Running long distances requires mental and physical fortitude to stave off the discomfort (and sometimes boredom) that comes with logging big miles. The same can be said for your running shoes.
Like any shoes, the best long distance running shoes will depend on how you run, your weight, your preferences and your goals. There isn’t one best pair of long distance running shoes for everyone, but you can find the right pair for your specific needs.
Do you want to break your marathon PR? Or are you looking for a Sunday afternoon cruiser to clear your head? Whatever you need, we picked out the best long distance running shoes for every runner.
Here are our picks for the best long distance running shoes:
[This article is part of the Fleet Feet Buyer's Guide for The Best Running Shoes 2020. Find all the best running shoes from the top brands for all situations.]
Look around the starting line of any race, and you’ll see the Vaporfly NEXT% everywhere. From the first corral to the last, runners looking to set course records or just break their own are trying in the NEXT%.
Part of the popularity is its availability. Other long distance running shoes have come out since the NEXT% was first released, including Nike’s own Alphafly NEXT%, but the NEXT% had a significant head start.
But the bigger reason for the Vaporfly NEXT%’s ubiquity is its performance. A curved carbon-fiber plate promotes stiffness and springiness, and a thick bed of ZoomX foam delivers greater energy return than any Nike foam before it.
Like the Nike Vaporfly 4% before it, elite athletes wearing the NEXT% snatched up podium spots at major marathons around the world, pushing the shoe to the forefront of the running world. With a lightweight, water-resistant upper, the Vaporfly NEXT% is the choice for many runners looking to run their best races.
The HOKA Clifton 6 excels at just about everything, but it’s unrivaled in terms of weight and cushion.
What makes the Clifton 6 the best long distance running shoes is its focus on comfort and performance. The huge stack of HOKA foam underfoot delivers a soft ride without feeling mushy, and the streamlined upper provides a good fit without adding any unnecessary ounces.
The Clifton 6 doesn’t just shine when the miles add up, though. It’s a well-rounded running shoe that’s capable of handling your longest days and some of your faster tempo workouts with equal ease.
Fleet Feet testers praised the shoe in the HOKA Clifton 6 review for its all-around performance and premium comfort.
Consistency lands the Mizuno Wave Rider 23 among the best long distance running shoes, but its supportive structure and snappy, responsive ride set it apart from other long-haulers.
Mizuno’s long-running Wave Rider is a perennial favorite among all runners—young or old, fast or not so fast—because it’s reliable. The Wave Rider 23 looks a little more modern than its predecessor, but it’s general architecture remains the same: a Wave Plate supports, stabilizes and cushions, while a bed of U4ic and U4icX foams provide a soft landing and quick response.
The Rider has a firmer feel than other running shoes, which Fleet Feet testers loved in the Mizuno Wave Rider 23 review. The firmer cushioning and excellent structure gave the shoe a snappy step while also feeling stable and comfortable, even at the end of longer runs.
After almost a quarter century, the Mizuno Wave Rider 23 has earned a place in our shoe closets (and our hearts).
Stability is important when your weary legs get to the last few miles of a long run, which is why the ASICS GEL-Kayano 26 makes the list for one of the best long distance running shoes.
The Kayano 26 hit the streets more than 25 years ago, and it’s had a loyal following ever since thanks to its cushioned ride and stable feeling. This year’s Kayano has a noticeably larger GEL unit in the heel to give it a softer landing, but it still uses ASICS’ two-foam DUOMAX stability system to create medial support.
None of the technology is hidden in the Kayano 26. The external heel counter lends the shoe a burly look, and the GEL unit is reassuringly large. But the premium materials and excellent build quality make the shoe feel just as good as it looks.
In the ASICS GEL-Kayano 26 review, Fleet Feet testers gave the shoe high grades for its plush step-in feel, the accommodating overall fit and the snug heel. Match the fit and feel with a cushioned and stable ride, and you’ve got one of the best long distance running shoes around.
