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Choosing the Right Gear for Running

Insights from Atlanta's Tariq McCray

By Tariq McCrayPublished about a month ago 3 min read
Choosing the Right Gear for Running
Photo by Braden Collum on Unsplash

As an avid runner and sneakerhead in Atlanta, I’ve tried a lot of different kicks to find the perfect fit for every type of run. Atlanta’s diverse landscapes offer everything from city streets to lush trails. Here, I’ll share my top picks for shoes based on my experiences running in the city.

Trail Running

For trail running, especially in areas like the Chattahoochee River trails, you need shoes with good grip and durability. I personally prefer the Salomon Speedcross because they provide excellent traction on muddy and uneven paths. The first time I wore them, it had rained the day before, and these shoes handled the slippery trails like a champ. They handled the steep inclines without slipping once, feeling confident with every step. It’s great to not worry about your footing and just enjoy the natural beauty around you.

Speed Training

When I’m doing speed training, especially on the track at Piedmont Park, I prefer lightweight shoes. The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% has been my go-to. They're super light and the energy return is incredible, making those fast intervals feel a bit easier. I once set my personal best 1-mile pace wearing these, and the boost I felt was unmatched. They're perfect for those mornings when I'm trying to shave seconds off my lap times.

Gravel, Paved, and Offroad Surfaces

Running on mixed surfaces, like the BeltLine, calls for a versatile shoe. The Brooks Ghost has never let me down. They’re cushioned enough for hard surfaces but still sturdy enough for the occasional off-road detour. I remember running a spontaneous trail detour during a usual city run, and these shoes transitioned seamlessly. Whether it’s the gravel paths of Grant Park or the paved roads near Centennial Olympic Park, the Ghosts keep my runs smooth and enjoyable.

Short Runs (5K to 10K)

For shorter runs, I lean towards something comfortable and quick. The Adidas Adizero Boston series offers a great balance of comfort and speed. Running a 5K through the Silver Comet Trail felt effortless because of the responsive cushioning. I love lacing these up for the Peachtree Road Race every July; they're light enough to push the pace but comfortable enough to keep my feet happy.

Longer Runs (10K to Half Marathon)

Longer runs require shoes that combine support and comfort. The Asics Gel-Nimbus has been my favorite for these distances. Last year, during a half marathon around Stone Mountain, these shoes provided the stability and cushion I needed to keep a steady pace without tiring my feet. I’ve logged hundreds of miles in them, from the flat stretches by the river to the rolling hills of our city’s suburbs, and they’ve been reliable through it all.

Marathon and Ultra Marathons

Marathon and beyond, you need a shoe that will go the distance. I swear by the Hoka One One Bondi for these endurance runs. They are like running on clouds with their cushioning. During my last marathon in Atlanta, these shoes helped reduce the impact during those tough final miles. I remember crossing the finish line feeling less fatigued than usual, and I credit a lot of that comfort to my Hokas. They've been with me from the training miles through to the race day, never letting me down.

Choosing the right shoe can make all the difference in your running experience, especially in a city like Atlanta where you can run into a variety of terrains. My advice is to consider where you’ll be running most and how far you plan to go. Don’t be afraid to visit a local running store to get fitted and possibly test out a few options. Each shoe has its story of races and long runs, and finding the right one can start a new chapter in your running journey.

Remember, the right pair of shoes is a runner’s best friend. Whether you’re sprinting through Piedmont Park or tackling the trails at Kennesaw Mountain, there’s a shoe out there that fits your needs. Happy running!


About the Creator

Tariq McCray

Tariq McCray is an Atlanta-based Operations Manager at The Legacy Program, dedicated to enhancing community through education and health initiatives.

Read more from Tariq McCray at

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