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Take the Lead With the Best Marathon Running Shoes
Put down your best splits yet with can't-miss runners from Nike, Adidas, Hoka and more.
Let's go racing. From starting line to finish line, you rely on your gear to make the most of your marathon experience. That means investing in apparel and footwear to keep you calm, comfortable and efficient on the race course. But with running shoe breakthroughs happening every day and technologies pushing the record books to new heights, which marathon silhouette is best?
From high-octane speedsters to kicks that cater to your personal gait, we've combed through the rankings and stayed in-stride to curate this roundup of the best marathon running shoes for you.
BEST OVERALL MARATHON RUNNING SHOESaucony Endorphin Elite Read More
BEST UPGRADE MARATHON RUNNING SHOEHoka Rocket X 2 Read More
BEST BUDGET MARATHON RUNNING SHOENew Balance FuelCell SuperComp Trainer Read More
BEST MARATHON RUNNING SHOE FOR Extra-LONG DISTANCESAdidas Adizero Adios Pro 3 Read More
MOST AGGRESSIVE MARATHON RUNNING SHOEMizuno Wave Rebellion Pro Read More
How to Choose Marathon Running Shoes
Because of the extensive mileage marathons call for, it helps to have a running shoe that’s light in nature. Lighter silhouettes can help lessen energy depletion at longer mileage, allowing to better conserve your juice for those final stretches. Most marathon running shoes will fall between 7–9 ounces, so try and find a pair that gives enough structure and support without turning into clunky wear once your course hits those double digits.
Marathon shoe uppers are typically thinner than your daily trainers to help lessen the overall weight of the silhouette, so don’t be surprised if your profile’s top layer is somewhat see-through. With that said, though, be sure to keep your shoe’s breathability and durability in mind when making a purchase. There’s no sense in choosing a racing silhouette if your feet will be left soaking in sweat once you reach the finish line.
Cushioning and Responsiveness
When choosing a race day sneaker, you want to balance underfoot comfort and performance-based speed. After all, you’re likely aiming to put down your best time on the course, yet don’t want to deal with the aches and pains of traversing 26.2 miles in a single clip. Most of the top marathon running silhouettes, including a number in this roundup, mix cushioning and energy return quite well thanks to premium foam materials and the inclusion of a carbon fiber plate to give the profiles an added dose of springiness.
26.2 miles can be a long distance, so why sign up for that endeavor if your shoes aren’t comfortable? Above all else when it comes to marathon shoes, make sure your comfort isn’t compromised across the midsole and upper lockdown. Be sure to pay attention to any known hot spots you have across your feet and look for profiles that cater to those needs. Plus, marathon shoes can have a tendency to run narrow for the sake of improved sleekness, so try to find a profile that fits your footprint best to make those race courses as plush and cozy as possible.
When Should You Wear Marathon Running Shoes?
Outside of the obvious donning on race day, if you're interested in marathon running shoes, it helps to understand when they can be worn. First off, you want to make sure you're comfortable in your shoes before toeing the starting line. It's best to schedule one or two long-distance runs in your marathon shoes prior to race day, as well as a few tempo workouts or post-run strides to get a feel for the footwear.
Now, you might think that to get the best feel for your new sneakers, you should simply train in them, right? Well, there are multiple reasons why this wouldn't be the best strategy. Because of the more specialized geometry and often-included carbon plate, your race shoes will feel slightly different from your normal pair of trainers. Running nonstop in your marathon shoes could change your natural gait, thus limiting your performance and squashing your times. Additionally, the foams and materials within each marathon shoe are built solely for racing, so any extended use could cause unnecessary wear and tear.
If you want an analogy, think of yourself as a race car driver. Your race day vehicle isn't your daily driver, so why should your shoes be any different?
Can You Run a Marathon in Everyday Running Shoes?
Running is one of the most popular sports because the gear requirements are so minimal, and in essence, you can run in anything. You could sign up and trot through a marathon in a pair of hunting boots if your heart desired...but would it be an enjoyable experience? Absolutely not.
While they do come at a higher price tag due to the advanced technologies and features within, marathon shoes are built with the sole purpose of racing in mind. If you're running a marathon as a one-off experience, you can get by with a well-cushioned pair of runners that are specialized to your step. If you're more serious about racing, though, you're bound to have a more worthwhile experience if you invest in the right gear for the job.
How We Tested
While I haven’t logged multiple 26.2-mile competitions for the sake of testing these performance-laden sneakers, I do typically mix in a handful of long-distance routes in my routine, which is where I gave these chosen picks their time to shine. Miles were logged both on-road and on a local synthetic track, allowing each silhouette to showcase its cushioning, responsiveness and overall comfort. I mixed up my pacing between slower, more manageable speeds and outright sprints to cover all bases, as well as ran in a slew of varying conditions ranging from clear skies to slight overcasts.
I’ll also admit that my natural gait is more supinated, so some of the stabilizing features across the gambit may not have benefited me most, yet after running in so many shoes over the years, I can understand and feel when the tech is designed to throw your steps in a given direction.
Now, all that’s left to do is secure those knots, choose the perfect racing playlist and get right into the best marathon shoes on the market today.
Learn more about the different running shoe styles to get the most out of every stride.
Explore the following guides to find more of our running shoe recommendations.