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.
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:
-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.
– 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.
–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**
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!
**Hoka Rincon 3 is a lighter, faster option**
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.
Here is a list of other great models to consider:
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.