TOP 13 Best Racing Flats 2021 Reviewed for 5km to Marathon

Jeff Baldelli
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Racing flats are super lightweight running shoes. They look like really lightweight running sneakers. Some of the best racing flats can help a runner shave precious seconds off their time.

Racing flats support and cushion the feet, but they are less supportive than training shoes. Their lightweight construction makes them great for speed and acceleration. These shoes are good for racing, tempo runs, interval training, and track training.

While efficiency and speed might be the main difference between flats and trainers, their lightweight makes them more similar to running in bare feet. This means that they can help improve your form. They also require less energy to run.

NameCategoryProduct
New Balance Women's 1500 V6 Running ShoeBest OverallNew Balance Women's 1500 V6 Running Shoe
Saucony Men's Fastwitch 9 Road Running ShoeBudget PickSaucony Men's Fastwitch 9 Road Running Shoe
Nike Vaporfly 4% Flyknit UnisexUpgrade PickNike Vaporfly 4% Flyknit Unisex

1. New Balance Women's 1500 V6 Running Shoe

Our rating: 9 / 10

New Balance Women's 1500 V6 Running Shoe

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Pros:

  • Available in many attractive colors
  • Affordable
  • Plenty of lateral support without sacrificing comfort
  • Well cushioned
  • Quite simple
  • Supportive midsole

This is a great pair of shoes for any woman with a neutral foot gait. They come in a tremendous variety of colors, and the design is classic New Balance.

They’re very budget friendly, so runners on a budget will appreciate them. They also have the New Balance signature waffle sole and are made with sturdy materials, so they’re very well-built.

They’re reasonably lightweight, so they feel fast on your feet. They provide a nice, low-to-the-ground experience and have a stable build, so they’re good for both everyday training and long runs.

2. adidas Men's Adizero Adios 4 Running Shoe

Our rating: 9 / 10

adidas Men's Adizero Adios 4 Running Shoe

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Pros:

  • Great shoe for top-class performance
  • Upper is made from the Primeknit upper
  • Very lightweight
  • Some impressive traction features
  • DuraCage provides a nice amount of stability
  • Good looking

Cons:

  • Some complaints of durability issues.

One of the best in the adidas Adios family is the 4. Featuring a new nearly seamless upper, the Adios 4 is both incredibly breathable and comfortable.

The shoe has a standard fit, so it will feel most natural on long runs. There aren’t any arch supports, but the molded heel still helps prevent over-pronation problems. Overall, the Primeknit upper feels extremely lightweight and comfortable on feet, while also providing breathability.

The Adios 4 also features a durable Adiwear sole that provides good traction on regular running surfaces and a touch of flexibility to allow foot splay during runs.

3. ASICS Women's Glideride Running Shoes

Our rating: 8 / 10

ASICS Women's Glideride Running Shoes

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Pros:

  • Reviewers love how comfortable they are right out of the box.
  • Comfy but have good arch support.
  • They fit wide feet well.
  • Very stable walking through trails.
  • Decent traction on dry trails.
  • Great for standing on trail mix and gummy worms.
  • Flexible enough to wear with socks or without.
  • Several reviewers have purchased multiple pairs.
  • Reviewers with plantar fasciitis say they have helped with foot pain.
  • Most reviewers have had them 6 months or longer and didn’t see substantial wear.

Cons:

  • One reviewer had a stitching issue, but it was fixed by the merchant.
  • One reviewer said they were a little on the wide side, but still very comfortable.

Another excellent option for daily training and speedwork, the ASICS Women’s Glideride are light, flexible, and have a roomy toe box that fits wide feet well. They’re very comfortable, even after numerous miles.

4. Brooks Men's Hyperion

Our rating: 8 / 10

Brooks Men's Hyperion

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Pros:

  • Lightweight with ample cushioning
  • Well ventilated upper
  • Flywire cables for quick responsiveness
  • Great value for performance
  • Several color options

Cons:

  • Lacing system is not as durable as it could be
  • Sizing runs just a bit large
  • Laces do not grip very well
  • The shoe is a tad heavy

Racing Flats, Navy, 11.5 M US

This shoe is great for those who are looking for a nice balance between the comfort of a racing flat and the durability of a training shoe. It fits true to size, but the shoe runs a bit wide. The soft toe box means it provides ample forefoot room. There’s enough cushioning for longer runs, but the shoe also responds quickly enough for shorter runs of 6 to 10 miles.

