We are in the race season in most countries around the world. This also means that many of us want to update our shoe wardrobe with new models of running shoes. Here, I’m picking out the best running shoes for marathons and half marathons in 2023.
There are a few shoe models that dominate the market when it comes to racing shoes for the marathon and half marathon distances. Primarily among elite runners, both Nike and Adidas have for many years been seen among most of the top runners at the top major races around the world.
But in 2023 there are also some other brands that I can highly recommend – ASICS, Hoka, Brooks and Saucony. They have launched some fast models with excellent running feel this year.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t find high-quality running shoes from other brands for these distances. But what it does mean is that it’s hard to beat these giants when it comes to shoe performance – at least from my own experience.
My Top Picks – Best Running Shoes for Marathons and Half Marathons 2023
There are several reasons why you should consider getting lightweight running shoes with carbon fiber plates or rods if you want to create the best possible conditions for a good marathon or half marathon race.
Most of us running fans have our favorite brands of running shoes. As a result, we like to choose from their range when selecting the best running shoes for half marathons and marathons. Here are my top running shoes for marathons and half marathons in 2023:
HOKA Rocket X2 – Best Hokas for a Half Marathon
Hoka running shoes have become incredibly popular around the world, and this also makes many people ask which Hokas are best for running a half marathon.
Hoka Rocket X 2, is a top-tier running shoe designed for the most competitive athletes. The shoe showcases an advanced design, featuring a re-engineered carbon fiber plate at its core.
This plate is strategically placed between dual layers of innovative, high-rebound foam, ensuring exceptional responsiveness and performance. The upper part of the shoe is crafted from a specialized synthetic mesh, providing a snug fit that contours to the foot.
Additionally, the Rocket X 2 incorporates a streamlined gusset and an internal midfoot cage, delivering a secure and stable feel, ideal for high-speed racing conditions.
If you want a more affordable option, I can also recommend the Hoka Mach X which also has a carbon fiber plate built into the midsole.
ASICS METASPEED SKY+ – Best ASICS for Half Marathon
Which Asics are best for half marathon? In my opinion, METASPEED™ SKY+ is the best choice if you want to optimize your results. It is definitely one of the fastest shoes from ASICS and a model used by elite athletes.
The METASPEED™ SKY+ running shoes offer an innovative design tailored for athletes who prefer a stride-based running style, aiming to achieve rapid starts and even faster finishes. These shoes enhance the runner’s ability to take extended strides while efficiently managing energy consumption throughout their run.
Featuring a dynamic midsole foam coupled with a high-performance carbon plate, these shoes are engineered to maximize energy conservation. This enables runners to sustain their speed during the crucial final phases of a race, maintaining a consistent and effective pace.
If you’re looking for a more affordable alternative among ASICS running shoes, I can recommend the new ASICS Novablast 4 which will be released soon.
Brooks Hyperion Max – Best Brooks Half Marathon Shoe
Normally, I would recommend the new Brooks Ghost Max as one of the best running shoes from the brand. But if you want a faster shoe model for race day, there’s another shoe I’m highlighting.
The Hyperion Max running shoe is an ideal choice for serious runners seeking a blend of speed and support. It offers neutral support, catering to those preparing for races and requiring high-performance footwear. Its standout feature is the DNA FLASH midsole, infused with nitrogen, offering both lightweight and responsive cushioning. This innovative material also adapts to your running style, ensuring energy return with each stride.
In terms of fit, the Hyperion Max excels with its stretch woven upper and 3D Fit Print technology. This combination not only secures the foot effectively but also promotes excellent airflow, enhancing comfort during runs. Additionally, the shoe is designed to protect your feet during intense workouts. The ample midsole foam effectively absorbs impact, enabling quicker recovery and readiness for subsequent training sessions.
Another notable aspect of this shoe is its design for quick transitions. The midsole features a unique heel and toe curvature that propels you forward, aiding in maintaining a fast pace. Furthermore, the Green Rubber outsole contributes to smooth and efficient transitions, making the Hyperion Max a top contender for runners focused on speed and comfort.
