Are you preparing for a half marathon? I’m sure you know that your shoes are one of the most important parts of preparation.
Choosing the wrong pair can significantly hamper your performance. Selecting the right shoe, on the other hand, can spur you on to achieve personal record times.
If you’re looking at buying a new pair of shoes for the occasion, we’ve reviewed some of the best running shoes for half marathons.
We chose the Brooks Ghost 13 as our first place. It’s best for neutral runners, and has high-energy cushioning, absorbs shock well, and fits like a hug, keeping your feet cool with great airflow.
Keep reading to find out which other shoes make our list, and remember – if you buy new footwear, allow at least a few weeks before wearing them during a race so you can wear them in properly!
Top 3 Best and Favorites
Brooks Ghost 13
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ASICS-GT 2000 9
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Hoka One One Clifton 7
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1. Brooks Ghost 13
Regulary readers will know exactly how much we love this shoe here at The Wired Runner. And with good reason. The Ghost 13 is the latest iteration of a tried-and-true, extremely popular shoe. It’s a neutral design, featuring a lightweight mesh upper and a nicely padded sole, making it perfect for half marathons.
It’s been designed as a one-up on previous models and aims to improve performance while retaining a high level of comfort.
The segmented crash pad on the sole absorbs shock and makes for smoother heel-to-toe transitions, allowing you to give a more powerful toe-off with less pressure on your feet.
The biggest change from Ghost 12 is in the upper. It’s molded from a double-layer of mesh and is soft on the foot but secure enough to provide support.
These shoes get another thumbs-up for having an adjustable saddle, which facilitates a more structured mid-foot. This means less chance of an uncomfortable fit, as you can customize it to suit your foot.
The lightness combined with the superior cushioning makes this a great half-marathon shoe!
- Neutral shoe
- Lightweight double-layered mesh upper
- BioMoGo DNA and DNA LOFT cushioning
- Segmented crash pad absorbs shock
- May not be suitable for overpronators
Top Neutral Shoe
2. Saucony Triumph 18
Close behind the Ghost 13 as a great neutral show is Saucony’s Triumph 18. If you’re a neutral runner and you’re looking for something to suit your feet, the Triumph 18 could work for you.
Saucony uses plenty of technologies to make their shoes effective in enhancing performance and comfort.
The midsole uses PWRRUN+ cushioning, which, according to Saucony, is 25% lighter than average. This could have a huge effect on your running! It’s also quite springy and flexible, providing good energy return.
The foam insole is removable, in case you’d like to add your own orthotic.
The 3D print overlays on the upper add an extra element of stability from the outside. The patented FORMFIT system creates a fairly custom fit on your foot.
Some runners feel that the cushioning doesn’t quite extend to the ball of the foot, but everyone is different. Others will interpret this as a firm, responsive ride. The only way to find out what you prefer is to try a pair on!
- PWRRUN+ midsole cushioning
- 3D print overlays add extra stability
- Removable foam insole
- Blown rubber outsole for added traction
- Not as much cushioning on ball of the foot
Best Stability Shoe
3. ASICS-GT 2000 9
If you need a stability shoe, this is our top choice for running a half marathon.
The “GT” in ASICS-GT 2000 9 refers to their Guidance Trusstic system, which uses integrated guidance lines in the shoe to help the foot stick to a natural position and keep your gait as it should be.
Overpronators will benefit from ASICS’ Impact Guidance System, which combines various technological innovations to achieve a better gait from foot strike to toe-off, while cushioning, stabilizing, and reducing the chance of injury.
The midsole is created using FlyteFoam tech, which provides a good mix of softness and stability. It makes use of nanofibers which prevent the usual flattening or “packing out” of the sole, keeping you supported for longer.
You’ll also find front foot and rearfoot GEL cushioning that absorbs impact and keeps your feet feeling good for many miles.
- Guidance Trusstic system for stability
- Dual-density FlyteFoam midsole
- Rear and forefoot GEL cushioning tech
- I.G.S (Impact Guidance System)
- ASICS are known for their narrow, snug fit, which is not for everyone
Top Guidance Shoe
4. Brooks Ravenna 11
The Brooks Ravenna 11 is another good footwear choice for those who pronate. It’s designed to guide the foot to stay in the right position, improving performance and reducing the chance of injury due to improper foot position.
