Run a marathon they said. It’ll be fun they said. What could possibly go wrong?

Does this sound familiar to you? Many people decide to undertake the gruelling task of training for, and completing a marathon. And kudos to those people, because it truly is a life-changing experience. But many individuals enter into the marathon world without taking into consideration the unique intricacies of how the training will affect their bodies.

One of these traits is managing the feet, and employing the use of effective shoes to aid with the load and protect from injury. Having appropriate shoes underneath you can enhance the run gait, save your muscles from excess loading, and help protect the joints so they can continue to move through their full range of motion.

So if you’re thinking of joining the marathon club, here are a few tips to help you choose the best marathon shoe.

Size matters

When it comes to running 42.2-kilometres, carrying any excess weight in the shoe is certainly going to make a difference to your muscular contraction. To put it into perspective, the average person will take approximately eight steps every 10-metres, which is 80 steps every 100-metres; 800 steps every kilometre; equating to 34000 steps over a marathon course. If your shoe is only 50g of extra weight than what you need, that’ll equal an extra 1700-kilograms your legs have to carry through the course.

Underweight or Overweight?

There is a clear definition in shoe styles though. A track runner will need a super lightweight shoe with minimal cushioning, whereas an indoor sports player will need a heavier, cross-trainer which has quite high ankle protection for lateral movement. A marathon runner will require something in between these two. You have to find the trade-off between what is comfortable and what is suitable, whilst still understanding that the more cushioning you want, the heavier the shoe will be.

The support underneath

A perfect marathon shoe will have plenty of cushioning without feeling spongy, while the profile will finish underneath the malleolus (the bony part protruding out either side of the ankle). The benefit of running is that there is very little lateral movement, thus ankle support for this is not required. Therefore, a marathon runner can use a shoe with a lower profile. But cushioning is still important. After all, the leg muscles will have to go through at least 34000 impacts on race day alone. Think how many foot strikes you’ll have in the training leading up to the big day. Thus, choosing a shoe that is comfortable while still be practical is essential.

The Dropzone

The third aspect to quantify is the level of drop that the shoe has, which means the difference in height from the heel section to the toe section. The average shoe will have a drop of 10-12 millimetres, and research has been conducted that showed that shoes with below 6-millimetres of drop brought about higher injury rates.

To put all of this together, when choosing a shoe for your marathon, target a show that:

  • has a lower profile (due to the straight line properties of a marathon),
  • doesn’t feel like you have a tank on each of your feet (though with the extra cushioning comes extra weight),
  • Has ample cushioning to protect your muscles and joints, and
  • Has a relatively comfortable drop from heel-to-toe. Approximately somewhere between 6-10 millimetres

After the analytical analysis is completed in your shoe hunt, the only thing left to do is choose a colour. It seems at the current rate the brighter the better, so hunt around a find a shoe that matches your personality.


By Liam Bromilow.