How To Buy The Right Pair Of Long Distance Running Shoes

Trainers can be expensive, but it’s essential to buy the right pair of long distance running shoes to limit injury, discomfort and foot pain. We investigated to see what made the best pair of sports footwear and which brands to look out for. This advice on how to purchase the perfect running shoes is aimed at the recreational runner, both men and women.

Running is a popular activity for many people around the world as a form of exercise and marathons are on a lot of bucket lists.

When you’re running for more than an hour, your feet become tired and start to hurt on the soles or heels (known as plantar fasciitis). The effects can be impacted on the type of surface you run on and the weight of your body.

marathon runners

Choosing A Good Running Shoe

Be sure to keep these key features in mind when shopping and choose comfort over price for high-quality performance. The best long distance shoes should be supportive and be a comfortable fit.

High quality cushioning in the forefoot and heel

Cushioned shoes is an important feature as shock absorption reduces the impact of feet making contact with the ground. This can cause blisters and other injuries. A good choice for responsive cushioning in running shoes would be gel padding in its midsole, that absorbs shock while still allowing you to feel the ground beneath your feet. You should look for ample heel cushioning that feels great and makes running a breeze.

Outsole that provides good grip on all surfaces

The outsole should have a wide contact area and good grip so that it can provide appropriate support and all around comfort and a smooth and stable ride when training on all surfaces, even on rough ground and trails that will help to avoid foot or knee pain.

High quality materials that can withstand wear and tear

Durability in a running shoe is an important feature because it can help increase the lifespan. High quality material for the shoe’s sole is essential, like full-length carbon fibre or polyurethane. These materials offer breathability and are highly resistant to wear and tear. Look our for products with a warranty, and breathable where possible.

The fit

Tight fitting footwear gives better support but your toes need to have room to stop rubbing. You should buy a shoe size that suits the width of your feet. There are also specialist socks for additional ankle support, so it might be worth factoring in if needing extra room. Either way, the perfect fit is needed, especially if you plan on covering double digit mileage.

a woman ties up her running shoes by the sea
The right running shoe should consider expected terrain

What Activities Are You Engaging In?

Jogging on a road, trail running and ultra running are very different terrains, and if competitive athletics or exercise also impact the right trainers for you for proper distances. Marathon shoes need to be suitable for road based daily training for long distances (unless of course it’s cross-country and trail marathons you are doing).


Pavements are a flat surface so cushioning is more important for road running shoes, and more suited to the city dweller.

Road running involves traversing paved surfaces, such as streets, and asphalt paths, which require a specific type of footwear designed for cushioning impact and providing support as asphalt surfaces are harder than trails.

The heel-to-toe drop of a shoe is another factor which is the difference in height between the heel and toe areas of the sole. The ideal range is between 0-10mm as this ensures a natural foot strike while reducing injury risk.

Pronation control is also essential in preventing injuries caused by overpronation or supination during runs. There are other factors too, shoe weight, breathability and carbon plates can affect your performance significantly.

Trail running

If you are lucky enough to have the countryside or parks on your doorstep, then it’s likely you use these as it’s more interesting and less cars to worry about. Trail running involves traversing various terrains, such as rocky paths, muddy trails, and steep hills.

This type of terrain requires a specific type of shoe that provides stability, durability, and traction on unlevel rocks, especially in wet conditions. So it’s worth looking at dedicated men’s trail running shoes from high quality brands like Brooks.

Look for shoes with deep lugs on their soles to ensure maximum traction on slippery surfaces like mud or wet rocks to prevent injury.

Also running style can be an issue, and many specialist shops have treadmill’s so they can assess and suggest the ideal shoe as well other other expert advice and information.

trail running in wet conditions
Trail running in wet conditions needs water-resistant trainers with excellent grip

Testing For The Most Suitable Running Shoe For Support And Comfort

An essential step in selecting appropriate footwear for long distance running is to understand one’s individual running style, taking into account factors such as foot strike pattern and pronation.

Foot strike refers to the part of the foot that hits the ground first when running. Different runners have distinct foot strike patterns – some land on their heels, while others are forefoot or midfoot strikers. Improving technique can lead to a change in foot strike pattern, which can impact shoe selection.

Pronation control is another crucial factor to consider when choosing long distance running shoes. Pronation refers to the natural inward rolling motion of the feet that occurs during a stride cycle. Overpronators tend to roll their feet too far inward, while supinators roll them outward excessively. Running shoes with adequate arch support and stability features help control pronation and reduce injury risk.

Ideally you need to run a test on your foot arch; this will help estimate the shoe’s inward and outward rotation capability. Most dedicated running shoe shops offer tests and gait analysis, and ensure your new footwear has the best arch support. While this may seem extravagant for the casual runner, you would be amazed at the difference the right pair of sneakers can make in the long haul.

Gait and technique analysis

This is a minute long barefoot run on a treadmill so the camera records the degree of pronation taking place. It will pick up any biomechanical issue as you run without any cushioning or support.

Analysing the footage from a digital camera from both behind and from the side looks at foot strike and placement in relation to the hips, posture and technique. This enables them to suggest the right style of trainer which can then be tested out on the treadmill.

Woman ties up her long distance running shoes ready for a race
Support and comfort are critical for long distance running shoes

Your Price Preference

Lets be honest, no-one wants to spend £100’s on trainers that fall apart easily, especially when carrying a hefty price tag. The best-looking running shoe doesn’t mean it’s correct for your feet.

Asics are known for quality, price point, vast selection and are international renowned. The Asics Gel range in particular is very popular and regularly gets listed in the top 10 running footwear. Customer feedback praise the longevity and that is very promising, but ultimately comfort should always be top of the list.

Brooks Running shoes are more expensive, but again genuine runners reviews praise the long lasting comfort and support. It also seems they fit wider feet better and have plenty of styles in an extensive and versatile collection.

One of it’s most popular and highly praised models is the Brooks Glycerin 20 which has often been scored in the top ten best running shoes category. Plus they have a great collect of women’s trail running shoes too.

Other different types of sports shoe brands include Nike, Adidas, Reebok, New Balance, Haka, Under Armour, and Puma.

Where Can I Buy Sports Shoes?

Many of the best long distance running shoe shops and online websites offer a vast selection, just be mindful some big sports brand go for fashion over functionality. If you want to avoid injury we do recommend you visit a specialist running store so that you can get expert advice.

You can of course order online if a casual runner, but it’s essential you test the trainer out first. If you are marathon or half marathon training, then we do think the best way is to visit a specialist for the best long marathon training shoe for your feet and similarly if your want trail running shoes. We’ve detailed our picks of the best running shoes for women in the past.

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Chloé Safilo
Chloé Saffio is our resident Fast Fashion Expert for the UK Urban and Streetwear scene. Her eyes have been constantly glued to social media for the last 10 years giving her an unrivalled insight. In her spare time, she used to like shopping and lying in the sunshine and making the pilgrimage to Ibiza. Now, she is a tired and grumpy new mother and back from maternity leave as the full time FFN writer. Chloe lives in London where she completed her journalism degree at the University of Roehampton. She lives in a small flat Putney with her fiancée Christian, daughter Sofia, and their French Bulldog Coco. And she's on the look out for a nice house and garden at a bargain price,