The Best Long Distance Running Shoes (Marathon Shoes) in 2021

Running a marathon is a very challenging feat. To achieve this, you need a lot of dedication, effort and training but you also need to be well-equipped. Most importantly, you need to have the best marathon shoes.

What are the best running shoes for long distance will probably differ from runner to runner and depend on many factors, like the runner’s experience, health issues, feet size and individual preferences.

However, some shoes are simply better than others, especially when it comes to such a specific purpose as long-distance running. With that in mind, we have decided to review some of the best long-distance running shoes on the market.

brooks levitate 2 running shoe
  • 8 mm Heel Drop
  • Good for Short and Long Runs
  • Neutral Support (Good for Runners with Medium or High Heels)
  • Provide Great Traction
  • Perfect for Casual and New Runners
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Brooks Levitate was a huge hit and the new edition of the famous shoe doesn’t fall short of the high expectations. This running shoe is built for casual and new runners since it is a reliable training shoe that provides max energy return and comfort.

These shoes are available in many different sizes and colors, while the design of the shoe is pretty stylish as well. Levitate 2 is created with versatility in mind, which is why these shoes are good for both short and long runs. They are also responsive and good for picking up pace.

The shoes have a tacky, segmented rubber outsole that offers great traction and good flexibility. One of the biggest changes compared to the original Levitate shoes is the soft foam heel tab encompassed with faux-suede that serves to reduce irritation of the Achilles tendon.

On the downside, these are one of the heaviest shoes on the market, so don’t plan on running in the rain since they get even heavier when they are wet. Also, they come with a complicated lacing system which not only wastes your time but also leads to fit being an issue.

Pros:
  • Versatile
  • Comfortable
  • Responsive
  • Flexible
  • Reduce Achilles Tendon Irritation
Cons:
  • Heavy
  • Complex Lacing System
  • Possible Fit Issues

Adidas Adizero Adios 4

The Best Running Shoes for Marathon Training

adidas adizero adios 4 running shoe
  • Come in Various Sizes
  • 10 mm Heel Drop
  • Neutral Support (Good for Runners with Medium or High Heels)
  • Provide Great Traction
  • Perfect for Professional Runners
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This is the fourth shoe in the Adizero Adios series, one of the most popular running shoes from Adidas. It is available in many different sizes and four colors. The shoe is extremely lightweight, flexible and responsive.

The biggest change from the previous version is the shoe’s upper, which is made with breathable open mesh and with fewer visible overlays, making the shoe more comfortable despite still having a tight fit to ensure better racing performance.

The midsole cushioning uses the Boost technology to make the shoes more responsive and provide better energy return. The rubber soles offer solid traction, even in unfavorable weather conditions.

While the shoe is generally comfortable, we have found it to be a bit narrower than expected, so you should take that into account as well. Also, the upper may scratch against the skin and cause chafing.

Pros:
  • Available in Many Sizes and Colors
  • Lightweight
  • Flexible
  • Responsive
  • Breathable
Cons:
  • A Bit Narrow
  • Possible Fit Issues
  • Upper May Cause Chafing

ASICS Gel-Nimbus 22 Running Shoes

The Best Stability Running Shoes

asics gel-nimbus 22 running shoes
  • Come in Various Sizes
  • 10 mm Heel Drop
  • Good Long Distance Runs
  • Neutral Support (Good for Runners with Medium or High Heels)
  • Provide Great Traction
  • Perfect for Competitive Runners
CHECK PRICES

When a shoe series get to a number as high as 22, that’s an undeniable attest of quality. That’s exactly the case with Nimbus 22 from ASICS. These shoes come in many different sizes and colors, while the design of the shoe is as fashionable as they get, with a bit of a classic look.

The biggest improvement that Nimbus 22 has over the previous models is the comfort, although we still found the shoe a bit stiff. This shoe offers a steady and stable feel. It is not really built for speed but rather for high mileage, making it perfect for casual long-distance runs.

