Whether running a 5k is on your bucket list, or you’re an experienced 5k runner, the shoes you choose to wear can make a big difference to your performance.
You may be wearing the same pair of shoes you’ve worn for a year, and it’s possible that they are holding you back from your full potential.
Because 5k isn’t very far and you won’t run for long, you may think that you don’t need to invest in a pair of high-end running shoes.
However, running in shoes that don’t provide adequate support, cushioning and responsiveness could have an impact on your overall performance.
We have selected the Brooks Ghost 15 as our top 5k shoe, as it’s ideal for training and races, and features plush midsole foam and a soft upper.
Keep reading to find out which other shoes made the list.
Top 3 Best and Favorites
Brooks Ghost 15
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Brooks Launch 9
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Nike Air Zoom Vomero 14
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1. Brooks Ghost 15
The Brooks Ghost 15 is our top choice for 5k running shoes. Brooks is the most popular running shoe brand, and there’s a reason so many people use them for everything from leisurely runs to ultra marathons.
The cushioning in the Ghost 15 is perfect for 5ks. It’s not soft enough to feel unsupportive, but it’s a comfortable, firm, and stable ride.
Unlike many other shoes, the midsole features two different foams—DNA Loft runs the full length of the shoe, and a section of BioMoGo is featured on the medial side of the sole. This provides both cushion and support.
The Ghost 15’s outsole has been updated and sports a new tread pattern to keep you more sure on your feet in any terrain. With hard-wearing rubber on the heel and softer blown rubber in the forefoot, transitions are smooth and landings are shock-absorbing.
The upper is made of air mesh. It’s light but plush, providing not only good ventilation to keep your feet cool during your 5k, but also cushioning the foot and keeping it stable from the top down.
The responsive feel of the shoe, the smooth heel-to-toe transitions, and the great energy return make it a good choice for all the 5ks on your race calendar.
- BioMoGo DNA & DNA Loft midsole
- 3D Fit Print upper
- Smooth heel-to-toe transition
- Great all-around shoe
- Some people may find the shoe to be too cushioned for their liking
Top All-Purpose Shoes
2. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11
If you’re looking for a pair of shoes that you can run a comfortable 5k in and continue to use for everyday wear afterward, the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11 is a good choice.
The shoes are lightweight, which will have you running like the wind during your race. This is due to the unusual laser-engraved Fresh foam, which provides cushioning without weight. It is very responsive, absorbing shock on the foot strike but giving an impressive energy return for quick toe-offs.
The blown rubber outsole has a patterned tread and rebounds well on toe-off. It’s durable, which is another thing that makes this a good multi-purpose trainer. The Ultra Heel design keeps your foot firmly planted without being uncomfortable or restrictive.
The Hypoknit upper is light and soft on the bridge of the foot and stretches comfortably to accommodate the foot. At the same time, it keeps the foot locked down without being too tight or causing pressure spots.
Its comfort from top to toe, impressive cushioning, and responsiveness make this a good pair of shoes for just about any purpose, including running a 5k.
- Hypoknit upper
- Full-length Fresh Foam midsole
- Ultra Heel design
- Removable foam insole
- Some may find that the toe box is narrow
- Some runners don’t like the lack of support in the heel
3. Brooks Launch 9
Brooks shoes aren’t just popular. They also offer a lot of value and are known to be some of the most padded, comfortable shoes around. The Launch 9 is our best value choice. It’s made for runners with a neutral foot, and it’s suitable for both training and racing.
The Brooks Launch 9 is very light, yet offers enough supportive cushioning to see you through a 5k comfortably. This shoe features Brooks’ BioMoGo DNA midsole, but it’s the lightest version they’ve ever produced, making this shoe streamlined and very easy to run long distances in.
It also features a midfoot transition zone that helps facilitate faster heel-to-toe transitions, propelling you forward smoothly and quickly. Extra blown rubber on the outsole in the forefoot also assists with pushing you forward.
The breathable, soft one-piece air mesh upper provides a close-fitting feel for support. The upper has been updated since the previous version, allowing for improved ventilation so your feet will stay cool for much longer than just 5k.
- Midfoot transition zone
- BioMoGo DNA midsole
- Air mesh upper
- Added blown rubber in the forefoot
- May not be suitable for overpronators
Top Running Shoe for Beginners
4. Saucony Ride 15
If you’re planning on running your first 5k race and you’re a beginner when it comes to choosing the perfect footwear, the Saucony Ride 15 is our suggestion for you.
