How important are marathon running shoes to your running success? During a 4 hour marathon, each foot is striking the pavement approximately 21, 600 times! And that’s just for the marathon itself, not to mention the thousands of miles you’ll be logging during your
marathon training program
When it comes to choosing what might be the best choice for marathon running shoes it’s important to consider the physiological demands of the marathon as well as your individual needs.
It’s not so much that there are shoes designed specifically for the marathon, but simply put - training for and running a marathon requires your feet and body to strike the ground so many more times than other distances. Therefore, you should be after quality built shoes that can take hours of pounding and still provide you with the support that you may be seeking.
If you have some running training and perhaps even a few marathons under your belt, you might have an idea of what has worked well for you in the past. If possible, always stick with a specific model of shoe that has worked for you meaning they have not caused blisters or other injuries during training. Also, it’s important that your chosen marathon running shoes work with any biomechanical deficiencies you may possess such as
due to flat feet or inversely under-pronation (
) due to being bow legged.
It’s not long before many runners are looking to shave time off their marathon and find themselves looking at training or, at least racing, the marathon in a much lighter shoe such as a performance trainer. After all, if you’re looking at pushing off and lifting your leg almost 22,000 times, weight must be a factor in performance! Add to that, the consideration that the support and cushioning you get from running shoes can create more of a problem than a solution if they promote bad form and a lack of running muscle development.
Most performance trainers do weigh considerably less than the average high mileage training shoe (an average of 3 ounces less). If you were to look for example at a very popular name brand and model Asics Kayano trainers, they weigh in at approximately 11 to 14 ounces per shoe (varying slightly on the size, version and year). Compare those with their sister model performance trainers Asics DS Trainers at 10 ounces and Speed stars which weigh in at 9 ounces.
However, reduced weight means less material so this does come with a price. Marathon running shoes, unless you are a 110 pound elite runner, should rarely be 6 ounce racing flats.
If you are exploring
as a training tool to strengthen your feet and legs and to assist you with good running form, it’s obviously worth considering lighter performance trainers for at least some of your training and racing. After all, you really won't have a need for that chunky heel gel if you are running properly. Just remember to always allow yourself ample time to adapt to the reduction in support. Try running your shorter races and mid-long runs in lighter shoes.
Finally, many runners experience a psychological benefit from racing in lighter marathon shoes. If you feel faster, you will likely run faster! Who wants to feel like a pack mule for the duration of a marathon?
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