If you’re a long-distance runner then you will know the fear of picking up an injury.
It’s not like a cyclist getting a puncture, you can’t exactly swap your injured foot or knee for a new one and carry on!
Whether you are slogging it out in an ultra-marathon or pushing yourself to a new personal record on the track you need to know your running shoes are not going to let you down.
As a runner nothing is more soul destroying than having months of intense training and effort wasted as your ankle rolls or your Achilles tendon gives out.
This may not just prevent you from training or competing but can potentially cause long lasting damage.
It could even prevent you from ever reaching your full potential as a long-distance runner.
So, what is the best way of avoiding that pain and frustration? Equip yourself with a pair of long-distance running shoes who will become your best running buddies, there to support you, make you comfortable and stick with you to the end.
And so that you can save your energy for the trail, track, or road we’ve done the leg work for you.
Below you will find a veritable who’s who of the best long-distance running shoes currently on the market. So put your feet up and read on!
OUR TOP PICK
The Glycerin 19 is Brook’s most cushioned neutral running shoe.
This is thanks to its DNA Loft EVA foam pumped with extra air through the whole midsole for that floating feeling.
Combined with a blown rubber outsole for grip and durability your feet and legs are blissfully unaware of the impact from unforgiving roads and trails.
Luxury teams up with responsiveness in the Glycerin 19s and together they produce a winning formula to give your feet comfort and performance.
Your heel is cradled in a cushioned collar while the padded tongue and internal bootie wrap your foot in a protective softness.
The double layer mesh upper is very breathable keeping your feet cool but also allowing plenty of room for foot swell. The inner lining is smooth with a fully gusseted tongue.
Weighing 9 oz it’s not the lightest running shoe but typically fits true to size.
The plush engineered upper mesh molds to your feet, hugging them securely while moving with your unique stride.
You can relax and run with confidence on all terrain with the Glycerin 19’s outstanding grip.
The traction pattern and flexible outsole give lively responsiveness and excellent stability on all surfaces and in all conditions.
Stability and support protect your feet, ankles, and knees and those with old injuries will find the Glycerin 19’s pillowy softness sympathetic.
Its excellent whole foot lockdown and supreme comfort make for a smooth ride. The drop is 10mm and there is soft, almost effortless heel to toe transition. Your feet deserve the best, give them the supreme comfort of Glycerin 19s.
- Maximum cushioning
- Snug but flexible fit
- Good whole foot lockdown
- Smooth heel to toe transitions
- Excellent traction
- Some people find the toe box a bit roomy
The Hoka One One Bondi 7 is a beast of a shoe! It measures 37mm in the heel and has a 4mm drop. That’s a lot of cushioning!
In fact, it showcases the most cushioned ride among Hoka’s collection.
Engineered with a full EVA midsole and breathable textile upper mesh the Bondi 7 features Meta-Rocker technology.
This allows your foot to roll through transitions improving efficiency. They register a chunky 10.7oz for men and 8.9oz for women.
Inside your feet will be embraced by a foam padded insole and your ankle will be cradled by an ultra-soft memory foam.
Those with narrower heels will love this shoe as the heel counter supports with supreme comfort and a locked-in fit.
The plush padded tongue has wide wings to prevent slippage and the textile lining is breathable for abrasion-free wear. Your feet will love the molded Ortholite footbed and a handy heel loop helps when you are in a hurry.
Rain or shine, gravel or grass the Bondi 7 will not let you down on traction.
You can rely on the rubber outsole to grip whatever surface you are running on while the beveled heel design offers increased durability and smooth transition.
A stiff midsole means you won’t suffer from lean bias and will enjoy excellent stability. Those with problem knees will appreciate the support and smooth balanced ride.
If you like a firmer, more stable ride then this shoe is for you. For those who want a neutral running shoe or even a counter to supination the Bondi 7 fits the bill beautifully.
It can feel a bit narrow in the heel and midfoot, but the toe box height is good.
Heavier runners will benefit from the sizable stack of cushion which performs well regardless of how far you want to go.
