Trend Insight
The Male Runner
As a follow-up to our consumer survey of female runners in the previous issue of runstyle, in this issue, we focused our Trend Insight survey on male runners. We asked more than 300 men who are runners about their product and purchasing choices. And we found that male runners have some strong opinions on products!

The majority of our respondents say they run between 3-6 days per week and they list run specialty stores as the top destination for purchasing their running footwear. The most important trait they seek out in their running footwear is fit, followed, in order, by comfort, performance and price.

When asked where they shop for the apparel they run in, the top answer was online, but in-store at run specialty, sporting goods and outdoor specialty were all ranked highly as well.

We also asked open-ended questions with male consumers weighing in on how they would like their apparel and footwear designs improved, what they think of things like reflectivity, laces, and more. See their responses on the following pages, and be sure to check out our final page 58 for a look at the must-have items male runners listed for the run.

This survey conducted by MESH01 included 310 respondents, males, who are runners. Trend Insight is a feature within runstyle that delivers research conducted on the MESH01 Platform. MESH01 collects data from a select panel of active and outdoor enthusiasts.


If you could ask footwear designers to change one thing about running footwear in general, what would it be?


Ventilation and breathability of the upper material helps keep the feet cooler. Many running shoes sacrifice this feature for fashion design and logo placement, if you can do it all by keeping the upper material flexible, breathable and still fashionable with your logo, it would be appreciated. Male 57

Please stop making shoes intended to be lightweight heavier the longer the shoe model is around for. Male 34

More grip on the shoes. Sometimes they can be incredibly slippery on trails with mud and rain Male 39

Wider toe boxes. Male 32

Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken. Sometimes they make the perfect shoe and it only lasts one iteration before they go and completely change it. Male 53

Build higher quality footwear that will last longer. Currently, the cost doesn’t equal durability. Male 44

Keep models of popular, well-regarded shoes as-is. Oftentimes updates make the shoe less suitable. Male 42

To stop making small tweaks to shoes that work well. Instead of making a minor adjustment to a shoe that changes the fit (especially the shape of the upper), just keep a good shoe good. Male 35

Stop with the narrow toe box. we need toeboxes shaped like feet. Male 41

When making a thick midsole, flair the outsole to better support the stride. Male 29

I switch out my shoes every 300 miles to reduce the risk of injury. This probably isn’t great for the environment. If shoes/cushioning/tread were more durable with the same performance characteristics, I could wear them longer without injury and help the environment. Male 46

Bring back stability shoes and shoes whose primary focus is support and injury prevention. Also more bright colors and patterns for mens shoes. Male 27

Make the pull-on-tabs/loops on the heels just a little bit bigger. Male 45

Make running shoes more durable where you could buy a pair to last several years, but you only need to purchase cheaper insoles to refresh the shoes. Male 57

Make them with wider toebox. It’s sometime hard to run when toebox are so small. Hurt my pinky toe a lot. Male 27

Less massive shoes with too much cushion. Male 26

For road shoes, I’d love to have a little bit of water resistance on the forefoot. Seems like every pair I have and have had get soaked with a little bit of moisture on the road. Male 40

Make them feel like they are already broken in, on the first use. A few high end shoes have nailed this, others haven’t. Male 43

I wish more shoes were lighter weight but still offered stability. Most stability shoes seem to be 12oz or more. Male 38

Tongue and lace interface could always be better also would like to see a air bladder do an adjustable arch similar to car seat lumbar adjustments. Male 57

Stop putting trash insoles into running shoes unless the midsole has some level of ergonomics Male 41

Longer wear? I feel like 400-500 miles was common ~10 years ago, and now it’s more like 200-300 miles before the outsole is worn off the heel. Male 46

Please make the tongues bigger on shoes, a lot of them are short and end up scraping my top of my ankle. Male 28

Make them easier to clean. Male 32

Better fitting collar (several top models from big brands have had high collars that dig into ankles). Male 38

More foot shaped shoes. I’m not sure why this isn’t taking off. Male 35

Make them less chunky and more streamlined. I want my shoes to LOOK fast and streamlined. Male 37

Stop with the narrow toe box. We need toeboxes shaped like feet. Male 41

Don’t squeeze my toes. Also, if I wanted a performance boost, I’d ride a bike; I don’t have interest in shoes with a giant heel stack. It also just feels unsafe to have my ankles that far off the ground. Male 31

Insole. Most insole in all brands are very weak. Male 51

More speed/road racing options. Male 38

Ensure fitment stays consistent throughout iterations of a type of shoe. Male 34

To design a shoe that is more natural to our feet. Wide toe box allowing for toe splay is a must. Low drop to allow for natural foot striking. Not a super high height stack. Male 25

The tongues of the shoes have gotten very thin. I like a little cushion there. Male 40

When making a thick midsole, flair the outsole to better support the stride. Male 27

Splayed forefoot, deep heel cup, zero drop, moderate cushion, grippy soles. Male 54

The pricing and materials being used often don’t make sense. Why aren’t shoes more durable? Male 30

Shoes that will last longer and not wear out so quickly. Good size of Toe box being more open to prevent blisters, toe nails falling off, due to the toe box being too small to allow for swelling. Male 48

Stop trying so hard to over-design everything. Male 54

Better styling. new wave designs seem to be making them purposefully hideous. Male 37

Using a last that isn’t shaped like a deformed pointed foot. Male 45

Build shoes to allow a natural/neutral foot profile - zero drop, wider toe box. Male 37

Although progressing in the latest technology is important, let’s not lose sight of the wearability, comfort, performance & price. Seems like a lot of brands are more focusing on shelf appeal & popular tech like carbon fiber or PEBA and they lose track about how it can affect the runner in the short, mid and long term. Male 42

I would ask them to use a sole that is long lasting. Most soles don’t work well on pavement to trail surfaces. Male 39

I would like to see more retro inspired running shoes that have updated fit and function. Male 37

Why do you need to make the brand logos so big on most running shoes? Male 37

Design the shoes with custom insoles in mind. Male 35


Better color ways. Male 42

I looked for there to be more all black shoes. They used to make them in a few brands, and now they are very hard to find. Male 43

Allow for more color options for men’s footwear. NCAA Men’s basketball teams are wearing hot pink and lavender hued shoes against their uniforms. LAVENDER!! The 70’s macho man image is dead. Men don’t just wear black or white anymore. Male 37

More conservative color schemes. Many of the running shoes I shop for have few options that are not bright and with loud colors.

