Successfully completing or racing a marathon requires commitment, many miles on the road, and careful attention to your own body. What some runners may forget is that the right shoes will play an even more important role, both on race day and during training.
The Importance of Shoe Choice
As mileage and stress on the body increases, small issues with fit or support can make a huge difference. For both racers and recreational runners alike, the right pair of shoes is critical for successful marathon training.
While it’s easy to get caught up in finding the right training plan, establishing goals, and determining the best race-day nutrition plan, it’s important to pay close attention to shoe choice throughout the training process.
What Makes a Good Marathon Shoe
Above all else, a good marathon shoes should be comfortable and provide the right amount of support for the person wearing them.
It’s critical to test your race day shoes before race day to ensure that they’re the right fit and will hold up on race day, but be sure to wear shoes that are not worn out.
The Right Shoe for You
The shoes listed here are some of the most popular options that have passed our reviewer’s tests, but it’s important to pay close attention to your own body.
Each runner has his or her own set of needs, preferences, and concerns, so it’s critical to take a close look at how a shoe works for you personally.
For more details about what to look for in your marathon shoes, see our “Run Picky” guide.
Top Marathon Shoes for Recreational Runners
Recreational runners should look for a shoe that fits comfortably and addresses any biomechanical issues. Some runners prefer a highly cushioned shoe for their marathon, while others like a lighter option.
We have included both, and an option for runners that need extra stability, in our selection below.
Saucony Mirage 3
The Saucony Mirage 3 is a great option for runners looking for a lighter weight shoe that still provides some cushioning and support.
This completely updated edition is a lightweight cushioned shoe, providing plenty of cushioning and a touch of stability.
The Mirage 3 has an extremely smooth, natural ride, and is most appropriate for neutral runners or runners with only minor pronation issues.
For more information, check out our full review.
Nike LunarGlide 5
The Nike LunarGlide 5 is best for a neutral runner looking for a marathon shoe with plenty of extra cushioning and a soft, smooth feel.
The LunarGlide 5 does provide some minor support as well, adding to the comfortable, cushioned feel of the shoe.
Our reviewer Chase loved the upper, saying “I doubt one could rub a blister except in the worst of conditions.” Check out Chase’s take here.
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 13
Adrenaline GTS 13 is a longtime favorite of runners looking for a classic stability shoe.
The Brooks Adrenaline also boasts an extremely smooth ride, performing well both on long runs and during speedwork.
Our reviewer Ashley loved the added flexibility and lower weight of this version, and noted that despite the changes, it was just as supportive as its predecessors.
For more information, see Ashley’s review.
Top Marathon Shoes for Racers
Those racing a marathon must strike a careful balance between a lightweight shoe that will allow them to harness all of their power and with just enough cushion to protect against the pounding of 26.2 miles.
Our reviewers did not recommend most of the racing flats that we have had the opportunity to test for races over a half marathon, but several minimal or lightweight options have been recommended, in addition to one racing flat.
For more guidance about choosing racing shoes for the marathon, see our guide.
Scott T2C Evo
The Scott T2C Evo is a performance shoe that provides just enough cushioning for long distace races in a lightweight package.
What sets the T2C Evo apart is its unique rocker shape, which provides a stable platform, promotes a slightly faster turnover, and subtly encourages a midfoot strike.
Reviewer Jim appreciated the adaptive qualities of the shoe during the later stages of his long runs, when he struggled with sloppy gait. For more details, check out Jim’s review.
Saucony Kinvara 4
The Saucony Kinvara 4 is the most cushioned option of the bunch, but still qualifies as a minimalist shoe.
A highly popular shoe for veterans and newcomers, the Kinvara features a 4mm heel to toe drop.
Ultimately, it is a great option for racers looking for a shoe that has more cushioning than a racing flat, but is still extremely lightweight.
For more details, check out the full review here.
Nike Flyknit Racer
The Nike FlyKnit Racer is an extremely versatile shoe, great for everything from the 5k all the way through the marathon.
With more cushioning than a typical racing flat, it provides plenty of cushioning to protect the runner from the pavement.
Though it is more cushioned than most racers, it doesn’t interfere with gait and still has a firm feel.
Our reviewer Peyton called it “one of the most well-rounded racing flats I have ever owned.” For more details, see Peyton’s review.