Are Air Forces Good for Running?

Air force sneakers have become an increasingly popular choice among runners in recent years. With their lightweight feel, responsive cushioning, and sleek style, air forces check a lot of boxes for the ideal running shoe.

But are they actually a good performance pick for your training and racing? Let’s take a closer look at the key factors to see if air forces deliver on the run.


One of the main appeals of air forces is their lightweight feel. The average men’s style comes in around 13 oz and women’s around 11 oz per shoe (size 9 and 7 respectively).

This puts them on the lighter side compared to some traditional running shoes. The lightweight build helps keep your turnover quick and feet feeling fresh, even on longer miles. It also means less weight to lift with each step, reducing fatigue over the course of a run.


Many air force styles utilize Nike’s responsive Air technology in the heel and forefoot. This provides soft cushioning that adapts to the force exerted by your footstrike. So when you land harder, it pushes back with more cushion.

When you land softer, it responds accordingly. This is great for comfort and also aiding efficiency by propelling you forward with each step.

The exact feel does vary across different models though, with some featuring additional foam layers like Phylon or Cushlon. So test out a few versions to find your ideal balance of softness vs. responsiveness.


The classic air force 1 utilizes a fairly flat rubber sole with shallow flex grooves. This works well for casual wear but lacks the deeper flex lines and aggressive lug patterns found on many running shoe outsoles.

Without these design elements, traction could become an issue on wet or uneven terrain. That said, some modernized versions like the Air Force 1 Flyknit do cater better to running with more articulated soles. So it depends which model you opt for.


With their low-cut collar and minimal stability features, air forces are generally more suitable for neutral runners. If you need additional arch support or motion control, they may not provide enough corrective features to fully address these needs. Cushioning is decent but quite low profile as well, so high impact runners may also benefit more from shoes with additional midsole cushioning.


The leather and rubber construction makes air forces fairly durable for casual wear. But theLife expectancy is lower for higher mileage running. The Continuous flexing and force exerted by intensive running can cause theLightweight foam cushioning to wear down faster than a sturdier training shoe.

Still, they can hold up fine for runners doing lower weekly mileage or using them for shorter runs rather than all training. Regular outsole wear is also inevitable over time, taking away some traction.

Style Points

Last but not least, style plays a huge role in the popularity of air forces. Their sleek silhouette and endless colorway options make them one of the most versatile lifestyle sneakers out there.

Being able to use your running shoes for everyday wear is a nice bonus. And the retro vibe of the iconic Air Force 1 still looks great when worn casually after retiring them from running duty.

The Verdict: Better for Shorter Runs

At the end of the day, air forces can work for running but aren’t quite specialized enough for high mileage training. Neutral runners doing mid-range weekly totals or shorter runs a few times a week will get the most versatility and value from them.

Their responsive cushioning feels great for faster turnover but has limitations on long hauls. Traction could also be iffy in wet weather without deeper flex grooves.

Prioritizing fashion over function is fine but get a secondary pair with more support and stability for your key training if needed. For the casual runner who likes to look good while logging 2-5 miles though, air forces certainly deliver on style and lightweight comfort at an affordable price point.

Similar Running Shoe Options

If air forces don’t end up being the perfect match, here are four other great options that may suit your needs:

  • Nike Pegasus – A versatile neutral trainer with ample Zoom Air cushioning and React foam. A long-running model that balances cushion, support and responsiveness.
  • Brooks Ghost – A smooth-riding neutral shoe with DNA Loft cushioning. A great balance of softness and bounce. Reliable traction and support features.
  • Saucony Kinvara – A super light neutral shoe designed for tempo days and races. A low profile 4mm heel-to-toe offset encourages faster turnover.
  • Hoka Rincon – Maximal cushioning in a lightweight package. Plush but still responsive with a roomy toe box fit. Best for high mileage training.


Still have some questions surrounding running in air forces? See the answers to these frequently asked questions:

Are air forces good for long distance running?

Air forces can work for mid-range distances but lack features to make them ideal long distance training shoes. Look to styles with more cushioning and support if you mainly run half marathon distances or beyond.

How long do air forces last for running?

Durability varies across styles but most standard air forces will remain usable for 100-300 miles. Higher mileage runners generally log over 500 miles per pair though so longevity may be lower than ideal. Use them as part of a rotation rather than daily trainers.

Can you run marathons in air forces?

Technically yes but they wouldn’t be recommended, especially for newer runners. The minimal cushioning increases injury risk over such long distances compared to a dedicated marathon shoe.

Are air force 1s better for running or air max?

Comparatively, modern Air Max styles like the Air Max 270 or VaporMax are better equipped for dynamic running movements. They offer more articulation, cushioning and traction geared specifically to athletic performance over the flat profile of the original Air Force 1.

Do air forces have arch support?

No, most models like the Air Force 1 and Air Force 1 07 have a fairly flat and minimal insole without special arch support features. Those needing more enhanced support should consider stability running shoes instead that are designed for overpronation.

So do some pre run prep in a fresh pair of forces if you wish, but lace up a more specialized running pair for those long miles themselves. With smart training shoe rotation, air forces can still play a stylish role in keeping you logged in on those short jog cardio days.

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