Best Long Distance Running Shoes
Everyone loves to be outdoors, but it takes a special kind of athlete to be passionate about long-distance running. This sport requires dedication, endurance, and a passion for running to put in the miles for long-distance running. Seeing as how the minimum distance of a long-distance run is 1.8-miles(3km), you’re going to need a great pair of shoes to get you through it. A great pair of running shoes will keep you comfortable and going at a steady pace while putting in the miles. Luckily for you, we have done the research and listed the top ten long-distance running shoes and why they made our list. We have also listed some criteria to keep in mind when looking for your perfect pair of long-distance running shoes.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 14 hrs of research
Fantastic road traction and grip
Top Ten Long Distance Running Shoes
1. Brooks Ghost 10
Fantastic road traction and grip
Shoes can hold water, which makes your feet uncomfortable
The Brooks Ghost line of running shoes makes another appearance on the list in our ninth spot. The Ghost 10 is the next-generation model of the Ghost shoes. It's a solid runner that offers respectable cushioning and perform well for the long-distance runner.Read more
This long-distance running shoe offers support to the runner through both technology and the materials used in construction.
Most people found the fit of this shoe to be extremely comfortable and form-fitting. A new seamless upper brings improvement to the fit.
Overall this shoe offers great protection, both from the elements and overpronation.
Most people found that the cushioning in this shoe was fine for the occasional long-distance race or training episode, but found that it did require more of it for a full day of training or running.
The heel to toe drop of these particular shoes is 12 millimeters, which is fairly significant. If used improperly, there is a strong potential for the heel of the runner to have to absorb a fair amount of impact.
If you’re looking for a somewhat comfortable trainer for your long-distance running that offers neutral support overall, the Brooks Ghost 10 is one that may be worth your consideration.
2. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 34
Very comfortable to wear
Great overall support
Maybe a little narrow for some feet
From its start, the Nike brand has been associated strongly with running and athletics, and this pair of shoes is no exception. Designed primarily for running on the road and conquering the concrete jungle, these shoes make it difficult to say “no” to the next marathon run.Read more
These shoes offer support to your feet in a number of different ways. The first is a fitsole sock liner that conforms easily to the shape of your foot overall. In addition, air units in both the toe and heel area allow for extra support and cushioning where you need it most.
The majority of people found these shoes to be well-fitting, with only about 13% of the people finding them to be a bit on the small or large side of things.
In addition to the rubber soles protecting the bottom of your feet, these shoes also help to keep your joints and leg muscles aligned properly to maintain good balance and posture overall.
While it may not provide as much cushioning as some other choices, on this list, the Nike Pegasus brand of shoes offers a good amount of cushioning where you need it most, relying both on construction and air pockets to get the job done.
The heel drop on this shoe measures about 10 millimeters, which is fairly low. This allows for less of the heel to meet the pavement, making for a more comfortable and longer-lasting run.
When it comes to running in the urban jungle, the Nike brand is hard to beat. The materials used lend themselves to a great overall fit that is breathable, comfortable and has the support that every runner needs.
3. Asics Gel-Kayano 24
Great cushioning and impact protection
Designed to promote stability
Sizes run a bit smaller or larger than expected
The Asics company has had a well-respected reputation when it came to running shoes, and this example from their Gel-Kayano line is no exception. Featuring a number of characteristics that make it a viable choice for multi-mile runs, this shoe is definitely one to consider.Read more
Unlike many of the shoes presented on this list that offer support by cushioning or adding foam to particular locations to get the support necessary for a great run, the Asics Gel-Kayano 24 focuses instead on making sure the runner’s gait remains natural and aligned. It does this through what is called Impact Guidance System, or a series of fluid-filled capsules that allow for the foot to easily adjust to the running surface without experiencing too many jars or mishaps.
The overall fit is perhaps one area where this long-distance running shoe is somewhat lacking. While the majority of people found it to be comfortable and true to size, there was a sizable percentage – nearly 14% that found it to be painfully small and restrictive. Also, there were reports of the two shoes in a pair being different in sizes by at least ½ a shoe size.
The thick rubber sole and the synthetic and fabric upper provide adequate protection from the weather and elements, and the basic cushioning system provides a bit of protection from misalignment due to poor running posture.
For the most part, this shoe provides cushioning in the form of shock-absorbing fluid capsules that move with the step and absorb the majority of the impact shock with each step taken.
The heel to toe drop in this particular shoe is about 10 millimeters, which is a moderate amount, especially considering the other examples on this list. However, with the added cushioning and shock-absorbing material in the mid-soles, most runners fail to notice much of a difference.
