How to Choose the Best Long Distance Running Shoes
So, you’re a long-distance runner? Congrats! Whether you’ve been logging daily miles for years or are just getting into it, running is tremendously rewarding. Not only do regular jogs keep your heart healthy by lowering your chances of heart disease by half, but the exercise is great for your mind, too: running has been shown to boost memory and improve sleep quality.
We can sing the praises of running all day, but when it comes time to hit the pavement, what matters most is your spirit and your gear. A great attitude will inspire you to run faster and longer, but if you’re doing it in the wrong shoes or forget to grab the right active socks, all that effort can result in blisters, achy muscles, or even serious injury. We’re here to discuss what to look for in the best long distance running shoes so that your next marathon is extra awesome.
Type of Terrain
Are you training on city streets or rocky mountain trails? Maybe you’re running on a treadmill at the gym or even up and down the stairs in your office building during lunch breaks. When it comes to selecting the best long distance running shoes, the first question to ask yourself is where you’ll be running most of the time.
For example, trail running shoes have either deep grooves or sticky rubber outsoles for better traction along with protective rock plates, both of which are unnecessary in the gym or on the street.
Top picks include: the Arc’teryx Norvan SL 2, the Hoka Speedgoat 5, and the Merrell Trail Glove 6.
When we run for a long time, our feet really take a pounding. This means that shoes should offer maximum foot protection without weighing runners down, which also boosts post-run recovery times so you can get back out there sooner. Look for lightweight construction that lets you pick up the pace on race day.
Our faves include the Saucony Kinvara 11 and the On CloudFlow.
The amount of cushion in a running shoe is always a matter of preference and experience. Experienced runners will often prefer low-profile running shoes even if they’re logging a lot of miles, while rookies might need a bit of extra cushion as they ease in to covering longer distances.
Low-stack shoes can range from nearly-barefoot to minimal and can be identified by not having a lot of midsole material so that runners can enjoy the feeling of being one with the road. If you’re looking for the best long distance running shoes that deliver the most natural running experience, then low-profile shoes will be your jam. You’ll be able to feel every bump on and groove as your foot and leg muscles adapt over time to absorb impact.
For a barely-there feel, check out the Topo Athletic ST-4, the Altra Escalante Racer, and the Medium-cushion shoes.
Most runners prefer a moderate amount of stack height, so they can be comfortable during their jog and still strengthen their leg muscles.
Give these a try: the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39 and the Adidas Adizero Boston 9.
For newbies or just those who prefer the blissful feeling of running on clouds, extra cushioning will define the best long distance running shoes. They’ll take the impact so your legs don’t have to.
For extra softness, try running in the New Balance Fresh Foam X 880 v12 or the Saucony Endorphin Speed.
The heel drop refers to the cushioning difference between the heel and the toe, with the traditional running shoe clocking in at a 10mm drop, which delivers cushioning in the heel and encourages runners to land hell-first. A zero-drop shoe, on the other hand, means that the cushioning beneath heel and toe is equal, which encourages runners to strike the ground at the midfoot, which is a lower impact strike.
Remember: the lower the drop, the more stress on your Achilles tendon, so if you have discomfort in that area, look for extra cushion in the heel.
While support is related to cushioning, there’s a subtle difference. Support refers to the overall structure of the shoe, particularly in terms of arch support and an overall sense of stiffness that you’ll see in the best long distance running shoes. A bit of rigidity is necessary so that the shoe can take more of the impact from the road or the trail during long runs.
If your foot rolls more to one side than the other, or if you have low arches, then you’ll need to look for extra supportive shoes. To see whether your foot rolls more to one side than the other, try this trick: grab your running shoes and check out the wear pattern. Ideally, you’ll see wear at the ball of the foot and in the heels.
If you’re seeing most wear at the outer sides, then your foot tends to roll outward, and if most wear is on the inner sides, then your foot rolls inward. The best long distance running shoes for you will be stability shoes with structured support.
If your foot rolls in, which is termed “overpronation,” our picks include: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 and the Saucony Hurricane 23.
If you’re seeing more rolling in from your foot, termed “supination,” then consider: Saucony Ride 15 and the Nike Air Zoom Structure 24.
Run Better, Not Harder
While the quality of your runs stands to gain a major improvement by finding the best long distance running shoes, it’s equally important to select the best running socks. The right pair will be supportive, comfortable, breathable, stink-free, and expertly designed with runners in mind. Here at Fitsok, we’re runners ourselves, and that’s why we’re passionate about supplying runners with fresh socks and awesome tips. After all, the more you run, the better it gets.