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The best running shoes for a marathon

It is that time of year.
Many people who would not normally be pounding the streets and treadmills are now training hard ready to line up for a marathon.
For many the goal is the Flora London Marathon on 26th April but with events also taking place in Belfast, Taunton, Suffolk, Blackpool and Stratford-Upon-Avon there are plenty of other options. Later in the year races such as Nottingham and Dublin will also be happening so there are plenty of options for runners wanting to test themselves over 26.2 miles in 2008.
One of the big decisions facing runners will be what to wear on their feet.
In many ways the issues facing a marathon entrant are the same as those facing any other runner. But with the distances multiplied the amount of time you spend in your shoes is multiplied too. That means increased potential for discomfort or even injury. With a 5K the issue is much more a case of ‘How fit can I get before race day?’ and ‘How fast can I go?’ With the marathon making it to the start line healthy and ready to tackle 26.2 miles is a battle in itself.
So that means footwear choice becomes all the more important.

Advice on choosing shoes for the marathon
First of all any runner looking to choose running shoes needs to know what type of footwear they need.
You will need either neutral shoes or support shoes. You may need motion control shoes. Don’t panic about the sound of support or motion control shoes. They are not some hideous and monstrous invention which mean any wearer of them has some kind of horrific deformity. They simply take account of some very common biomechanical issues many runners have and that can be addressed by design features and technologies. If these biomechanical traits weren’t common the brands would not make running shoes to cater for them. In fact, the support shoes are often the best selling ones.
If you don’t yet know which type of shoe you need, and to see video footage of how effective support shoes can be just click here. Then come back to follow the next step in the process.

Choosing the best shoes for marathon training
Once you have decided whether it is support or neutral shoes that you need to be training in you can decide which specific models are going to suit you best.
If you are a new comer to running, suffering from injury or increasing your mileage to run a marathon you will want a good level of protection from your training shoes. This means good cushioning and, if you over-pronate, adequate support.
If your body is well equipped for the demands of marathon training you may want something a little more responsive.
Either way make sure that your shoes do still give you a good ‘feel’ for the ground. You don’t want footwear that hinders your ability to do this as ‘proprioception’ is important. So a soft spongy midsole may not be as good as you might think, especially as what feels nice after three miles may just feel as though it is bottoming out completely after 13 miles.

It is also worth buying two pairs of running shoes. There are several benefits to this. Your feet will run slightly differently in different shoes and this will lead to the forces being dispersed slightly differently throughout your body. That means ‘chronic’ injuries (those which develop over time) are less likely to occur.
If it is wet or your have to clean your shoes you won’t be going out in wet shoes. This is a comfort benefit but if your running shoes are soaking wet they are more prone to lose their shape. Once or twice won’t matter too much but over time it can become an issue.
And if you have two pairs of shoes you can have shoes for slightly different purposes such as a more protective pair and a lighter pair. Alternatively you may buy a pair of road running shoes and a pair which is for off-road running. You can then wear the appropriate shoes for each run or session.

So which models would we recommend?

The best running shoes for marathon training

We have split the shoes into neutral shoes and support shoes. If you are still not sure of which you need click here.
While it is not possible to be precise in this these shoes are listed with the most protective at the top of the list. So the more protection you are looking for the closer the top of the list you are likely to be looking. If it is more light and responsive you want then the shoes lower down are more for you.


Neutral shoes (Note: these are also known as cushioning shoes)
ASICS Gel Kinsei 2 £130
The price says it all really. Of course as the price gets higher the margin of improvement gets smaller so these shoes are not twice as good as a £65 pair. However they do offer a high level of cushioning which comes with a very stable ride too. These are not support shoes but they do guide your feet very well. While the shoe is not particularly the responsiveness is surprisingly good for such a protective shoe.

ASICS Gel Nimbus £100
The Nimbus has a more traditional running shoe feel to it than the Kinsei. Many people actually prefer it as it has a more familiar type of ride. You still get a huge amount of cushioning and again the ride is nicely guided so milder over-pronators could wear this shoe.

Nike Air Zoom Vomero+ 3 £90
This is Nike’s top cushioning shoe and while it has that top-end well cushioned ride the feel is also quite natural and smooth. You would not choose this shoe for pushing the pace but it is easy to see why the shoe has proved so popular. The Zoom Air succeeds in giving cushioning while still giving the good road feel that gives a positive ride.

Saucony Grid Triumph 6 £85
A nice and soft feel are on offer in this shoe. The tread is up to a bit of light off-road action too, which is just the job for you if you vary the terrain you train on. The shoe is flexible and while it is not ideal for fast running it is quite responsive.

Brooks Defyance £75
The Brooks Adrenaline GTS is a very popular support shoe and this is the neutral version. In many ways it is not spectacular but what we like is that it does all the essentials with no fuss. It fits well, has decent cushioning and the responsiveness is fine for logging up those miles in preparation for race day.

adidas Supernova Glide £75
The Supernova Glidemay not get as much recognition as some other shoes in this ‘neutral’ category. But the shoe has good cushioning with some spring to it, as well as a stable and nicely guide ride. But it also feels responsive enough to use for some faster running so you can use it for those swifter runs and sessions or just enjoy that responsiveness in your steady runs.