The best feature is the combination of flytefoam and gel cushioning that provides flexibility and responsiveness. However, these shoes are also on the heavy side, just like most of the previous models in the series.

Pros:
  • Available in Many Sizes and Colors
  • Versatile
  • Responsive
  • Flexible
  • Durable
Cons:
  • Expensive
  • Heavy
  • Mild Tongue Slide

Nike Vaporfly 4% Flyknit

The Best Running Shoes for Professional Runners

nike vaporfly 4 flyknit
  • Come in Various Sizes
  • 10 mm Heel Drop
  • Unique Midsole Design
  • Provides Great Traction
  • Perfect for Professional Runners
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This shoe is one of the best Nike long distance running shoes, which also means that it is one of the best running shoes overall. These shoes are available in various sizes but they only come in a single width. Also, they are only available in two colors – blue and red.

The main advantage of this shoe is the midsole foam and a curved Carbon plate between two layers of this foam that make the shoe extremely responsive and comfortable while also being pretty lightweight.

This is a racer shoe that sets new standards and breaks all molds. Flyknit provides a unique running experience because it manages to offer traits that were seemingly impossible to work together, including the easier forefoot fit instead of the constricting fit commonly associated with racer shoes.

While no shoe can be perfect and suit everybody, this is actually the closest thing to perfection. The biggest flaw is, of course, the price. In addition to this, the lack of different widths’ also stands out.

Pros:
  • Lightweight
  • Flexible
  • Responsive
  • Breathable
  • Durable
Cons:
  • Only Available in Two Colors
  • Only Available in One Width
  • Expensive

Hoka One One Clifton 6

The Best Running Shoes for Women

hoka one one clifton 6
  • Come in Various Sizes and Colors
  • 5 mm Heel Drop
  • Neutral Support (Good for Runners with Medium or High Heels)
  • Provide Great Traction
  • Great for Casual or New Runners
CHECK PRICES

Original Clifton shoes were probably the best model in the series, until the arrival of Clifton 6. While the original was still lighter than these shoes, Clifton 6 sheds a lot of weight compared to other predecessors.

These shoes are available in many sizes and multiple colors, so you should have no problem finding the right match for your unique style. The biggest advantage these shoes have is the cushioning and supreme comfort offered by the EVA midsoles.

Clifton 6 offers improved durability compared to the previous model but it lacks in the rebound department so it’s not really a great shoe for energy conservation. They are good for casual long-distance running but lack the speed to be really great for competitive racing.

Pros:
  • Lightweight
  • Flexible
  • Breathable
  • Durable
  • Comfortable
Cons:
  • Not Very Responsive
  • Not Great for Speed
  • Possible Fit Issues
  • A Bit Pricey

Saucony Ride ISO 2 Running Shoe

The Best Running Shoes with Adjustable Fit

saucony ride iso 2 running shoe
  • Come in Various Sizes and Colors
  • 8 mm Heel Drop
  • Customizable Lacing System
  • Neutral Support (Good for Runners with Medium or High Heels)
  • Great for Casual or New Runners
CHECK PRICES

This is another shoe that is not suited for professional runners since it doesn’t provide enough speed. However, it offers more than enough energy return from the midsole to ensure great running experience on long distances.

The shoe is available in a variety of sizes and colors, while the design of the shoe is modern and sleek. However, the biggest changes compared to the original Ride ISO shoes are the redesigned upper and customizable lacing system that provide a proper fit for different foot shapes.

Ride ISO 2 also added thicker and bouncier foam cushioning without additional weight. However, the shoe is still heavier than most running shoes.

Pros:
  • Flexible
  • Responsive
  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Ensures Perfect Fit
Cons:
  • Heavy
  • A Bit Pricey
  • Not Suited for Speedwork

Reebok Floatride Run Fast

The Best Running Shoes for Speedwork

reebok floatride run fast
  • Come in Various Sizes
  • 12.7 mm Heel Drop
  • High Energy Return
  • Provides Great Traction
  • Perfect for Professional Runners
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Perhaps the best alternative to the expensive Nike Vaporfly 4%, these shoes are great for professional runners since they provide both speed and durability necessary for marathon races. The shoes come in multiple sizes and four different colors.