- Heavily cushioned
- Meta-Rocker technology improves efficiency
- Excellent traction
- Good stability
- Suitable for heavier runners
- Narrow fit
- Not the softest max-cushioned shoe
You would be forgiven for being smitten by these shoes on looks alone.
The 3D open mesh upper is a vivid blue which contrasts with the white Energy Surge foam midsole and red Contagrip outsole.
The Ultra Glides are stunning! But you’re not shallow, you want performance and comfort too.
And the Ultra Glides deliver with a lively ride, maximal cushioning, comfort and protection. Looks and substance!
Internally the heel counter is padded and supportive while being semi-flexible. The toe box is roomy making it a good choice for those with wider feet.
A soft, bouncy midsole protects and cradles your feet, and the sturdy toe bumper ensures that rocks and roots don’t leave you with bruised toenails.
A good, protective fit across the upper is also more accommodating than other shoes from Salomon but some may still find them a little narrow.
Salomon’s SensiFit system provides security and stability by connecting the sole to the lacing system, creating a markedly snug, comfortable fit.
Meanwhile, the slight rocker design makes for excellent heel to toe transition.
The Ultra Glides are responsive with aggressive, well-spaced lugs to give excellent traction on most trails except perhaps more rocky terrain.
The Ultra Glide is Salomon’s first max cushioned trail shoe, and it does a good job of providing a comfortable, smooth, enjoyable ride while protecting your feet.
Energy return is good, and the shoes just swallow the impact from hard dirt roads to mountain trails. Men’s shoes weigh in at 10oz and women’s at 8.7oz.
- Good stability
- Attractive design
- Narrow fit
- Premature midsole flattening
The Paradigm 6 is Altra’s max cushioned and most supportive shoe. The Ego Max foam midsole is reserved for Altra’s premium cushioned shoes.
It also forms the guardrails which give the Paradigm 6 its stability shoe status.
If you have pronation issues this shoe will put you back on track without you even realizing that it’s happening.
The Paradigm 6 features a hidden surprise that locks you into the shoe for support and a secure fit.
The InnovArch is a netting that hugs your foot securely when you lace up the shoe, the system is covered by a protective lining to prevent chafing.
The non-gusseted tongue is padded, and the heel counter is flexible. Bouncy and durable, the shoes are responsive and comfortable.
Stability is the crown that the Paradigm 6 wears. The guide rails are made from the same Ego Max foam as the midsole.
And the jewel in this crown is that the guide rails help those that need them but are non-intrusive for those that don’t. A blown rubber outsole provides traction while the flex grooves promote more natural toe-off.
The ergonomic, natural foot shape design that is Altra’s specialty is accommodating for natural spreading of your toes.
The Paradigm 6 is not going to win any beauty contests, that’s not its thing. Its purpose is to provide stability, support and comfort. And it does that very well.
A zero drop shoe with inherent support that guides your foot in a natural roll forward has your best interests at heart.
For maximum stability you can’t go far wrong with Altra’s Paradigm 6. And they’re certainly no lightweights, the men’s shoe weighs a hefty 10.8oz and the women’s 9.2oz.
- Excellent stability control
- Unique lockdown system
- Ergonomic design
- Not very breathable
- Tongue can slip
As a workhorse running shoe the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38 is surprisingly comfortable.
Your foot is embraced in a plushie hug thanks to the full length React foam through the midsole as well as the Air Zoom unit forefoot cushioning.
The combination of the two make for a soft but stable shoe. The double layer mesh upper is durable and breathable.
Internally there is cushioned heel support and a fully gusseted, plush tongue which keeps your foot locked in.
The toe box is larger than previous versions and a new, webbed lacing system secures your foot even further.
You will find that the Pegasus 38 is true to size and perfectly fits the gap between a cushioned training shoe and a fast race shoe.
The Pegasus 38 has a wider platform giving you more stability underfoot although that does make the shoe a little heavier.
Having said that, it is responsive with very good traction both on concrete and on dirt tracks.
The Air Zoom unit gives extra propulsion in the forefoot making it easier to put in an energetic run and giving your steps extra pep.