I would love if the general shoe was a little less flashy. I’m not a runner who likes to wear bright orange shoes while running, and I often feel that some of the more reputable brands and quality shoes have odd colors rather than simply being gray or black (more my speed). Male 27

Too many shoes are white on the bottom and hard to keep clean looking. Male 41

Producing flashy colors combos but also a mellow version with the same flash i.e. a black shoe with bright blues, reds, greens, etc... accents. Male 33

I don’t buy footwear for fashion, but most are unattractive color schemes. I’d ask for a more neutral color approach and everyday shoe look. Male 45


More laceless options. Male 46

I would if I didn’t have to double knot all my laces because they slip all the time. Male 36

Is there a way to design more comfortable laces? Male 44

Why are a lot of the times the laces from a material that comes undone so easily if not put in double tight knots. Male 37

Create a running shoe that easily goes on and off. Male 35

Make shoelaces out of a material that stays tied! Male 46

I would appreciate a slip on running shoe. Male 37

Quality lacing system that does not always require tying.
Male 33


Be more forward about the intent of the shoe, is it for marathons, is it tempo, it is daily training. There are too many versions that are so similar! Male 41


If you could ask apparel designers to change one thing about running apparel in general, what would it be?

Durability for machine washing is essential. These garments get washed a lot and must be durable and hold up to the abuse. Male 57

Please make running shirts longer without making them wider at the bottom. Male 34

Pockets, pockets, pockets. Male 33

Make sure pockets have zippers! Male 47

If it was possible to develop a jacket that remained waterproof and breathed well - that would be cool. Male 42

Better marketing around the naming systems. With some brands it’s hard to tell the difference between types of shorts based on their apparel names. They should have a page on their website that explains the purpose of each product line. Male 35

Stop making everything ugly so it’s trendy. Male 41

Shorts need pockets. At least one of those pockets needs to carry a phone without bouncing.

Shorts that don’t chafe. Male 39

Loose fit and more durable material. Male 37

Don’t ever make anything in white; it’s not going to stay white. Instead, use bright colors, for both night safety and to keep us cool during the day. But only one bright color per item; don’t make it look like a disco floor threw up on our shoes. Male 39

Gloves and socks need to keep feet or hands dry. Waterproof exterior but wicking interior, sounds impossible. Male 50

Not every shirt has to be 1. A solid color, and 2. Super thin. Male 43

UPF protection, most running is out in the sun. sun protection is VERY important to me and my skin. Male 33

I love it when clothes look just as good casually as they do for performance. I feel like the athleisure category does well with this blend. I like clothes that are good for both running and hiking. Male 44

Shorts... slightly longer, narrower leg opening. Male 45

Running apparel can be less than flattering on anyone not built like a runner. I am built more broad, likely from playing football and rugby in college, but the running shirts feel like they are cut for a slimmer person. Male 35

Still looking for the perfect shirt that never chafes wet or dry. Male 53

Shorts need pockets. Pants need pockets. Male 41

Have less branding with graphic prints. A small tag is okay, but I don’t need to look like a brand superhero. Male 37

My ask is impossible but I’m ALWAYS between a medium and large. Medium is a bit tight in the shoulders but fits my torso while Large fits my shoulders but is massive in the torso. It’d be awesome to have a M/L. Male 41

We aren’t walking billboards.  Practice minimalism. Male 37

Create sustainable long-lasting items that resist stink. Male 38

Have tall options for multiple sizes, esp Medium. A LOT of runners are tall & thin, so I’m not sure why this isn’t a regular option. Male 49

Prices are getting too high for single clothing items. Male 46

More cuts for mid aged men. Don’t need to show off/strut or hang out. Male 55

How can you incorporate more sustainable materials, such as cotton and wool, into performance apparel over certain fabrics like polyester? Male 27

To reduce the stretch of waist band draw strings to almost no stretch. if someone wants to rely on the elastic of the waist band, great, but i tend to load up pockets, and when the draw string is stretchy, it doesn’t help keep the shorts or pants from falling down. we don’t use elastic shoelaces, why would we use elastic drawstrings? Male 45

Why does sizing vary greatly between brands? Male 30

Fit and something designed to hold items, keys, phone etc. that stays in place and not bounce around, so much, that your shorts fall off. Male 48


If it is dark in color, make sure to add some sort of reflective piping/accents for safety/visibility Male 48

I like clothing with reflective qualities attached, I would ask brands to offer more for us early morning runners that are afraid of getting hit by cars. Male 39

Make them more noticeable at night. Most of my running stuff doesn’t have reflectors. I wish running gear came with reflectors as standard. Male 27

Incorporating hi-visibility stitching or patches into the design of clothing for night running. Male 38

Could you make running apparel with reflective materials for low visibility running. Male 47

Still looking for some great “night run” options. Fluorescent/reflective material. Male 35

Reflective designs built in. Visibility is one of the most important things when running on the road and even trails. Male 33