Best Running Shoes For Marathons

When it comes to the perfect marathon shoe, are you worried that you’ll be left at the starting line?

Eager to join your friends at the next 10k, but concerned that those nasty old tennis shoes might give you the hamstring that’ll put you out of action?

Don’t you worry, we’re here to help.

Marathon running is the world’s fastest growing sport, and buying the best running shoes is very important for preventing injury and increasing performance. This will be the one time you’ll definitely want to walk before you can run!

Don’t give your feet that unnecessary pounding! Running is a high-impact sport and without the proper precautions you run the risk of seriously injuring your ankles, legs, knees and hips. But we’ve fast-tracked the best running shoes currently on the market for marathon runners. For that much-needed balance, stability and support, while enhancing mobility and speed…On your marks, get set, go!

Best Running Shoes For Marathons

OUR TOP PICK

Brooks Men's Ghost 12, Navy/Gold, 12 D

The Ghost 12 tops our list because it’s a top-quality shoe for both experienced runners and, most importantly, those just starting out on the marathon circuit!

The Ghost 12 is ideal for those who want to ease themselves into the long and challenging road with a lightweight trainer that doesn’t skimp on the cushioning! 

Because if you aren’t an experienced marathon runner, then the risk of foot injury is higher than most. Thankfully, the Ghost 12 has a high level 2/3 cushioning, making for a softer run. It’s ideal for transitioning from the smoother cross trainer or treadmill onto the rougher long-distance road or trail.

With this shoe you’ll barely notice you’re running on tarmac! Because of its high level of cushioning and its unique system of shock absorbers, the Ghost 12 will adapt itself to how your foot lands every time.

The Ghost 12 also never loses responsivity or durability, giving seamless heel-to-toe transitions. That seamlessness will significantly ease the shock to your ankles, legs and knees.

The brooks shoe also lasts hundreds of miles, which is ideal for the more expert runner looking to rack up some extra distance during training before the marathon.

This reliable shoe is the go-to for many marathon runners, with excellent outsole grip and lightweight body. It’s purpose built to give you that extra speed when putting miles between you and the person behind!

The Ghost 12’s mid-range price reflects its versatility – the lower price will appeal to more casual or amateur runners who may be looking to go pro.

With its lightweight exterior, precision engineered cushioning system, the emphasis on softness and durability as well as the cheaper price tag, the Ghost 12 snags first prize on our list, being the most versatile shoe on the market, perfectly aimed at experts and beginners alike.

Pros:

  • High level cushioning for beginning runners

  • Suitable for treadmill training and outdoor cross country runs

  • Stretch and structure that moulds to the foot

  • Over 20 colour options

Cons:

  • Too cushioned for more experienced runners

  • Some users experience durability issues

Sale
Brooks Men's Ghost 12, Navy/Gold, 12 D
  • THIS SHOE IS FOR: Neutral runners looking for a lightweight shoe and a smooth ride without sacrificing cushioning. Whether you’re a Ghost loyalist or are lacing one up for the first time, you’ll...
  • SUPPORT AND CUSHION: The neutral support type provides high energizing cushioning. Ideal for road running, cross training, the gym or wherever you might want to take them! Predecessor: Ghost 11
  • BALANCED, SOFT CUSHIONING: BioMoGo DNA and DNA LOFT cushioning work together to provide a just-right softness underfoot without losing responsiveness and durability - yet it feels lighter than ever.

EDITOR'S CHOICE

ASICS Women's Gel-Nimbus 22 Running Shoes, 9M, Watershed Rose/Rose Gold

Coming in a close second is the Gel-Nimbus 22, a shoe of high durability, featuring gender-specific technology that, whether male or female, will ensure you get the most out of your miles.

Tailored for intermediate and expert marathon runners, this shoe features a seemingly endless list of unique technologies. Check out the gel cushioning in the heel, and the Flytefoam Propel technology to give your stride that extra boost.

The Gel-Nimbus 22 is designed specifically for high mileage, able to rack up over 600 miles, leaving its competitors in the dust! 

The multi-directional upper mesh and gel cushioning along the inside arch give maximum comfort and support not just to the soles, but also to the ankles and knees.

It’s Guidance Trusstic technology focusses on the middle arch of the foot, adapted individually to men and women. That lends the foot stability, extends the life of the shoe and reduces the severity of harsh impacts over time. 

Whether in the gym or leaping over rocky trails, you can go anywhere in these bad boys and girls.

With its higher price range, the Gel-Nimbus 22 is geared towards the hardcore marathon runner looking to score some mileage.

With over 20 colours, from loud luminous pink to cool as a cucumber sheet rock white, there is a shoe in this model for every personality.

Pros:

  • Gender-specific arch support for neutral runners

  • Designed for high mileage – for those going the distance

  • Perfect for the experienced runner

  • Soft, comfortable and breathable

Cons:

  • High price tag – be prepared to strain your wallets!

