f you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’ve been inspired by the countless runners you’ve seen flooding your IG feed preparing to run marathons across the world – be it London, Paris or Boston – and now, you’re ready to embark on your journey to go the distance yourself.
Funnily enough, that’s exactly the position I was in last year when a close friend of mine ran the London Marathon – so, when it comes to training, over the past year, I’ve been through it all. The key starting point? Trainers.
If you’re not an experienced runner, it’s best to go for trainers that offer optimum cushioning and comfort – these will keep your feet and muscles intact as you start to up your milage ever closer to the 26.2 mark. You may find that an investment of over £100 in a quality pair is worth its weight in pain-free, toenail-retaining gold, not to mention the countless hours you’ll spend training in them gives you bang for your buck.
We caught up with Asics’ FrontRunner coach Rey Smart to get his top tips on what to look out for when selecting your new running companions.
What types of trainers are best for marathon running?
Ones that have been designed for long distance running. They’ve been developed to be comfortable, fit well and have a good level of cushioning.
What are the key elements to look out for when choosing marathon trainers?
The sole, a comfortable upper and cushioning.
A well cushioned sole provides a bounce which will absorb shock and help propel you forward, whilst a durable outsole will last the training cycle and perform on marathon day. A comfortable upper gives support around the foot, particularly at the heel and ankle.
Overall, never prioritise style over comfort because your feet won’t thank you afterwards.
Do I need specific marathon trainers for my feet?
Yes, because how our feet roll when we run dictates what type of trainers we should be wearing – both for running efficiency and to prevent injury.
The rolling is called pronation and there are three types – overpronation, underpronation and neutral. People who overpronate will need stability trainers designed for extra support to prevent their ankles from rolling. People who underpronate or are neutral need neutral trainers.
To find out your running style, you can get a free gait analysis at most running stores. The process involves a short run on a treadmill wearing trainers while you’re assessed by a specialist. Based on their analysis they will recommend the best shoes for you.
Do experienced runners and beginners need different types of shoes? If so, why?
Experienced runners tend to run in racing trainers which are very light, have carbon plates and thin mesh uppers. Racing trainers are designed for speed and therefore compromise on comfort and support that slower paced runners need over the marathon distance.
Beginners generally require trainers with lots of cushioning, ankle support and an upper that hugs the foot. These features mean that the trainer will be comfortable over the entire marathon distance.
How should long-distance running trainers fit?
They should fit comfortably around the ankle, lace area and have enough room at the front of the shoes to wiggle your toes. Generally, there should be a finger’s width between the top of the trainer and your toes.
The toe box needs to be wide enough for your toes to splay – and I’d recommend wearing trainer socks when you try them on to make sure you’ve got the right fit.
What are the best brands to look at?
As an ASICS FrontRunner, I get the opportunity to run in trainers across their range. They have a strong selection of neutral and stability trainers across distances and pace types. Outside of ASICS there are brands, I’d look at brands that focus on running like Saucony, Brooks and Mizuno.
Best running trainers at a glance
Asics Gel-Nimbus 25
Best for: overall performance
Deemed by an independent Australian-based Biomechanics Lab as ‘the most comfortable running shoe’ out there, Asics’ most recent addition to its collection is ideal for marathon running.
These trainers are designed to provide comfort and higher performance stride after stride thanks to the brand new PureGEL technology at the sole, which delivers greater shock absorption for softer landings. There’s also extra-lightweight cushioning with 20 per cent more foam than its predecessors for bounce and support without weighing you down. This is also ensured by its composition where it is made in part with bio-based fibres.
Each time you lace them up, you’ll feel locked into the shoe with the new knitted tongue that encourages a more adaptive fit.
Saucony Endorphin Shift 3
Best for: enhanced cushioning
With over 125 years experience in atheltic apparel, American label Saucony knows its way around a pair of running trainers.
The first thing you’ll notice about these trainers, before you’ve even taken to the pavements, is that you’ll be running on a substantial spongy bed of foam cushioning. This keeps your feet supported and comfortable as you rack up the mileage.
Even better, they boast a breathable upper that hugs the ankle, a rolled sole to propel you forwards and a durable rubber outsole.
Brooks Running Adrenaline GTS 22
Best for: improving your natural form
Brooks Running’s Adrenaline GTS have long been the go-to shoe for casual and expert runners alike. The tried and tested silhouette offer the perfect balance of support and cushioning – and, while it has gone through technological updates, it’s a style that’s been around for around 20 years.
The shoes are designed to help runners remain in their natural stride without overcorrection, mainly thanks to the label’s trademarked GuideRails system which keeps the foot from over or under pronating.
On top of that, they’re made using the American brand’s DNA Loft cushioning which is comfortable yet durable and reacts to each runners individual stride.
Mizuno Wave Inspire 19
Best for: overpronounced runners
Mizuno’s Wave Inspire 19 give that extra bit of stability for runners that experience overpronation in their stride (aka your foot rolls inward) – making them a great comfortable option for beginners too.
The midsole has been made 2mm thicker using the brands Energy Foam so provide support during road and off-road running, and the anatomical plate follows the shape of the foot.
On Running Cloudflow
Best for: speed and comfort
On Running may be a newer name on the running-centric block, but it has made up for lost time. The Swiss label was started in 2010 and has taken the industry by storm ever since.
Whether you’re pounding the pavements for a recovery 5k or are running the full marathon, these will deliver both speed and comfort thanks to the brand’s signature Helion superfoam technology and Speedboard design which loads each stride with spring-like energy. Better yet, the streamlined and stylish upper is crafted using 70 per cent recycled polyester, so it’s a more sustainable choice too.
When you’re getting both form and function, what’s not to love?
Tracksmith Eliot Runner
Best for: turning the road into a trail
If you’re in the market for stylish running gear, Tracksmith should be at the top of your list. With collections inspired by vintage collegiate running kit, you can expect t-shirts, vests and shorts that exude a retro American varsity feel but don’t compromise on performance – and these trainers are no exception.
When you’re pounding the pavement wearing them, you’ll feel as though you’re running along a track or trail thanks to the specifically designed cushioning that mimics the feel of soft surfaces.
So confident is the brand in the product that they offer an 100 mile or 30 day guarantee – whichever comes first – so if they don’t work for you, you can return them for a full refund. No strings attached.
Nike Invincible 3 By You
Best for: a customisable design
Sportswear stalwart Nike is always a go-to when it comes to running. Super springy and bouncy, you’ll feel propelled along the entire 26.2 miles, whilst also reaping the benefits of the slab of cushioning that will make you feel like you’re walking on air with every stride.
Not only do they offer support, cushioning and responsiveness, but they’re customisable, too. You can change both the colours and the Swoosh, so you can have exactly the style you want.
New Balance Fresh Foam X 860v13
Best for: the everyday runner
For a shoe that’s great across all distances, it’s New Balance’s 860 that should be on your wishlist.
A stability shoe at heart, the sole is crafted using the Boston-based footwear specialist’s Fresh Foam technology, so it’s easier on your joints when it comes to longer distances. The outsole provides strong grip for a steady ride.
With enhanced cushioning, a supportive medial post and a lightweight, breathable upper to keep your feet feeling fresh, it ticks all of the boxes. Your new go-to.