Updated: July 24th, 2013

Running shoes, like the people who wear them, come in all shapes and sizes. Some are light and springy, some are sturdy and stable, some are more curved, and some are Type A aggressive. This article will help you individualize your marathon shoe choice to fit your needs, goals, and preferences. There is no single perfect marathon shoe out there, but there is a perfect shoe for you!

Before reading further, as yourself the following questions.

If you don’t know the answer, be sure to consult with a local running coach or someone at your specialty running shoe store.

  1. What is my goal time for the marathon, or do I simply want to finish the race?
  2. Do I pronate or supinate excessively? Do I have a history of injury?
  3. Am I ready to push the envelope a bit and tackle a new marathon PR (or set a good one right off the bat)?

Shoes for those Who Simply Want to Complete the Distance

If you missed last week’s article, click here to read an overview of what comprises a good marathon shoe. The first time marathoner wanting to finish healthily and strong requires a cushioned shoe with moderate support features. This shoe will be durable enough for the rigors of marathon training, work with your body rather than against it, and most importantly- you should look forward to putting it on each day.

Late in the race when you start to tire and your form diminishes a bit, you will need “ol’ trusty” on your feet to both protect your muscles and provide comfort for your feet as everything else begins to ache (just being honest!). Good shoe choices are below.

Shoes for Those with Imperfect Biomechanics

If you over-pronate (ankles roll excessively inward when you run) or over-supinate (ankles don’t roll in enough) when running, you will need a shoe that accommodates these issues without causing harm in your marathon race.
NOTE: Shoes for over-pronators and supinators WILL NOT be the same! These are two very different forms of foot-strike, and require different features to correct.

Pronation control shoes, often called stability or motion control shoes, will typically feature a wedge made of a firm material placed medially to the arch on the inside of the shoe. This, in theory, prevents the foot and ankle from collapsing inward too much when you run.

You may pronate if your running shoes show excessive wear on the inside edge of the shoe. Common injuries associated with over-pronation are IT Band Syndrome, shin splints, knee pain, and hip issues.

The best shoes for those who supinate will feature a flatter outsole that allows the foot to operate as it is inclined to do without hindrance. It may even include a bit of added cushioning on the outside edge of the shoe that would support the foot as it remains in an outward position at push-off.

You may supinate if your shoes show excessive wear on the outer band of the shoe. Common supination injuries are ankle pain, Achilles tendonitis, and piriformis syndrome.

If you are a first-time running shoe buyer, read our great running shoes buying guide. It will help you understand what kind of shoe might be right for you.

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