While racing shoes are important, having the best marathon training shoes may be even more-so when it comes to preparation for 26.2 miles.
Why? Well, with a racing shoe, you only need it for the distance of the race. The training shoe you’ll need it for 20+ weeks of training.
Having a good pair of daily trainers reduces injuries and increase the enjoyment of the actual training process.
But, when looking for a training shoe it can be difficult to decide what style, cushion level, and budget is right for you—especially when shopping online.
To help you, we gathered up five of our favorites with options for every type of marathon runner. Whether you are looking for something speedy that can take you from day one of training through to your race, or the highest cushion possible to help protect those joints, we have an option for you. Keep reading to see how we chose as well as in depth reviews for each of these options.
How We Selected The Best Marathon Training Shoes
To choose these five shoes, we gathered up a range of options that fit the needs of various runners while also being able to handle the rigors of marathon training. These range from high cushion trainers to lightweight speedwork models, to plated shoes that you can wear from long run to race day. We used our own experience testing shoes as well as reviews left by testers and runners that have previously purchased and worn them in real life.
We focused mostly on road running trainers as opposed to trail running trainers.
Best Marathon Training Shoes Summary
- Best Max Cushion Trainer: Hoka Bondi 8
- Best Daily Trainer You Can Race In: New Balance SuperComp Trainer
- Best Energy Return Foam: Saucony Endorphin Speed 3
- Best Reliable Everyday Trainer: New Balance 1080
- Best Marathon Training Shoes on a Budget: Brooks Launch
- Best Lightweight Daily Trainer: Saucony Kinvara 14
Best Max Cushion Trainer: HOKA Bondi 8
HOKA Bondi 8 Specs:
Heel Drop: 4mm | Weight: 8.9 oz | Carbon Plate: No | Price: $165
When it comes to high cushioning, you won’t get much more than the Bondi 8.
While the shoe is admittedly large, it also offers unparalleled levels of cushioning.
The full EVA midsole foam which cradles the foot and provides not only an incredibly comfortable smooth ride, but absorbs shock like no other shoe on the market.
While it doesn’t have a rocker design like some of HOKA’s other models, it does turn up at the toe and heel a bit which supports a better roll through the foot and prevents scuffing in those high traction areas.
The shoe features a mesh upper that is both highly breathable and comfortable for long periods of wear, and a plush heel and tongue that won’t rub or cause hot spots even over long distance runs.
This shoe is recommended often for heel strikers thanks to the sheer amount of cushioning and the rear crash pad which helps to disperse stress and make your gait more efficient.
At A Glance:
- Unparalelled levels of cushioning
- An EVA midsole
- No rocker design like other HOKA running shoes
- Highly breathable mesh upper for warm weather running
- Rear crash pad for heel strikers
Best Daily Trainer You Can Race In: New Balance SuperComp Trainer
Heel Drop: 6mm | Weight: 10 oz | Carbon Plate: Yes | Price: $162
If you want something that will make you feel fast all the time, then the SuperComp is a great option. This speedy guy has the combination of New Balance FuelCell Foam sandwiching a carbon ‘ Energy Arc’ plate. This makes the shoe feel incredibly light, fast, and propulsive both trainer and racer.
But despite the addition of a carbon fiber plate and may be referred to as a super shoe, this is in fact a training shoe.
New Balance has designed to hold up to high mileage weeks while serving the purpose of everyday trainer, to speedwork shoe, to race shoe if you are someone that likes consistency.
It also features a super breathable, lightweight upper that fits close to the foot without feeling suffocating. This makes it a great choice for warm weather running or your first marathon in the summer as it allows the foot to breath and helps to keep it dry and blister-free.
At A Glance:
- The carbon plate makes it a functional racer and training shoe
- Breathable, lightweight upper great for warm weather racing
Best Energy Return Foam: Saucony Endorphin Speed 3
Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 Specs:
Heel Drop: 8mm | Weight: 8.1 oz | Carbon Plate: No | Price: $170
Another plated option, the Endorphin Speed 3 can serve as your high mileage workhorse while also putting a spring in your step on workout day – making them one of the best running shoes for marathon training.
This shoe has a nylon plate that gives you a responsive feel while being more resilient and less tough on the legs than a carbon plate.
It also has a mix of softer EVA foam for comfort and the more responsive and bouncy PWRRUN+ foam which together give you a shoe that is great for everyday mileage but can also crank out your toughest workouts.
