Anyone can be a runner. All you really need are your feet and some open space! And once you become a runner, the allure of completing a marathon is an undeniable pull for many.
Runners of all types have successfully targeted and completed marathons, from super-fit speedsters who run under 2:15:00, to people who just want to finish and take 6 hours or more. They all share one commonality: they can call themselves marathoners.
If you’re a marathon runner, or want to become one, you need a little more than just your feet and something to run on. First and foremost, you’ll need to invest in a pair of good marathon running shoes. Marathon training is not easy, and marathoners, even strong ones, are at perpetual risk of overtraining and repetitive stress injuries. The right pair of shoes will manage much of this risk for you.
Our recommendation is the Brooks Ghost 13. They’re available for men and women, feature a segmented crash pad to absorb shock as you land, and provide a perfect mix of cushioning and bouncy responsiveness.
Of course, you can run in any shoes you want, or even the ones you have right now. But putting a bit more thought into your shoes and their features can lead to PRs!
Top 4 Best and Favorites
Brooks Ghost 13
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ASICS Gel-Nimbus 22
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ASICS Gel-Kayano 27
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Brooks Launch 8
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1. Brooks Ghost 13
The Ghost 13 is the latest in Brooks’ Ghost series, and it offers some features that are very helpful for marathon runners.
It’s a neutral shoe, so should be comfy on the feet for most runners. If you happen to struggle with pronation, you may prefer a stability shoe instead.
If you are happy with a neutral fit, though, the Ghost 13 is likely to be well-suited to you. Brooks has been working on their tech, and the smoothness of this model is pronounced, with great cushioning and light, quick, heel-to-toe transitions.
The heel and midsole feature high-energy, responsive cushioning with a great return. On the front end, a segmented crash pad absorbs impact and allows for a faster and more powerful push-off.
The biggest change from the 12 is the upper, which is crafted from double-layered air mesh and feels soft, hugging the foot without being restrictive. To get an even better fit, the saddle is adjustable to offer even more support.
If you were a proud Ghost 12 wearer, you’ll immediately notice the differences in this shoe. Some customers have reported that the 13 runs slightly smaller and narrower than the 12, so be aware and do your homework before you upgrade!
- Neutral support
- High-energy responsive cushioning
- Shock-absorbing segmented crash pad
- Engineered air mesh upper
- They seem to run slightly small and narrow in comparison to the Ghost 12
- May not be suitable for those who over and under pronate
2. Mizuno Wave Rider 24
Have you ever been surfing? That smooth feeling you get while riding a wave is what the Mizuno Wave Rider is all about – just they aim to recreate that on the road.
It’s classified as a neutral to underpronation shoe, so may not be comfortable or supportive for overpronators.
Mizuno’s wave plate tech helps disperse impact as you land, which protects joints all the way from the ankle to the knee. It’s also very well-cushioned, featuring Mizuno’s lightweight, lovely, and springy U4ic Energy Foam midsole.
These shoes also provide superior heel cushioning. Their heel wedge is constructed from the same midsole Energy Foam, so your feet are padded from toe to heel.
Even on top, Wave Riders are built for comfort and stability. An engineered mesh upper, padded tongue and collar, and flat laces for better adjustability keep you cool, comfy, and sturdy.
- Smooth, responsive wave plate
- Padded tongue and collar with flat laces
- X10 carbon rubber sole
- Energy foam heel wedge for extra cushioning
- Not the best choice for overpronators
Best Nike Shoe for Marathons
3. Nike Zoom Fly 3
If you’re a Nike fan and don’t like the thought of changing your brand just for running a marathon, this is our choice for best marathon running shoes from Nike.
The Zoom Fly 3’s midsole is reinforced with a carbon-fiber plate, which adds an element of stability as well as flexibility as you run. Carbon fiber shoes are slightly controversial, as they apparently give you an edge in running efficiency.
Nike’s React midsole runs the length of the shoe, providing springy cushioning for every part of your foot.
Although their carbon fiber plate and full-length cushioning are built for enhancing performance, they’re comfy on the feet too.
The collar around the ankles is contoured to sit comfortably and is lower than average, which not only reduces the chance of chafing, but also makes them a little more streamlined.
Another unique feature of these shoes is that they have an angled heel. You may notice it immediately when you look at the shoe. The back of the heel seems to flare outwards and upwards quite noticeably.
The heel has been designed this way to reduce pressure on the Achilles heel, adding to the comfort of this footwear.
- Carbon-fiber plate for stability & flexibility
- Full-length Nike React midsole
- Angled heel to reduce pressure
- Low contour collar for racing fit
- Some customers mention heel slippage in these shoes
- They run small, so order up
Top Neutral Marathon Shoe
4. ASICS Gel-Nimbus 22
Although both our top choices on this list are neutral shoes, we particularly like the ASICS Gel Nimbus 22.
