Over the years, marathon and half marathon shoes have improved by miles (pun intended) in technology, performance, and comfort.
With so many amazing running shoes, how do you choose which is the best for you?
Whether you’re a half marathon newbie or veteran, selecting a pair of shoes for your event can be a tough task.
It can be overwhelming to choose from all the options as a beginner. Likewise, when your favorite style suddenly isn’t available or changes it can be tough to find a new model that meets your needs.
Let’s look at what you should be searching for in a half marathon shoe and share with you our recommendations for the best half marathon running shoes!
Let’s lace up and see…
What Key features should you Look For In
Half–Marathon Running Shoes?
As detailed in How To Choose Running Shoes, the number one factor when trying out running shoes is simply comfort.
Yes, it is simple, but it’s true.
Any shoe you don’t find comfortable when trying on is not going to get any more comfortable once you’re out running with them.
And sometimes you can only discover that a pair of shoes are uncomfortable after running around in them.
Many local running shoe stores will luckily let you run in your shoes for a few weeks before you fully commit, so always start there.
Here are some more pointers for what to look for when picking your half-marathon shoes:
- You want a thumbspace between the longest toe and the shoes end. This avoids the repetitive motion of the toe hitting the toebox which can lead to sore toes and lost toenails. At the same time, if the shoe is too big your foot will move inside it and your toes will strike the toebox anyway.
- Advice Pearl: you want to be able to “play piano” with your toes but not be swimming in them
- Seek advice from a reputable running store. Avoid stores where the assistants aren’t runners themselves.
- Stick to what has worked. If you have a brand or model you’re familiar with, there’s often no need to even change your half-marathon training shoe. Only change if the new model has drastically changed and is no longer comfortable, most of the time changes are negligible.
- If you’re used to using insoles, take your running insoles to the store with you and try them out in your new shoes.
- You do NOT want shoe that twist and bend, you want a shoe with some structure to it so it helps offload your muscles and absorb shock.
- Lastly, pick shoes that suit the terrain of the half marathon. Trail races have very different underfoot conditions to city races. (And don’t forget to train in the same environment as you are running!
Related: What To Wear When Running
How Long Should You Try Out a Pair of Half Marathon Shoes?
Two to four weeks is plenty of time to train in a half marathon shoe to discover any issues or complaints.
In this day in age, running shoes do NOT have as long of a break-in period thanks to their new innovative materials.
However, it sometimes takes a few 5+ mile runs to figure out that you don’t actually like a pair of shoes!
So pay attention to how your body feels and adjusts. If you have noticeable niggles or blisters pop-up then that model may not be for you; try another it’s okay!
How Many Pairs of Half Marathon Shoes Should You Buy?
If you’re in training mode for a half marathon, consider buying 2 (or even 3) pairs of the same shoe. (Only do this once you’re confident you’ve found the shoe).
Running shoes gradually lose their support and ‘bounce’ as you wear them because the materials flatten out from the impact.
You should look to change out a pair of running shoes every 300 – 500 miles.
Additionally, having multiple shoes in your line-up allows your shoes to recover after you wear them. It can take 24 hours for the foams to rebound, so rotating models is KEY!
At the same time, running shoes have a short break-in period. A brand-new pair of running shoes need a few miles on them before they are race-ready even with advancements in materials.
When it comes to half marathon preparation, here’s a classic way to do line up your shoes:
Buy two identical pairs of running shoes.
Then wear the first pair for almost all your training – by the time the race comes, they are a little worn and dull.
As for the second pair, these are the ‘race shoes.’ Save these until around 3 to 4 weeks before the race, then introduce them into the mix. Alternate the 2 pairs until the race shoes have around 50 miles in them; then they’re ready.
This is just another way to handle training and will depend on individual preference.
With this system, easy day shoes would account for 60-75% of miles then speed shoes would be added for 15-20% of training on workout days and long tempos.
The race shoe would only be worn a few times before race day on some light speed days and sometimes some long tempos.
Both are equally good options, it just depends on your individual goals and needs.
Best Half Marathon Shoes
Here are some of the top half marathon training and running shoes available this season:
This shoe is ideal for beginning runners and rates high for comfort.
The Asics Nimbus line is a tried and true shoe and is a long-standing favorite for aspiring marathon and half marathon runners.
This well-supported neutral shoe is very forgiving – which can be advantageous as you increase the mileage. The Nimbus 25 model is improved from previous models by widening the toe box enough to fit the masses.
The Nimbus 25 has exceptional cushioning which makes it great for handling half marathon training miles.
If you want a shoe that is total comfort, this is the one for you.
The Saucony Speed 3 is a newer Saucony model but is extremely versatile and affordable considering its technology.
It is designed as a higher cushion neutral shoe, and it offers a nylon plate that mimics a carbon plate in the Endorphin Pro 2 racing model.
The Saucony Speed 3 is great for faster easy run days, long runs, and speed training. This model can really handle it all which makes it great for both training and racing a half marathon.
Additionally, it is lightweight, fast, and cushioned.
The Saucony Speed 3 is definitely a good shoe to try out for your half marathon training.
The Brooks Adrenaline 23 is a great shoe that offers a ton of support and cushioning
It includes a 12mm drop (the difference in height between the toe and the heel) which helps with injuries but still gives a propelling feel.
The Adrenaline 23 is a stability shoe so it is made for someone who overpronates in their gate. Brooks uses a guide rail system that gently guides the foot back to proper alignment.
Luckily, if you are a neutral runner and use this type of stability, it will not overcorrect your foot!
The cushioning is also fantastic. Although considered standard it feels soft and firm at different points in the stride thanks to the DNA foam Brooks uses.
The Adrenaline 23 is a classic Go-to-Shoe.
Hoka has many great models to choose from for half-marathon training, so check out the Hoka Clifton 8 and Bondi 7 too.
However, the Arahi 6 made the list because it is super lightweight but offers some stability as well.
The Arahi 6 is much like the Clifton 8 but offers mild support for overpronation. It has great cushioning and gives a decent energy return that will pull you through your training.
It offers a lightweight feel on a 5mm drop, but it sits about 30mm off the ground with its great cushion levels.
For Hoka, the outsole is fairly durable and can handle all conditions.
This would be a great daily training shoe to have in the line-up!
The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus makes the list again and is a classic training shoe.
Over the years the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus has changed a lot and has increasingly become a lighter and lighter shoe.
This model is ideal for someone with a narrow foot and a neutral gait. It offers a 12 mm drop which is pretty high compared to other shoes on the market currently.
Not much has changed from the previous model it is still cushioned, light, and springy with every step.
The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38 is great for beginners to veterans and is a great option for everyday training all the way to race day.
This shoe is an original model that came out in April 2022.
This is a wildcard in the mix but regardless feels fantastic!
The On Cloudmonster offers a propulsive feel with monsterous maximal cushion!
This shoe offers a smooth ride that is equally lightweight and soft.
On has really outdone themselves with this model and you will definitely want to try this sweet new model out.
There are so many models on the market that it can be easy to get lost in all the details, but remember that you want to be comfortable with your trainer on a daily basis.
So, we recommend checking out your local running store to be fit for shoes and do not be afraid to go through several models before you find the right one for you!
We hope this article helped you narrow your choices and make the process easier for you amidst your training cycle.
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**ST refers to being a stability shoe