These particular long-distance running shoes are designed to promote stability and comfort while traveling over sidewalks and streets. While the sizing may be problematic at times, if you find a pair that fits you well, these shoes can prove to be a valuable training aid.
4. Asics GT-2000 6
Lighter than the Asics GT 2000 5
Increased break-in time needed
The last entry on our list is by no means last in overall quality. The GT-2000 6 Running Shoes by Asics is an upgrade from the 5 and provides great overall support and cushioning that is hard to beat.Read more
One of the nicer things about this running shoe is that it provides fantastic neutral support without adding weight. The unique cushion system allows for great overall support without too much-added bulk or weight.
Most people found these shoes to fit well, while a small number of people find them to fit touch small, so it's best to try them on.
Besides offering adequate protection from the elements, this running shoe from Asics uses a combination of state of the art support systems and cushioning to provide good protection from gait abnormalities.
The cushioning in this shoe is provided through a combination of a gel cushioning system near the heel and toe areas to allow the most efficient form of shock absorption.
The heel to toe drop is 10 mm in this shoe, which although moderate is about average for this type of shoe.
The wonderful thing about the Asics GT 2000 6 is that they are suitable for both beginners and avid runners alike. They are best suited for longer runs that need recovery, but they can also easily work for an all-around shoe.
5. New Balance 1080v9 Fresh Foam
Comfortable to wear
Seven color choices
Can be difficult to determine your proper width size
This next addition from the Fresh Foam family of New Balance brings us an impressive blend of cushion and support combined. The Ortholite liner and 3D heel construction work together to provide a comfortable and true-to-size fit. Not to mention, these shoes also look great!Read more
With such a cushioned shoe, you may be worried that they won’t provide enough support. The full-length fresh foam midsole was designed with the feedback from runners and offer top of the line support.
The bootie construction of these shoes provides each wearer with a custom fit. Almost everyone agrees that they fit true to size. The only confusion has been in which width to order. It seems as though they run a bit narrow.
While there is nothing out of the ordinary to protect your body from the ankles up, the cushioning and support that is offered from this shoe will help to protect you from harsh heel strikes and discomfort.
This is where these shoes really shine. Almost all shoe sizes, height, age, and genders agree that this is an exceptionally comfortable shoe. You can’t feel the ground underneath you through the shoe but you can still enjoy ultimate support and comfort. The 3D heel design helps to keep your foot in place and the Ortholite insole and sock liner provides an extra layer of comfort.
Additionally, the upper is made from a synthetic fiber and mesh blend, promoting breathability. The mesh features “no-sew” application, helping you to avoid blisters or raw spots.
The drop in these shoes is approximately 8mm. This is a fairly normal drop and won't feel any different to most runners.
If running on a cloud sounds like something you’d like, you should try these shoes. They provide a great fit that almost seems like it was made for you. The minimal drop and Ortholite sockliner all work together to keep you running the distance comfortably.
6. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18
The heel drop and lightweight feel can clash, according to some wearers
If you’re looking for great support, this is your shoe. As far as real-life testing goes, it has been said that the Adrenaline GTS 18 offers a cut above the rest of the shoes out there.Read more
The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18 offers substantial support without being heavy.
Most people found the Brooks Adrenaline to be quite close to what they expected in terms of size, and comfortable overall, allowing for a minimal amount of movement in the heel area and enough flexibility in the toe box.
The lighter construction may not offer as much substantial support that some seek.
When it comes to absorbing the shock of impact while running, the Adrenaline does a great job, but also, they remain light in weight and can help those with pronation problems.
The difference between the heel and toe, in this case, is about 12 millimeters, which is pretty substantial compared to some of the others on this list. However, for a long-distance trainer, this much of a heel drop isn’t that bad.
Brooks comes in hot with the Adrenaline GTS 18. Its remarkable support is combined with a light feel thanks to the upper portion that has been redesigned. This shoe makes it easy for a runner to ease into an undisturbed long-distance pace.
7. New Balance Leadville Vibram
Comfortable to wear
Great overall fit for big feet
Sizing runs a bit large
If you’re a runner who has vast feet and you still want to enjoy the challenge of cross-country long-distance running, it can be hard to find a pair of running shoes that truly fit. Thankfully, this entry from New Balance is designed with you in mind.Read more
These shoes are designed to offer support for those who need more stability than an overall arch support. The REV Lite foam in the midsole provides great stabilization over the length of the footfall, helping to keep everything in line.