The first thing we really like is the fact that this footwear comes in a wide variety of colors. That may not seem like it’s really important, but when you consider that many of the other options have only 3 or 4 choices, these are ahead of the curve in the style department!
Apart from winning the color race, the Gel-Nimbus has unusual GEL cushioning technology in both the front and the rearfoot. These gel pads help absorb impact both on your landing and your push-off. Their two-piece nature also allows for more flexibility.
Guidance Trusstic technology is designed to stabilize and secure the foot in its position, keeping your gait as it should be.
The FlyteFoam midsole is the lightest-weight design ASICS has, so they won’t weigh you down on the road!
The only potential issue is these shoes run slightly narrow. They do come in regular and wide sizes (and extra wide for the men), so if you’re worried it might be worth sizing one up or going for the wide option.
- Wider variety of colors than most others
- GEL technology cushioning in both front and rear
- Guidance Trusstic Technology
- FlyteFoam midsole
- Buyers report the shoes fitting a little narrow
- A few customers report the heels feeling different in both shoes
Best Stability Marathon Shoe
5. ASICS Gel-Kayano 27
If you need a stability shoe rather than a neutral shoe, we recommend trying out the ASICS Gel-Kayano 27.
Like the product before, they use GEL technology to provide bouncy, comfy cushioning in the forefoot and rearfoot. The effect is the same in the stability shoe as it is in the neutral – superior impact absorption and more power on your push-off.
This shoe incorporates the Dynamic DuoMax support system, which is designed specifically for runners who overpronate.
A section of firm sponge is grafted into the midsole on the inner side of the shoe. This raises the inside edge higher than the outer edge, which is perfect to counteract overpronators’ usual “rolling inwards” of the foot.
Typically, overpronators have lower arches, so the FlyteFoam midsole caters for that. It also offers great energy return on every step. ASICS’ FlyteFoam Propel tech incorporates a secret elastic polymer to provide extra lift-off.
- FlyteFoam Propel technology
- Front and rearfoot GEL cushioning tech
- Dynamic DuoMax support system
- Good range of colors and sizes
- Does not suit runners with high arches, as there’s too little support
Top Guidance Marathon Shoe
6. Saucony Guide 13
Guidance shoes are very similar to stability shoes. Just like stability shoes, they have a medial post to prevent the foot rolling inwards while you’re running. They’re just a little less supportive, so if you need a tiny bit more stability but not a full-on stability shoe, then these may be for you.
A medial post is a particular section of the midsole that’s firmer than the rest. This shoe has one in the form of Saucony’s TPU guidance frame, which keeps the foot in the right position as you move.
PWRRUN cushioning is created to be soft on the pads of the feet, while still firm enough to see you through long runs comfortably. The insole is also removable, so if you wish to change up the cushioning or add an orthotic, you’ll be able to.
The FORMFIT upper hugs the foot without being restrictive, and allows great airflow to keep your toes cool.
Be aware that your first few runs in these shoes may feel strange if you’re used to your foot rolling inwards. Push through, though – these shoes will keep your feet positioned as they should be, which should also help reduce your chances of injury.
- PWRRUN cushioning
- Medial TPU guidance frame
- FORMFIT foot-hugging upper
- Removable insole
- Some runners find the toe box to be too small
7. Brooks Launch 8
If you’re looking for the best marathon running shoes that offer super value for money, the Brooks Launch 8 is our pick.
It’s a good looking shoe, and gets an immediate thumbs-up for offering enough color options to keep most runners happy.
The Launch 8 is an affordable shoe, and manages to pack plenty of great features into that price tag.
A one-piece mesh-constructed upper and inside bootie is lightweight and easy on the feet. Being a single piece means less chance of seams splitting, so durability is higher.
Their BioMoGo midsole is not only light and bouncy, but it’s also environmentally friendly – apparently, it biodegrades 50 times faster than average! So not only will your feet be happy, but the planet will too.
Brooks’ uniquely shaped sole contributes to the effectiveness of their Midfoot Transition Zone, which gives you superior responsiveness on every part of your step. Impact absorption on your landing cushions joints, and transfers energy quickly for a rapid toe-off.
- Range of colors
- Wide sizes available
- BioMoGo DNA midsole cushioning
- Midfoot Transition Zone
- Some report the back of the ankle to be too high and chafing
Most Cushioned Marathon Shoe
8. Hoka One One Bondi 7
One look at the Bondi 7’s thick sole, and you can see why we say this is the most cushioned marathoning shoe.
Credit to Hoka for blending their upper and sole to give the illusion of a relatively normal-looking running shoe.
Once you get them on, you’ll feel the cushioning not only under your foot, but behind and around your foot too. A full-length EVA foam midsole keeps you padded from toe to heel, softening impact and giving good bounce-back.
