i go for highly cushioned, high performance footwear.
in nature we would be barefoot on soft ground. so i run cushioned shoes over hard overpronation support shoes. running barefoot on tarmac!?? great way to wear out our tendons, cartilage etc..we were not designed to run on such hard surfaces..cushioned shoes with lots of flexibility are the safest solution..
if your shoes dont take the impact, your joints will!
i wear nike air pegasus in the trail escape version. they have full length air cushioning. 25years of design in them and a stone sheild in the sole to prevent bruising or thorns etc.
i wear my shoes till they fall apart from a fault then send em back for warranty and get a new pair. the old pair gets recycled. according to nike, they recycle more shoes than anyone!
i see so many peeps wearing crap footwear. most of nike shoes are crap but the bowerman series is designed by runners for runners..
ive worked in the footwear industry for many years. nike pegasus is my vote as a shoe to start with..
Update: June 2010, Brooks have released a midsole that breaks down in landfill more readily. I got a pair of their 'green silence' shoes and rate em highly both on the feet and off. The brooks are in the first photo. No need to send em back as they break down on their own accord.