A road shoe that weighs under 8 ounces can be considered lightweight. I’m not talking about barefoot or minimalist shoes either. I mean running shoes that have a good enough midsole that they can be taken to a marathon start line without months or years of careful training.
There are running shoes lighter and heavier than that. But the 8 ounce mark hits the spot for a running shoes that can be used for training and racing.
Light is good because it minimises the pendulum effect that a heavier pair of running shoes have every time you take a step.
But does light mean you’re getting a flimsy shoe that wont last 13.1 miles? Read on to find out if the best lightweight running shoes can hack it in the real world.
Running shoes have come a long way in the last ten years or so. A quiet technological battle has been taking place between the major shoe manufactures, from which we all benefit. Ten years ago a running shoe that weighed 12 ounces was considered light. But things never stand still and nor do we.
Comfortable Lightweight Running Shoes
The comfort and fit of a running shoe should always be at the top of a list when choosing any type of running shoe. Some of the key points to consider are:
- You should try on your running shoes with the socks you intend to use when running in them.
- They shouldn’t feel too tight across your forefoot and your toes should have about a thumb and a half gap to the front of the shoe.
- If you need to tighten the laces so they almost meet in the middle, the shoes are probably too wide for you.
- When you first walk in them they shouldn’t cause you any discomfort.
Can A Lightweight Running Shoe Be Durable As well?
To keep the weight down, lightweight running shoes tend to have minimal rubber on the soles. This leaves much exposed midsole foam in direct contact with the road. The rubber segments are strategically placed to give maximum protect with minimal weight. It does work to a point.
I had a pair of Hoka One One Rincons in 2019 that I loved. They were very lightweight and they gave me really good feedback and bounce. I loved running in them. Part of their weight saving came from minimal rubber and exposed foam on the sole. I put getting on for 50 miles of training into them and the exposed foam did wear down a bit. But then that wear stopped. I was like they found a balance with how I ran and the wear rate slowed right down. I used them for a few races and then put them (including the TCS New York City Marathon) and put to pasture.
Can You Buy A Lightweight Stability Running Shoe?
Stability running shoes have various components that give them their stability, such as medial posts. All of these will add weight. However there a lightweight running shoes that are surprisingly supportive.
Look for a running shoe that has a good heel counter that will cup your heel and give you a secure feel. Also modern EVA foam midsole compounds can provide a stiffness that will last for a while.
A few extra points to consider when buying lightweight running shoes of all types.
Learn From Your Last Pair Of Lightweight Running Shoes?
If you’ve had a pair in the past, take some time to think about how they performed for you.
- Did you feel comfortable in them?
- Did they fall apart after your first fast race?
- How did your legs feel the day after you ran in them?
- Did you pick up an injury after training in them for a month?
Think about these things and more and use that information to inform your choice for your new pair. If you loved your last pair, try the (inevitably) updated version. Or if you really didn’t like them, maybe its time to try a different manufacture.
Caring For Your Lightweight Running Shoes
You may decide that your lightweight running shoes are to be used for racing only. Some lightweight running shoes have less foam in the midsole and you will feel that in your legs after a run.
So you decide to put them to one side until your next race. When you do that make sure they are clean and dry. And if you have the inserts they came with, put those back in to help the shoe keep its shape. Keep them cool but not hot and away from direct sunlight.
Is It Possible To Buy Lightweight Trail Running Shoes?
As with road shoes some trail shoes are lighter than others. They are heavier than road shoes as they will have a sole completely covered in rubber. They may also have a rock plate to stop anything on the trail poking through to your foot. I like Hoka One One and Inov8 off road shoes. My Hoka Speed Goat 4’s are my current favourite running shoe in my collection.
Are Lightweight Running Shoes Value For Money?
Lightweight running shoes aren’t necessarily more expensive. Unless of course you consider the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next %. They weight 7 ounces (200g), and are the most expensive running shoes out there! They however are the exception. For example, the Hoka Rincons I mentioned were just over $100 dollars at the time. Considering the miles I did in them I think that was pretty good value.
Final Thoughts: Best Lightweight Running Shoes
Lightweight running shoes have their place in every runners arsenal. They can be deployed strategically or used everyday.
Lightweight running shoes have developed significantly over the years. And have now reached a point where they can hold their own in any context.
If you’ve never tried a pair before consider buying a pair for your next race. They might help you get that PB.