Most people found these shoes to be comfortable to wear if a bit on the larger size overall. However, for those with wider or flatter feet overall, these shoes are some of the most well-fitting and comfortable ones available on the market today.
With the combination of mesh and synthetic materials, these shoes offer somewhat adequate protection from the elements, and the overall stable design helps to keep the foot and ankles properly aligned to prevent undue damage to the joints overall.
The New Balance brand of shoe is well known for their levels of comfort and support. One of the reasons for this is their superior use of cushioning technology that is designed to move and shift as needed to make sure that the foot is properly in place and comfortable.
The amount of displacement between the heel and toe of this particular running shoe is 8 millimeters. This puts it well within the middle range – not exactly great, but nothing too problematic either. For most people, this difference would hardly be noticeable.
If you’re looking for a shoe that focuses on stability and comfort overall, this example from New Balance is a great contender. While it may be a bit too large for some people, it does provide a good deal of strength and stability when needed.
8. Adidas Adizero Adios 3
Designed for distance
Solid construction, yet lightweight enough for continuous use for long runs
Performs particularly well on forefoot strikes
They seem to run a bit narrow
It's a pretty solid shoe, built for endurance, but remains fairly lightweight enough to not add unnecessary fatigue from the weight. Distance shoes, for many people, should have a good balance of durability, lightweight materials, solid traction and cushioning that lasts through the run, yet allows responsiveness and a decent amount of ground feel. The Adios series so far has gotten it right.Read more
With normal-high arches, the Adios 3 offers decent support. They are a neutral shoe that offers great energy return from full-foot boost midsole. If you are looking for a shoe that will help to increase your speed, this shoe is equipped to do it.
Depending on your foot shape and preferences, the fit of The Adios 3 may come as a surprise. The shoe is narrower than most running shoes and, in turn, offers a snug fit. Many users recommend ordering a half of a size up. Unfortunately, this shoe is not available in wide sizes.
Like many running shoes, this shoe doesn’t offer a lot of ankle or shin protection. It is best worn on gravel or tracks, and not in sticks. However, the traction of the Adios 3 is increased by 23% from the previous model and offers great grip.
As far as the midsole, this is a comfortable shoe. The full-foot boost midsole is made from multiple foam pods that are melded together to create one, large, cohesive midsole. These springy and lightweight shoes weigh only 7.6-ounces.
To keep you from sweating in the shoes, these Adidas also feature Coolever mesh lining that provides excellent breathability.
These shoes feature a slightly high but moderate drop of 10mm. For an inexperienced runner, this could cause harder heel strikes. Luckily, the great cushioning and energy return in these shoes will help to keep you safe and comfortable.
The Adios 3 is one of those shoes. It's lightweight and low profile, yet has adequate cushioning for those long runs and even marathons.
9. Saucony Kinvara 7
Low heel to toe drop
A great amount of cushioning
Flexible and moves with you as you run
Sizing not always true to fit
If you’re looking for a long-distance running shoe that is flexible enough to meet you head on no matter the terrain than you definitely want to consider this third entry on our list. Designed to be both lightweight and flexible with plenty of support, the Saucony Kinvara Running shoe is a great overall choice for cross-country treks.Read more
This pair of shoes offer great support through the use of lightweight synthetic materials that offers flexibility in the mid-sole and fore-foot areas and great cushioning and support in the heel area as well. The shoe is designed to move with and offer to change support as your foot needs it. There is no rigidity here, just support that moves with you. It should be noted, however, that it doesn’t offer quite the amount of support and stability often needed by people with flat feet or wider feet.
The majority of the people found these shoes to not only to be very well-fitting but also comfortable, despite a wide variety of foot types and shapes. The removable insole allowed for a more customized fit, and the extremely flexible outsole made it easy for the shoe to conform nicely to the foot and move with it easily when in use.
The rubber sole and lightweight and breathable material provide great protection overall from dirt and debris. In addition, the stability technology built into the sole of the shoe helps to keep everything aligned just the way you need it when you need it.
Overall these shoes have a great deal of cushioning throughout the bottom of the shoe. Although they are fairly flexible in design, there is definitely a consideration towards the overall level of comfort that a runner feels while taking each step.
The heel to toe drop of these long-distance running shoes tops out at about 4 mm making the drop barely noticeable as you run. That means that you’ll get a fantastic overall weight distribution and less need for the shock-absorbing cushioning.
The Saucony Kinvara 7 Running shoe is a great overall choice if you need the flexibility of a great cross country running shoe, but don’t require too much structure or overall stability. The heel to toe drop is one of the smallest we’ve seen, and the overall fit and comfort are quite good as well.