This shoe also has a bit of a rocker design with an upturned toe and heel— this helps you to roll through the foot with ease no matter if you land with your midfoot, heel or forefoot striking, and decreases shock with every step. It also comes in a whopping 18 different color options, so there is bound to be one that fits your fancy.
At A Glance:
- A nylon plate offers the responsiveness of a carbon plate, without the impact on your legs
- A softer EVA PWWRRUN+ foam for everyday workouts
- A rocker design with an upturned toe for transitions
- 18-different color options
Best Reliable Everyday Trainer: New Balance 1080
New Balance 1080 Specs:
Heel Drop: 8mm | Weight: 10.3 oz | Carbon Plate: No | Price: $160
If you want a basic training shoe that will carry you through your high mileage weeks, the 1080 is a great choice.
This shoe feels light on the foot, but brings to the table a super plush cushiony feel that will leave you wanting to come back for more.
It uses FreshFoam X for the entire midsole which gives it a softer feel than most high cushion models, but it also has a bounciness to it that helps to prevent fatigue over long miles.
This shoe also has a knit upper. While there is some divide on the recently popular upper style, this one is quite good. It fits close to the foot without feeling suffocating, and allows for flex without feeling as though you are going to slide off the side of the shoe.
The outsole is made of a blown rubber which is both grippy and responsive, and it has excellent cushioning through the entire midsole of the shoe, making it a great option for every type of striker. The aggressive upturn in the toe also helps you to toe off effectively which is great for speed work or even the race if you are opting for comfort over all.
At A Glance:
- FreshFoam X creates a softer feel than other New Balance models
- A knit upper that’s flexible for all types of feet
- The outsole is grippy and responsive with an upturn in the toe for faster runs
Best Marathon Training Shoes on a Budget: Brooks Launch
Brooks Launch Specs:
Heel Drop: 10mm | Weight: 7.4 oz | Carbon Plate: No | Price: $110
The Launch has been one of the most popular affordable trainers on the market for years.
It uses the Brooks DNA cushioning for the midsole which is light, fast, and relatively responsive. It also has a rubber outsole which is designed to help you toe-off effectively and encourage quick transitions.
While it may not have enough cushioning and support for some runners, it is a great choice for those that prefer a lighter, faster shoe, or those that may be looking for a speedwork option.
This shoe also has a super breathable mesh upper which helps keep the feet dry and comfortable as you rack up miles and time on your feet.
Since it is so light, this shoe can also be a great option if you want a non-plated racing shoe, or if you need some more support, you can try the stability version, the Launch GTS.
At A Glance:
- Brooks DNA cushioning for the midsole – a light, responsive foam.
- Less cushioning than other shoes, but lighter.
- As a light shoe, may require more stability version for more support.
Best Lightweight: Saucony Kinvara 14
Saucony Kinvara 14 Specs:
Heel Drop: 4mm | Weight: 7 oz | Carbon Plate: No | Price: $120
While you may not want to do the bulk of your mileage in this shoe, it is a great option for workout days, or runs where you want to cut down the weight and feel light on your feet.
The Kinvara has been a go-to lightweight running shoe for years thanks to its breathable upper, and low weight that rivals that of some of the fastest racing shoes.
Despite being light on the feet, it still provides a decent, comfortable cushion. It has a foam midsole made from Saucony’s PWRRUN PB foam which is plush but also responsive, protecting the feet on uneven surfaces while also giving you great ground feel.
This shoe has a super open mesh upper that allows for maximum airflow, and helps keep your feet cool and dry.
It also has a rubber outsole only where you need it most—the inside toe and outside heel—which gives you grip where you need it without adding on weight.
At A Glance:
- The go-to lightweight running shoe with a breathable upper
- Saucony’s PWWRUN foam is responsive and protective
- An open, breathable mesh upper
RUNNING A HALF MARATHON THIS FALL? CHECK OUT OUR TOP PICKS FOR HALF MARATHON SHOES HERE.
Other Marathon Training Shoes We Considered
- Asics Gel-Nimbus ($160) – Above average cushioning and stability but with a narrow toe box and firmer ride than our max-cushioned options above.
- Nike Pegasus 40 ($130) – Nike’s “workhorse” daily trainer with ZoomX foam. Without serious upgrades from the Pegasus 30, you can’t go wrong here but not one of our top picks.
- adidas AdiZero Boston ($120) – More frequently on racing shoes, the AdiZero has a carbon plate and serious stack height. Worn frequently on the podium of many Abbott World Marathon Majors.
- Puma Deviate Nitro 2 ($160) – A very compelling marathon training shoe with versatility for both training and racing.
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