When you’re running a marathon or covering long distances, you want a running shoe that will help you tackle the miles. Long-distance running shoes are built to last under high-mileage, intensive runs. Most on the market have high energy return in an effort to boost speed.

This form of running requires a high level of physical endurance, extended timeframes, and long paths. We found that the best overall shoe for this strenuous activity is the Saucony Kinvara 12 running shoe. They epitomize the ideal running footwear with their cushioning and responsiveness.

Here’s an in-depth look at our best long-distance running shoes.

BEST ALL-AROUND LONG-DISTANCE RUNNING SHOES

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For runners looking for a flexible, well-cushioned shoe, the Saucony Kinvara 12 is an excellent choice. They’re rated by users and experts alike as extremely comfortable. This is partly due to the PWRRUN cushioning, which is plush, yet not so puffy that you can’t feel the ground.

The shoe is impressively stable and the secure feel is accentuated by the simplified breathable upper, which contours the foot’s natural shape. The Kinvara 12s are so comfortable you’ll want to take the long way home every time.

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BEST-SELLING LONG-DISTANCE RUNNING SHOES

Appropriate for everyday use or long-distance runs, the Asics Gel-Cumulus 23 shoes are our clients’ top pick. The spacious forefoot allows for natural toe splay, ideal for long-distance running. This shoe also has top-tier technologies, like FlyteFoam Technology, that provide ample support and cushioning.

A layer of 3D SPACE CONSTRUCTION sits above the midsole to increase both flexibility and cushioning. I can imagine these shoes being appreciated by comfort-seeking nurses and pro racing athletes alike. 

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Pros

  • High level of durability
  • Highly-rated by customers
  • Wraps snug around the heel

Cons

  • Some users reported a lack of breathability
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LONG-DISTANCE RUNNING SHOES WITH BEST CUSHIONING

Tried and trusted, the Brooks Launch 8 running shoes are a crowd favourite. Brooks' lightest BioMoGo DNA midsole cushioning provides a fast ride without any extra weight so you don't have to sacrifice your pace for a comfortable run. In fact, added blown rubber in the forefoot propels you forward for a faster ride.

When long-distance running, you’ll want a shoe that feels as supportive as this one does. The Launch 8s have the cushion, design, and stability to go the distance—whatever that distance might be.

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Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Highly-supportive cushioning system
  • Excellent fit

Cons

  • Lack of firmness in the arch area
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BEST LONG DISTANCE RUNNING SHOES FOR WIDE FEET

If you need a shoe that offers superior stability, try the On Cloudflyer running shoes. The excellent width profile is complemented by a host of stabilizing technologies. An adjustable star lacing system reportedly offers a better fit without restrictions.

An oversized outsole made of Cloud Tec material provides unbeatable comfort. They’re genuinely built to go the distance thanks to the outsole’s traction capacity and the Speedboard, which drives you forward.

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Pros

  • Reliable and energizing platform
  • Responsive underfoot cushioning
  • Relieves pain for over-pronators

Cons

  • Heel collar may rub uncomfortably
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BEST LONG-DISTANCE RUNNING SHOES FOR THE KNEES

Creaky knees but addicted to the run? The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 might just do the trick. They’re breathable, provide stability without adding bulk, and have plenty of energy-saving features.

The DNA LOFT cushioning and rebounding rubber help runners go longer and faster. The collar effectively secures the heel, which means zero wobbling or loose-fitting effects.

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Pros

  • Excellent outsole grip
  • Great breathability
  • Enhanced stability

Cons

  • Ends of GuideRails support may dig into arches
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BEST LONG DISTANCE RUNNING SHOES FOR ULTRA RUNNERS

An ASICS staple, the Gel-Nimbus 23 Running Shoes are known industry-wide for their durability. I found that even after a long run, the Flytefoam™ and GEL™ cushioning keeps me comfortable. I also thought these shoes were beautifully designed and fit true to size.

Additionally, a gender-specific TRUSSTIC™ device provides an articulated amount of support in the right direction for men and women to help generate a smooth transition.

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Pros

  • Superbly comfortable
  • Fit perfectly
  • Integrated lacing technology

Cons

  • Thin tongue unit
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OTHER FAVOURITES

The award-winning Clifton line by HOKA ONE ONE delivers on its promise with this seventh iteration—maximum support, minimum weight. The Clifton 8 shoes are perfect for long-distance runners who value a little extra softness in their step.