One of the things we really like about this shoe is the midsole. Not only does the BioMoGo DNA midsole provide great cushioning, but it’s also environmentally-friendly! Brooks gets a thumbs-up for that.
Brooks’ GuideRails Holistic support system keeps your feet secure and stable while you’re on the run. The lightness of the single-layer mesh upper means there’s no extra weight on the feet.
- Lightweight, single-layer mesh upper
- BioMoGo DNA midsole
- Springy blown rubber in forefoot
- Midfoot shank adds extra rigidity
- They run a little smaller and tighter than the previous versions
5. Hoka One One Clifton 7
Many runners feel that super-plush cushioning greatly helps reduce fatigue during long races such as half marathons. If you are in this camp, you probably already know that Hoka One One is the reigning king of plush. The Clifton 7 is their flagship road shoe, and is one of the most cushioned shoes we’ve come across.
The EVA midsole is beyond soft. It’s positively cloud-like, and runs the length of the sole so every bit of your foot is supported. The insole is nicely padded and is also removable, so if you have orthotics that fit your feet nicely you can just insert those.
A plush tongue and collar mean you get all-round cushioning, not just underfoot! Your ankle and arch will be comfortable and cushioned too.
The 5mm heel-toe drop is a little smaller than most, and might take some getting used to. The rocker sole, though, makes it somewhat less noticeable.
An often overlooked feature that this shoe gets right is the heel tab. It’s part of the shoe, and is every bit as plush and cushioned as the rest of the collar. It’s easy to grab and use and doesn’t look like a tag.
- Full-length EVA midsole
- Plush tongue and collar
- Flat laces for less pressure
- Removable padded insole
- Impressive heel tab
- They may run slightly small and tight, so ordering ½ size up may be a good idea
Best Zero Drop
6. Altra Escalante 2.5
If you don’t know what a zero-drop shoe is, it’s one where the height of the heel and toe are exactly the same off the ground.
Typical road shoes feature a drop of up to 12mm. Whether this is a benefit or a flaw is a philosophical question we won’t tackle here. Devotees of zero-drop shoes argue that the flat platform pushes you toward naturally better running form. Whether your running form will benefit is also up for debate, but if you have never run in zero-drop shoes, be advised that you have to gradually retrain your legs to run in them – it’s hard going at first, especially on your calves.
The mechanics may take some time to get used to as well, as the shoe keeps your foot at a different angle than what you’re used to. But they’re well padded with an Altra Ego midsole that makes use of Innerflex technology for extra flexibility.
Something many runners seem to like is the “foot-shaped” toe box. It sounds strange, but many shoes squish the toes a bit. Altras don’t, giving your toe plenty of room to splay out – another nod to the Escalante’s minimalist heritage.
That toe box paired with FootPod outsole tech that allows for flexibility excellent shock absorption gives you an easy-on-the-foot pair of shoes. Your feet will feel great both on the road and afterwards as you recover.
- No drop for a more balanced ride
- Altra Ego midsole with Innerflex midsole tech
- Lightweight, 8.5 oz men’s, 6.9 oz women’s
- FootPod outsole technology
- Those who have never used zero-drop shoes before may take some time to get used to them
- They appear to run slightly small
Top Nike Shoe
7. Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit
We get it. Sometimes you have a brand, and you’re reluctant to stray from them. Nothing wrong with that! If you’re a Nike fan, you’re spoiled for choice, if anything. Among the many excellent choices for distance shoes, this is our choice for Nike’s best shoe for running half marathons.
Nike’s FlyKnit upper has been reinforced and features 3 layers to keep your feet stable and supported. It manages to stay lightweight and breathable, though.
The midsole provides strategically-placed support for the 3 zones of the foot – heel, mid-foot, and toe. This allows for the most shock-absorption on the foot strike, an easy transition mid-foot, and a more springy push-off at the toe.
The rubber outsole keeps you sturdy on any surface in all but the slickest conditions.
