The Best Marathon Running Shoes For Training And Racing
If youve signed up to run 42.2km, youre going to want the best marathon running shoes possible
There are many times in life when seeking out the cheapest option is a good idea. Buying marathon running shoes to train and race in is not one of them. Even a beginner marathon training plan will require you to log around 200 total miles, while more experienced people will chalk up more than 600 miles, so its smart to opt for one of the best running shoes to make all those miles more enjoyable.
What defines a great marathon shoe will differ from runner to runner, though its fair to say that the best carbon plate running shoes have become the standard option for most PB seekers. Weve included a wide range of options to suit all comers, though, whether youre a keen bean with a few shoes in your wardrobe and want the fastest possible option for race day or a new runner who wants a comfortable pair to wear for every run up to and including the marathon itself.
Because we run so many miles in so many shoes and want to draw your attention to the really special ones, weve marked those out with the Editors Choice badge or an award.
Running Shoes Vs Trail Running Shoes: What’s The Difference
For the unacquainted, running shoes and trail running shoes can look pretty similar: similar enough to think they are interchangeable and work well on both the road and the trail. In reality, both types have specific characteristics that make them perfect for the running surface they were designed for and not-so-great for others.
Take running trainers, for example. These shoes work best when used on hard, smooth surfaces, such as the road: the cushioning is fine-tuned to reduce the impact force when landing on the tarmac, and the upper is tight to keep the foot ‘locked in’ as you run. The ‘stack height of most running shoes is also higher, especially nowadays, to improve energy returns. The outsole also tends to be smoother to increase the surface area of the shoes for better grip.
On the other hand, trail running shoes thrive on uneven surfaces. Off-road shoes have massive lugs on the outsole to claw into soft surfaces and usually have an insert in the midsole to protect the feet from rocks and other unexpected obstructions . And since the trail is more often slippery and wet than the road, trail shoes have better weather protection and are also heavier in general than road shoes.
To provide an analogue, road shoes are racing cars with their light chassis and fast ergonomics, while trail shoes are 4x4s: robust and heavy but will keep you safe in the forest. Before you buy new running shoes, consider where you will use them the most to avoid disappointment later on.
Other Good Running Shoes
If you prefer an abundance of soft cushioning for easy miles: The Hoka One One Clifton 8 is arguably the softest cushioned daily trainer weve tried. That maximalist attitude coupled with the companys signature Meta-Rockera rocker-shape sole meant to facilitate a smooth overall stridehas won the Clifton legions of fans over the years. Comfort is its main selling point: The shoe has a heavy dose of underfoot cushioning, a generously padded tongue and extended heel tab, and an overall slipper-like softness. Frank, who wore a mens 11, considers it an easy daily shoe. Very light and soft on my feet! he said, adding that he has recommended Clifton shoes to many friends. The Clifton 8 isnt as well suited for speedier bouts as some of our other picks. Frank noted that the shoes were a bit tight on his left arch. Ingrid, who wore a mens 11½, also felt a tightness in the arches this lessened when she ran but didnt allow her to fully warm to the shoe. The Clifton 8, which has a 5-mm drop and a lofty stack height, tends to fit a bit narrowly , and it has a deep footbed, which reviewers have likened to a bucket seat in a car. If you want a shoe that puts cushioning and comfort first, and your focus is easy recovery miles, relaxed maintenance miles, or longer efforts at moderate paces, the Clifton 8 may do the trick.
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Skechers Gorun Razor Trl
Weight: 8.0 oz , 6.3 oz Drop: 4 mmType: Trail Running Shoes
Longtime readers of RW shoe reviews know that we love the Skechers GOrun Razor 3. That road shoe is light, fast, and fun. And its remained completely unchanged for almost three years now because its just that darn good. But, Skechers has expanded upon the model, releasing a carbon-plated version for road races as well as this off-road running shoe, with a grippy, go-fast sole. The midsole is exactly the same as the road shoe, built using the brands Hyper Burst foam. It starts out as a solid block of EVA plastic that is exposed to a supercritical fluidbasically, CO2 gas is heated under pressure until it returns to a liquid state. Theres a lot of science behind how it happens, but it creates a cell composition which makes the shoe lighter, yet still responsive and well-cushioned. It also makes the foam surprisingly protective when youre dancing over rocks and roots. Because this is a lightweight trail shoe, it doesnt have a rock plate, so youre likely to want a beefier model if you bash over gnarly ground.J.D.