This shoe model is also relatively inexpensive compared to other fast shoes from other brands on the market and is my choice as the best affordable option for best running shoes for marathons and half marathons in 2023.
New Balance FuelCell Supercomp Elite V3 – Best New Balance Shoes for Half Marathon
The New Balance FuelCell SC Elite V3 is a remarkable choice for dedicated marathon and half-marathon enthusiasts. These men’s running shoes are designed with the fusion of technology and performance in mind, offering a light and airy feel.
The standout feature is the dual-layer FuelCell midsole, which tops the charts in energy return among New Balance’s performance foam offerings. Additionally, the bootie upper construction ensures a snug, secure fit, enhancing the overall experience.
The shoe’s Energy Arc technology further enhances performance by optimizing energy return, displacement, and propulsion, making it a top pick for serious runners.
Also keep an eye out for the New Balance FuelCell Supercomp Elite V4 which will be released soon.
Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 – Best Saucony Half Marathon Shoes
Saucony has several good models of half-marathon and marathon running shoes in its range. What distinguishes these in particular is the comfort and forward motion of the running stride.
One of my favorites is the Endorphin Pro 3 which has many features that make it one of the best half marathon shoes on the market.
The PWRRUNPB Max stack shoe incorporates cutting-edge technology, renowned for its exceptional energy responsiveness. This feature ensures that each step is charged with energy, aiding runners in maintaining their momentum.
The shoe’s highlight is its S-curve carbon-fiber plate, ingeniously crafted to optimize energy transfer from heel strike to toe-off. This design not only enhances efficiency but also adds a spring-like effect to every stride.
Incorporating SPEEDROLL Technology, the shoe is engineered to facilitate a smoother, more effortless running experience. This technology aids in transitioning from heel to toe with minimal effort, enabling runners to achieve greater speeds without additional strain. The FORMFIT design is another significant attribute, providing a snug fit that contours to every part of the foot while allowing for natural movement. This personalized fit ensures both comfort and flexibility during runs.
Durability and traction are not overlooked, thanks to the XT-900 rubber used in the shoe’s construction. This material guarantees a strong grip on various surfaces, ensuring steady progress in different running conditions. The shoe is versatile, making it an ideal choice for a range of activities including racing, tempo runs, interval training, road running, and other fast-paced running forms.
Its combination of responsive cushioning, energy-efficient design, and durable construction makes it a top choice for serious runners seeking to enhance their performance.
Nike Alphafly 2 – Best Nike Half Marathon Shoes
There’s a reason why the Nike Alphafly 2 is one of the most popular marathon shoes on the market. The second version of the Alphafly feels softer and faster than its predecessor and is a reliable choice for both full and half marathons. I use this shoe daily, even for training right now.
There are Zoom Air units and ZoomX foam materials all along the shoe that deliver an incredibly comfortable cushioning system. This helps keep you injury-free on any surface. I mostly run on concrete, and these shoes are the best choice. The energy return is excellent, and this is especially noticeable when you run faster intervals.
But it is not only the cushioning that is excellent. It is also a very light shoe where the carbon fiber plate along the entire shoe gives a forward feeling in the run. The thin rubber outsole provides excellent grip on all surfaces.
I recommend that you choose a size larger than what you are used to when buying a pair of Nike Alphafly 2 because they are slightly small in size.
The release date of Alphafly 3 is a hot topic right now – and for a reason.
Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3 – The Most Popular Among Elite Runners
Alongside the Nike Alphafly 2, the Adidas Adios Pro 3 is the most common shoe seen by elite runners at marathons and half marathons around the world. So what is the difference between the two models?
In my opinion, the Adidas Adios Pro 3 is a more distinctly elite shoe than the Alphafly 2. Both shoes provide a unique propulsive feel, but the design of the sole of the Adios Pro 3 is more rounded, providing a better transition in the running stride. This is particularly beneficial for those with a pronounced forefoot running style. Since I suffer from Morton Neuroma, I prefer the extra forefoot cushioning that the Alphafly has.
