Whatever you call them – and whether you wear them for walking, running, hiking or casual, everyday wear – they have to be comfy! So we asked EL staff and readers to tell us what they think are the best running shoes and what they’re currently wearing. Hopefully, this helps if you’re looking to purchase a new pair of trainers – for women or for men!
Trainers for Women
I’m a fan of the Asics Gel Nimbus Lite running trainer. They’re super lightweight, with gel in the sole to absorb impact and make you feel like you have a slight bounce in your step as you run.
I have the Adidas Light runner. As its name suggests, it’s super light and breathable. The shoes are great for running and daily walks, and they come in a hot pink colour. They’re an old model though!
I get terrible blisters from shoes as I have a wide foot but a narrow heel – I use the Nike Flex runners as they are light and adjustable, and I can wear them all day without blisters. For dressier occasions, I wear Stan Smiths by Adidas – pretty comfortable, reasonably fashionable and I feel like they are appropriate for a middleaged woman to wear!
Veja, because they look super-stylish, they’re really comfortable and – most of all – they’re sustainable. The brand uses raw materials sourced from organic farming and upcycled plastic bottles, and opts for environmental and ethical production. And, if they’re good enough for Meghan Markle…
I’m a huge fan of Asics trainers for women. I have high arches and the Gel range of running shoes provides just the right amount of cushioning for my feet – and they’re so comfortable! I’ve just bought the Asics GelKayano 27 women’s running shoes.
I have Nikes, but I recently bought Fresh Foam 1080v10 trainers from New Balance and they’ve been ideal for my frequent running trails. I often do 5 or 10km runs around the neighbourhood, which means a lot of impact on my feet and knees from hard surfaces. The cushioned soles of the Fresh Foams are engineered to absorb a lot of that impact, and they give me a lot of bounce in each step. I’m clocking better times and feeling less strain on the legs, too; a bonus is that I love the colour
I wear Nike Air Zoom Winflo trainers for women when I jog. These running shoes have lasted me for over four years and they’re still going strong. They offer just enough cushioning and I like that the material is stretchable, fitting my wide feet without pinching my toes.
I wear the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37. During one instance of lockdown, my shoes decided to fall apart; fortunately, Nike delivery was great. My first pair were a little tight – tip: check reviews to see if people say they “run small”. The Pegasus 37 are by far the most comfortable trainers I’ve owned – they add a bounce to every step! They’re great for running or walking big distances.
I love Nike By You – you can custom make your own design and choose the colours you want – I have the Nike Blazer Low By You. I also have Converse All Star (white, low-cut), too – they’re super oldschool, comfortable and stylish. You can dress them up or down and they’re not too expensive, while still making you feel very hip!
I bought my first pair of Asics trainers about 20 years ago and in spite of trying a few other brands over the years, I always return to Asics! My current favourite is the Gel-Cumulus 21; they’re extremely comfortable and lightweight, with heaps of gel cushioning to absorb impact.
Running shoes by Mizuno are my favourites – they’re light, breathable and have a narrower cut that works for my long, thin feet. Their Wave Rider is always a good bet, but I’m not fussy. My big feet (UK 8) mean I generally have to choose from the men’s range – and being thrifty (in some things, anyway), I look out for sale bargains. For gym or walking shoes, it’s got to be Skechers. Their Go Walk slip-ons are fabulous. And for hanging out, I love my super-comfy Superga sneakers.
I recently got a pair of Reebok Memory Tech LT trainers. They’re so versatile and incredibly light yet durable. I can use them for short treks, running and the gym as well. And I love how easy it is to slip in and out of them!
Trainers for Men
Low-cut Converse All Star are my favourite casual shoes – they work well with jeans and shorts too.
My go-to is Reebok’s Zig Dynamica trainers. Apart from the very comfy sole, they’re the only shoes that fit my feet perfectly. I can even wear them without socks on – that’s how comfy they are! I like the zig-zag style of the outer sole too; it looks really rugged. It also bends smoothly when I do stretches and the shoes feel really soft inside even when running on trails.
I’ve always loved Adidas Gazelle (because I’m a Beastie Boys fan from waaay back!), but for exercise I stick with Asics GT-2000 men’s trainers – no bells and whistles, just a great fit.
I wear Nike LeBron Witness 5 EP shoes for playing basketball. I feel like I’m LeBron James, my favourite basketball player – and my team always wins when I’m wearing them!
A Quick History of the Trainer
- American scientist Charles Goodyear accidentally invents vulcanised rubber in 1839 by adding sulphur in the heating process.
- Rubber is incorporated into early versions of trainers called plimsolls, which emerge as a shoe for leisurewear and sport in the UK in the late 1800s.
- Sneaker brands begin to appear in America in the early 1900s – including Keds, Spalding and, in 1922, Converse.
- US runner Jesse Owens wins four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics wearing shoes designed by the Dassler brothers, Rudi and Adi.
- Adi Dassler goes on to launch Adidas; Rudi starts his own company, Puma.
- By the 1950s, trainers are becoming commonplace, especially in the US, worn by everyone from Hollywood stars to sportspeople and schoolchildren.
- Jogging as a form of exercise grows in popularity from the 1970s, and the rapid growth of trainers continues – helped by their emergence as a key fashion item in the music industry, particularly hip hop.
Did you know?
In 2016, rapper Drake paid US$2 million for a pair of OVO x Air Jordan 10 sneakers. These are expensive shoes even just for the standard model. Drake’s, though, were crafted from 24K gold…
This article first appeared in the Spring 2022 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.