The collar is constructed from memory foam, so you’ll be nicely cushioned around the ankle as well, and the collar should hold its shape when you take it off.
In addition to the premium cushioning, you’ll get a good bit of support out of this shoe, too. The heel counter keeps your heel right where it should be without any unnecessary movement, and the upper features TPU overlays for additional rigidity.
It’s worth noting that if you’re buying the Bondi 7 after having been with a different brand, you’ll most likely find the cushioning super comfortable and soft.
However, if you’re moving up from the Bondi 6, the difference may be minimal. In fact, some users have reported that the 7 feels like it has less padding than the 6!
- Full-length EVA midsole
- Internal heel counter
- TPU overlays for added support
- Regular and wide sizes
- Customers moving up from the Bondi 6 feel that the 7 has less cushioning
Top Zero Drop Marathon Shoe
9. Altra Escalante 2.5
Zero drop shoes are for those who prefer a minimalist feel. In regular running shoes there’s a bit of an angle between the toe and the heel when standing flat. The “drop” is the difference in height between the toes and the heel. You’ll see it expressed in millimeters, such as 10mm or 12mm.
In zero drop shoes, there’s no difference between the height of the toe and the height of the heel. It’s as if you’re standing barefoot! For some, this is more comfortable than others.
If you’re an experienced marathoner who prefers zero drop, then this is a great option. If you’ve never run in zero drop shoes before, you may need to do a good few practice runs beforehand, to get the feel of it.
You may notice that they look pretty flat. But they still offer decent cushioning, using an Altra Ego midsole with Innerflex midsole technology for a soft but springy run. The midsole tech also allows for more flexibility of the foot as you run, giving you more power on your push-offs.
The outsole’s FootPod technology places the protective areas right over the most vulnerable parts of your feet, keeping you as safe and protected as possible while out on rough surfaces.
The “sock-like” upper is designed to hug your foot and keep you cool at the same time. It’s comfortable and breathable, so you won’t overheat.
- Innerflex midsole technology
- Sock-like upper
- Neutral support
- FootPod outsole technology
- Zero drop won’t work for everyone
- No wide sizes available (although the shoe is very wide in the forefoot)
Best Lightweight Marathon Shoe
10. Brooks Hyperion Tempo
After half a marathon, some shoes can begin to feel like bricks on your feet. If you’re wearing a pair of Brooks Hyperion Tempo, though, you won’t have that issue! They win our first place for the best lightweight marathon shoes.
The weight of the shoe will differ slightly depending on your size, but for some idea, a men’s size 10 weighs 8 ounces per shoe, and a women’s size 8 weighs 6 ounces per shoe.
Brooks’ DNA Flash midsole tech infuses nitrogen into the midsole for an even airier, cloud-like feel, with fantastic energy return.
- Very lightweight on the feet
- DNA Flash midsole technology
- Woven upper is stylish and practical
- 8mm drop
- Not available in wide sizes
Top Marathon Shoe for Wide Feet
11. New Balance 1080v10
Those runners with wide feet know how hard it can be to find shoes that fit comfortably.
The NB 1080v10 offers an impressive array of sizes and comes in regular, narrow, wide, and extra-wide. There should be something for everyone in this shoe!
They provide all the things a marathon shoe should, like a full-length Fresh Foam ABZORB midsole, a 3D rubber heel for stability, and a blown rubber outsole.
New Balance also offers a 30-day “Runlimited” guarantee. If you’re still not happy with your purchase after 30 days of trying them out, they’ll take them back so you can find something that suits you better.
- Leather/mesh upper
- ABZORB midsole
- Available in 4 different widths
- 3D rubber heel
- The collar around the ankle may chafe on some runners
Best Trail Marathon Shoe
12. Salomon Sense Ride 3
If you thought a road marathon was hard, a trail marathon can be a foot killer! That’s why choosing the best marathon running shoes is even more essential if you’re into long-distance trail running.
Salomon makes rugged shoes and are renowned for being one of the best manufacturers of gear and clothing for trail runners.
These trail shoes feature Contagrip technology to keep your feet firmly on the ground on any type of surface.
An Optivibe midsole is constructed from two different foams, the aim being to provide the best of both worlds when it comes to impact absorption and responsive propulsion.
The upper is constructed of a single mesh layer for flexibility and breathability on the trail. Be aware, though – this shoe isn’t waterproof, so best stay away from the puddles on the trail!
- Contagrip MA technology
- Optivibe midsole
- Mesh and textile for breathability
- Quicklace system for convenience
- Not waterproof
Top Racing Marathon Shoe
13. Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT%
The Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% was designed for speed. If you’re serious about hitting a new personal best, then this could be the shoe to help you do it.
The Flyknit upper is very lightweight and not constricting, keeping you cool and comfortable and providing great airflow.
Interestingly, they make use of an asymmetrical lacing system which helps reduce pressure on the bridge of the foot.
