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The Best Nike Running Shoes: Your Guide To The Brand’s Top Trainers

Running wouldn't be where it is today without Nike, a brand known for its groundbreaking shoe technology and for outfitting top runners like Eliud Kipchoge, who wore the sport's first carbon-plated super shoes. Today, serious runners and newbies alike have a lot of Nikes from which to choose. For that reason, we’ve tested and reviewed all of the best Nike running shoes to bring you seven elite options in different categories. These include our top pick, the best-selling Nike Pegasus 40, as well as the Zoom Fly 5 for distance running and the Invincible 3 for superior cushioning. Here, all the best Nike shoes for running that we highly recommend.

Best Nike Running Shoes Overall

A Tried-And-True Workhorse That Can Do It All

MOST POPULAR

Nike Pegasus 40

Weight: 8.5 ounces | Cushion: Medium | Drop: 10 millimeters

Pros:

  • Reliable daily trainer
  • Breathable upper
  • Secure midfoot

Cons:

  • Slower ride

The Nike Pegasus is the brand’s flagship daily trainer—nothing more, nothing less. It’s been around since 1983 (hence the “40” in its name) and a go-to model for runners looking for a reliable daily trainer. The shoe isn’t particularly bouncy or responsive, but it can put in the miles.

The shoe uses the React foam and Zoom Air Units for support and a stable ride. For runners who want to invest in just one shoe, the Pegasus 40 can serve as a running shoe, gym shoe and everyday wear (although it won’t last as long). In June, Nike will launch the Pegasus 41, which will use the company’s new ReactX foam that delivers a more responsive ride and greater energy return.


Best Value Nike Running Shoes

Cushioned And Supportive With Innovative New Foam

Nike InfinityRN 4

Weight: 12.5 ounces | Cushion: Maximum | Drop: 9 millimeters

Pros:

  • Wide toe box
  • Supportive

Cons:

  • Heavy

The Nike InfinityRN 4 uses the brand’s new ReactX foam, a more environmentally friendly foam than its basic React foam. While planet-friendly materials sometimes come at the cost of performance, this shoe is still a workhorse, though it’s a little on the heavier side compared to similar models. But this shoe’s rocker-shaped platform gives runners that added propulsion without a carbon fiber plate.

The Nike InfinityRN 4 has a water-resistant membrane, unlike previous versions, for those wet training runs when you need to log miles in bad weather. In terms of value, you’re getting a high-quality Nike shoe that can withstand the wear and tear of long runs at the going rate of many daily trainers (compared to the much cheaper Nike Revolution 7). Yes, it’s a fair amount to pay upfront, but the materials last longer and the runs play out more smoothly than they might if you opted for a cheaper shoe.

According to Nike, the InfinityRN 4 runs a bit snug, so go with a half size up if you fall between sizes or need a little extra room.


Best Nike Running Shoes For Long Distances

A Carbon Fiber-Plated Shoe At An Affordable Price

Nike Zoom Fly 5

Weight: 8.5 ounces | Cushion: Medium | Drop: 10 millimeters

Pros:

  • Carbon-plated shoe at a more affordable price point
  • Durable upper
  • Training and race-worthy

Cons:

  • On the softer side for a carbon-plated shoe

The Zoom Fly 5 is, as the company puts it, the bridge between Nike’s premium Super Shoes (Vaporfly 3 and Alphafly 3) and a standard daily trainer. The Zoom Fly 5 uses a carbon fiber plate, yes, but it is also significantly heavier—some 2 ounces—than the Vaporfly 3 and has a thicker upper than the premium racing models.

This combination, though, makes the Vapor Fly 5 a solid training-to-race-day shoe at a much more affordable price point. We should note that using a carbon-plated shoe for every run could lead to aches and pains, and possible injury thanks to how the plates change running biomechanics. So, before you decide to make this your daily trainer, build up mileage over time and see how your body responds.


