Some baked, some took to knitting. But running was the real winner during lockdown as people sought to stay active and get back outside at the same time.

Now with gyms reopening, the bulk of us who took up the healthy habit might be tempted to hang up the runners in favour for picking up the weights.

Which would be a shame. Running’s benefits for your health are obvious – a cardiovascular workout that burns off the calories from the odd (frequent) overindulgence of food.

There’s just the act of acting out into the sunshine, which is the best way to manufacture Vitamin D in the body which is key to stronger bones, muscles and overall health.

It also got people to explore their neighbourhoods and parks, creating a different buzz of activity in a silent city.

Ben Lucas, the director for Sydney-based gym Flow Athletic, says running is an important mental game as much as it is a physical one. 

running, fitness
Flow Athletic director, Ben Lucas. Image: Supplied

“Running isn’t just about exercise,” Lucas tells ICON. “It’s also great for mental health.

“It’s a great way to see the world around you. I like running because it gives you a chance to have some time to yourself to think. It’s also nice to run amongst nature and if I feel like being social I can invite friends or members to join me.”

“I have currently set myself a goal to run a minimum of 5km every day for a year.

“I also have a run club at Flow Athletic so our crew train at least two days per week and we are always signing up for running events too.” 

If it’s good enough for the PT, it’s good enough for us.

One of the most important elements of taking up running during lockdown was actually making the time to find the right shoes. 

Speaking from personal experience, this author has often fallen prey to marketing over make. Resulting in foot cramps, discomfort and poor fits and ultimately never really enjoying the actual run experience. 

The perfect running shoe should be two things: comfortable, of course. But also with a sweet spot of support. Not too cushiony that you just bounce off the pavement, but also not flat that you jar your knees.

A bit of research, and plenty of literal test runs, the team at ICON narrowed it down to four styles that hit the magic mix of fit, function and also form. Because we know that deep down, how a shoe looks is going to make all the difference.

Under Armour, running, fitness
Under Armour UA Flow Velociti SE.

First Place

Top spot went to the new Under Armour UA Flow Velociti SE. The rubber sole had just the right amount of buoyancy that cushioned your landing without creating a false economy of softness. 

Minimal without much of the fuss other brand, these were perfect all rounders for beginners to advanced runners.

Upper mesh was flexible and super breathable so they never felt heavy or too hot to wear. Key to this was a seamless knit upper that moved with the shape of your foot rather than bulking it up with features. 

Available in five colourways, it doesn’t hurt that these look as sleek as they feel. Available from underarmour.com.au

Salomon, running, fitness
Salomon XT-6 Advanced.

Second Place

This went to the brightly coloured Salomon XT-6 Advanced.

Salomon has made the transition from cult outdoor brand to cult fashion must-have. One of the best made shoes on the market, Salomon are hard to beat when it comes to performance and comfort.

The XT-6 Advanced are a solid, sturdy shoe that hugs the foot offering great support. Extra padding also makes sure you won’t get any discomfort from rubbing at the heel. Get a pair from mrporter.com.

Under Armour, running, fitness
Under Armour UA Hovr Intelliknit.

Third Place

Just behind the Velociti is the Under Armour UA Hovr Intelliknit Running shoe.

UA have seriously come out with the goods. A bit bigger than their Velociti sibling, the Intelliknit also adds in some nice fine tuned details for a runner who likes a little extra from their footwear.

One feature that was particularly interesting was the use of Energy Web – a specific fabric used by Under Armour that helps recoup your energy output and zero gravity effect helps eliminate impact and prevent fatigue. 

In situ, these were ideal for short runs around the park, 15 minute bursts and Tabata style outdoor running because of the extra stability. Available at underarmour.com.au

Hoka, running, fitness
Hoka One One.

Fourth Place

A staple running shoe for all experience levels, the Hoka One One.

A big favourite among the running community and for good reason, the Hoka One One has the comfort of a Hovr and the stability of a Salomon. 

Cushioning is insane in the One One, so if you suffer from shin pain while running these are the best choice.

Available from mrporter.com

thoughts?