The Flywire cords provide stability without weighing you down. The shoe is stable enough for longer distances, but it still feels really responsive underfoot and doesn’t require you to build up too much fatigue on your shorter runs. The upper is very breathable and provides a lot of ventilation, which is a huge plus on hot summer days.

5. Brooks Asteria Shoe

Our rating: 8 / 10

Brooks Asteria Shoe

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Pros:

  • Aesthetically pleasing design.
  • Sturdy and durable for the high mileage and marathon runners.
  • Flexible midsole and air mesh upper.
  • 22 mm heel drop is ideal for heel strikers.
  • Upper is lightweight and breathable.
  • 8 mm drop and dual-density midsole works for moderate overpronators.
  • Sturdy outsole and grip for long training runs and racing.
  • Cushioned ride and responsive.

Cons:

  • Very minimal support.
  • No foot or arch support.

This shoe is designed for high mileage and marathon running. The upper is made from breathable air mesh. This lightweight material works as a buffer against heat and moisture. The upper fit will work for most runners with a wide toe box and a roomy toebox.

The shoe is minimal, so it trims weight. The toebox also has zonkz crosshatched lacing that will loosen as you break in.

The shoe also has a 22 mm heel drop which is ideal for moderate heel strikers. The drop reduces stress on the plantar fascia, Achilles tendon, and back of the leg.

6. Saucony Men's Type A9 Running Shoe

Our rating: 7 / 10

Saucony Men's Type A9 Running Shoe

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Pros:

  • The upper is breathable and responsive.
  • The midsole offers a comfortable cushioning.
  • It has nice traction.
  • It is affordable.
  • The color options are fantastic.
  • The design is attractive.
  • It is versatile.

Cons:

  • Some report that the fit is not true to size.
  • Some find the upper to make a squeaky sound as you run.

The Saucony Type A9 is the kind of shoe you'll run back to the store to purchase. They are one of the best running shoes for optimal performance. This shoe has the perfect blend of style and comfort. It has a breathable upper and comfortable cushioning that protects the feet from impact. It has a flexible outsole with good traction that you can wear on various surfaces. The midsole offers support and structure with an EVA that absorbs shock.

The colors of the Saucony Type A9 are limitless. You can choose from different kinds of hues, some of which are not found in other shoe brands. For instance, you can get these shoes in cobalt blue, ombre purple, or wild jungle. They will complement whatever outfit you choose to wear.

7. Saucony Men's Fastwitch 9 Road Running Shoe

Our rating: 7 / 10

Saucony Men's Fastwitch 9 Road Running Shoe

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Pros:

  • Post-tread technology
  • Midsole cushioning and support
  • Enhanced traction with 3D grid Gecko forefoot rubber
  • Reflective detailing, heel stability, and high-speed comfort
  • Good relief from pressure and shock

The Saucony Men's Fastwitch 9 is a fantastic shoe for a variety of different runners. It's an affordable option that offers enough tech to satisfy everyday casual runners, tempo runners, and marathon training you.

These are not a minimalist shoe, but rather a shoe that falls into the underpronation category. The Fastwitch has a roomy forefoot that’s designed to provide the freedom and protection you need. The shoe also has a great heel cup that locks the rear foot down and prevents rollover.

The shoe's flexibility is good and gives a sense of security and comfort. It has the decent midsole cushioning and is very comfortable and smooth on any surface.

8. Reebok Floatride Run Fast Pro Shoe

Our rating: 7 / 10

Reebok Floatride Run Fast Pro Shoe

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Pros:

  • Floatride design reduces impact
  • Lightweight, minimal, flexible, and seamless.
  • More cushioned than other racing flats.
  • Open mesh and thin no-sew upper for less irritation to sensitive feet.
  • Wide toebox

Cons:

  • The wide toebox can be bothersome to some due to the lack of a differentiation between the big toe and the rest of the toes.

