Our group of runners and reviewers have gone out to the market and road-tested the best marathon running shoes for the 2022 running season – and here’s their pick.
Whether you’re a marathon virgin or a veteran, selecting a pair of shoes for your marathon training and event can be a tough task.
Sometimes you have a favorite style that suddenly isn’t available, or sometimes you need to upgrade your old kickers.
Let’s look at what you should be looking for in marathon shoes – and share with you our recommendations for the best marathon shoes!
What To Look For In Marathon Running Shoes
As I detailed in my article How To Choose Running Shoes, the number one factor when trying out marathon running shoes is simply comfort.
It almost sounds too 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 for several miles.
Here are some more pointers for what to look for to find the best marathon shoes for you:
- You want a thumb space between the longest toe and the shoe box. This avoids the repetitive motion of the toe hitting the toebox, which leads to sore toes/runner’s toe.
At the same time, if the shoe is too big your foot will move inside it and your toes will strike the toebox which could lead to blisters (Ouch!) or other unwanted issues.
- Pick shoes that suit the terrain of the marathon. Trail marathons have very different underfoot conditions to road marathons. (And don’t forget to train in the same environment as you are running!
- Seek advice from a reputable running store.
Avoid stores where the assistants aren’t runners themselves and make sure they are analyzing your gait in the shoe. Having someone look at your movement in the shoe from a different angle is key!
- 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 marathon training shoe. If it isn’t broken, dont fix it!
- If you’re used to running with running insoles, take them to the store to use when you test out your new shoes.
Confused by the different types of running shoes available? Check out our Guide to Running Shoes: Running Shoes Types, Explained.
Related: Here’s Why Running a Marathon Without Training Is a Bad Idea
How Long Should You Trial a Pair of Marathon Shoes For?
4 to 6 weeks gives me plenty of time to train in my marathon shoes, ‘kick the tires’, and discover any small complaints.
There will be a break-in period in the beginning but with the technology in shoes nowadays, this period should be short-lived.
You should expect a little soreness after changing models because different muscles are being used and worked.
It sometimes takes a few 12 mile + runs to figure out that you don’t actually like a pair of shoes!
But, if those little niggles don’t go away in a few days you may be in the wrong shoe.
So you should be able to tell if the shoe will work within the first month especially with daily training.
How Many Pairs of Marathon Shoes Should You Buy?
If you’re in training mode for a full marathon, there are a couple of options to consider.
One, consider buying 2 pairs of the same shoe. (Only do this once you’re confident you’ve found the shoe).
Two, have one shoe for daily miles and the other shoe for faster speed or tempo days.
Running shoes gradually lose their support and ‘bounce’. You should look to change out a pair of running shoes every 300 – 500 miles.
At the same time, running shoes need to be broken in. A brand-new pair of running shoes need a few miles on them before they are race-ready.
So for your marathon shoes, you want to be like Goldilocks – don’t run in brand new shoes, but don’t use old, tired shoes either. They need to be just right.
When it comes to marathon preparation, here’s how I like to do it:
I buy two identical pairs of running shoes.
Related: What To Wear When Running
Then I wear my first pair for almost all of my training – by the time the marathon comes, they are a little worn and dull.
As for the second pair (my ‘marathon shoes’), I save them until around 4 to 5 weeks before the marathon, then introduce them into the mix. I’ll alternate the 2 pairs until the marathon shoes have around 50 miles in them. Then they’re ready.
The same mentality can be used for your faster shoe or the shoe you will use on race day.
You will want to do almost all your base and major training in the first pair and alternate in using the faster shoe on your speed and tempo days.
I like to start using this shoe for my long runs about 4 to 6 weeks out from my race.
This allows me to adapt to how they feel at longer distances and gives me time to adjust if they are not the right fit.
Since you will do less frequent speed days in the cycle, the shoe will be primed for race day.
Related article: Here’s How To Wash Your Running Shoes Without Aging Them
Best Marathon Training Shoes
The past 12 months was a great season for shoes.
There are countless models that could have made the list! Here is a selection of my top marathon training and running shoes this season:
#1: Saucony Endorphin Speed 2
-Soft, snappy, and durable
–Can be used for Training or Speed days
The Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 is my shoe of choice for marathon training shoe this season. This shoe feels fantastic for marathon miles!