Mizuno Wave Rider XII £80
The Rider has a slightly firm feel to it but the cushioning stands up to a fairly high mileage and that firmer ride also adds some responsiveness. The flexibility is nice too so the shoe is up to some faster paced running or even speed work. The fit and support of the shoe are good too making this a good shoe on many different levels.

Puma Complete Eutopia £80
The Eutopia is a very good new shoe from Puma for anyone in the market for a fast feeling shoe. Soft cushioning near the foot give good comfort but then the midsole is firmer to give a well balanced feel. The upper has a great fit and the ride is very smooth. The shoe really feels like a good lightweight while still offering a good level of cushioning and a stable ride.

Mizuno Wave Precision £65
The Precision is a favourite lightweight for many runners. Definitely a neutral shoe rather than a supportive one but the fit is great and the cushioning works very well for a shoe at this weight. Mizuno combine that with a very light feel and that means this really is a strong shoe.

Support shoes
ASICS Gel Kayano 15 £115.00
The Kayano has been one of the top support shoes for a long time. Lots of support and cushioning are what you will expect, but this comes in a shoe that doesn’t carry too much weight; the feel and ride are quite smooth as well as being protective. The fit is nice and this really is a reliable shoe. If this is the type of shoe you like you should also take a look at the Brooks Trance.

Saucony Grid Hurricane 10 £95
As you’d want at this price the Hurricane offers good cushioning through from heel to toe as well as plenty of support. The comfort is very good and the shoes Saucony always seem to fit well.

ASICS Gel 3000 £95
A step down from the Kayano but the 3000 is a shoe we rate highly. There is still a boat load of cushioning. There is perhaps a bit less support but it is enough for most over-pronators and while this is not a lightweight the ride of the shoe is good. ASICS 2000 series fans ought to look at this one as we think it does warrant the extra money.

Mizuno Wave Alchemy 8 £85
This is one shoe it was hard to know where to place in this list. It has more support than the shoes above it so could be higher up among the more protective models. But it feels light and responsive for such a protective shoe. The cushioning will suit heavier runners as well as lighter guys who have bigger over-pronation issues.

adidas Supernova Sequence £80
At 80 pounds this is a shoe that manages to cover the bases well. Good fit, good cushioning, good support and good responsiveness. What else do you need? As with the Supernova Glide it is good for steady running and responds well if you increase the pace.

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 8 £80
The Adrenaline GTS are another shoe that score well on all the key attributes which you would want a training shoe to offer. The cushioning works well and in combination with the support and flexibility you get a comfortable and smooth ride. The upper fit is good and the shoe is ideal for logging up the miles of training for a marathon.

ASICS GT 2140 £85.00
The 2000 series have always been hard to fault. Some models have had slight issues when compared to the previous one but these should never distract you from the fact that the shoe has consistently performed strongly with good cushioning and support. While it’s certainly not designed as a lightweight the shoe can take a bit of pushing the pace too.

Mizuno Wave Inspire 5 £85.00
Like the neutral Wave Rider this has a fairly firm ride but the cushioning is effective, the support is good and the shoe has a responsive feel – a smooth ride when steady running plus plenty of lightness and flexibility for when you want to be moving faster. The Inspire is completely at home being used for high mileage.

Saucony GRID Paramount £110.00
This is a great shoe albeit one that fills a bit of a niche position. It is a shoe for the faster runners rather than the bigger guys but if you are lighter and speedier it packs great cushioning, a well guided ride with support where it is needed and a hugely responsive feel.

Nike Air Zoom Elite 4 £85
A good support shoe particularly if you are a forefoot or midfoot striker. Nice support and cushioning mean lighter runners can use this as a trainer but it is well up to faster work.

Race day - Choosing the best shoes for running the marathon

Here are our pick of the bunch. Again we are listing them from the most protective through to the more minimal. Give the shoes a go in training, try them in a half. If in doubt you should err on the side of opting for shoes with more protection.

Saucony Grid Tangent £70
This shoe is a good option for a nice lightweight trainer/racer which offers good support. While it is very responsive the midsole is deeper than on some lightweights which means the shoe is less of a shock to the Achilles tendon. The cushioning works well. If you are looking at this shoe consider some of the lighter support shoes in the training shoe list above and also look at the Mizuno Elixir.

Asics DS Trainer 14 £90
The price tag is above average for this category but this shoe has a history of happy customers. It is another light and flexible trainer/racer yet also a good level of medial support and cushioning. But we are now getting into the shoes for the serious racers so you should not be expecting training shoe levels of protection.

Saucony Grid Fastwitch 3
£60
A good price point for a shoe that offers nice medial posting. The cushioning is decent but remember the shoes in this list are getting faster and less protective as we go along. This is clearly a shoe for someone looking to run a faster time.

Asics DS Racer 8 £75
This is ASICS lightest racing shoe but it does come with medial support. Don’t expect much protection for a marathon! This is all about stripping off the grams and going all out for speed.

Neutral
Nike Nike Air Jasari+ £65
Okay, there are some more lightweight racers out there that some runners will fancy for a marathon. But we’re putting this down as the most minimal of our neutral offerings. The shoe has a smooth and responsive ride. The upper does not give a huge amount of support but fits well and holds your foot quite nicely, and the midsole does have a relatively stable feel to it. Click here for full profile

Happy racing. Be sure to let us know what you make of the shoes.

For more information on how to use www.shoeguide.co.uk to find the best running shoes click here or here.
Written by: Shoe Guide on: February 18, 2008

 

 


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