It is a neutral shoe with an 8mm offset. That means that it should fit most people comfortably. If you aren’t sure if your foot is neutral, you can learn about pronation and how to find out whether you pronate in this article.
The 8mm heel-to-toe drop means this shoe only has a slight forward lean. For beginners, a larger drop could be uncomfortable or feel unbalanced.
The mesh upper uses FORMFIT technology to mold to your foot and provide support. The 3D printed overlays also add stability. A padded tongue and collar offer extra comfort, and the traditional lace-up closure allows you to tighten the shoe to your liking.
Saucony’s PWRRN midsole cushion is soft underfoot, but firm enough to absorb shock and bounce back for great energy return. If you have never had a proper pair of running shoes before, you’ll notice that your legs don’t get as fatigued when running in these shoes, thanks to the responsive forward propulsion.
The Saucony Ride 15 tends to run narrow in the toe box, so if you prefer space for your toes to splay, you may need to order a wide size.
- Mesh upper with FORMFIT technology
- PWRRUN midsole cushioning
- 3D-printed overlays
- TRI-FLEX crystal rubber outsole
- These shoes run narrow in the toe box and you may need to order your size in a wide
Best Nike 5k Shoe
5. Nike Air Zoom Vomero 14
If you are a Nike devotee, the Air Zoom Vomero 14 is our pick for the best 5k running shoe for you.
Nike has been using new technology in their running shoes that’s based on the feedback from runners who have been training in their shoes.
The Vomero 14 is another neutral shoe that is a classic Nike design. If you wore the Vomero 13, you may find that the feeling underfoot is stiffer than it was before, and there’s less airflow in the shoe.
If you haven’t worn the 13 and you have nothing to compare to, you may notice a few specific things about this shoe. The toe box is more spacious than Nike usually is, which is good for those who like a wider fit around the toes. The heel has a plastic heel counter to keep the heel firmly in place and reduce slippage.
In terms of cushioning, the Vomero 14 has different cushioning in the heel and forefoot. The heel contains Nike Zoom X Foam, which absorbs impact and reduces jarring. The forefoot has an Air Zoom unit that’s larger than previous versions to increase comfort and cushioning.
- Nike Zoom X Foam in the heel
- Zoom Air unit in the forefoot
- Flex grooves in the sole
- Firm plastic external heel counter
- Some runners may find that the raised midsole causes their feet to hurt
Best Racing Shoe
6. Brooks Hyperion Tempo
These shoes have been designed for speed but also for endurance. Every feature has been created to improve your speed and streamline you as you run, improving your racing time.
The DNA Flash midsole is a large part of what makes this shoe so speedy. The compound in the midsole is infused with nitrogen, which makes it extremely strong but at the same time, very light. It also means that the energy return is excellent, which assists with speed by pushing you forward.
The forefoot is a little bit wider than usual for extra stability when running a longer distance. The 8mm drop allows for a more natural feel and a slight forward lean that can increase speed.
If you need a custom orthotic to feel at home in your shoes, you can remove the stock insole and insert your own for extra comfort.
Another thing that could help your foot is the vertical flex groove in the sole, which helps to keep the foot within its natural gait so you can make the most of your stride, increasing your speed.
- Stretch-woven upper
- DNA FLASH midsole technology
- Removable insole
- Vertical flex groove
- Some may find that the cushioning is too soft for runs longer than 5k
Top Zero Drop 5k Shoe
7. Altra Escalante Racer
Some runners prefer a zero drop shoe – a design where the heel and the toe are at exactly the same height. Your foot will be flatter on the ground, instead of having a slight forward lean. It is known as a “natural” shoe, which means it’s the closest thing to the original barefoot way of running.
If you’ve never run in a zero drop shoe before, transition to the Escalantes slowly. Zero-drop running puts a different kind of strain on your leg muscles – especially the calves. That takes some getting used to. Use these shoes on shorter training runs at first and build it up over a few weeks to running a 5k.
This shoe is designed to feel almost like you aren’t even wearing shoes. It is light and flexible and has an engineered knit mesh upper that feels like a sock on your foot instead of a shoe.
The Altra EGO midsole with InnerFlex has a natural feel to it and you can feel the ground more keenly under your feet. But the cushioning is also plush to keep your feet as comfortable as possible.
