Best Long Distance Running Shoes
There is a special kind of athlete that is passionate about long-distance running. Not only does it take dedication, strength, and time to put in the miles upon miles of pounding the cross country hills or concrete sidewalks, but it also takes some great shoes. Whether you’re going for your first run or the 50th, having a pair of the best long distance running shoes on your feet can be a true blessing. Here are a few of our favorites.
- Adidas Adizero Adios 3
- Balance of cushion and light weight
- Fairly low profile
- Nike Pegasus 34
- Great support
- Saucony Kinvara 7
- Great cushioning
10 Best Long Distance Running Shoes
Adidas Adizero Adios 3
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.
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
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 34
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.
Heel to Toe Drop
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.
- Very comfortable to wear
- Great overall support
- May be a little narrow for some feet
Saucony Kinvara 7
This pair of shoes offers 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 changing 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.
Heel to Toe Drop
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 is quite good as well.
- Low heel to toe drop
- Great amount of cushioning
- Flexible and moves with you as you run.
- Sizing not always true to fit
- Not enough stability for some feet.
Nike lunaracer 3
Unlike some of the others on this list, this particular running shoe offers only what is needed in the way of overall support. It borders very close to some of the more popular minimalist shoes that are available.
Because of its lightweight mesh construction, and extremely flexible outsole and midsole area, most people find that this shoe is not only true to size, but actually very exacting in their fit overall.
While these shoes do offer a minimal amount of protection, we definitely wouldn’t suggest them for training purposes. The relatively thin mesh material uppers and rubberized sole bottom may wear through over time if used too much. It may be best to save these for racing competition.
There is a minimal amount of cushioning with these shoes, although most people found it to be fairly comfortable overall. However, if you require a fair amount of cushion to protect your feet and keep your gait from becoming awkward, you might want to consider other options.
Heel to Toe Drop
The heel to toe drop of the Nike Lunaracer is about 7 millimeters in total. It’s definitely not the greatest amount of change we’ve seen, but it will certainly cause the heel of the shoe to fit first often enough.
The Lunaracer 3 shoe from Nike offers a minimal amount of support and cushioning, but offers a great overall fit and flexibility. It’s a great shoe for racing, but probably shouldn’t be used for training purposes.
- Comfortable to wear
- Great flexibility
- Not a whole lot of cushioning
- Moderate heel to toe drop.
Brooks ghost 10
The Brooks Ghost Ten offers a fantastic amount of neutral support that is designed for use by people with regular feet or ones with higher arches. While not exactly suited for those with lower arches or fallen arches, overall the amount of support provided is a respectable amount indeed.
Most people found the Brooks Ghost 10 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. For those times – about seven percent – when things weren’t fitting as expected, the size was found to be slightly too small.
In addition to the protection from the elements, this shoe also protects the foot from a majority of the impact force as the runner hits the ground. No matter how your foot lands, the segmented Crash Pad allows the energy to be quickly dissipated over the length and breadth of the shoe.
When it comes to absorbing the shock of impact while running, the Brooks Ghost Line is one of the best. High energizing cushioning and a removable foam insole allows for a feeling of almost weightlessness while running.
Heel to Toe Drop
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.
If you’re looking for a seriously comfortable trainer for your long distance running, the Brooks Ghost 10 is a great overall choice. While we weren’t exactly fond of the substantial heel drop and the less than stellar support for those with lower arches, this is still a fine long distance running shoe.
- Extremely comfortable
- Lots of great cushioning
- Great neutral support
- Not very supportive for people with flat feet.
- Substantial heel drop
Newton motion V
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.
Heel to Toe Drop
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.
- Fairly comfortable to wear
- Great overall fit
- No real protection from the elements
- Limited amount of cushioning
New Balance leadville vibram
These shoes are designed to offer support for those who need more stability than 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.
Heel to Toe Drop
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.
- Comfortable to wear
- Great overall fit for wide feet
- Very durable
- May be too large for some feet
- Moderate heel to toe drop
Asics Gel-kayano 24
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 were 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.
Heel to Toe Drop
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.
- Great cushioning and impact protection
- Designed to promote stability
- Sizing not always true to form
Brooks Ghost 9
This long-distance running shoe offers support to the runner by using a combination of adjustable cushioning and very responsive crash pads within the shoe that adjust to offer more or less support where needed.
