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The Best Running Shoe of 2012

It will probably be the top-selling shoe of 2013, too.

The Brooks Adrenaline running shoe remains the top favorite among runners. Photograph courtesy of Brooks. 
Here’s the thing about fitness crazes: People fall for the newest big thing, spend crazy money on them, and then six months later move onto the next gimmick.

Remember velour tracksuits? What about Crocs, which tried to slide into high fashion with its line of high heels? If you fell prey to the hype and bought them, they’re now gathering dust in the back of your closet (we hope).

The same goes for running shoes. Looking back on 2012, it’s pretty safe to say the minimalist running shoe fad was the talk of the fitness world. From Vibram FiveFingers to Nike Frees, those shoes were rocked by almost everybody at the gym. (In fact, our article on the best minimalist running shoes was, and remains, the most popular article on Well+Being.) 

But when we asked local store managers at Pacers, Potomac River Running, and Georgetown Running Company what their best-selling shoe of the year was, they all had the same answer: the non-minimalist Brooks Adrenaline.

“The Adrenaline from Brooks is far and away our bestseller,” says Dustin Sweeney, manager at Pacers Running Store in Clarendon. “The Adrenaline is the number-one running shoe nationwide, as well.”

But what about all of the neon, standout minimalist shoes that made headlines in almost every fitness magazine this year? They remain “far behind the main styles of running shoes,” Sweeney says. In fact, they’re not likely to grow much larger than 10 percent of the shoes sold in running stores; this year, minimalist shoes made up 7 percent of sales, compared with stability and neutral shoes, which sold 44 and 33 percent, respectively.

Sure, minimalist shoes may look sleek and make you feel light as air, but they don’t necessarily work for the general running population, says Margie Shapiro of Potomac River Running. “[Nike] Frees and Newtons get a lot of press and are popular in theory, but they’re not as versatile a shoe. Not as many types of runners and types of feet can wear them.”

As for the most minimalist of them all, the Vibram FiveFingers, you’ll have to search for them elsewhere, as Pacers has stopped carrying them altogether. It’s worth noting that at Pacers, the Brooks Adrenaline was followed in popularity by Brooks Ghost, Asics 2170, Asics Nimbus, and Brooks Ravenna.

So if you’re looking for a new pair of running shoes to start 2013 off right, the Brooks line might be your best bet.

  • I think it is effective information,i am searching these types of article since long time.

  • Happy runner

    Most runners are a bit afraid of minimalist running shoes, learning anything new can be a bit daunting. No animal is born with shoes on, including humans. Most of the time our species has been on this earth we haven't worn shoes. Our bodies know what to do without shoes. Scientific studies again and again are showing that shoes are an interference and negatively effect the way we move. The people who are able to interpret the science are the ones running very successfully in Newtons, Vibram FiveFingers and other minimalist footwear. The masses may never figure it out. The stores who sell to the masses don't care about the science and are just feeding them what they want. Cushioning and arch supportive footwear is very easy to sell - who doesn't want cush? Whenever an article says "But do minimal shoes provide enough arch support?" it shows that the writer isn't seeing beyond the cushioning/arch support paradigm.

    I challenge runners to give minimal shoes a try in 2013. The key is running in the same manner you do when you run in place - using the elasticity in your lower legs - then lean forward and run. You will quickly see why you don't require any cushioning at all under your heel, or under any part of your foot at all. It's really very simple if you just give it a try.

    And as for the FiveFinger shoes with the toe slots; if you think your feet are as strong as they can be give these a try. What most people find out when they put them on for a couple of hours (walking around, not running!) is that theyexperience some soreness in the muscles of the feet and lower legs. And then an epiphany occurs and you realize that you do have a weakness and wearing shoes with less support and less cushioning causes your body to get stronger and stronger. It's like lifting weights - you do it to improve strength in your arms, your core, etc.

    Going to the FiveFingers was the best thing I ever did. It propelled my running to a whole new level, and I qualified for the Boston Marathon by running a marathon in them in 2011. I encourage everyone to give them a try, but start out sslloowwllyy. Just walk in them for 2-4 weeks, and then run 10% of your miles in them, increasing weekly. And listen to your body - when it says to rest, then you rest.

    Good luck in 2013!!

  • We have been without anti-biotics for most of our existence, lifespans used to be 35 years, I think a little extra cushioning for feet seems to make more logical sense than running around almost barefoot.

  • Local Athlete

    The best running shoe (or athletic shoe, depending on what you are using the shoe for) is completely reliant on the athlete wearing the shoe. Each athlete is unique (and what feels best for us - is dependent on what we, as individuals, are looking for in a shoe). Each athlete should be properly fitted (by going to a run specialty shop, like those referenced in your post) for shoes. Run specialty stores focus on making sure the athlete has proper gait analysis and is offered a variety of shoes to try to see which works best for them. They take the time to learn about the athlete (will the shoe be used for cross training, for walking, for running, how many miles, etc) and provide them with options that best match what their personal athletic goals or lifestyle may be.

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