Weight: 9.5 oz. , 7.7 oz. Drop: 0 mmType: Trail Running Shoes
Weight: 11.6 oz. , 9.5 oz. Drop: 8 mmType: Trail Running Shoes
Weight: 10.2 oz. , 8.3 oz. Drop: 8 mmType: Trail Running Shoes
Weight: 10.6 oz. , 9.4 oz. Drop: 4 mmType: Trail Running Shoes
Weight: 10.1 oz , 7.8 oz. Drop: 6 mmType: Trail Running Shoes
How Often Do You Need New Running Shoes
Apps like Strava, Garmin, and others allow you to upload your shoes and assign them to runs youve performed. This will help keep track of the mileage attached to every shoe you own.
Generally, when a shoe gets to 300-500 miles, it needs to be replaced.
Another indicator that a shoe needs to be replaced is simply how your legs feel. Sudden fatigue in your ankles, knees or hips? Might be time for a new pair.
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How To Pick The Best Marathon Running Shoes For You
Over the past few years, running shoe technology has boomed. Marathon running shoes are now faster and more comfortable than ever. With the boom in shoe technology, there are more options on the market than ever. How do you know which marathon running shoes to wear? This article delves into the science behind marathon running shoe technology and provides a guide on how to choose the best shoe for your next race.
What Should I Look for in a Marathon Running Shoe?
The most important feature of a marathon running shoe? Comfort while running. A 2021 meta-analysis in the European Journal of Sport Science found from four studies that comfortable footwear produced a statistically significant improvement in running economy compared to less comfortable footwear.
Cushioned shoes may be an optimal choice for a marathon running shoe. A 2022 randomized controlled trial published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise concluded that highly cushioned shoes reduced oxygen cost and improved performance, even when muscle damage occurred. Muscle damage can be a limiting factor for performance in the marathon. While not every runner needs maximally cushioned shoes, marathon running shoes should have enough cushion to maintain performance even as muscle damage sets in.
Should I Race My Marathon in a Carbon Plate Running Shoe?
How do I Pick the Best Shoe for Marathon Running?
Some factors to consider with a marathon running shoe:
Best Marathon Running Shoes 100+ Shoes Tested In 2022
Having a distance of 42 kilometers or 26 miles, a marathon is a long-distance road race. You definitely need more than just a comfortable shoe for this effort.
It might be a max-cushioned cruiser that helps you train for a marathon, or a carbon-plated speedster to shave off the minutes from your record, or a supportive shoe that wont let overpronation stop you from running 42K.
We have tested over 100 marathon-ready running shoes to make sure you have the best options.
And if you want us to literally guide you through the process of choosing the right marathon running shoe for you, scroll down to the guide section below.
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Hoka One One Mach 4 Running Shoes
Top long-distance running shoes should be lightweight and offer ample cushioning, comfort and durability. No other running shoe embodies these four qualities better than the Hoka One One Mach 4. Hoka made some significant updates over the last model, mostly in the midsole. The updated blended ProFly midsole feels much softer, lighter and more responsive than the midsole found in previous versions. Coming in at an astonishing 8.0 ounces for men and 7.1 ounces for women, the Mach 4 packs a surprisingly cushioned ride for such a lightweight shoe, giving it the ability to throw down the pace for those long marathon runs. For those familiar with Hoka, the Mach 4 offers the supportive cushioning of the Clifton 8 and lightweight speed of the Rincon 3. On top of all that, its $130 price point makes it a real value for what you get compared to other shoes these days , making it one of the best all-around running shoes and Hoka running styles you can buy.
What customers say:These were my first pair of Hokas. I was hesitant to buy at first because theyre a little bulkier than what I prefer. I went ahead and purchased them because of the 30-day money-back guarantee. After my first run, I fell in love. I never knew a shoe could be so comfortable. I even took a whole minute off my fastest mile! Now, I dont think Ill ever buy a different brand of running shoe. Cant believe I waited so long to buy these!
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Rememberthe goal of finding the best running shoes for you is pain-free-healthy running.
Maybe you aren’t able to or don’t want to gothe minimalist shoe route.
You really need to base finding the best running shoes for you off of those questions that I gave you at the beginning of the page:
- How big/chunky is the heel of the shoe?
- Is there a lot of padding between the foot and the ground?
- How wide is the toe-box?
- Is there an arch support?
- Is the length of the shoe big enough?
- How flexible is the shoe?
- Is the shoe lightweight?
- Is it comfortable?
Only you can answer those questions at the right comfort level for yourself.
From there, check out the options for the best running shoes for men and women. Read the reviews and order a couple pairs to try on.
If you are interested in more minimalist running shoes then I recommend first buying a pair of minimalistshoes just to wear around the house, or even start off with walking around barefoot at home to build and strengthen your natural foot function!