Most people found the fit of this shoe to be extremely comfortable and form fitting. There were complaints about the shoe cutting into the back of the heel and Achilles tendon when laced up properly, and a feeling of heaviness compared to previous iterations of the Ghost line.
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 did require more of it for a full day of training or running.
Heel to Toe Drop
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 9 is one that may be worth your consideration.
- Great neutral stability
- May weigh down the runner
- May rub against the back of the heel.
Asics GT-2000 5
One of the nicer things about this running shoe is that it provides great overall neutral support without too much added weight. The use of what is called a dynamic Duomax system allows for great overall support without too much added bulk or weight.
Most people found these shoes to fit well overall, with only a small percentage finding them to be somewhat small. Also, many felt that the time needed to break them in was too long.
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 of the most efficient form of shock absorption.
Heel to Toe Drop
The heel to toe drop is 10 mm in this shoe, which although moderate is about average for this type of shoe.
If you’re looking for good overall performance from a long distance running shoe for training, this is a great overall choice. While the longer break-in times and potential smaller sizes might be a put off to some, for many people this is a great all around trainer.
- Great overall support
- Good cushioning
- Tend to be slightly smaller than normal
- Increased break-in time needed.
Criteria Used For The Evaluation
When a person is running, especially over longer distances, making sure the feet 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.
The second area where proper support helps in long distance running is because it helps you to keep from overpronating, or 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 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 actual 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 fits you, and your feet well, you can help to prevent a lot of different injuries. These can include such things as blisters, strained tendons, or even 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 jarring impact, but also provide a lightness of feeling 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 protecting your feet from the debris that you might find on the average running surfaces, the best long distance running shoes also provide protection for your feet and body in a number of other ways.
First, a good pair of long distance running shoes will help to protect your lower joints by helping you keep 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 overall. 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, and with good reason. 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 shockwaves 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.
Heel to Toe Drop
As the name implies, the heel to toe drop, or sometimes referred simply as heel drop, is the amount of vertical change there is 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 be striking the ground much sooner, and sending more shockwaves up into your lower body that if the mid-sole or front-sole area of the shoe struck at the same time or sooner than the heel. A low heel to toe drop in a long distance running shoe essentially means that there is less of a chance that your gait will cause problems with pain and fatigue as you travel the distance.
More to think about when choosing your next pair of long distance running shoes
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. Road 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 a wide 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, often relying on the springy nature of the track itself to provide the shock absorption needed. They are often lighter than other running shoes, and offer the minimal 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 midsole 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 wide 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.
Type of Foot
Everyone has a different type of foot. Some people have outrageously high arches, while others have feet wide enough to be a small sandwich plate if needed. Thankfully, no matter what type of foot you have, there is probably a long distance running shoe that will perform beautifully for you.
The type of foot you have, and its overall shape can play a significant role in the type of running shoe you buy. Someone with high arches will probably need extra cushioning to help absorb the impact that is left over from their high arches. A person with fallen arches, however, will probably want more overall support and a slightly tighter fit to help distribute the weight of the impact more easily.
A person’s running shoes should be replaced about every 300 to 500 miles of running. Depending on how often you run, that amount can come rather quickly. As a long distance runner, therefore, looking for shoes that can last as long as possible is not only a good idea, it’s a cost-effective one as well. It’s best to look at the material used to make the shoe first. What is its quality? How tightly woven is the mesh? Is the sole flexible enough to withstand the necessary impact of countless runs, or does it feel brittle and easily broken? Also, take a look at the toe box area. How does it fit around your toes? If the largest toe meets up against the edge of the upper mesh portion, chances are a tear will develop before too long.
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 difference choices out there to choose from, there are a few key factors to consider when making a decision.
First, look for a greater overall stability in the shoe. In this case, a stable shoe is one that helps prevent over pronation, or the turning inward of the foot from 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 over compensate 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 in 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 and a 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 hair dryer, 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.
Long distance runners are a rare breed indeed, filled with passion and determination to become better runners and athletes overall. Having the right equipment, including the best long distance running shoes, helps them to achieve those goals.