10. Newton motion V
Fairly comfortable to wear
Great overall fit
No real protection from the elements
When it comes to a lightweight shoe that is great for long-distance running, one of the best choices in the market today is the Newton Running Motion V shoe. Designed with the runner in mind, this shoe offers stability, comfort, and flexibility like few others.Read more
The Newton Running Motion V features an EVA-High rebound compound in the midsole and inner sole area that helps to keep the foot well balanced and supported while in motion, with a concentration on maintaining overall stability. There is a minimal amount of support offered, but it appears to be placed in areas where it is needed the most.
While most people found these shoes to be very well-fitting, and flexible, there were some who thought that the shoes overall fit was a bit on the smaller size. However, the combination of the stretch metatarsal panel, stabilization tongue, and the anatomically correct overlays helped to provide a more customized fit.
While the mesh upper portion does provide for superior breathability and flexibility in movement, it really offers very little in the way of protection from the elements. If you choose to use these shoes during inclement weather, it’s best to expect to get wet.
Overall the amount of cushioning offered in the Newton Running Motion V is adequate, but nothing really to write home about. They are certainly comfortable but rely more on the overall fit to maintain the comfort level of the shoe itself.
The heel to toe drop in the case of this shoe is about 3 millimeters, which means that the foot will land on either the mid-foot or fore-foot area if the shoe is used correctly. This means that the overall shock of impact will be more evenly distributed over the length of the foot.
If you’re not too worried about the amount of cushioning in your shoe, or the amount of protection from inclement weather, the Newton Running Motion V is a great overall choice. This long-distance running shoe focuses on overall fit and stability to make sure that the run is everything that it should be.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
When a person is running, especially over longer distances, making sure that your souls are properly supported can mean the difference between an exhilarating and satisfying run, or one riddled with pain and frustration.
The first area that is often cited as being important in maintaining good overall support is making sure the arch area of the foot gets the attention that it needs. Providing adequate support for this area is essential, especially for those with fallen arches or flat feet. In addition, having proper arch support can make it easier for the skeletal areas in the foot ankle and lower leg to properly align while running.
Proper support also helps in long-distance running because it can prevent your feet from overpronating (turning from side to side when you run). Pronation is a natural foot movement, that is designed to help absorb the shock of the impact, but too much of it can be a problem and will throw things out of alignment.
Not surprisingly, how a long-distance running shoe fits is also an important thing to consider when making a purchase. In this case, the fit isn’t just about shoe size, but rather how the shoe conforms to your foot. If you think about it, even people with the same shoe size can have remarkably different shaped feet. By finding a running shoe that properly fits you, you can help to prevent a lot of different injuries, such as blisters, strained tendons, and foot muscle cramps.
A well-fitting running shoe will also help you fight fatigue, which is certainly important when running over great distances. If the shoe conforms properly to your feet, it will not only offer better protection from a jarring impact but also provide a feeling of lightness while you run. One way to think of it is that a shoe should fit well enough to make it feel like you’re running with a cloud supporting you, not dragging a piece of the cloud with you.
In addition to offering your feet ultimate support and comfort, they should also be substantial enough to protect you from any debris on the road that could inhibit your strides. Along with this, a good pair of long-distance running shoes will help to protect your lower joints by keeping everything in proper alignment. Quite a few injuries happen, not because of any real mishap, but because the ankles, knees, and hips aren’t properly aligned, which can lead to significant wear and tear on the joints.
Second, the best long-distance running shoe will protect your feet and legs from the sharp impact of hitting the ground with significant force time and time again. This is accomplished through proper fit, the right support, and the right amount of cushioning in the right areas.
If you had to worry about your comfort while running, chances are you might not do it as often. This is where the shoes cushioning comes into play. Running shoes, as a rule, tend to have more cushioning and support in the shoe as a whole than other athletic shoes do, and there is a good reason for this. If you think about what you’re actually doing while running – even properly running – the force of the impact of each time you hit the ground with your feet can send shock waves up through your body quite easily. Cushioning, besides making the foot feel more comfortable, helps to absorb some of that shock, the same way the struts on your car help you navigate those small potholes that litter the city streets.
