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Top 10 Performance Training Walking Shoes

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Updated May 16, 2014

A performance walking shoe is lightweight, well-balanced, and with just enough cushioning for you to put in the miles in comfort. These shoes are best for walkers with a neutral gait. While the current trend is to minimalist shoes, these shoes have more structure and cushioning to protect your feet.

1. Asics Gel-DS Trainer

Asics Gel-DS Trainer 18
Courtesy of Pricegrabber

The DS Trainer is a favorite for a lightweight training shoe that also provides some stability. It is called the gold standard of the performance-trainer category by Runner's World. The model number 18 for 2013 is an ounce lighter, so it won't drag down your speed. They also made the upper seamless so there are fewer spots for irritation and possible blistering. If you walk in the rain, you'll appreciate the Wet Grip outsole that gives you better traction on wet pavement. The Gel-DS Trainer and other Asics models won our Fitness Walking Shoes Readers' Choice Award.

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2. New Balance 890

New Balance 890v3
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You want light? The REVite midsole in these shoes is extremely light, yet gives a nice amount of cushion. I found myself speeding up on my short walking breaks from the pure joy of the feel of these shoes. They come in widths. Be warned, however, that they change in shape with each new version. The V4 has a whole new last compared to the V3, which had more volume in the upper than the V2. New Balance changes things year to year, so you will definitely want to try on the new version before you buy. The V4 is also even lighter in weight than the V3. They earned the Best Update Award from Runner's World.
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3. Brooks Ghost

Brooks Ghost 6
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I first checked out this shoe in Spring of 2013 and I was impressed with how light and comfortable it was. It won the Runner's World Editor's Choice Award for Fall, 2013. The Ghost 6 is even better for walkers than the earlier models, as it is designed for heel strikers. For those who need a waterproof shoe, it comes in a version with Gore-tex to keep out the rain. I've worn them for a tough 9-mile hike and many 6-mile walking workouts. They are a joy to wear.

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4. Mizuno Wave Precision

Mizuno Wave Precision
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The Wave Precision gets praise for its springy feel. Wearers liked it for training for longer distances such as the half marathon. It earned the gold medal for performance trainers from The Running Network.
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5. Avia Avi-Lite Guidance

Avia Avi-Lite
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The Avi-Lite Guidance comes in three numbered styles for neutral (Avi-Lite Guidance 4), mild overpronaters (Avi-Lite Guidance 6), and severe overpronaters (Avi-Lite Guidance 9). They manage to incorporate motion control in the 6 and 9 while still keeping the shoe lightweight. They also have enough cushioning for mid to high mileage walkers. The Running Network gave this shoe their Gold Medal top honors in the lightweight category.

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6. Saucony ProGRID Kinvara

Saucony ProGRID Kinvara
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The Kinvara borders on being a minimalist shoe, with very lightweight construction. Wearers love them for being light and flexible yet providing enough support and cushion for shorter workouts. They would probably be best for walks of six miles or less.
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7. New Balance 1080

New Balance 1080v3
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This shoe is built for neutral feet and is flexible and comfortable. It has enough cushioning for longer mileage and I used it in training for the half marathon distance. New Balance shoes come in widths, which is appreciated by those of us with wide feet. The 1080v3 is lighter and flatter than the previous versions. The 1080v4 for 2014 is on a new last, the PL-8 last. That means you should try it on before you buy the latest upgrade to ensure it fits right.

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8. Nike Air Pegasus

Nike Pegasus 29
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This lightweight, flexible shoe comes in versions that accept the Nike+ footpod shoe sensor. The Pegasus comes in widths - narrow, normal and wide -- and in male and female specific designs. The Pegasus 30 for 2013 has a redesigned upper, and it has trimmed weight over the past couple of years. It is a good cushioned shoe for longer walks. It won the Best Buy Award from Runner's World for Fall, 2013.
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9. Saucony ProGrid Triumph

Saucony Progrid Triumph 9
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This lightweight shoe also has excellent cushioning and durability. Sauconys have a specific fit that won't work for everyone, but might be just what you need. The Triumph 9 in 2012 debuted an even lower heel drop of 8 millimeters, which makes it even more acceptable for walkers. This continues with the Triumph 10 in 2013. However, it is a more expensive shoe, so look for sales.
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10. Brooks Pure Flow 2

Brooks Pure Flow 2 Shoes
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Brooks launches into the new trend of flatter shoes and rounded heels -- design elements that walkers need. They also construct it with a split-toe design that lets you toe-off more powerfully. Those elements help walkers achieve a quick, powerful stride. Yet it has enough cushioning for a cushy feel.
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