What you do know is that you are going into the search of finding the best running shoes for yourself with the knowledge that you need!
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Reebok Floatride Energy 3
While the Floatride series has always been a bit of a sleeper in the running shoe world, thats not to say its any less fit for a marathon. On the contrary, and as youll find with the Energy 3, Reebok has given you everything you need to excel over the distance, including a springy Floatride midsole, a comfortable square knit upper, and a full-length rubber outsole for reliable grip. Sure, they dont offer some of the bells and whistles of something like the Nike Next%, but they make for a great dependable everyday runner thats even lively enough for racing.
A Note On Barefoot Running:
I don’t suggest going completely barefoot for the following reasons:
- Exposure to sharp objects
- Un-welcomed surfaces
- Unsanitary conditions
Now these reasons wont be convincing to everyone so if you really feel that the only way to set yourself free is to completely ditch the shoes then at least wait until your feet have developed some callouses.
This can be done by running increasing longer and longer distances without shoes.
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Why You Should Trust Us
Since 2017, Wirecutter running-shoe testers have logged more than 4,000 total miles, with feet on the ground in places such as Miami, New York City, and Portland, Oregon.
We chatted with eight experts to get their takes on what mattersand what doesntin a running shoes design and how to find ones that are right for you. Here are the experts we spoke with:
Colleen Brough, DPT, is an assistant professor of rehabilitation and regenerative medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and director of the Columbia RunLab. Brough answered our questions about the relationship between running shoes and injuries, and how tools like gait analysis factor into finding the right pair of shoes.
Jolan Browne, DPT, is a senior physical therapist at NYUs Running Lab at NYU Langone Orthopedic Center. Browne illuminated foot strike and the biomechanics of running for us.
Carson Caprara is vice president of footwear product line management and merchandising at Brooks. Caprara provided insight on how a large running-shoe company strategizes its approach to shoe updates and innovations.
Golden Harper is co-founder of Altra Running. Harpers family ran a specialty running store, so he started deconstructing shoes at a young age. As an adult, he created a shoe with reduced heel cushioning for himself and his friends . That shoe led to the founding of the shoe company Altra, which specializes in no-drop shoes.
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39
Price: £109.95 / $120 | Weight: 279g / 9.8oz | Drop: 8mm
The Pegasus is a durable and comfortable daily trainer that has a reasonable RRP and a happy knack of popping up in sales. The Pegasus 39 is lighter and better-suited to faster training than the 38, while still being well cushioned and great for cruising through your easy runs as well.
Another standout feature of the Pegasus 39 is the outsole, which grips well on light trails as well as the road, and is highly durable.
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Why Its Important To Find The Right Marathon Running Shoes
Not simply from weak hips and glutes, but from shoes that arent right for you! In fact, wearing the wrong type of running shoes is the top cause of foot pain when running.
At the base level, youll want to find a shoe that:
- has enough room in the toe box for your feet to spread and potentially swell over the miles
- allows you to change the lacing to provide more room or lock in your heel
- keeps your arch from dropping in which places pressure on knees and ankles
There are, still, other things to consider when picking the right marathon shoe for yourself. Lets look at what these are in more detail.
Saucony Endorphin Pro 3
It’s speed over everything when you lace up the Saucony Endorphin Pro 3. Designed with a carbon-fibre plate and an even thicker stack of PWRRUN PB foam cushioning, you get more pop underfoot for the ultimate go-fast experience.
Check out our detailed shoe review here
Are you feeling inspired to lace up your running shoes and hit the road? For more advice and inspiration then head over to our Running Hub. Need to get kitted up? Our Running Store has everything you need including Running Shoes, Clothes and Equipment. And for more marathon advice, check out our .
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If You Can Only Buy One Type Of Shoe Buy This One
Im well aware that saying just go buy 3 pairs of shoes can still be a recommendation to spend $600+ and for many, thats just unreasonable for a fitness hobby.
If you can only buy one pair, buy a solid pair of recovery / easy run shoes. The ones listed above are versatile, can be pushed a bit more for speed, and will last hundreds of miles under foot.
So if you can only afford to buy one pair, pick something like the Pegasus, or ZoomX invincible to get you through your and onto that start line.
New Balance Fuelcell Rc Elite V2
Push past your best time with the Fuelcell RC Elite v2 from New Balance. These running shoes feature a FuelCell midsole and full-length carbon fibre plate for energy return, with a mid-foot cut out for weight reduction. The engineered knit upper and streamlined collar construction provide a supportive yet lightweight fit to help you pick up the pace.
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