The Adidas Adios Pro 3 is definitely one of the fastest and best running shoes on the market for the 2023 marathon and half marathon. But if you’re not an elite runner, I recommend the Adidas Prime X (below). But it’s definitely a shoe to consider if you are looking for the best Adidas running shoes.
Nike Vaporfly 3 – Lightest Running Shoes for Half Marathon and Marathon 2023
The Nike Vaporfly 3 is the brand’s second premium shoe with a carbon fiber plate along the entire midsole. I have owned all models since the model was released to the public in 2017, and recently, the latest model has been released.
Alongside the Alphafly, this is one of the most common running shoes among elite runners, and that leads us to the question of what really separates the two models? The answer to that question is, among other things, the weight. With a weight of about 180 grams, it is the lightest shoe in relation to the level of cushioning on the market. However, the sole is slightly thinner on this shoe compared to the Alphafly.
Despite the thinner sole, the cushioning is just enough to protect sensitive legs from the impact of a marathon or half marathon. The sole of the newest model of the Nike Vaporfly also feels slightly softer than its predecessors.
Adidas Prime Strung X2 – Best Cushioned Running Shoes 2023
Another running shoe that I can recommend for marathons and half marathons is the Adidas Prime Strung X2. This is one of the best cushioned and fastest shoes on the market. Next to the Nike Alphafly, the Adidas Prime X was one of my most used shoes this year.
Despite the extremely thick sole, the Prime X feels really light. Above all, the carbon fiber rods that are placed in the midsole provide one of the best push-offs I have experienced in a pair of running shoes. It literally feels like you are running on a trampoline when you run in the shoes.
When the newest model was launched it was marketed as illegally fast because the midsole is too high to be approved by events organized by World Athletics. However, for recreational and elite athletes, it is ok to use the shoe if you want to polish your personal best.
If you’re aiming for a marathon or half-marathon record, this is my choice, especially as a beginner with sensitive legs.
Trends in running shoes for marathons and half marathons
The big trend among running shoes for marathons and half marathons is lightweight shoes with good cushioning. What may seem obvious today is far from being just that.
When I started running marathons in 2011, the majority of elite runners and even recreational runners competed in running shoes with very low drop and thin soles. We were also in a period where we were inspired by barefoot running. I remember running my marathons with very thin soles on my racing shoes until 2017.
Everything changed when Nike introduced its running shoes with a carbon fiber plate in the sole as part of the Breaking2 project, which included Eliud Kipchoge trying to break the 2-hour barrier at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza Formula 1 track in Italy on May 6, 2017. At the time, he was wearing a pair of shoes under the name Vaporfly Elite, which would later be released to the public under the name Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%.
There was a tremendous rush for these shoes, and I was one of the lucky ones who managed to get hold of a pair. It was also these shoes that I wore when I ran the Stockholm Marathon in 2018. Since then, I have only competed in the Nike Vaporfly or the Nike Alphafly – their other premium racing shoe with a carbon fiber plate.
It was not only the carbon fiber plate with its excellent energy return that revolutionized the development of marathon shoes. The lightweight ZoomX foam material throughout the shoe also provides a cushioning system with incredible energy return. It was time for “maximalism” in running shoes for the marathon and half marathon.
Since then, most major brands have developed their own models of running shoes with carbon fiber plates or rods. Many also refer to these shoes as “super shoes” nowadays.
Things to consider when buying running shoes for marathons and half marathons
What kind of shoes do you wear for a half-marathon? Choosing the right running shoes for a marathon is crucial for a comfortable and successful race. Here are some things to consider when buying running shoes for a marathon:
- Fit: The most important factor is getting the right fit. The shoes should feel comfortable but not tight. There should be enough room in the toe box for your toes to wiggle, but not so much that your foot moves inside the shoe. Be sure to try the shoes on at the end of the day when your feet are at their largest.
- Support: Look for shoes that provide support for your feet and ankles. Depending on your foot type and stride, you may need a shoe with more or less support. A foot specialist can help you determine what level of support you need.
- Cushioning: Marathon running can put a lot of stress on your feet and joints, so look for shoes with good cushioning. How much cushioning you need depends on your personal preferences and running style.