As the name implies, the heel to toe drop, or heel drop, is the amount of vertical change between the heel of the shoe and the toe of the shoe. For the most part, when it comes to running, you’d want a shoe that has a relatively low heel drop. The reasoning behind this is that if the heel drop is high, the heel of the foot would strike the ground too soon, sending shock-waves up into your lower body. Essentially, a low heel drop means that there is less of a chance that your gait will cause problems with pain and fatigue as you travel the distance.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
When looking at any pair of shoes, it is always best to go into a store when you find a pair you are interested in and try them on. If you do not try on your shoes you may end up with an expensive pair of awesome shoes that do not fit your feet. So go into a store and try them on to confirm they are the shoes for you.
No one likes the pain of a shin splint. They are normally brought on by weak shins and tight calf muscles. To avoid shin splints, especially when long-distance running, it is best to slowly increase your distance. Doing too much all at once will cause pain to more than just your shins. You should also continue to stretch and exercise your lower leg muscles every day. If you still find yourself suffering from pain, don't forget to let your body relax some days and enjoy some downtime.
Other Factors to Consider
There are essentially three different categories when it comes to long-distance running, and they are pretty much based on where and when you decide to run. Long-distance track running, as the name implies, involves running on an athletic track, usually in a stadium or sports arena setting. Another type of running is when you decide to run on sidewalks, roads, or other paved areas, such as in a city’s marathon. The last type of long-distance running that is gaining more popularity is the practice of cross-country running. In this type of running, the world is your oyster, since you are able to travel through an open range of different surfaces from paved roads to rocky trails, streams, and everything in between.
Each type of long-distance running benefits from slightly different shoe characteristics. For example, shoes that are primarily designed to run on tracks often have less overall cushioning, and often rely on the springy nature of the track to provide the shock absorption needed. They are often lighter than other running shoes and offer the minimum amount of support needed. Long-distance running shoes that are designed to handle the urban jungle, however, will often have more padding, especially in the heel and mid-sole areas to help minimize the impact of hitting the hard ground. When it comes to cross-country running, the name of the game is balance. Since a cross-country long-distance runner will travel over a huge range of running surfaces, the shoes need to have a balance between being lightweight overall, but still providing the strategic cushioning needed to protect the body from unnecessary impact.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What is the best type of long-distance running shoes for people with flat feet?
If you have flat feet, choosing a great long-distance running shoe can be problematic. While there are a lot of different choices out there to choose from, there are a few key factors to consider when making a decision.
First, look for greater overall stability in the shoe. In this case, a stable shoe is one that helps prevent overpronation or the turning inward of the foot from the heel to the toes as you take a step. Everyone does it; it’s just that people with flat feet tend to do it more. A running shoe with good stability will help to keep your foot from rolling too much by providing either foam or rubber supports in just the right areas.
The second area to take a look at is the overall motion control of the shoe you need. Because people with flat feet tend to roll more than others, their ankles, knees and even the hips can overcompensate to keep balance, and that is never a good thing. Running shoes with good motion control help to keep your gait in proper alignment, so your other joints won’t have to overcompensate.
q: How often should I replace my long distance running shoes?
As stated earlier, the rule of thumb for all distance running shoes is to replace them at least every 300 to 500 miles of running. However, these numbers are not arbitrary. They are based on the overall wear and tear on the shoes. One way to think about it is to think of your running shoes like a pair of tires on your car. If you see signs of uneven wear on the treads, places of weakness, or if you feel slippage as you run, chances are your shoes need to be replaced, just as you would consider replacing your tires in such instances. It’s also a good idea to replace or at least change out your shoes as your feet grow and change over a period of time. Simply put, if the shoe doesn’t feel like it fits anymore, replacement may be a good option.
q: How should I care for my long distance running shoes?
Thankfully, caring for your long-distance running shoes is fairly simple. First, try to clean the dirt and debris off your shoes whenever you see that they’ve gotten too dirty. An old toothbrush, mild soap, and water should do the trick.
Once they are clean, make sure to allow them to air dry naturally. Do not use a hairdryer, or place them near a heat source to try and dry them faster. The increased heat can warp the shape of the shoes, making them ill-fitting over time.
q: How does running surface affect your runners?
Did you know that running on the road will wear down your show a lot quicker than trail running? Moreover, the type of runner you are can have a huge impact on your shoe’s life. For example, someone who runs on roads, but is a light and an efficient runner will wear down their shoes slower than someone heaver who hits trails with a hard heel-strike.
q: Can the exact same pair of shoes fit differently?
Surprisingly, a pair of shoes that are the same model and make can fit differently. While running shoe companies put a great deal of time and effort into ensuring the best quality product, minor differences can occur. This is because there are usually numerous factories involved, and they can offer a different level of quality control. In short, it’s best to always try your runners on.