The 7 Best Marathon Running Shoes For 2024: Running Coach Tested

Our running shoe guru - who has a 2:35 marathon PR - picks his top marathon shoes for all types of runner

Each product is carefully selected by our editors. If you buy from a link, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Editor’s Message: On January 30th, we updated our footwear choices to confirm availability and included additional high-performing footwear from our latest round of testing. As new models are released throughout 2024, we will update our selection.

Running a marathon requires endurance, resilience, grit… and an excellent pair of running shoes.

High-mileage footwear needs to offer the perfect combination of comfort, durability, and support to see you safely through training and race day.

Not only will the right marathon running shoes give you the speed and confidence you’ll need to shave minutes off your PB, but they’ll also help you maintain your form and prevent discomforts like ankle pain and blisters as you clock up the miles.

With plenty of strong contenders on the market right now, it’s not always easy to pick the very best marathon running shoes for your particular needs.

I’ve road-tested each and every one of these shoes, putting dozens of miles into each one, and have surveyed runners that use them in my running shoe store.

The Best Marathon Running Shoes

Best Marathon Running Shoes

Things to Consider When Choosing Marathon Running Shoes

The most important consideration when you’re about to run 26.2 miles is – of course! – comfort.

This is subjective, however, and there are several factors that contribute to it.

#1. Fit

The best marathon running shoes will offer plenty of space in the toe box to accommodate your swelling feet as you rack up the miles.

That said, they shouldn’t be wide enough for your feet to move around too much, as this will cause chafing and blisters.

You’ll need a thumb space between the shoe box and the end of your longest toe, too.

If not, your toe will repeatedly slam into your shoe, causing stress to the nail that can lead to swelling and pain.

#2. Cushioning

Key to comfort, cushioning also impacts your form, so it’s important to find a shoe that offers just the right balance.

If it’s too soft, you may end up sinking into it, which would require extra energy for propulsion and lead to faster muscle fatigue.

Too little cushioning, however, means less protection from the impact of landing, which can be very tough on your joints over longer distances.

Moderate cushioning is the best choice for most runners, although you may want to consider a shoe with more cushioning if you have a heavier build.

#3. Breathability

Breathability is an important feature in any running shoe and is particularly important for your comfort during a marathon.

A shoe that keeps your foot as cool and dry as possible will help minimize swelling and prevent blisters.

#4. Your Gait

Your foot shape and arch height affect the way in which your feet strike the ground when you land, so it’s important to have adequate support if – and where – you need it.

If you have low arches, you may have a tendency to overpronate, in which case you may need stability shoes with additional midfoot support.

If you have high arches, however, neutral shoes will likely be more comfortable as they will help take advantage of the spring in the arch.

The 7 Best Marathon Running Shoes

#1. Fastest Marathon Running Shoe:
Nike Vaporfly 3

Weight: 7.4 oz, Stack Height: 40 mm, Heel Drop: 8 mm

vaoprfly 3
ProsCons
Soft midsole springs back to shapeVery thin outsole wears quickly (save for racing and speed sessions)
Bouncy feelUpper tends to bunch if laced tightly
Highly breathable

The winner of Marathon Handbook’s Best Racing Shoe Award, the undisputed king of marathon shoes, and leading podium places globally, the Vaporfly 3 features a full-length carbon plate to boost your forward momentum and plenty of ZoomX foam to improve your running efficiency.

Lightweight, fast, and super responsive, it offers the stability you need to handle sharp turns with ease and has a Waffle outsole pattern for excellent traction whatever the weather.

The slim upper hugs the foot and feels a little more supportive through the arch than the previous version of the Vaporfly, while the open-knit mesh upper is one of the most breathable around.

The heel is nicely padded – keeping your foot securely aligned – and the toe box is comfortably spacious with plenty of height.

#2. Best for Speed and Stability:
Saucony Endorphin Elite

Weight: 7.2 oz, Stack Height: 39.5 mm, Heel Drop: 8 mm

saucony endorphin elite
ProsCons
Aggressive toe springOutsole lacks durability
Light, fast, and responsiveLimited ground feel
Plush PWRRUN PB sockliner

Saucony’s Endorphin Elite uses the brand’s new PWRRUN HG foam, which is a little firmer and more stable than Nike’s ZoomX, offering excellent rebound and greater durability, too.

This is a shoe built for speed assistance and here it really excels, featuring a slotted carbon plate for an adaptive toe-off and an aggressive forefoot rocker for a very lively and propulsive feel.

Breathability is excellent, too, with cutouts in the sides of the midfoot to disperse heat, a perforated tongue, and porous mesh in the mid- and forefoot.

The toe box is roomy and the midfoot strap provides a secure lockdown.

While there’s no heel counter, there’s a small pad at the top to keep the rearfoot in place and the upper overlays wrap around both sides.

#3. Best for Forefoot Strikers:
Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro

Weight: 7.7 oz, Stack Height: 39 mm, Heel Drop: 4 mm

mizuno wave rebellion pro
ProsCons
Uses ‘Smooth Speed Assist’ technologies for powerful propulsionLack of medial support can cause a little instability on turns
Responsive and bouncyTongue is very thin
Superior grip

Mizuno’s Wave Rebellion Pro features an exaggerated heel bevel and dual layers of responsive Mizuno Wave Enerzy Lite+ and Enerzy Lite foam, a design that focuses the foot’s gait on a midfoot strike and propulsive toe-off.

If you already land on your midfoot, that translates to a level of forward propulsion you simply won’t experience with any other shoe!