Nike created these shoes specifically to reduce injury, and their stats show that it seems to be paying off. According to their research, runners who wore the Infinity Run experienced 52% fewer repetitive stress injuries than those wearing the Nike Air Zoom Structure!
- 3-layer FlyKnit upper
- 3-zone midsole
- Wider foot shape for extra stability
- Lower injury rate than other shoes
- Due to the wide base, some runners report heel slippage
Best For Wide Feet
8. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 V11
Having wide feet can seem like a curse when trying to find running shoes that fit. The New Balance 1080 is the best we’ve found that caters to runners with wide feet.
With sizes in narrow, regular, wide, and extra wide, there should be a size here to fit you almost perfectly.
They’d be great for both neutral runners and underpronators, thanks to the full-length midsole and Ortholite cushion insert.
Another useful stability feature is the 3D Ultra Heel, which is snug and locks the heel in so there’s no floating around while you’re running.
- Comes in wide and extra wide
- 3D heel for extra stability
- Full-length Fresh Foam X midsole
- Neutral to underpronation
- Some runners report that the upper fits too tightly across the top of the foot
Best Lightweight Shoes
9. Saucony Kinvara 12
If your aim is speed and you’re planning on setting a new PR at your next half marathon, choosing a pair of lightweight shoes can help you achieve that goal.
The Saucony Kinvara 12 is just that – a lightweight running shoe. It weighs in at 9 oz for a men’s size 9, and 7 ounces for a women’s size 8. This shouldn’t change very much across the sizes.
The 4mm heel drop also makes them lighter, using less material in the heel. You’ll need to push-off harder to gain speed, though, because you won’t have a natural forward-lean that shoes with a higher drop have.
Saucony’s FlexFilm material is grafted into the upper, adding support and eliminating the need for extra layers, which also reduces the weight a little.
Also, these shoes come in a wider color range than most we’ve reviewed!
- Light, 9 oz men’s, 7 oz women’s
- 4mm heel drop
- FLEXFILM material melded to upper
- Available in a wide range of colors
- The heel drop takes some time to get used to
10. Brooks Launch 8
The Launch 8 is affordable and value-packed, and is a good choice for those who want to both train and race a half marathon.
Like other Brooks models, the Launch 8 features a quick-biodegrading, environmentally-friendly midsole, so you can feel good about that as you run. That does not mean that the cushioning degrades – expect a pair of Launch 8s to get you most of the way through a high-mileage training cycle easily.
The full-length midsole makes use of a compound Brooks calls Cushsole, which has an insole board to add to flexibility and stability.
Another thing that makes these shoes easy on the feet is the combination of the Midfoot Transition Zone and the Segmented Crash Pad.
Your foot and ankle joints are cushioned on landing thanks to the strategically-placed padding, which absorbs much of the landing shock. The transition zone features cushioning to ease your ride and bounce you back on your push-off.
For an affordable shoe, you’re getting a lot of good technology and a wide range of colors to choose from!
- Range of funky colors
- Full-length S-257 Cushsole
- Midfoot transition zone
- Removable engage footbed
- The low back may chafe the backs of runners’ ankles
Top Trail Half Marathon Shoe
11. Nike Air Zoom Wildhorse 6
Not all half marathons take place on the road. If you haven’t run a trail half yet, you are missing out. And if you are going to run one, you’ll need a great pair of trail shoes. For that, we suggest the Zoom Wildhorse 6. They’re quite rugged-looking, which may not suit everyone, but they’ll certainly get the job done on the trail.
One of the most important features of a great trail running shoe is grip, and these have a good amount of it. The heavy-duty lugs on the outsole will prevent any slipping on gravel or sand. The outsole is made of sticky rubber in the mid-foot and abrasion-resistant material on the heel and forefoot.
Nike React foam in the midsole provides a soft ride while offering great, responsive energy return at the same time. The heel is extra-cushioned to reduce the chance of blisters and offer extra support.
A sizable heel tab adds to the cool look of these shoes and makes it simple to get them on and off quickly.
The collar also hugs the ankle lightly and prevents debris from landing in your shoes while you’re running.