It is responsive and propels the foot through each stride.
The Endorphin Speed 2 is lightweight, super-comfortable, and fits like a (very breathable) glove. The shoe is innovative and uses a Nylon plate to minimize fatigue and give optimal energy return.
It is designed as a neutral shoe, and the PWRRUN PB Foam gives it great cushioning.
Overall, a top 2021 model that can carry you through all your marathon training.
Check out our full review of the Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 here.
#2: ASICS Nimbus Gel 23
– Great for rookie runners
– Rates high for comfort
The Asics Nimbus line has been a favorite of aspiring marathon runners for decades now. Many runners are Nimbus loyalists, buying every new model as it’s released – and the 23 is regarded as one of the best in the line.
This well-supported, well-cushioned shoe is very forgiving – which can be advantageous as you increase the mileage. The Gel 23 model fits wider than previous models making it more available to the masses.
If you want a shoe that is very reliable and gives total comfort, this is the one for you.
Here’s our in-depth review of the Asics Gel Nimbus 23.
#3: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21
–Go to Shoe and versatile
-Simple, proven comfort
The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 is a tried and true shoe. This shoe is by far one of the top running retail models and outsells all the others by a long shot.
The shoe is simply comfortable, and Brooks knows what works. This shoe offers a stable base using a Guide Rail system to help keep the foot from over or under pronating.
The DNA loft foam is soft with every stride yet still has a nice spring to it. This shoe also fits a wide variety of foot shapes and comes in special sizes if needed.
You can never go wrong with a Brooks model!
**The Brooks Ghost is a fantastic NEUTRAL option**
#4: Hoka Clifton 8
Hoka is rising to the occasion in distance running. They have several models that could have made the top list, but the Clifton 8 checks the most boxes for marathoning.
The Clifton 8 is soft, lightweight, and can handle the miles. It is great for training but is light enough to be an option on race day too.
This is a neutral trainer that offers a wider base than previous models. It has the traditional Hoka rocker feel and is made with a soft EVA foam midsole. It feels great for almost any kind of run!
Here’s our full review of the Hoka Clifton 8.
**Hoka Rincon 3 is a lighter, faster option**
#5: New Balance 1080v11
The 1080v11 had some catching up to do but they are now back in the running for a top 2021 shoe.
This model offers even more cushioning and has a smooth ride with every stride. It has a great grip on the road with its rubber outsole.
The 1080v11 has a much better energy return compared to other models on this list and gives good cushioning as well.
The downside is the toe box is a bit narrow, which is unusual for New Balance, and the heel can sometimes hit funny on the ankle.
Overall this is a top model for New Balance and a great marathon training shoe.
There are many other shoes that could have made the list, and many brands now have models that match neutral and stability categories.
An example is the Brooks Ghost 14 and the Adrenaline 21.
Here is a list of other great models to consider:
ASICS Novablast 2, Saucony Endorphin Shift 2, Mizuno Wave Rider 25, Altra Paradigm, New Balance 880v11, On Cloudflow.
Marathon training is no joke, so you definitely want to train in something that fits properly and is comfortable.
So good luck and we hope this breakdown helps narrow your choices.
22 thoughts on “Best Marathon Running Shoes In 2023”
What are your thoughts on Nike ZoomX vaporfly next%?
look awesome but
– the carbon fiber plate seems to give you a springy boost which is gonna speed you up
– however, you wouldn’t want to get used to running in them all the time. Running with that carbon fiber plate all the time would make you more dependent on it. So if you’re an advanced runner looking to shave 5 minutes of a PR, consider getting a pair and training in them sporadically.
Hope this helps!
What about Altra shoes with the wide toe box and 0 drop?
Just purchased a pair of woman’s Asics GT-2000 9 .. will let you know how they work out. Most comfortable after trying several pairs at a running store. I bought a pair of wide, they were the best for me and end of big toes, and the back of my heels.
Wouldn’t have recognized the name if hadn’t read your article above.
Great to hear! Let me know how they go for sure!
