRID technology is used for the bottom layer of the midsole. It has a waffle-like structure to effectively absorb impact. It isn’t responsive as it expected to be, according to some testers. 

Upper: Breathable mesh provides a soft and squishy feel to the foot, it allows your foot to extend to its natural shape. It’s assisted by rubber overlays to keep your feet in place.

Highlight(s): If you run casually on the road or treadmill, this shoe is a decent and affordable choice for you. It remains a reliable choice for runners who look for durable running shoes that can withstand a high mileage. The shoes have received mostly positive feedback from those who bought and tested it. People were generally happy that they can get a do-it-all running shoes, well cushioned, and breathable upper with a consumer friendly price. 

Pro(s):

  • Stretchable and breathable upper
  • Roomy toe-box
  • Durable outsole
  • Affordable
  • Good shoe shape for custom-made orthotic

Cons(s): 

  • Lack colour choice
  • Lack responsiveness
  • Outsole lack grip on wet surfaces

6. New Balance Fresh Foam More 

For Men:

For Woman:

Facts

  • Terrain: Road
  • Activities: Casual Road Running, Marathon Training, Long Distance Running
  • Heel offset drop: 4mm
  • Pronation: Neutral
  • Arch type: High Arch
  • Arch support: Neutral 
  • Weight: 292g(Men) 231g(Women) 
  • Strike Pattern: Forefoot Strike

Features

Outsole: Unlike conventional running shoes, where some type of rubber is placed under the shoes, New Balance Fresh Foam More uses a dense foam material to provide runners with necessary grip. Other than the looks, it has little difference compared to conventional rubber outsoles. However, some testers stated that it seems to wear out pretty quickly, but still able to hold up and run for a long mile without losing traction.

Midsole: Like Fresh Foam Zante v4, it uses standard EVA(Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate) rubber to aid runners during landings, it’s praised for its shock absorption feature. On top of midsole(topsole) is a firmer and responsive material that helps you push the pace. They used a heel bevel to help you with your heel strike, together with thick foam and flex groove, it’s made for soft landing and transition. If you are a heel strike, put this shoe into serious consideration.

Upper: New Balance uses double jacquard mesh which is known to be flexible and very breathable. The heel cup is rigid and supportive, it locks your foot in place and prevents it from sliding during excessive movement, this is an important feature for older runners. The wide toe-box provides enough space to allow older runners’ feet to expand naturally. 

Highlight(s): Runners praised this New Balance Shoes for its exceptional materials and lightweight construction. It has a high stack height, which might not be suitable for some runners. You’ll surely feel taller when you’re in this pair of shoes. If you like the maximal cushioning system , give this running shoe a look. 

Pro(s):

  • Max cushioning
  • Promote Fast Pace
  • Relatively lightweight for this level of cushioning
  • Flexible upper
  • Roomy toe-box

Cons(s): 

  • Breathable hole on upper let lots of water in, not suitable for wet surfaces/raining season
  • Expensive
  •  Outsole isn’t durable, according to some testers

5 Alternative running shoes

7. Asics Gel-Venture 6 (Best for Trail running)

For Men:

For Woman:

  • Terrain: Trail
  • Activities: Trail Running, Long Distance Running
  • Heel offset drop: 10mm
  • Pronation: Neutral
  • Arch type: High Arch
  • Arch support: Neutral 
  • Weight: 318g(Men) 255(Women) 
  • Strike Pattern: Heel Strike

8. Asics Gel-Cumulus 21 (Affordable)

For Men:

For Woman:

  • Terrain: Road/Treadmill
  • Activities: Casual Road Running, Marathon Training, Long Distance Running
  • Heel offset drop: 10mm
  • Pronation: Neutral
  • Arch type: High Arch
  • Arch support: Neutral 
  • Weight: 323g(Men) 266g(Women) 
  • Strike Pattern: Heel strike

9. Hoka One One Gaviota 2 (Overpronation)

For Men:

For Woman:

  • Terrain: Road
  • Activities: Casual Road Running, Marathon Training, Long Distance Running
  • Heel offset drop: 5mm
  • Pronation: Overpronation
  • Arch type: Low Arch
  • Arch support: Motion Control
  • Weight: 301g(Men) 249g(Women) 
  • Strike Pattern: Midfoot Strike

10. New Balance 990 V5

For Men:

For Woman:

  • Terrain: Road/Treadmill
  • Activities: Casual Road Running, Marathon Training, Long Distance Running
  • Heel offset drop: 12mm
  • Pronation: Overpronation
  • Arch type: Low Arch
  • Arch support: Stability
  • Weight: 385g(Men) 341g(Women) 
  • Strike Pattern: Heel Strike strike

11. Hoka One One Bondi 6

For Men:

For Woman:

  • Terrain: Road/Treadmill
  • Activities: Casual Road Running, Marathon Training, Long Distance Running
  • Heel offset drop: 4mm
  • Pronation: Neutral 
  • Arch type: Medium Arch
  • Arch support: Neutral
  • Weight: 309g(Men) 244g(Women) 
  • Strike Pattern: Forefoot strike

Running tips for older runners

Everytime I participate in a full marathon race, It’s always inspiring to see that there are so many people in their 50s, or even 60s joining the race and finishing it. Many of them finish it much faster than I do! With so much experience in marathon events, I personally know a couple of them. There is no doubt that they have a proper and consistent training routine incorporated in their schedule. There are a few important tips that we can be learning from them. 

Maintain a consistent routine

For any runner, especially older runners, it is wise to slowly build up an exercise routine. A sudden increase in speed and workout intensity will most likely lead you to muscle soreness, which will cause you to pause your exercise routine. You can run for the same hour per week as usual. But break it down to a shorter session. Shorten your workout sessions, consistency is the key. 

Strength training

Strength training isn’t the activity that is only for young runners. Actually, older runners benefit more from strength training compared to younger people. Our muscle mass decreases as we age, regular training can help you to maintain your muscle mass, or at least decrease the rate of declining. Running is a high impact exercise, your improved muscle strength will help you to ease your stress on joints and knees. Here is a really good video on advice for strength training for older runners:

Incorporate recovery session 

Older runners are more likely to experience muscle soreness according to study. This fact is not hard to understand, our muscles lose their strength as we grow old. You might need more time to recover from soreness after each intense workout. You’ll find some massage tool useful in your recovery session. A good foam roller can help you to free up tight spots, and make your muscle more responsive to stretching. Plus, it feels great! I personally use a massage ball roller for muscle relief after each run, I find these pains oddly satisfying. Here are a few affordable massage tool you can consider:

Massage Stick:

Legiral Le3 Massage Gun:

Roflex  PRO Foam Roller:

Wrap it Up…

I hope you get something out of this post! With so many technologies from big shoes companies, choosing the suitable one can be difficult if you don’t have the right information, or at least some direction of what you should be looking for. 

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 continues to be my recommendation due to its durable outsole, moderate cushioning, and stretchy upper feature, which I think it’s suitable for most older runners. Most runners are happy with this pair of high performance running shoes from Nike Air Zoom Pegasus series, which rarely disappoint runners. 

If you don’t see any shoes you like from this post, visit a specialty running store to talk to an expert about shoes that will work best on you personally. 

See you on the road!

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