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Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Cushioned
  • Breathable

Cons

  • Too cushioned for some
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Renowned for their trail running shoes, Altra is no stranger when it comes to making durable, breathable, and comfortable runners. With the Provision 5, they’ve channeled all that experience and technology into a lightweight, high-performance, long-distance running shoe. 

As always, the wide toe box allows your toes to naturally splay with each step, increasing both traction and comfort. The neutral profile also feels more natural, though it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

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Pros

  • Wide toe box
  • Neutral stability
  • Secure heel

Cons

  • Too neutral for some
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For the past 25 years, the Mizuno Wave Riders have been a favourite among committed long-distance runners. Now in their latest incarnation, the Wave Rider 25s are a set up from their predecessor.

Mizuno's patented X10™ outsole and new ENERZY FOAM combine to create one of the series' smoothest rides to date. The WAVE plate disperses energy upon impact, allowing you to travel further with less strain. A perfect choice whether you're preparing for a marathon or just clearing your head with a jog.

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Pros

  • Smooth ride
  • Secure heel
  • Impact dispersion

Cons

  • Could be more breathable
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What to Look for in Long-Distance Running Shoes

When choosing the right long-distance running shoes, consider factors like precise fit, cushioning, breathability, and weight. As with any running footwear, you’ll benefit the most when choosing one that fits your individual needs. Put less focus on the brand, popularity, and aesthetics of a shoe and more on your personal preferences.

Here are the crucial factors to consider.

Proper Fit

Since you’ll be using your running shoes over hundreds of miles, make sure they’re not too small or tight. One test is to ‘play the piano’ with your toes inside the shoe—if you can, it’s a good fit. Also, check if you have at least half an inch of space in the forefront.

After ordering your shoes, make sure to try them on in the evening rather than the morning. Your feet expand with the heat of the day.

Cushioning

Cushioning can be defined as how well the shoe absorbs the impact of the runner. Maximum support shoes will have thicker soles or a higher stack height. The greater the thickness, the more shock absorption the user will receive.

As a general rule of thumb, heavier runners should look for more substantial cushioning, while lighter runners should go for thinner cushioning in the soles.

Breathability

The last thing you want is stuffy, sweaty feet during your long-distance run. Go for choose shoes breathable enough to keep your feet well-ventilated, especially if you live in a place with warmer summers. You’ll want the breathability to pull through even on hot and sweaty runs.

Weight

Long-distance runners should be more lightweight than training or off-road running shoes. You don’t want your feet to feel heavy over long distances. Less weight in your shoe will also add comfort and speed as you run.

FAQs for Long-Distance Running Shoes

Do shoes affect long-distance running performance?

For long-distance running, the running shoe can have a significant impact on performance. Follow the fit and cushion guidelines above and you may just see an economy of time, due to less energy use from higher rebound and a foot-conforming fit.

How many miles should your marathon shoes have on them?

Before a race, a marathon runner should use shoes that are in their prime. This is usually between the 50 and 150-mile mark of the shoe’s lifespan. Don’t use brand new shoes as you need to make sure they’re compatible with your foot. Conversely, over-worn shoes will have less grip and traction on the outsole.

How long to break in running shoes before a marathon?

The break-in period is relatively short since running shoes are made with supple rubber instead of leather or harder materials. If you’re familiar with a particular brand and iteration of a shoe, it could be okay to wear them fresh out of the box. However, a break-in period of one to 50 miles is recommended.

Can you run a marathon in barefoot shoes?

Although minimalist running footwear can strengthen your lower legs and feet, you should proceed with caution before wearing them during a marathon. It’s vital to take protective precautions and get shoes that provide you with enough cushioning and responsiveness.

Conclusion

Long-distance running is intense and requires high levels of endurance. Getting your body fit for a marathon is just as important as finding the right shoes to support you. Our conclusion is the Saucony Kinvara 12 is the best all-around long-distance running shoe around—but depending on your personal preference, any of those on the list could fit the bill.

We hope that our guide to finding the best long-distance running shoes helps you find the right running footwear for your next adventure.

Shop our selection of long-distance running shoes and prepare for your next training session.

Read also:
How to Find the Perfect Running Shoe
How to Carry Water While Running
Best Running Shoes in 2020