The Reebok Floatride Run Fast offers the same great technology that was used in Reebok’s running/training shoe line and applies it to a racing flat. The FloatRide’s midsole combines lightweight injected foam and a responsive compound which gives you a light, flexible and resilient ride. Reebok wants to be as light as possible without sacrificing cushion or support, which is why they used a core of Endofit material around the base of your foot. This helps to keep your heel and arch from overpronating and giving you that bunion.

9. ASICS Women's Lyteracer 2 Running Shoes

Our rating: 6 / 10

ASICS Women's Lyteracer 2 Running Shoes

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Pros:

  • Lightweight and breathable design.
  • Incredibly shock absorbent.
  • Great to run in all day long.
  • Cushioned and supportive for your foot.

Cons:

  • The back toe box is a tad bulky.
  • The outsole offers less traction than some competitors.
  • Quality is inconsistent.
  • Not true to size. Go up a half size.

If you need a great pair of running shoes for running intervals or just taking Karate classes, the ASICS Women’s Lyteracer 2 running shoe is a great option. They’re specifically designed to be lightweight, breathable, and have great shock absorption.

They’re incredibly comfortable to wear and great for running for long distances. The price point also makes them a great value. Just be aware that they run a tad small and the back toe box is a tad bulky.

More expensive shoes certainly do have their advantages. But for people on a budget, the ASICS Women’s Lyteracer 2 running shoe is a great worth-it option.

10. Nike Vaporfly 4% Flyknit Unisex

Our rating: 6 / 10

Nike Vaporfly 4% Flyknit Unisex

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Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Good looking design
  • Innovative sole that helps to stabilize your foot
  • The flyknit material is lightweight and strong
  • Great for hours of use
  • Extremely breathable design

Cons:

  • You may need an insole for added comfort
  • A little hard on the feet

Okay, let’s start here. The Nike Vaporfly is part of the Nike sub-brand, the “Vapor” series. The Nike Vaporfly is marketed as a race shoe intended for running races of five kilometers or less.

Nike claims that this fitness shoe will help runners run faster using some pretty innovative technology.

The key is that the sole and bubble are made from Nikes proprietary material, a lightweight version of carbon fiber called, you guessed it, Vaporfly.

11. New Balance Women's 1400 V6 Running Shoe

Our rating: 6 / 10

New Balance Women's 1400 V6 Running Shoe

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Pros:

  • The dual-density midsole offers a smooth and efficient transition from heel strike to toe-off.
  • The FitLite midsole material offers the best of both worlds between a responsive and cushioned shoe.
  • 18% lighter than previous models.
  • Now includes an Ortholite sock liner.
  • Reflective details of the upper make for increased visibility in low light.
  • Durable outsole.

Cons:

  • The midsole could be more durable.
  • The upper might not last you as long as you'd like.
  • Some say they don't breathe as well as other models.

This women's running shoe by New Balance is a solid option for runners looking to improve their performance while simultaneously reducing the amount of injuries that they may have.

The New Balance 1400 V6 has been specifically designed for women, and its most touted feature is the dual-density foam midsole.

This material helps maintain a smooth transition from heel strike to toe-off, which can increase efficiency and can decrease the strain placed on the lower legs and knees.

12. Altra Men's ALU1812F Vanish-R Road Running Shoe

Our rating: 5 / 10

Altra Men's ALU1812F Vanish-R Road Running Shoe

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Pros:

  • Flexible, durable upper
  • Superior cushioning
  • Foam-as-you-go midsole design
  • Wide toe box
  • Low-maintenance design
  • Good stability
  • Zero drop
  • Runners have noted it help diminish shin splints
  • Nice weight (210 grams)
  • Unisex

Cons:

  • Some wearers have reported numbness in feet when running long distances in this shoe.

Gold medal marathon pacing? Check. Strong hills to overcome? Check. Tough trail runs? Check. Your next run should probably be in the Altra Vanish-R. It's a great trail or pavement shoe due its minimalistic design and lightweight construction.

