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A neutral running shoe is a running shoe with a balanced ride character. The medial side of its midsole isn’t firmer than the lateral side of its midsole so there is no firmer medial wedge or other support feature like guide rails. They allow the foot to move and flex freely, without any guidance.
Neutral running shoes are designed for runners with a neutral style. This means that when they run, the outside heel of their foot makes contact with the ground first. Their heel then rolls in about 15 degrees and then the rest of the foot comes flat into contact with the ground. The foot then pushes off from the ground with all toes at the same time. About 50-60% of runners have a neutral running style.
Neutral running shoes can come in many shapes and forms: they can be racing shoes, daily trainers, tempo trainers or of the max-cushioned variety. This guide is a list of the best neutral running shoes in each category.
Best Neutral Marathon Racing Shoe
Now in its second iteration, the RC Elite v2 is a racing powerhouse. It has a new flat forefoot outsole which makes ride transitions smoother and it has a higher toe-spring which improves efficiency. The RC Elite v2 is one of the softest racing super shoes on the market and it has plenty of long-distance comfort without any mushiness. Version 2 of the RC Elite has a wider forefoot, midfoot and rearfoot than its predecessor, so it has more stability.
Best Neutral 10 K Racing Shoe
The Adizero Pro has a snappy and responsive ride which makes it perfect for short-distance races. It has a full-length Carbitex plate which is flexible so it has a propulsive but natural feel. A Celermesh upper provides excellent breathability while having water repellent properties so it won’t absorb liquid and make the shoes heavier during races. It has Quickstrike on its outsole with tiny rubber “teeth” that bite into the ground for extra grip.
Best Neutral Max Cushioned Trainer
The Nimbus 23 is the best version of the Nimbus to date and it has a marshmallow-soft ride. It’s ASICS’ most cushioned, top of the range neutral trainer and it has been updated with a softer ride and an even more luxurious upper. There are GEL units in both the heel and the forefoot of the Nimbus 23 which provide extra shock absorption during footstrikes. The Nimbus 23 is one the most comfortable running shoes on the market.
Best Neutral Daily Trainer
A truly unique offering in the ASICS lineup, the Novablast 2 is nothing like the older ASICS classics. It has a versatile ride character with a bouncy, energetic underfoot feel due to its thick Flytefoam Blast midsole. The Novablast 2 is a multipurpose trainer which is suitable for easy runs, recovery runs, tempo and threshold runs. It also has a tough AHARPLUS outsole which can hold up to all the rigours of high mileage daily runs.
Best Neutral Lightweight Tempo Trainer
This feather-light trainer comes in at only 208 g which is very impressive considering the high level of cushioning it has. The Rebel v2 has been updated with a softer, more lively FuelCell midsole which packs enough cushioning for full marathons. The forefoot of the Rebel v2 is very flexible which results in a natural ride while its super foam midsole returns a ton of energy, making it an excellent tempo trainer.
Best Neutral Long-Distance Trainer
The Nike Invincible Run uses Nike’s premium super foam ZoomX in its midsole which is one of the softest, most responsive midsole foams on the market. The Invincible Run provides an unbelievable amount of energy return with each foot strike while the sheer volume of midsole foam means that it doesn’t bottom out on long distance runs over 40 kilometres. A plush, comfortable upper makes the Invincible Run perfect for runs that last longer than 4 hours while its soft and flexible outsole provides great traction and durability.
Best Neutral Affordable Trainer
The Contend 7 is a daily trainer with a wallet-friendly price. It shares some of the technology found in higher end ASICS trainers like a rear foot GEL unit and OrthoLite sockliner. It has a soft engineered mesh upper with plenty of room in the toe box. The Contend 7 also has a textured rubber outsole which provides plenty of grip in all types of weather on a variety of surfaces including gravel, track, and pavement.