- Segmented tongue padding for reduced pressure
- Ankle-hugging collar
- Easy-to-use heel tab
- Good grippy lugs on outsole
- Run slightly small – go up half a size
Best Race Shoe
12. Saucony Endorphin Speed
It’s not uncommon for runners to train in one pair of shoes, and race in a different, lighter pair. If you’re going for speed, the Saucony Endorphin Speed is geared for exactly that. It’s specifically designed to be a race shoe, streamlined and light but still cushioned enough for your feet to endure a half marathon comfortably.
The Endorphin’s midsole is crafted using a high-performance polymer called PeBax, which provides superb energy return while staying light on the feet.
Saucony’s Speedroll technology is unique and creates a constant rolling motion under the foot that assists with propulsion and keeps you feeling like you’re gliding forward.
The 8mm heel drop could also play a role in the speed of these shoes, creating just enough forward lean to be helpful.
When it comes to the outsole, there’s enough traction to keep you safe from slipping but not so much that it slows you down. Perfectly down the middle!
With a weight of just 7 ounces per shoe (based on size 8.5, but not much change across the range) these shoes won’t weigh you down at all when you’re counting on them to improve your time.
- PeBax®-based PWRRUN PB ultralight
- Speedroll technology for propulsion
- Weight of just 7 oz per shoe (based on size 8.5)
- 8mm heel drop for extra forward motion
- May run about half a size small
Shopping for the best running shoes for half marathons? It can be overwhelming, especially when you’ve just read about 10+ great shoes.
Here are some frequently asked questions that might help you choose the right pair for your feet.
What Questions Do You Need to Ask Yourself When Buying a Half Marathon Race Shoe?
Buying running shoes for your half marathon is no small task. You need to ask yourself a few important questions that will determine the kind of shoe that best suits you and your goals for the race.
Every runner is different, and not everybody’s priorities in a shoe are going to be the same. If you’ve been training for a half marathon already, you should have a bit of an idea of what kind of cushioning you prefer.
The big question is: do you get well-cushioned shoes that weigh slightly more, or sacrifice some cushioning for lightness and speed?
Experienced half marathoners may opt for speed over cushioning, but we’d recommend not going too light on the padding if this is your first half marathon.
Are you an overpronator? You may need to pay careful attention to the stability of your shoes. You may not feel the need for special shoes when you begin your run.
But as you fatigue and your form begins to break down, having extra stability will be highly important to see you through and prevent injury.
As we mentioned above, a lighter shoe offers more speed, but that usually comes at the expense of cushioning. You may fly like the wind for the first half of your race, but if you feel like you’re running barefoot for the second half, your shoe is likely too light.
We’d err on the side of caution and go with more cushioning, but in the end it’s up to you, your goals, and what kind of ride you like!
What is Important In a Running Shoe?
When you’re looking for a new shoe, consider the following things before making your final decision:
- How do I want the shoe to balance cushioning and responsiveness?
- Is it a stability or motion-control shoe, or do you need one?
- Do they help you to be seen on the road in low light?
- Can your feet breathe in them?
- Is there enough traction to keep you stable on the road?
- Do you feel it has enough flexibility to be comfortable?
- Is there support where necessary?
You’ll need to find a shoe that covers all of these things for you. Individual runners may place different values on different things, though. For example, if you don’t train at night, you may not need something reflective.
But the shoe you end up choosing should have some combination of the above features in order for it to be good for your foot, especially over long distances.
Why Should You Rotate Shoes When Training?
If you believe you can never have too many pairs of running shoes, then you’re probably a shoe rotator already!
Different shoes are geared for different types of runs. A trail running shoe can work on the road, but it’s better suited for out on a trail. A shoe built for speed is not going to perform as well on longer runs, as the comfort factor is diminished.
Having multiple pairs of footwear that you can select from for specific races can help improve your performance. Instead of wearing the same pair of shoes for your cross country runs as you do for your road races, you can wear footwear more appropriate for what you’re doing. Not only will this most likely help you to perform better, it will also save your feet from injuries.
Even if you dedicate yourself to one brand and model of shoe, it can help to rotate two pairs in your training. Foam midsoles actually benefit from a bit of recovery time just like your body does. If you run in alternating pairs of shoes on alternating days, you’ll end up getting more miles out of each.