This shoe is quite light and flexible, making it easy to run in and allowing you to feel the ground for a smoother stride. They are also very comfortable and the interior fabric is soft and smooth.

13. Nike Zoomx Vaporfly Next% Men Running Shoess Ao4568-600

Our rating: 3 / 10

Nike Zoomx Vaporfly Next% Men Running Shoess Ao4568-600

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Pros:

  • Appear and feel like a running sneaker
  • Low to the ground and very light
  • Flywire technology for support and stability
  • Responsive cushioning
  • Colors available are aesthetically pleasing
  • Great all-purpose training shoes
  • Very popular among marathon runners
  • Excellent shoes for quicker workouts
  • Appealing design
  • Excellent running shoes for small runners

Cons:

  • Slides against floor
  • Expensive
  • Support is not the best
  • Some don’t like the appearance

This running shoe offers extraordinary comfort, control, and speed. When you run, you are more efficient, quicker, and can run longer.

These running shoes are very popular among marathon runners because they help runners hit their best times. They are also popular among trainers, gym goers, and those who exercise moderately.

Some runners state that they are the best shoes for shorter distances. This seems to be a problem for small runners, high arches, and runners with higher-volume feet.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the best racing flats?

Racing flats are the most minimally constructed running shoe. They are essentially just mesh socks with a sole sewn on. They are great for mile repeats or any workout where speed is the primary objective and the shorter distances are under 5K.

Racing flats should ideally not be used except on a track or an oval. Running with them anywhere else will result in them wearing out very quickly.

What shoes do top marathon runners wear?

The top marathon runners will wear some combination of flats and light trainers. The top marathon runners, however, very rarely race in lightweight racing flats, although they can be very useful for training.

Many runners will wear a pair of lightweight trainers that they find comfortable. These will often have a softer sole than your typical running shoe. These shoes are light, but they are not very stiff and they are not meant to give much support. Many of these shoes might come with the same insoles that you find in your typical running shoe. Some marathon runners might wear a lightweight racing flat for training if they are planning to wear heavier shoes during a race.

What are the best shoes for running a 5k?

The most popular shoe for a 5K run is the ASICS GEL-Nimbus. They are considered neutral running shoes, which means the shoes are built to the natural alignment of your foot and should not cause aching or cramping.

Finding the right running shoes can be challenging and a bit of trial and error. What works for you may be completely different than what works for your friend.

Most running shoes are recommended for longer runs, such as half marathons. Again, the technical shoes (designed for racing) have been designed to fit the foot more snugly than the average training shoe.

Some runners have intense aversions to certain models and brands of trainers as they find them too constricting or uncomfortable. This is natural as each foot is an individual and what is a good fit and offers good support for one runner could well be the worst choice for the next.

What is the best running shoe on the market?

This is one of the most common questions we get. When it comes to buying running shoes, it can often seem like you need a masters degree to purchase the right pair.

It doesn’t have to be that hard. For the most part, there are five variables to keep in mind when picking out your running shoes: support, cushioning, forefoot width, heel width and stability. Of course, there are a lot of shoes that don’t have any of these features, so we recommend doing as much research as you can with reviews and recommendations from trusted sources.

Conclusion

Running a marathon is an amazing accomplishment and requires training, discipline, and the right shoes.

With thousands of options to choose from, selecting the right product can be confusing. But not for this buyer’s guide.

When it comes to the best racing flats in 2021, we’ve done all the research for you and selected 13 of our favorite products. We’ve compared each of their price, features, and customer reviews to give you all the necessary information you need. Dive in, and find the perfect pair to get you across the finish line.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
New Balance Women's 1500 V6 Running ShoeBest OverallNew Balance Women's 1500 V6 Running Shoe
Saucony Men's Fastwitch 9 Road Running ShoeBudget PickSaucony Men's Fastwitch 9 Road Running Shoe
Nike Vaporfly 4% Flyknit UnisexUpgrade PickNike Vaporfly 4% Flyknit Unisex