Reebok Floatride is a lightweight shoe with bouncy spring foam in the midsole that makes it very responsive and provides a speed underfoot feeling that lasts a long time. It also provides high energy return. The rubber outsole provides great traction, although it can cause scuffing.

The upper is designed to provide a comfortable fit, although some runners may find the shoe to be a bit wider, especially if you have narrow feet. The shoe also has a higher heel-toe drop, so it may not be the best choice for people suffering from plantar fasciitis.

Pros:
  • Lightweight
  • Flexible
  • Responsive
  • Breathable
  • Durable
Cons:
  • Possible Fit Issues for People with Narrow Feet
  • A Bit Pricey
  • May Cause Scuffing

Mizuno Wave Rider 23

The Best All-Around Running Shoes

mizuno wave rider 23
  • Come in Various Sizes
  • 12 mm Heel Drop
  • Responsive
  • Neutral Support
  • Great for All Purposes
CHECK PRICES

Mizuno Wave Rider 23 is a jack of all trades – a good choice for speedwork, long runs, tune-up races, cross-training and easy days. These shoes are available in many sizes, although they only come in a single width. You can also get them in 4 different colors.

The shoe has a versatile midsole that combines comfort and speed. The foam midsole is practically the same as it was with the previous model, although a wave plate was added to provide a rigid underfoot filing and a bit of snap at speed.

The upper has been streamlined a bit for aesthetic purposes and it works since the design of Wave Rider 23 is very classy. The plush sockliner ensures a secure fit but the toebox is a bit narrow so you may want to opt for a half-size bigger shoe that you usually wear. The rubber sole offers good traction but it can be a bit noisy at times.

Pros:
  • Available in Many Sizes and Colors
  • Lightweight
  • Flexible
  • Responsive
  • Durable
Cons:
  • Only Available in One Width
  • Toebox a Bit Narrow
  • Noisy Outsoles

Brooks Ghost 12

The Best Running Shoes for Everyday Use

brooks ghost 12 running shoe
  • Come in Various Sizes
  • 12 mm Heel Drop
  • Responsive
  • Offers Perfect Fit
  • Great for All Purposes
CHECK PRICES

This is another great shoe for everyday runs, training and long-distance runs. This model is very, very similar to Ghost 11, with updates to the right places while the main features remained unchanged. The shoe is available in so many different sizes and colors that you simply have to find the perfect fit for your feet and your fashion style.

The main advantage of Ghost 12 is the unique mixture of foams that offer a ride that is finely cushioned without being too soft. The DNA Loft in the heels also provides cushioned landing. However, these shoes have a high heel-toe drop of 12mm, so they may not be good for you if you have plantar fasciitis. This is also the reason why these shoes are not the best choice for uneven or unstable surfaces.

The mesh upper, which is 3D printed, provides breathability and stretches just enough to offer wiggle room for a perfect fit without reducing support. The outsole grip provides great traction in any type of weather.

Pros:
  • Lightweight
  • Flexible
  • Breathable
  • Responsive
  • Great Traction
Cons:
  • A Bit Pricey
  • Not for Uneven Surfaces
  • Not for Runners with Plantar Fasciitis

ASICS Gel-Kayano 26

The Best Shoes for Half Marathon

asics gel-kayano 26 running shoes
  • Come in Various Sizes and Widths
  • 10 mm Heel Drop
  • Great Support
  • Offers Perfect Fit
  • Great for Half Marathon
CHECK PRICES

This is one of the best support shoes you can find on the market and it is good for people with slight overpronation. It is available in various colors and sizes, as well as different widths.

Gel-Kayano 26 has a comfortable and soft upper that provides breathability, while the soft cushioning provides comfort for distances as long as a half marathon. However, these shoes may prove unforgiving on longer distances, especially if you are also looking for speed since the shoes are not really responsive enough to provide a good bounce.

