Best Marathon Shoes 2023

A white pair of adidas running shoes featuring oversize black stripes down the side.
Credit: adidas

A white pair of adidas running shoes featuring oversize black stripes down the side.
Credit: adidas

Finding the best marathon shoes can be tricky at times with so many options to choose from and it not always being easy to spot the differences between endurance footwear and regular trainers.

However, marathon shoes are the key to unlocking your peak performance across longer distances compared to some of the best running shoes around, so we'd say they're well worth having at your disposal if you're a keen distance runner.

What makes marathon shoes so important is that they tend to feature lightweight uppers, absorbent foam midsoles, and, on occasion, carbon-plating designed to shave valuable minutes off your personal bests.

With that being said, we've put together a list of our top picks based on price, reviews, and, perhaps most importantly of all, any unique features, like the ones mentioned above, that make these trainers stand out for endurance racing.

Whether you're looking for something packed with foam, like the Nike Vaporfly 3, or you're searching for a slightly cheaper set, like these Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22s, we've got you covered right here.

We've also answered some of the most commonly asked questions surrounding marathon shoes to help you figure out what exactly it is you need from a top pair of endurance trainers. With that in mind, let's get into our list...

Best marathon shoes

  1. Saucony Endorphin Speed 3
  2. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22
  3. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11
  4. Nike Vaporfly 3
  5. ASICS Gel-Nimbus 23
  6. adidas Adizero Adios Pro Evo 1
Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 product image of a light blue shoe with orange and black details and white midsole below white panelling featuring black speckles.
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Credit: Saucony

1. Saucony Endorphin Speed 3

Best marathon shoes overall

Material: Mesh upper / XT-900 rubber outsole

The Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 stands out as an excellent choice for marathon training from the Endorphin range, boasting a blend of innovative features that can enhance your performance. Its lightweight mesh upper, combined with the cutting-edge SPEEDROLL technology, is engineered to propel you forward effortlessly, enabling you to run faster with less effort.

What sets this shoe apart, particularly for marathon runners, is the introduction of the S-curve, winged nylon plate. This sophisticated design maximises energy return with every stride, potentially conserving valuable energy over the course of a long race.

Beneath your feet, the responsive PWRRUNPB foam cushioning not only absorbs shock but also contributes to the overall energy return. Additionally, the XT-900 rubber outsole, with its traction-optimised pattern, ensures excellent grip on the road.

Considering all these exceptional features, it's hard to argue against the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 as being one of the best marathon shoes available in the market.

Read More: Best marathon watches

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22 product image of a near all-black trainer featuring a couple of silver details.
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Credit: Brooks

2. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22

Best budget marathon shoes

Material: 3D Print Mesh
Closure: Lace-Up

This offering from Brooks looks to deliver all the essential ingredients of a top marathon shoe, but at a relatively inexpensive price compared to some of its competitors.

The Adrenaline GTS 22 boasts the innovative GuideRail system, providing the ideal stability and support for road running. This technology effectively reduces excessive shin and heel rotation, significantly lowering the risk of potential injuries.

Furthermore, the shoe incorporates DNA Loft cushioning and the Segmented Crash Pad, promising a remarkably soft and smooth running experience, facilitating a seamless transition from landing to toe-off.

When seeking a budget-friendly option that doesn't compromise on performance, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22 is a standout choice. For those willing to invest a little more though, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23, an updated version of the GTS 22, is also worth considering.

Read More: Best running watches

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11 product image of a black knitted trainer with a white midsole and New Balance branding.
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Credit: New Balance

3. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11

Best marathon shoes for beginners

Material: Synthetic and Mesh
Closure: Lace-Up

New Balance is one of the leading manufacturers of sportswear around and its Fresh Foam 1080 V11s look to be a showstopping example of its expertise.

Essentially, this shoe has been built with comfort in mind, which is ideal if you're a beginner as you may become demotivated if your footwear is uncomfortable to wear during endurance training.

This is achieved via the huge Fresh Foam midsole packed with padding, designed to deliver an ultra-cushioned and lightweight ride which, in our opinion, also makes them some of the best shoes for CrossFit as well.

On the whole, the Fresh Foam V11 looks to be an excellent choice if you're looking for a pair of shoes to start your marathon running journey.

Read More: Best running headphones

Nike Vaporfly 3 product image of a sail white knitted trainer featuring orange, volt yellow, and light blue details.
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Credit: Nike

4. Nike Vaporfly 3

Best marathon shoes for experienced runners

Material: Flyknit

If you're an experienced runner and you've got the budget for them, then we'd say these Nike Vaporfly 3s are hard to top for long distances. The shoe is packed full of technology to help you smash your personal bests.

For example, it features Nike ZoomX foam in the midsole, which is designed to deliver exceptional energy return from the heel to the toe. What's more, you get a full-length carbon fibre flyplate to add stiffness but also improve propulsion.

The trainer is also incredibly light. The Flyknit yarn upper keeps weight to a minimum while also keeping it breathable. Moreover, the shoe features an updated thin outsole rubber which uses less material than the predecessor and, in turn, reduces weight.