Best Nike Running Shoes For Cushioning

Treat Your Feet To The Brand’s Most Plush Ride

Nike Invincible 3

Weight: 10.9 ounces | Cushion: Maximum | Drop: 9 millimeters

Pros:

  • Maximum cushioning
  • Signature waffle outsole

Cons:

  • Some users report heel slippage
  • Wider fit might be too wide for narrow feet
  • Upper not very breathable

The Invincible 3 is for runners who love Nike and want a max-cushioned shoe. This plush model adds extra cushioning around the heel and tongue to deliver a soft, comfortable ride for distances of any length. The daily trainer uses Nike’s ZoomX foam, and in this iteration, the midsole is wider and taller, which is great if you need additional wiggle room, but it might be too wide for anyone with narrow feet.

Despite Nike using its breathable Flyknit upper, some wearers also complained about the upper’s lack of breathability. We haven’t experienced hot feet, but if you’re someone who does, it might be worth looking for a Nike model that’s plush without adding padding to the upper, like the React Phantom Run Flyknit 2. The Invincible 3 also uses the company’s signature waffle outsole for lasting durability, so while it’s expensive, it should last a long while.


Best Nike Running Shoes For Road Racing

Run Even Faster With This Super Shoe Gold Standard

Nike Vaporfly 3

Weight: 7 ounces | Cushion: Medium | Drop: 8 millimeters

Pros:

  • Incredibly responsive
  • Lightweight
  • Designed for top speed

Cons:

  • Doesn’t work well for slower paces
  • Not long-lasting
  • Prohibitively expensive

This is the Super Shoe that started it all. The Vaporfly 3 is the gold standard for distance racing shoes, thanks to its full carbon fiber plate, responsive foam, positively no unnecessary bulk and featherweight design. Personally, I haven’t had much luck in Nike running shoes; they tend to be too short and narrow for my feet, but I definitely took a sip of the Kool Aid when I tried the Vaporfly 3.

This shoe is 100% a distance-running racing shoe and should not be worn as a daily trainer. It’s not designed to last, thanks to the incredibly lightweight foam that breaks down quickly, and spending too many miles on a carbon fiber plate could have some negative implications on your body.

For runners who are looking for a distance running shoe specifically for racing—somewhere between a 10K and marathon at a fast pace—the Vaporfly 3 is incredibly breathable, light and wildly responsive, giving you an undeniable edge.


Best Nike Running Shoes For Stability

Keep Your Feet Locked And Loaded

Nike Structure 25

Weight: 8.5 ounces | Cushion: Medium | Drop: 10 millimeters

Pros:

  • Supportive and stable
  • Sturdy
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Might be too firm for some
  • Arch support might be too aggressive

With the redesigned Nike Structure 25 comes a good-for-some aggressive stability trainer that relies on the brand’s Cushion 3.0 and Zoom Air Units for comfort and support. Zoom Air Units, by the way, are air-filled bags that sit within the midsole. On impact, they compress and absorb force, and then return to their original shape. (Yes, they’re the same airbags found in the famous Nike Air shoes you remember from the ‘80s and ‘90s, just improved.)

The shoe can be a little cumbersome because of its firmness, but that’s what people who need a stability trainer want. The higher stack height—37.7 millimeters in the heel and 27.7 millimeters in the forefoot—provides additional support.


Best Nike Trail Running Shoes

Seamlessly Travel From Road To Trail

Nike Pegasus Trail 4

Weight: 10.5 ounces | Cushion: High | Drop: 9.5 millimeters

Pros:

  • Designed for road to trail
  • Lightweight, responsive
  • Versatile
  • Reinforced toes

Cons:

  • Not made for technical or advanced trails

For runners who want to seamlessly go from road to trail, the Nike Pegasus Trail 4 is the perfect bridge. The shoe uses React foam for a responsive ride, and the outsole and lugs aren’t too soft, making the shoe road-friendly if you need to cover a few miles on tarmac.

On trails that are basic—not advanced or overly technical—the Pegasus Trail 4 is supportive thanks to the brand’s Flywire technology that uses high-strength threads, like suspension cables on a bridge for added support, and its grippy outsole is informed by runner data. Overall, the Pegasus Trail 4 is the go-to trail shoe for Nike, much like the Pegasus 40 is the go-to daily trainer. Consider it the workhorse with wings, as the brand puts it.