You’ll find ZoomX Foam in the forefoot, and a Nike React foam wedge in the rearfoot, which work well together to cushion the foot. A full-length carbon plate keeps you stable and solid on your feet while providing best-in-class energy return.
Under the forefoot you’ll find two Zoom Air Pods. You can actually see these from the outside, on the sole. They contribute to the shoe’s excellent energy return, by compressing upon your landing and inflating as you push-off, giving you an extra burst.
- ZoomX Foam footbed
- Nike React foam heel
- Forefront Zoom Air Pods
- Asymmetrical lacing for tight fit
- They run slightly small
- Some runners report that the foam squeaks!
Unsure about this list of the best marathon running shoes? We’ve covered some of the most asked questions on the topic to give you more info.
Remember, finding the right shoes can be quite a personal thing. These questions may give you some idea of the most important things to look for in a pair of shoes, but ultimately it all depends on you, your feet, your needs, and your running goals.
What Features Should I Look for in Marathon Shoes?
Although the most important feature of a marathon shoe will depend on exactly what you need from footwear, there are certain features you should definitely be looking at when shopping.
These features are mostly based on the fact that marathons are long! You’ll want a shoe that can handle the length of the run, while keeping your feet safe and comfortable at the same time.
So when shopping for a pair, look for something that offers the perfect mix of comfort, durability, and of course, value for money.
New marathon runners may want to try a fairly stable shoe to keep their feet as sturdy as possible during their race.
Seasoned marathoners who already have an idea of what they need in a shoe may opt for a more minimalistic style to reduce weight and drag, which can make all the difference when it comes to shaving off time!
However experienced you are, it’s probably a good idea to find a shoe with a slightly wider toe box than average and an upper that allows a bit more room. Tired feet can swell, and if that does happen, you don’t want your toes to be constricted.
What Are Common Mistakes When Buying Shoes for Marathon Running?
If you’ve decided to buy a new pair of shoes, be careful not to make these common mistakes. These things may be small, but they can make a big difference!
Going Too Early
You may be surprised to learn that shoe shopping in the morning instead of the evening could be a shoe-buying mistake!
There’s a simple reason for this. As the day goes, your feet naturally swell a little, whether it be due to the heat or you being on your feet during the day.
If you shop too early in the morning, you may find a pair of shoes that fits great, but feel too tight later in the day when you put them on again.
Buying later in the day will most likely give you a better fit. That way, if you do use them when your feet are less swollen, all you need to do is tighten the laces a little extra and you’ll be good to go.
Too Small Toe Box
Running a marathon with your toes rubbing or bumping against the front of your shoe can be a miserable experience!
When you’re buying marathon running shoes, it’s a good idea to go ½ size up from your regular size. This is so your toes have a little extra space to be free and comfortable and less chance of being the victims of chafing!
Judging Shoes Too Quickly
Once you’ve bought a pair of shoes and taken a run or two in them, it can be tempting to begin to hate them if you feel little twinges or discomfort.
Don’t be too quick to judge them, though. Running shoes can take up to 30 miles to wear in and mold to your feet.
Once you’ve worn them in properly, they’re likely to be even more comfortable, as they’re now exactly the right shape for your feet and yours alone.
Doing What Dave Said
Your brother may adore the shoes he has, and your best buddy might rave about his new footwear. Even your running club friends most likely have their own opinions about shoes, which they’re not shy to share.
But – and it’s a big but – their feet are not your feet.
Sure, their shoes may have fancy tech and pillow-like cushioning. They may be super responsive and keep their toes cool.
But your feet may need something different. There’s nothing wrong with listening, trying out some of their suggestions, and asking for advice.
But in the end, it will come down to you and you alone. What do you like? What are you looking for? Which boxes do you need to tick?
If you buy purely based on another runner’s recommendation, you may find yourself stuck with a pair of shoes you don’t like or that are not comfortable on your feet.
Not Adjusting The Laces
It’s surprising how many runners get a pair of shoes and leave the laces just as they come!
If you want to get the best fit on your feet, it’s a great idea to take the laces out and re-lace them in order to get a tighter, more custom fit.
When Should I Replace My Running Shoes?
It can be hard to figure out the best time to replace your running shoes. Here are some signs that your current shoes are past their best!
- You’re no longer getting bounce from the midsole.
- Your feet feel flatter than they usually do.
- The shoe soles are visibly damaged or wearing away.
- You’re getting pain in your feet and toes that you weren’t before, that can’t be explained by anything else.
It’s a good idea to plan to buy two pair of shoes while working through a marathon training cycle. You should be able to get 300-400 miles out of each pair, which is usually not quite enough to train thoroughly and get you through race day. If you’re buying new shoes before a race, try to get them at least a month before D-day. That way, you can run in them enough to wear them in nicely before running a serious race in them.