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Runblogger’s Top 5 Road Running Shoes of 2013

The year 2013 was a year of positive professional transition for me, but it was a bit of a bust when it came to running. The year started off a bit rocky, but I pulled things together enough to have a solid race at the Vermont City Marathon on Memorial Day weekend. I managed to put in solid miles through July, but then the reality of my need to wrap up loose ends from the old job and get things rolling with my new career hit hard. My running suffered, and my mileage in August and September was so lousy that I bailed on running the Vermont 50K. Things didn’t get much better into the Fall – there was just too much going on (things have settled a bit, just did a 30 mile week at the end of December!).

As a result of the transition I went through in 2013, I didn’t get to put decent mileage on as many shoes as I would have liked, but there are a few that have stuck out. Below are 5 road shoes that made an impression on me in 2013.

1. New Balance 1400 v2

New Balance 1400v2

I was wary of trying the NB 1400v2 since it has a higher drop than I usually prefer (9mm HTF), but rave reviews from friends forced me to break down and buy a pair. I was not disappointed! Soft heel, firm forefoot, and super light. And, the price is reasonable – they can typically be found for under $90. I’d rank them as my top shoe of the year due to the combo of performance and affordability. Read my full review of the NB 1400v2 here.

2. adidas Adios Boost

adidas Adios Boost

The Adios Boost is another shoe that I was skeptical of due to a higher than preferred drop, but like the NB 1400v2 it worked just fine for me. It also features a soft sole, firm, responsive forefoot, and glove-like fit. The Boost midsole material is bouncy under the heel, and retains its cushioning properties in sub-freezing temps, which is a huge plus for the shoe. The only negative on this one is price – at $140 it’s a much more expensive shoe than the similarly performing 1400v2, and I’m not sure if durability is that much better to warrant the higher price tag. Read my full review of the adidas Adios Boost here.

3. Newton Energy

Newton Energy

I put a bunch of miles on the Newton Energy this past summer and enjoyed all of them. Like the two shoes above, the Energy has a soft heel and a firm forefoot (notice a pattern here?). The Energy also features the new 5-lug pattern under the forefoot, which makes this shoe more stable mediolaterally than 4-lug Newton shoes. One caveat on the Energy – the heel fit out of the box is sloppy due to the sockliner/insole being too thick. Either remove or swap out the sockliner for a thinner one and the shoe becomes a beauty! Read my full review of the Newton Energy here.

4. Saucony Virrata

Saucony Virrata

The Virrata was my Spring marathon shoe and it performed well. Great cushioning for a zero drop shoe, particularly under the forefoot. This is one of the few zero drop shoes on the market that I would choose for a marathon length race, and the Virrata price tag is also reasonable at $89.99 MSRP. One Virrata caveat – the shoe fits a bit narrow in the forefoot, but going a half size up solved this for me. Read my full Saucony Virrata review here.

5. Pearl Izumi EM Road N1

Pearl Izumi EM Road N1

This was a tough choice. I’m going with the Pearl Izumi EM Road N1 at #5 because it’s a very different shoe than the others on this list, and I was surprised by how much I liked it. Unlike the other 4 shoes here, the PI N1 is a very firm shoe, but it rides very smooth. It’s a shoe that I wasn’t crazy about the first time I took it out, but it grew on me with each subsequent run. The upper is awesome – stretchy and accommodating, and the unusual sole architecture is reminiscent of the Skechers GoRun (the GoRun 2 was one of my top 5 last year). Very impressed with this one! Read my full Pearl Izumi EM Road N1 review here.

Honorable mentions among road shoes: Nike Free 3.0 v5, Mizuno Universe 5, Mizuno Cursoris, Asics Gel Lyte33 v2 (note since I’m sure I’ll be asked: I didn’t include the Skechers GoRun 3 since it came out late in the year and I have not reviewed it yet, it’ll be a candidate for 2014)

One last thing: I now have almost 500 submissions for my top shoes of 2013 reader poll, submit yours here if you have not already. I hope to have the votes tallied by the end of the week!

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Recent Posts By Category: Running Shoe Reviews | Running Gear Reviews | Running Science
About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a biology teacher, track/soccer coach, and dad (x3) with a passion for running, soccer, and science. If you'd like to learn a little bit more about who I am and what I do, click here, or visit


  1. Since your EOTY lists last year were subdivided into categories like zero drop and transitional, I’m curious to know if you feel like your taste/preferences in shoes has changed much over this year, and if that’s related at all (in your mind, at least) to a change in your running habits. At first blush, these list is a little surprising considering your preference for zero drop shoes in the past. Is there a migration happening here, or is it as much reflective of what was released this year, rather than a change in what you like to run in.

    Great writing as always, Pete. Keep it up.

    • Great question! It’s probably a reflection of my growing realization that my stride can accommodate a variety of shoe types and that drop numbers are not always the best reflection of what will work for me. The 1400v2 and adios Boost are really not that much different than say the Saucony A5, which was my top shoe last year, except that they have about 5mm more under the heel. However, there are other 9-10mm drop shoes that absolutely do not work for me, like the Mizuno Sayonara.

      I’ve never really been a zero drop only guy, probably have put more miles on the Saucony Kinvara than any other shoe in the past 3-4 years. I didn’t do as much true minimal running this year, excepty maybe the Mizuno Universe 5 which feels a lot like a Vibram or Merrell barefoot. That being said, I still like running in ultraminimal stuff. Mixung it up works best for me.

      Thanks for asking!

    • I would add that the Virrata is zero drop, the Newton Energy is 3mm without the included insole, and the PI Road N1 is oddly built and feels pretty flat.

  2. Between adios and 1400v2..which has the wider fit?

  3. Is it just me or was “zest” (neon bright yellow, green, or yellow-green) the big thing in the running shoe color designs of 2013?

  4. Though sometimes I think I don’t like the Adios Boost, my opinion of the shoe generally keeps growing more and more favorable. As for durability, I’ve worn them quite a bit over the past two months, and they look like I could still return them and claim they were barely used. Maybe my form has gotten better, but the rubber on the bottom has very little wear.

  5. I purchased the GoBionic shoe on your review and love that shoe, to me it’s perfect.
    A bit of cushioning for protection, but very flexible. I wonder why it’s not on your list. Is it an older shoe?

    Which brings me to a problem, it’s nearly worn out and I need to find an alternative as you can’t buy them any more.

    Your suggestions would be really helpful.


  6. Hey Pete, thanks for all your posts. I thought this one would be the most appropriate to ask my question on. My Kinvara 3s are worn out and I replaced them with Go Run rides plus a pair of Adios Boost. I also have some vivobarefoot evos. I’m on a half marathon plan with intervals, tempo runs and a mix of easy long runs, building to race pace long runs with a few short easy runs thrown in. Can you give me your view on which shoes to wear for which type of run?

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