The outsole uses something called FootPod technology, which maps and follows the bones and tendons of the foot so that your foot can move naturally.
Some runners may find that the toe box is uncomfortably wide.
- Altra Zero Drop Platform
- Altra EGO with InnerFlex midsole
- Outsole features FootPod Technology
- Knit mesh upper
- Some may feel that the toe box is too wide for comfort
8. Hoka One One Clifton Edge
If you have sensitive feet, you may want to choose a running shoe that is very well-cushioned to provide you the comfort you need during a 5k. And when you prioritize cushioning, Hoka One One is an obvious choice. The Clifton line is their go-to road shoe.
You may notice immediately that it has an extended heel. This is for extra stability, as well as enhanced shock absorption when landing and an easier transition through the heel-to-toe movement.
The cushioning in the full-length EVA midsole is high-resilience and feels springy and light underfoot. A padded ankle collar adds cushioning all around the foot, not just underneath.
You may need to order a larger size, as this shoe runs narrow.
- Full-compression EVA midsole
- Early-stage Meta-Rocker
- Padded tongue and collar
- Extended heel
- This shoe runs narrow and you may have to get a wider size
Best Lightweight Shoe
9. Adidas Adizero Adios 5
The Adidas Adizero Adios is actually designed to be an elite-level marathon racing shoe. It is geared toward being light and responsive, but still absorbs the impact of even the most vigorous run. If you want to feel like you’re running on air when you do your 5k race, then this shoe may be the right one for you. It is our best lightweight shoe, and it weighs less than 8 ounces.
The mesh upper is thin and breathable, but still locks the foot in place to provide a stable and secure ride. It also ensures the breathability of the shoe, with warm air being able to escape and cool air being able to circulate.
The midsole features a combination of two technologies—Boost and Lightstrike. This makes it light but effectively cushioned. The Lightstrike technology absorbs and disperses shock as your foot strikes. In the heel, a Boost foam wedge offers impressive energy return to propel you forward.
A Continental Stretchweb outsole provides great traction on a variety of surfaces, and features flex grooves to align the foot properly.
- Boost and Lightstrike midsole
- Mesh upper
- Flex grooves
- Forefoot and rearfoot protection
- Some runners may not like the faded look of the stripes
Top Trail 5k Shoe
10. Salomon Sense Ride 4
If your ideal 5k is on a trail, then these are the shoes we recommend. Salomon is the reigning king of rugged and sturdy shoes that can handle the rigors of varied terrain.
The Optivibe midsole is made from a combination of foams. The purpose of this is to be both shock-absorbing and springy at the same time, so the fatigue on your feet is reduced and you have some assistance propelling you forward.
A snug fit is ensured by using both SensiFit and EndoFit technology to cradle the foot in a supportive position. The molded OrthoLite insole provides comfort underfoot and is made to follow the shape of your foot.
The Contagrip MA outsole is suitable for a wide variety of different surfaces. It is also very durable, so it won’t wear away as quickly as one may expect on the harsh trail environment.
You may want to order a size larger than usual, as these shoes can run small.
- Optivibe midsole
- Contagrip MA outsole
- Internal SensiFit
- Molded OrthoLite insole
- These shoes can run small and you may have to get a pair a half-size bigger
What features should 5k running shoes have?
The best 5k running shoes should be lightweight without sacrificing comfort and support.
It’s important to have cushioning that will support your feet for the duration of the 5k, and not feel like it’s flattening halfway through the race. If you will be using the same pair for training and racing, the cushioning needs to last.
They also need to have a good grip so that whatever terrain you encounter, you know you can run over it safely and with ease.
Are 5k races good for me?
No matter where you are in your running career, yes, 5k races are good for you. The 5k is a popular introductory distance – think Couch-to-5k. But they are also excellent races for experienced racers who want to work on speed as they train for a bigger race, or simply want a race that doesn’t take half the day. They’re short races that can be done in a short amount of time, usually 45 minutes at the most (the world record is 12:35).
You can burn between 500 and 700 calories doing a 5k race! You don’t even need to fuel up before you run, as it’s short enough to use the body’s stored fuel without depleting it too much.
Just being out on the road or trail is a good stress reliever, and it doesn’t cut into your day so much that you don’t have time for other things.
It’s the perfect distance for beginners and experts alike. It can also be done as a race on its own, or as part of a training program for longer races.