  • A few complaints about durability on everyday wear

ASICS Women's Gel-Nimbus 22 Running Shoes, 9M, Watershed Rose/Rose Gold
  • FlyteFoam Propel Technology - ASICS energetic foam formulation that provides supreme bounce thanks to a unique elastomer compound.
  • Trusstic System technology - Reduces the weight of the sole unit while retaining the structural integrity of the shoe.
  • AHAR Outsole - Acronym for ASICS High Abrasion Rubber. Placed in critical areas of the outsole for exceptional durability.

BEST VALUE

Saucony S20464-1 Men's Guide ISO 2, Slate/Blue, 9.5

Okay, time for something a bit sleeker, beefier on the sole, but low-key on top. The muscle car of shoes – The Saucony Men’s Guide ISO 2.

A long-awaited upgrade from the original ISO, the ISO 2 does not disappoint, utilizing its famous EVERUN topsole that absorbs the impact of the foot strike then gives that energy back through the foot, lifting you right off the balls of your feet.

With a firm yet responsive sole, the ISO 2 gives you that powerful spring that other running shoes rarely can, giving your run a natural, light ride from start to finish.

The ISO does exactly what it says on the tin – it guides your foot. It supports the ankle just enough so that you get a smooth and stable turn.

It’s also nice and wide in the main toebox, allowing the foot to flatten out when pressure is being applied. Again, this contributes to one springy ride!

The top of the ISO is flexible and more breathable that previous versions, minimizing the rub that you might get from long distance marathons. In short, this is perfect for the pros.

Don’t worry about distance or pace, the meaty ISO 2 can handle your foot impact, staying snug around the heel and incredibly responsive. You’re in safe hands here.

A plush, heavy-duty shoe that moulds itself to the contours of your foot and, best of all, within a very reasonable price range.

Pros:

  • EVERUN soles that absorb the impact of the foot

  • Roomier foot space – ideal for long-distance runs

  • Breathable, resulting in less chafing

  • Supports the ankle and encourages better movement

Cons:

  • Lack of colour choices

  • The cheaper price range might put off more experienced runners

Saucony S20464-1 Men's Guide ISO 2, Slate/Blue, 9.5
  • Successor to the Guide ISO
  • Offset: 8mm; Heel Stack Height: 27mm; Forefoot Stack Height: 19mm; Weight: 10.3 oz. | 292 g.
  • EVERUN Topsole construction for consistent, lasting comfort and pressure relief

RUNNER UP

adidas Women's Adizero Boston 8 Running Shoe, Black/White/Black, 8.5 M US

The Adidas Adizero Boston 8, the next model after the Boston 7, is fourth on our list, with a slimline design and subtler but noticeable improvements on its predecessor.

Long-distance marathon runners pay attention! With a boosted heel that tapers into the midsole, these shoes are particularly manufactured to last longer and be more durable.

With this firmer heel, the transitions from heel-to-toe are smooth as butter, making for a softer footfall and allowing you to run longer, faster and more intensely.

With a tough mother of an outsole, the Boston 8 glides across wet or dry gravel or tarmac, giving you quicker speed. If you’re competitive and want to actually win your marathon, accept no substitutes. This is the shoe for you.

The forefoot is far more accommodating than in previous versions, without sacrificing the slender and stylish look. Comfort is obviously vital in a long-distance running shoe, and this one moulds perfectly to the contours of your foot. It’s ideal for everyday wear, as well as the slog of a marathon.

This is a moderately-priced running shoe that will surely attract the well-heeled willing to spend a few dollars, along with the first-timers who want to splash out on their equipment before they hit the concrete.

A nifty upgrade from the Boston 7, this shoe has enhanced its steering power specifically for the marathon, widening the toebox for a more relaxed fit – like an adjusted seat in a classic car on a long journey. These two small tweaks alone have elevated this beast into our top five.

Pros:

  • Pro runners should snap up the thick-heeled Boston 8

  • Allows for much greater running distances

  • A decently-priced running shoe for beginners looking to upgrade

Cons:

  • A choice of only a very few colours

adidas Women's Adizero Boston 8 Running Shoe, Black/White/Black, 8.5 M US
  • Running shoes with a Boost midsole designed for distance training
  • Regular fit; Lace closure; Stable feel
  • Flexible mesh upper is breathable

RUNNER UP

New Balance Men's 1500 V5 Running Shoe, Black/Neon Emerald, 15 M US

This bold, crisp shoe jumped off the page when we first saw it and we’re sure that the 1500 V5 will live up to its attention-grabbing first impression.

A fast and firm ride for marathon runners great and small, the style of this puppy matches its capabilities, with an alligator-sharp outsole grip.

Featuring a shank in the mid-foot, given the uber-futuristic name of ‘T-beam’ provides the shoe with a durable support, but in a way that is actual contrary to its flashy nature. This trainer is for someone who wants to catch eyes as well as prizes on the circuit!

With its wafer-thin REVlite midsole, this show is actually lightweight yet very resilient, giving you that extra bounce in the heel, the foot very close to the ground. That pushes the shock back into the ball of the foot as it lifts off any surface you choose to run on.

