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The Best Half Marathon Shoes, Chosen By Our In-House Shoe Experts

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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 (especially with super shoes available), how do you choose which is the best for you?

Whether you’re a half marathon newbie or veteran, selecting the best running shoes for your long-distance running 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…

The Best Half Marathon Shoes, Chosen By Our In-House Shoe Experts 1

The Best Half Marathon Shoes Chosen By Our Experts

What Key features should you Look For In

HalfMarathon 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, hence why there are differences between road running shoes and trail running shoes. (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!

Whats A Good Marathon Time 6

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).

Why?

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 line up your shoes:

Buy two identical pairs of running shoes.

Then wear the first pair for almost all your training (these will be your daily trainers) – 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.

Some individuals, especially with series shoes like the Saucony lineup, will have easy day shoes, speed shoes, and race shoes, usually with a carbon fiber plate.

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.

Last year, I tried both systems and found they are equally good options, it just depends on your individual goals and needs.  

Related article: How To Run With Your Phone: The Best Options For Carrying Your Phone While Running

Best Half Marathon Shoes

Here are some of the top half marathon training and running shoes available this season:

Best For Beginners: Asics Gel Nimbus 26

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Asics has a number of great shoes including the Asics Gel Kayano, Asics Novablast, and Asics Superblast. But the Asics Gel Nimbus is a traditional shoe that is ideal for beginning runners and rates high for comfort.

The Asics Gel Nimbus line is a tried and true shoe and is a long-standing favorite for those looking to run their best marathon and half marathon races.   

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. It’s also great regardless of whether you have a midfoot strike or forefoot strike,

If you want a shoe that is total comfort, this is the one for you.

Best For Versatility: Saucony Speed 3

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The Saucony Endorphin 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, so it has a good stack height, and it offers a nylon plate that mimics the carbon fiber plate in the Saucony Endorphin Pro 2 racing model.

The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 is great for faster easy run days, long runs, and speed training. This model ihas great responsiveness and can really handle it all which makes it great as both a daily trainer and a racer.

Additionally, it is lightweight, fast, cushioned and really helps open up your stride.

The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 is definitely a good shoe to try out for your half marathon training.

Best For Support: Brooks Adrenaline 23

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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 rocker system within its foam midsole 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 midsole Brooks uses.

The Adrenaline 23 is a classic go-to-shoe for beginner and elite runners alike. If you’re looking for the best Brooks race shoe, take a look at the Brooks Hyperion, which we reviewed here.

Best For Half Marathon Training: Hoka Arahi 6

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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 stack height and 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!

Best For Narrow Feet: Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39

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It’s nearly impossible to talk about the best shoe for distance running without bringing up Nike. They’re one of the biggest names in road running and rightfully so, with their star-studded carbon-plated shoes like the Alphafly and Vaporfly that seem to give any runner some magic speed.

But today, we’re talking about one of the good ol’ reliable Nike trainers. 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 39 may not be the Nike Vaporfly 3 with its carbon fiber plate and ZoomX foam, but it truly is a great shoe for beginners to veterans. It’s a reliable option for all road running, from everyday training all the way to race day.

Best For Cushioning: On Cloudmonster

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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! Despite it’s monster cushioning, it’s stack height of 34mm still makes it legal according to World Athletics regulations.

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.

If you have another shoe brand that you prefer that wasn’t mentioned on this list, such as Puma, Altra, Adidas, or New Balance, that doesn’t mean you should toss your shoes in the bin!

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.

**ST refers to being a stability shoe

Photo of author
Amanda Martin is a dedicated club runner and running shoe guru. When she's not racking up 60+ mile weeks, Amanda spends time working in a running shoe store, helping other runners choose the right shoe for them - as well as studying PT.

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