Have you tried the adidas adizero boston 9? I’ve heard it compares nicely to the Pegasus and is better in some areas.
I’ve seen them around but yet to try them out – they’re clearly a marathon shoe. If I get my hands on a pair I’ll get back to you!
Any recommendations on saucony speed endorphin shoes
yep – the Speed Endorphins come with a carbon plate in them, which gives your run a snappy spring – basically making you faster.
To me, these are a fun performance booster – and it takes time to get used to them.
If you wanted to use them, say to get a new PR, then go for it – but I’d probably recommmend you don’t use them exclusively, or your body will get used to that extra spring.
Nike Zoom X Invincible. This shoes is meant to be Nike’s most comfortable for marathon training shoes to date. Any views Thomas.
not out yet…I want to try a pair!
Any suggestions for those of us with wide feet? I generally wear a 3E or 4E. The only running shoes I have found in that width is the Brooks Beasts.
Here are some shoes I know come in the 4E size (although you may have to hunt around to find them):
New Balance 1080 v10
New Balance 860
Brooks Adrenaline GTS
Im a fan of the Adrenaline GTS!
Hope this helps 🙂
Have you ever considered minimalist shoes (like xero shoes or vivobarefoot) for running? If so, what made you not try it?
Yep – I’ve been running with minimalist shoes for 11 years believe it or not!
I haven’t trialled Xero, but have had a couple pairs of vivobarefoots over the years.
Currently my go-to’s are New Balance MT10s; zero drop, lightweight, little cushioning, but a little more rigid than what they used to be. I go running roughly once a week with them.
Why are there no minimal shoes on this list?
Running in minimal shoes is something that takes time to get accustomed to, and needs to be done very gradually. Most people who are in marathon training mode probably won’t want to add in the extra complication of transitioning to minimalist style running; it increases the risk of injury if not done correctly.
Also – due to the lack of cushioning, support, and bounce in minimalist shoes, you run slower in them. Something not many people realise until they try it. When in marathon training mode, most runners are aiming for a specific pace or finishing time, so are happy to choose a shoe that is easy to reach it with.
Hope this helps!!
Hey – if you’ve any minimalist shoe models for me to check out, let me know! I’m always keen to test different shoes.
This is interesting for me to hear because minimalistic running is ALL I’ve ever enjoyed. I have a really hard time running on a thick cushion pad under my shoe! I am not sure I’m convinced I run slower…mainly because I find other thick shoes so uncomfortable to pace in. I love the Merrell Vapor Glove 4. I’ve used Xero Prio and found they weren’t quite glove-like enough for me. They would be great on a trail type setting but not just regular running. I started years ago running with a Diesel shoe, which was not even for running. It was a track-like fashion shoe. I searched everywhere for more. Finally, I discovered minimalistic running! The Merrell Vapor Glove 4 (women’s for me) has been my all time favorite so far.
I know this is an old thread….however, the Endorphin Speed 2 from Saucony is fantastic for training and racing….
Here’s our review of it!
Hi, Thomas. To follow on the comments on minimalist footwear.
I ran my first half-marathon a couple of months ago (at 68) and finished in just over 2 hours (target was sub-2 hours). I ran in Luna sandals (original Osos, which are no longer made). These last for years (I have 3 pairs of them, and the soles are grand, it is the strap between the biggest and next toe which wears down, but Luna offers replacement straps which are easy to put in).
In the local Athletics Club, I am the only sandal runner and other either ignore me, or laugh at me. At my age, that does not bother me at all.
In the half-marathon, I did notice that people made comments or asked questions about running in sandals. In shorter (5-10k or 10 mile runs) people tend to ignore me.
Great website and posting.
With many shoes deemed “daily trainer” or “speed work”, which would you actually use for the day-of marathon? Been training with Ghost 14, but they’ll likely reach ~400 miles by race day. Was thinking of adding the Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 into the mix, but then again which to in the race? First marathon, so my goal is just finishing.
Thank you for this blog post! I’m considering using a Pegasus 39 for my next half marathon. I’m a bit on a budget and it’s going to be cool to see how they’re keeping up with the higher-end race day shoes. 6 weeks to go 🙂