A thick fat tongue prevents laces cutting into the foot while running.

The reinforced heel results in little slippage, allowing you to push yourself across wet tarmac and boggy forest trail.

The 1500 V5 is a pure amphibian, allowing you to run in all types of terrain. It’s a running shoe more suited to the adventurous experienced runner looking to broaden their horizons than the first-timer starting on his first 10k training lap around the city.

Pros:

  • A snug, tight fit is perfect for full-time marathon runners

  • A decent price for a durable, high-end shoe

  • Shock absorbent and stylish, this shoe is both practical and cool

Cons:

  • Only three colours – all of which are slightly garish

  • Some users have complained of blisters from the tight toebox

Best Running Shoes For Marathons- Buying Guide

Buying a marathon shoe might seem like no big deal, that you can simply buy off the rack from your local shoe store. But like Cinderella, you have to find the shoe that fits! Buying a standard ‘run-of-the-mill’ shoe will not guarantee you the right durability and support you’ll need for long-distance training or travelling acres of country trail or city road. The result? Serious damage to your feet, knees and hips.

Before you hit the streets, remember to bear in mind the following things when shopping for a decent pair of marathon running shoes.

Choose A Shoe That Fits… For Running!

Running shoes and regular sneakers might look like the same creature on the outside, but they are actually different species of the same animal. Running shoes are made with running specifically in mind, and feature technologies that protect the foot and aid running performance.

Our list comes with attention paid to these details – midsole support, topsole strength, shock absorption, heel guidance, breathability of the upper side. These details are what ensure you have a comfortable, smooth and, most importantly, a safe run, that you won’t be paying for at a later date. Think about how far you want to run and how often you’ll be running – that’ll narrow down the selection of shoes you need, sort out the sidewalk whackers from the sidewalk slackers!

One Size Does Not Fit All

Feet spread out as you run. This is one of the many facts that sound obvious when you say it, but are frequently neglected, especially when buying a solid marathon running shoe.

As a general rule, there should be one thumb-width’s distance between the end of your toe and the end of the shoe – call it a ‘Rule Of Thumb.’ There must be plenty of room for the foot to spread when it impacts the floor. If you’re buying online, you can’t always try before you buy, so be generous. Give your toes some wriggle room!

The running shoe should not pinch, and the sole of your foot should be centred with the platform of the shoe. It should wrap snugly around the foot. Remember: snug, not rub! A rubbing shoe will give you painful blisters and might lead to injury in the leg and knees in the long run. And a marathon is one long run!

Don’t Just Run With It!

Think about what kind of running you’ll be doing before you buy your marathon running shoes. 

For any running shoe you always want plenty of spring-back when your foot hits the sidewalk, as well as enough firmness to minimize the stress put on those hardworking stabilizing muscles. For shorter ‘everyday’ running, you need a trainer that is durable, a shoe that can handle at least half an hour of sidewalk-pounding.

If you have a need for speed, a lightweight shoe is for you, but bear in mind that these will be less durable than your ordinary sneaker and wear out a lot faster too. If you fancy yourself as a more adventurous off-road runner, a trail shoe with extra lugs on the bottom for enhanced grip will be crucial. Don’t lose your footing, get injured and end your running career before it’s even started. Do the smart thing. Choose the right shoe. Run the race that’s right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I just run in my old tennis shoes?

You can… but you might end up paying for it sooner rather than later. Most sneakers wear out between 300 – 500 miles of wear, so the chances are that your old tennis shoes are almost past their use-by-date! At this point, they simply aren’t giving your foot the support it needs for long-distance running. This could result in shin-splints, runner’s knee or Achilles tendonitis – all serious injuries that could affect not just your running career, but your everyday mobility.

In short, don’t settle for less or skimp on quality. You can’t lie to your feet! Investing in a solid, supportive running shoe is investing in your long-term health and well-being.

Does the surface you run on affect the wear and tear on your running shoes?

Running on a gravel beach filled with sharp rocks and pebbles will definitely affect the wear and tear of your shoes, but for your average road-runner, the way you run matters in a lot more.

A 300-pound heavy foot-pounder running on smooth tarmac will wear their sneakers down a lot quicker than a 100-pound light-footed runner. Weight and footfall is something you have to consider when buying a running shoe. If you’re heavier, then a shoe with a solid upper and thicker sole is probably more suited to you.

If you notice your current shoes have a detached midsole and are worn smooth on the outsole – they’re ready for the garbage!

What’s better – a lightweight running shoe or a running shoe with more stability?

Look at yourself when you’re running: does your foot roll over the sole on impact with the ground? This overspill is what any decent running shoe should try to stabilize. If not, it can lead to what is called ‘overpronation,’ which can cause injuries.

Stability is important, but a runner thirsting for a record-breaking marathon time might want to opt for a lighter weight sneaker that might feel as effortless as running in bare feet.

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