The carbon-infused nylon Wave plate disperses impact forces to a wide area providing some stability, although the underfoot cut out on the medial side can make turns feel a little wobbly and means the shoe may be less than ideal for overpronators.

The grip is excellent – the small lugs biting into the road well in both wet and dry conditions – the thin upper feels very breathable, and the non-gusseted tongue features two slots for the laces that help secure it in place.

#4. Best for Trail Marathons:
Nike Ultrafly Trail

Weight: 10.6 oz, Stack Height: 38.5 mm, Heel Drop: 8.5 mm

niike ultrafly trail
ProsCons
Responsive feelUnsuitable for muddy ground
Durable, with woven fabric wrap to protect foam from abrasion
Lightly padded tongue, heel collar, and heel tab for comfort

Nike’s Ultrafly was anticipated by many to be a trail version of the Vaporfly.

While it comes with a carbon Flyplate layered between soft and springy ZoomX foam – along with the all-important slim Litebase Vibram outsole – it’s less aggressive than the Vaporfly.

Instead, the focus is on comfort over longer distances – precisely what you need in a trail marathon shoe.

The chevron lug pattern of the trail-specific outsole, meanwhile, provides excellent grip on uphill climbs and downhill descents in both wet and dry conditions.

#5. Best for Neutral Runners In Marathon Training:
Saucony Triumph 21

Weight: 9.8 oz, Stack Height: 37 mm, Heel Drop: 10 mm

Triumph 21 2
ProsCons
Plush, comfortable cushioningHigher heel drop may be unsuitable for forefoot strikers
Durable
Beautiful fit

Saucony’s most popular neutral cushioned running shoe for over 21 years (and our top cushioned running shoe of the year), this model boasts a deep stack of PWRRUN PB (PEBA-based) foam in the midsole that gives the perfect level of energy return and bounce while effectively absorbing impact.

The new, flat-knit upper is breathable and feels insanely comfortable, too.

Flexing smoothly with each step, it features a seamless heel that won’t irritate your Achilles plus lots of comfy cushioning around the heel counter and collar.

Despite providing a soft and enjoyable ride, the Triumph 21 remains lightweight and stable during steady-paced runs, assisted by a roomy toe box that allows your toes to splay.

It also offers excellent traction, with directional cuts in the XT-900 carbon rubber outsole ensuring it grips well on a variety of surfaces, both wet and dry.

#6. Best for Overpronators Training for Marathon :
New Balance Fresh Foam X Vongo v6

Weight: 10.7 oz, Stack Height: 38 mm, Heel Drop: 6 mm

vongo
ProsCons
Fresh Foam cushioning with a supportive medial zoneMay not be ideal for narrow-footed runers
Light, springy feel
Tailored, adaptive fit

Just like the very popular New Balance 1080, the Vongo features the brand’s fabulous Fresh Foam X cushioning.

But it also uses gradient stability technology, which means that the foam is denser on the medial side and offers greater support. This adds stability and helps limit overpronation.

Tailor-made for the high-mileage demands of marathons, it feels responsive, too, giving you a bouncy feel rather than the sensation of sinking into the shoe.

The hyperknit upper has a glove-like fit, but with enough stretch for comfort, while the heel collar is nicely cushioned and keeps your foot well aligned.

#7. Best for Rule Breakers:
adidas Prime X Strung v2

Weight: 9 oz, Stack Height: 50 mm, Heel Drop: 8.5 mm

adidas Prime X Strung v2
ProsCons
Excellent speed assistanceIllegal stack height
Increased stabilityKnitted tongue makes it hard to pull on
Supportive upperHeavy

With a stack height 10mm in excess of that permitted by World Athletics rules (built, as Adidas describes it, ‘without the constraints of world race regulations’), the Prime X Strung v2 is a highly responsive, bouncy shoe that feels incredibly fast.

This version of the shoe (actually the 3rd iteration) offers a lot more stability than its predecessors – it uses two carbon plates instead of Energy Rods and is now wider in the midfoot and rearfoot.

Between the plates are 3 layers of Lightstrike Pro foam and an energy core, creating a pretty stiff-feeling shoe with very little flex in the midsole, allowing you to take full advantage of that aggressive rocker.

The upper uses Adidas’ computer-woven Strung technology, with stronger threads in the heel for support and fewer threads across the midfoot and towards the toes for greater flexibility and breathability.

Photo of author
Paul Freary really does have a lifetime of experience as an athlete. Paul’s father, Mike was British record holder over 10,000m in 1966, so Paul was almost born to run. With best times ranging from 3:56 for the mile to 13:55 for 5k, and ran 2:40 at the 2023 Berlin Marathon at age 55. Having worked with several leading brands as well as in retail he also knows running footwear inside out and also has experience in gait analysis and orthotics. Paul writes regular running shoe reviews for our site and our Youtube channel!

22 thoughts on “The 7 Best Marathon Running Shoes For 2024: Running Coach Tested”

    • look awesome but

      – expensive
      – 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!

      Reply
  1. 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.

    Reply
    • Hey Annie,
      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.
      Thanks!
      Thomas

      Reply
    • Hey Nick!
      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 Ghost
      Brooks Adrenaline GTS

      Im a fan of the Adrenaline GTS!

      Hope this helps 🙂
      Thomas

      Reply
    • Hey Nathan!
      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.
      Thanks,
      Thomas

      Reply
      • 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.

  2. 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.
    Brian

    Reply
  3. 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.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.