Whether you run marathons, epic endurance trails or you’re just fond of scoring big miles when you can, a pair of the latest long distance running shoes can make a big difference to your experience on the road or trail.
Recent advances insole technology, ventilation, and materials, have led to the creation of long-distance running trainers capable of taking you further. Combining new breathable materials, 'energy return' foams, and stabilising innovations, those long miles will seem just that little bit shorter.
The importance of great running shoes for long distance
You’ll take over 55,000 steps when completing a marathon, and moreover the same distance when off-road. This repetitive impact of foot against ground has benefits – persistent impacts lead to the development of stronger bones – but, just like a car’s suspension system, you need to ensure your shoes can absorb the extremes of this force.
Well chosen long distance shoes limit pressure on your knees, ankles, and delicate bone structures within the foot.
Today’s long-distance running shoes, such as adidas marathon trainers or New Balance 1500s, offer a range of benefits for those packing in the miles.
Alongside new levels of shock absorbance, these powerful shoes offer midsole stability, increased ventilation, and benefits like energy return.
What is 'energy return' in running shoes?
Energy return is the higher ‘bounce back’ rate achieved by new developments insole technology.
It may sound like - and feel like - these soles add energy to your stride, but what they’re actually doing is better managing where the energy from your foot strike goes, spreading the load across your foot on impact more efficiently.
To explain, higher cushioning always meant more of the impact from your foot striking the ground was absorbed and the energy lost, decreasing the force remaining for you to push back off.
Responsive, firmer shoes were traditionally faster, absorbing less of the impact and giving more energy back to your next stride. But firm shoes are not ideal for long distances, to say the least.
This mutually exclusive relationship between fast (responsive) and cushioned (energy absorbing) meant you could only ever have one or the other.
Today’s energy-returning foams, however, overcome these mutually exclusive properties.
They spread the forces across your sole more efficiently, storing the energy of the compression better, and returning it to where it’s needed, giving you a responsive feel without the harsh impacts.
Our Best Long Distance Running Shoes
Here's a look at some of the leading long-distance running shoes from top brands, offering the latest technologies and advances for your marathon or endurance run.
Asics Kayano, such as these Women's Kayano 26 Shoes, are built for distance and feature the Gel-Kayano support system for added stability throughout those long miles. The FlyteFoam Propel technology in the midsole, meanwhile, provides that important energy return for that responsive stride. An Ortholite X-40 sock liner and jacquard mesh upper secures a snug fit while ensuring enough ventilation to reduce clamminess and avoid chaffing.
Lightweight and designed specifically for long distance racing performance, the adidas Adizero Boston range emerged from pages of master Japanese shoemaker Omori. The breathable air mesh upper provides a micro fit lockdown fit for support. Meanwhile, boost cushioning gives you that responsive footbed, returning more energy than regular cushioned soles. A stabilising torsion system in the midsole, meanwhile, helps maintain a true foot strike and a healthier technique.
HOKA ONE ONE's popular Clifton is back for 2020. Now in its sixth edition, the Clifton offers a snug, supportive fit while the energy return foam will put a spring in your step as if you're running on clouds. The lightweight mesh upper keeps your feet feeling cool and embroidered reinforcements provide support through the running motion without adding bulk.