Like its namesake the Pegasus is all about getting the job done whether that is a training day or an intense competition.
This is a durable and comfortable shoe with good stability and grip suitable for both amateur and professional runners.
The men’s shoe weighs in at 10.2oz and women’s at 8.9oz with a 10mm drop from heel to toe.
- Well cushioned
- Good daily trainer
- Can get hot
Buying a pair of long distance running shoes may seem like an easy task but there are a lot of factors to think about beforehand.
Choosing the wrong shoe can mean pain for your feet, legs or joints so you want to know what you should be looking for before you commit yourself.
Taking the time to select the right pair of long distance running shoes will make running a pleasure and hopefully spare you discomfort or injury.
To help you with your choice we have listed some key points which should help you reach a decision.
Comfort is the word to keep in the forefront of your mind.
If your running shoes are not comfortable you will not only be miserable, but you will suffer blisters, chafing or bruised toenails. When running is uncomfortable it’s no longer fun.
A good fit is essential so check whether the shoe is true to size or comes up small or large in which case you may need to adjust to a slightly different size.
Loose shoes are just as uncomfortable as a tight fit and can equally cause injuries.
Choosing the correct weight is also important as heavier shoes will tire out your legs.
Even professional runners feel the effect of many miles on the road, comfortable long distance shoes at the right weight will counteract this.
You need to consider protecting not only your feet but also your joints.
Toe bumpers will shield your nails from being bruised but you also need to consider protecting your ankles, knees and hips from shock.
Abundant cushioning reduces the effects of impact from repetitive, high-impact exercise especially on hard surfaces such as concrete.
Stability features such as guide rails offer protection to joints allowing you to run longer by making sure you are moving forward and not rolling inwards or outwards on your foot strike.
Stability, responsiveness and shock absorption are vital components in a good long distance running shoe.
High performance running shoes will leave you feeling fresher and will eat up the miles without increased demands on your feet and legs.
The right shoes will propel you forward without any unsteady sensation and with smooth transitions.
This will add up to increased mileage, higher personal records and a more enjoyable experience.
Knowing the composition of a long distance running shoe will let you make the right choice for your individual needs.
Good ventilation is essential so that your feet stay cool and dry. This prevents chafing and slippage in the shoe.
On long runs there is no denying that your feet will swell so having flexible uppers means less restriction.
Of course, your choice of composition will depend on the conditions that you are running in, hot and dry, warm and humid or cold and damp.
Shoes need to withstand everything that’s thrown at them. The right composition should help the wearer not only feel comfortable but like they could run forever.
Good quality long distance running shoes are not cheap and to make sure your investment lasts you need to be confident in the durability of the shoes.
Aside from not wasting money if your midsole degrades or flattens too quickly you will have uncomfortable shoes that may cause you blisters, rubbing or injury.
Outsoles provide traction and if that wears down too quickly you will rapidly lose confidence in the grip of your shoes.
As the stress on your body increases so do the demands on your shoes.
Decent long distance shoes should last between 300-500 miles. After this they should be replaced to prevent shin splints or joint pain.
Frequently Asked Questions
What To Look For In Long Distance Shoes?
The right shoe for you will depend on whether you are running for fun, competing in a marathon or trail running at the weekend.
Everyone’s needs will be different but the things that you should focus on are comfort, protection, performance, composition and durability.
How Long Does It Take To Break In Running Shoes Before A Marathon?
This will depend on the makeup of the shoe, the thickness of the sole and stability features.
However, two to three weeks is usually sufficient to break in a new pair of running shoes.
The process should be done gradually though, wearing them round the house, maybe running on a treadmill for a spell.
Then you can take them for a short run but rotate them with your old pair for longer training runs.
How Often Do You Replace Long Distance Running Shoes?
Good quality long distance running shoes will last between 300 and 500 miles. However, you should regularly check your shoes for wear and tear.
Any sign of degrading means they are not going to perform as well or protect your feet and may need to be replaced.
Different terrains will affect shoes differently, so this is something to consider.