Why Trust Forbes Vetted

Forbes Vetted contributor Heather Mayer Irvine, who authored this piece, has been running for more than two decades and has been testing running shoes for nearly as long. As a former food and nutrition editor for Runner’s World and the author of The Runner's World Vegetarian Cookbook, she keeps a pulse on the latest releases in sneaker technology to ensure readers are getting the most up-to-date information and recommendations.

You can’t expect to run a 5K in a new pair of shoes and assume you know how they’ll perform. When testing running shoes, including the Nikes on this list, it's important to put in significant mileage to really get a feel for their performance. That’s why we ran in the Pegasus 40, Vaporfly 3 and Pegasus Trail 4, among others, to evaluate comfort, support and responsiveness. This thorough approach helps us gather a wide range of perspectives, making sure runners of all backgrounds and experience levels can find the best Nike running shoes for their needs.


How We Chose The Best Nike Running Shoes

These are the Nike running shoes that we reach for on weekend distance runs, easy training runs around the block and speed runs at the local track. Mayer Irvine has worn Nikes on and off for years, and she keeps a pulse on the running shoe industry to stay abreast of new models, materials and designs.

Running is a sport that covers everything from different terrains to varying intensities and distances. Each runner has their own goals and preferences, and even if you're focusing on a specific distance or race, you need to mix up your training. Speed work, for example, is essential for long-distance runners because it boosts running economy and makes those long miles feel easier at a quicker pace. The same goes for trail runners who hit the roads or sprinters who take on long distances. The top runners in any field make sure to mix things up. With that in mind, we've picked a Nike shoe for every kind of run you might have in your training plan.


What To Look For In The Best Nike Running Shoes

Activity Level

A daily trainer is going to look and feel pretty different from a hardcore racing shoe. Before you invest in a pair of Nike running shoes, consider how you plan on using the shoe. Do you want a Nike running shoe that will serve you well for 20 miles a week? Do you need a running shoe that doubles as an everyday shoe? Or are you looking for a top-of-the-line super shoe for racing that will help you nab that long-sought-after PR?

Racing shoes, like the Vaporfly 3, are going to be incredibly lightweight, and the foam will likely not last more than a single training cycle (depending on various factors). Racing shoes with carbon fiber plates are also not intended to be everyday running shoes; the continuous help from the plate can cause injury in some runners. Meanwhile, distance shoes like the Zoom Fly 5 offer plush support to absorb repetitive impact; they’re comfy, but you probably wouldn’t wear them for a fast race.

Cushion

Nike uses two types of foam cushioning in its running shoes.

The ZoomX foam is light, soft and incredibly responsive, debuting in the brand’s original super shoes. According to the company, ZoomX—a polyether block amide (PEBA) foam—delivers 85% energy return, which is why it’s found in the company’s racing shoes.

The ReactX foam is a newer iteration of the brand’s foam. It launched in July 2023 in the Infinity RN4. The foam is a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), designed for everyday training. According to Nike, the ReactX foam has a lower carbon footprint than its predecessor.

Fit And Comfort

As with shopping for all running shoes, fit is going to be the most important factor. After all, if the shoe isn’t comfortable, you’re not going to want to wear it, and it can cause pain, chafing and even injury if you do.

Nike is known to run a little narrow and a little short. For some runners, merely sizing up a full or half size can alleviate this, but others might have to try another brand. For example, Mayer Irvine never had much luck with the Nike fit until she tried the Vaporfly 3; although some say the upper isn’t flexible and can be restrictive, she found that it let her foot splay out more than other Nike models she’s tried in the past.


Does Nike Have Good Running Shoes?

Some of the best runners in the world wear Nike running shoes. The company trailblazed the running shoe industry and has been a leader in running shoes since the 1960s. A good running shoe is subjective and depends on the wearer’s preferences. Nike running shoes are a favorite among runners thanks to their reputation and performance. The brand created the first super shoe, using incredibly lightweight foam and a carbon fiber plate that significantly improve performance.

How Often Should I Replace My Nike Running Shoes?

Typically, running shoes should be replaced every 300 to 500 miles, depending on factors like your running style, body weight and the surfaces you run on. Signs that it's time for a new pair include noticeable wear on the outsole, reduced cushioning and discomfort during runs. Keep in mind that some Nike running shoes, like the Vaporfly 3, are designed solely for racing and should not be worn every day because the foam breaks down very quickly.


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