- Breathability: Running shoes that allow your feet to breathe and prevent them from getting too sweaty or hot can help prevent blisters and other foot problems.
- Weight: The weight of your shoes can affect your performance. Lighter shoes can help you run faster, but may not provide as much support or cushioning. Nowadays, many manufacturers have running shoes that are both lightweight and well-cushioned. Above you were given several examples of this type of shoe.
- Durability: Make sure the shoes are durable enough to last throughout marathon training and the race itself.
- Brand: Different shoe brands have different features and designs, so it’s important to find a brand that works well for you. Try on shoes from a few different brands to find the right fit and features for your feet.
- Terrain: Consider the terrain you will be running on. If the marathon is on a trail or in a hilly area, you may need shoes with better traction. Most importantly, make sure your shoes have enough grip on wet asphalt in case it’s rainy on race day.
Conclusion: Best Running Shoes for Marathons and Half Marathons 2023
In 2023, the landscape of running shoes for half marathons and marathons continues to evolve with advancements in technology, materials, and biomechanics research. The best shoes in this category provide a harmonious balance of cushioning, stability, weight, and durability to support runners for long distances.
It’s crucial for runners to find shoes that not only align with their foot type and gait but also provide the necessary comfort and protection against injuries over extended periods of wear.
While numerous brands and models have made their mark this year, runners should prioritize their personal preferences, trial runs, and adaptability. The “perfect” shoe varies from one individual to another, and the right choice often boils down to personal feel and performance during training and race day.
Lastly, it’s imperative to remember that even the best running shoes can’t replace adequate training, proper nutrition, and a well-thought-out race strategy. Runners should always combine their footwear choice with a comprehensive preparation plan to achieve their marathon and half marathon goals successfully.
FAQs – Best Running Shoes for Marathons and Half Marathons 2023
While specific models and preferences may vary, prominent brands that have been recognized for their half marathon and marathon shoes include Nike, Adidas, Brooks, ASICS, Hoka One One, New Balance, and Saucony. In this article I have given you several good options to choose from.
Cushioning is vital in marathon running shoes to absorb the impact and reduce stress on joints and muscles, especially during long runs. However, the amount and type of cushioning preferred can vary between runners. Some may want maximal cushioning, while others might opt for a more responsive or natural feel.
While a lightweight shoe can help reduce fatigue over long distances, it’s essential to balance weight with other factors such as support, durability, and cushioning. The perfect marathon shoe should be a combination of lightness, comfort, and stability suitable for an individual’s running style.
On average, running shoes should be replaced every 300 to 500 miles. Factors influencing replacement include running style, weight, shoe construction, and the surface you run on. Regularly check for signs of wear, reduced cushioning, or discomfort.
Some runners prefer to have a training pair (which can be bulkier and more durable) and a race-day pair (which might be lighter and more performance-oriented). However, it’s essential to break in your race-day shoes adequately before the event to avoid blisters or discomfort.
Your running shoes should fit snugly around the heel and midfoot while leaving some room (about a thumb’s width) in the toe box. This ensures a secure fit without causing blisters and allows for feet swelling that can occur during long runs.
Yes, there are stability shoes designed for overpronators. These shoes offer additional support and structure to counteract the inward rolling of the foot. It’s crucial for overpronators to get the right shoe type to prevent injuries and ensure comfort over long distances.
Shoe drop, or heel-to-toe drop, refers to the difference in height between the heel and forefoot. Traditional running shoes typically have a drop of 10-12mm. However, there’s been a trend toward lower drops for a more “natural” foot position. The best drop for you depends on your running style, foot strike, and personal comfort. Some runners transition to lower drops gradually, while others might prefer traditional drops for the additional heel cushioning.
Yes, it’s recommended to break in new shoes before a race to prevent discomfort or blisters. This period can range from a few short runs to several weeks, depending on the shoe and individual runner.
Yes, many brands offer gender-specific designs, catering to the anatomical and biomechanical differences between male and female feet. Women’s shoes might have a narrower heel and wider forefoot, among other adjustments. It’s essential to choose a shoe that fits well, regardless of gender labeling.