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Running Shoes: Choosing the Best Marathon Shoes for a Race

By Rock 'n' Roll, 12/09/16, 12:00AM EST


From minimalist to cushioning, we've got your guide.

Running shoes fall into several categories: minimalist shoes, neutral cushioning shoes, stability and motion-control shoes, and racing flats. When it comes to footwear for long-distance races like marathons and half marathons, how do you know how to find the best marathon running shoes for you?

Minimalist Footwear

A lightweight racing shoe made from flexible materials and using little cushioning. 3-6 ounces per shoe with up to 4 mm of difference in height between the heel and toe (aka “heel-toe drop”). Best running shoe for: strengthening the feet and ankles and smoothing out your running stride.

Neutral Cushioning Marathon Shoes

A mid-weight running shoe with more cushioning. Marathon running shoe weight varies depending on the model. Shoes with a lower heel-toe drop tend to encourage a mid-foot strike, while higher heels provide more protection for heel strikers.

Stability and Motion Control Marathon Shoes

These marathon running shoes are designed with cushioning and an internal structure that corrects for overpronation, the inward roll of the feet that can lead to injuries. This structure will both prevent and protect from running injuries that may disrupt your race.

Racing Flats

These are lightweight performance shoes that weigh 4-9 ounces per shoe. Despite their name, flats can range between 0-8 mm of heel-toe drop. Flats are less supportive but promote faster leg speed and higher cadence.

Which is the Best Running Shoe?

Go to your local speciality running store and get fit by a pro who will look at your feet, evaluate your foot type, ask questions about your training and injury histories along with your running habits, and finally, watch you run. After this first part of the process, he or she will offer you an array of the best running shoe options based on observations (along with your important feedback), and help you decide on the best running shoes that match your individual needs and preferences.

Once you’ve got your new marathon shoes picked out, take a look at our upcoming Rock ’n’ Roll Running Series Tour Stops and decide where you’re going to break them in!

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