Other notable details include the new Waffle outsole pattern with perforations to, again, reduce weight and improve traction, and the extended midsole around the back for added stability. Ultimately, this is one highly advanced sneaker designed to go the distance.

Read More: Best running watches under 100

ASICS Gel-Nimbus 23 product image of a dark blue knitted trainer with volt yellow accents.
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Credit: ASICS

5. ASICS Gel-Nimbus 23

Best marathon shoes for wide feet

Material: Synthetic and Mesh
Closure: Lace-Up

ASICS is one of the leading brands in the running space, and its Gel-Nimbus 23 looks to be a real standout from its running shoe range.

What we like about this shoe, particularly for wide feet, is that it features a lightweight, multi-directional mesh upper which is said to be both flexible and highly ventilated, ideal for long-distance endurance training.

You also get GEL cushioning and FlyteFoam Propel technology, designed to deliver excellent shock absorption and supreme bounce during each stride.

Overall, these trainers appear to be well worth considering if you're after a top pair of shoes and a comfortable fit.

Read More: Best running headphones under 100

adidas Adizero Adios Pro Evo 1 product image of a white and grey running shoe with oversized three black stripes down the side.
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Credit: adidas

6. adidas Adizero Adios Pro Evo 1

Best marathon shoes if money is no object

Material: Textile
Closure: Lace-Up

If you're truly serious about running and competing in marathons, and you've got the budget to splash on a new pair of shoes, you won't find many that are more advanced than the adidas Adizero Adios Pro Evo 1.

Okay, yes, they do come with a premium price tag. However, they are currently at the pinnacle of racing footwear as they're worn by serious athletes while competing. Take Tigist Assefa, for example, who shattered the women’s marathon world record by more than two minutes in these trainers.

One of the main reasons why they're so competitive is they're one of adidas' lightest running shoes to date, weighing just 138g, and they feature what adidas calls ENERGYRODS to limit your energy loss as you run.

They also feature LIGHTSTRIKE PRO foam in the midsole for unrivalled comfort and great energy returns each and every stride, helping you smash records and break PBs across long distances.

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Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

With so many different kinds of marathon running shoes available, you probably have a number of questions about them, but we're here to clear up some of the most common queries.

What should you look for from a pair of marathon shoes?

One of the key factors in choosing the right marathon shoes is comfort.

If your trainers are uncomfortable before you even begin to exercise in them, then they're unlikely to get any more comfortable whilst you run which may, in turn, demotivate you and potentially cause injury.

Generally speaking, Clarks recommends leaving about a thumbs-width of space between your longest toe and the end of your shoe to help ensure a secure and comfortable fit. We'd argue this can be applied to marathon shoes as well.

It's also worth keeping an eye on the cushioning as you'll probably want something well-padded to absorb some of the shocks felt during each stride. This should also protect your joints a little to minimise any long-term damage and injury. Nike, for instance, includes Air units in the midsoles of its running shoes to cushion your feet as you run.

Finally, keep an eye out for how much the shoes in question weigh. A study Rodrigo-Carranza et al. found adding 100g per shoe impaired running economy and performance in trained runners. Therefore, we'd recommend going for something as light as possible, especially for marathon running.

Fortunately, most running shoes are made from knitted fabric these days to become as light as possible.

How long do marathon shoes last?

Marathon training involves some very intense endurance exercises, subjecting your feet and the footwear you use to substantial wear and tear. Nevertheless, marathon shoes are designed to endure a considerable number of miles before requiring replacement.

It is commonly suggested that training shoes can maintain their integrity for approximately 300 to 500 miles. However, this mileage estimate may be slightly reduced for racing shoes, which are typically lighter and may experience quicker wear and tear, especially the more you wear them.

In some research studies, such as the one conducted by Verdejo and Mills, structural damage to running shoes was observed after covering 750km (about 466 miles) of running. Determining the precise lifespan of marathon shoes, therefore, can be challenging due to the extensive distances involved in the sport.

Are marathon shoes worth it?

To answer this question, you should probably first decide if running is a form of exercise you enjoy and want to take a step further by training or even competing in a marathon.

If the answer is yes, then in order to keep your body safe and to help you progress, marathon shoes will likely be worth it as they offer you a number of key features tailored specifically for endurance running.

For example, they typically come with large foam midsoles to absorb most of the shock felt when your foot collides with the road, and to keep you comfortable during your long-distance training.

Do you need to clean marathon shoes?

It's important to clean your marathon shoes to help them maintain their grip on the ground and for hygienic reasons given their primary use is for endurance exercise. Therefore, we'd recommend regularly cleaning your trainers to maximise your performance.

With that in mind, we'd argue the simplest way to clean them is with warm water, a little bit of shoe cleaner or a neutral detergent, and a soft-bristled brush.

Simply use the brush to remove the dirt across the uppers and soles. To tackle some of the harder-to-reach areas, use an old toothbrush with a bit of the cleaning solution and scrub the difficult area in small circular motions.

Once clean, leave your shoes to dry naturally and away from direct sunlight to avoid damaging them. For more information and top tips on this, check out our guide to cleaning running shoes right here.

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