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The research is confounding in large part because of the number of variables to consider when evaluating a shoe. Foot movement and gait vary between runners, as do height, weight, speed and training volume, which makes for a very different shoe experience from one runner to another. There’s also an increasingly popular school of thought that every runner has their own preferred gait or movement pattern, and that the right shoe is the one that best supports the individual mechanics of the runner.
That said, most runners are looking for more than one thing in a shoe. Comfort, performance and ability to reduce the risk of injury are the top three considerations, though not everyone will rank them in the same order of importance. In practical terms, that means finding as lightweight a shoe as possible, combined with the right balance of cushioning and stability.