The shoe is also a bit heavier than many others, so running in wet weather may not the best running experience. This is a shame since the outsoles do provide a good grip and solid traction in all weather conditions.

Pros:
  • Available in Many Sizes and Colors
  • Flexible
  • Breathable
  • Great Traction
  • Durable
Cons:
  • Heavy
  • Not Enough Bounce
  • A Bit Pricey

How to Choose Long Distance Running Shoes

There are a few things to consider when you choose the best marathon running shoes for yourself. So, let’s check these things out.

Cushioning Vs. Motion Control

One of the most important things to consider when it comes to running shoes is whether you need shoes with an extra cushion or those that provide motion control. Your choice should depend on your foot type – whether you have high or low arches, as well as your gait and how your weight is distributed when you run, which is your level of pronation.

  • Cushioning shoes are the best choice for runners with underpronation issues or high arches.
  • Motion-control shoes are the best choice for runners with overpronation or low arches.
  • If you don’t have any of these issues, you can go with neutral or stability shoes.

Cushioning shoes are, of course, highly-cushioned so they can reduce shock by mimicking the natural process, preventing the shock from going through your joints and to your spine.

Meanwhile, motion control shoes are designed to control or reduce excessive rolling of your foot. These shoes are the most rigid type since they provide even more shock absorption to help you correct your gait cycle. These shoes use various techniques to achieve this, like medial posts, wedges, guide rails, dual-density foams, etc.

Stability shoes provide medial support and cushioning – they are basically the middle ground between cushioning shoes and motion control shoes since they help you reduce excess foot and ankle motion without being too restricting on your movements.

Heel-Toe Drop

In addition to cushioning, stability features and pronation control, you also need to consider heel-toe drop when you look for the best running shoes for a marathon. Heel-toe drop, or offset as it is also called, is used to describe the difference between the amount of material under the forefoot of the shoe and under the heel. This measurement is commonly presented in millimeters.

The vast majority of running shoes have more material under the heel to absorb the impact and shock from landing since the heel is the first part of your foot that hits the ground. However, some runners prefer a lower heel-toe drop that promotes a stride where the front or the middle of the foot is the first to hit the ground.

Also, the heel-toe drop may be an important factor to consider for people with plantar fasciitis. In theory, the running shoes for plantar fasciitis should have a reasonable heel-toe, for example somewhere between 6-10 mm. However, that is not always the case and it depends on the individual.

Finding the Right Fit

Your running shoes should fit you comfortably, which usually means that you should have at least half of inch of space between the edge of your toes and the tip of your shoes. You should also make sure that the shoes are tight enough to provide stability but be too tight and uncomfortable.

So, when you choose the shoes that will fit you perfectly, take your shoe size and width into consideration and keep in mind that shoes of the same size by different brands may not be the same. Read the measurements specific for the shoe and brand that you want to buy.

Weight of the shoes is also an important factor. Lightweight shoes are usually more flexible and present the minimalist approach that should make you feel like you aren’t wearing shoes at all. They are comfortable and should decrease your fatigue as well. Plus, according to some experts, lightweight shoes are the best running shoes for bad knees but you should still combine them with a knee brace for running to ensure that your knee is well-protected.

Conclusion

Choosing the right long-distance running shoes for yourself is not easy and you will never know for certain whether some shoes are a perfect fit until you go for a run in them.

However, you can find running shoes that should be a good fit for you by taking certain factors into consideration, like your pronation levels, the size and weight of your feet and the type of shoe that suits your preferences.

We hope that our reviews of the best marathon running shoes were useful and that we managed to help you find the perfect shoe for your needs.

About The Author

Vladimir Kovacevic

Vladimir is a former journalism student and an active freelance writer. He has a lifelong passion for sports, especially soccer, basketball and tennis. His basketball playing days ended after high school but he still likes to play hoops with his friends. Vladimir also likes to ride his bike at some of the most popular green areas in Belgrade, Serbia.

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