HOKA named the Speedgoat 4 after Karl “The Speedgoat” Meltzer, one of the most prolific and decorated ultrarunners of all time. So, with a name like Speedgoat, there are a lot of expectations.
With plenty of testing and feedback from the human Speedgoat himself, the HOKA Speedgoat 4 meets every expectation thrown at it.
In its fourth iteration, the Speedgoat prizes a big, soft bed of HOKA foam to provide substantial cushion to every step. Designers widened the toe box slightly to make more room for your foot to splay and balance, but they thankfully didn’t change the Vibram MegaGrip outsole studded with 5mm rubber lugs. The aggressive outsole gives the Speedgoat 4 the traction and grip it needs for unpredictable trail conditions.
Fleet Feet testers said in the HOKA Speedgoat 4 review the updated ‘Goat generates the grip required to take on wet rocks, mud, loose dirt or anything else the trail puts in your way.
Wrap your feet in luxury with the Brooks Glycerin 18.
Luxury begins the moment you step into the updated Glycerin. A silky fabric covers the cushioned heel collar; a padded tongue swaddles your foot in comfort; and an internal bootie wraps your midfoot in a welcome hug.
All of the premium amenities are built on top of a full-length DNA Loft midsole. DNA Loft foam is the softest foam composition Brooks makes, and it pays off. The Glycerin 18 is supremely cushioned, soaking up the repeated pounding that running imparts.
In the Brooks Glycerin 18 review, Fleet Feet testers said everything about the Glycerin is soft. From the mesh used for the upper to the cushy, bouncy foam, designers dialed up every detail for premium comfort.
Sure, there are running shoes with more cushioning than the Glycerin. But few, if any, running shoes deliver the soft underfoot feel and all-around comfort of the Glycerin 18. It’s that immediate plushness and unbelievable comfort that makes the Brooks Glycerin 18 the best long distance running shoe for soft cushioning.
When you're running long distances, you want to be comfortable. That's where the Karhu Ikoni 2020 shines.
The original Ikoni was built using 3D foot scanning data captured during Fleet Feet's fit id® outfitting process. When Karhu updated the shoe, they used even more data to create an even more comfortable fit.
The Ikoni 2020 fits comfortably in the toe box and snugly in the heel, plus it rides on top of an energetic AeroFoam midsole for a soft and responsive feel.
The New Balance FuelCell TC will take you from training to racing and help you log your fastest times yet.
New Balance sat the FuelCell TC on top of a FuelCell foam midsole that's light and bouncy, and they added a carbon-fiber plate to help propel you forward. A roomy, minimal upper keeps the TC comfortable for big miles, and thoughtful touches, like a suede accents, give the shoe a premium feel.
When you're training for big mileage, the New Balance FuelCell TC is an ideal choice.
The things that make the On Cloudstratus one of the best cushioned running shoes also make it one of the best shoes for long distance: comfortable cushioning and fit.
On gave the Cloustratus two layers of CloudTec cushioning that collapse to soften the landing and spring back into shape to deliver a snappier response. A wide base gives the shoe inherent stability, and an accommodating fit works for a wide range of foot shapes.
When you're going long distances, the On Cloudstratus will go with you.
The cushioning that powers the Saucony Triumph 17 makes it one of the best running shoes for long distances.
Saucony packed the Triumph 17 full of PWRRUN+ foam, which is the lightest cushioning Saucony has ever made. Don't let its weight fool you, though: It still delivers a supremely cushioned feel and bouncy response.
Designers topped the Triumph with a comfortable mesh upper and shaped it for an easy fit, making the shoe comfortable for one mile or 20.
We used data from our fit id® outfitting process, interviews with designers and real-life wear testing to determine the best long distance running shoes for most runs and the most runners.
You can shop with confidence at Fleet Feet: We offer free shipping on all orders over $99, and you have 60 days to return any gear if you don’t like the way it looks, fits or feels. Plus, with our price-match guarantee, you can make sure you never pay too much for a new pair of running shoes.