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Choose Your Shoes: How to Select the Best Running Shoes for Your Marathon or Half-Marathon

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Running shoes fall into several categories: minimalist shoes, neutral cushioning shoes, stability and motion-control shoes, and racing flats. How do you know which type is best for you?

Minimalist Footwear

A lightweight shoe made from flexible materials and using little cushioning. 3-6 ounces per shoe with up to 4 mm of difference in height between the heel and toe (aka “heel-toe drop”). Best for: strengthening the feet and ankles and smoothing out your running stride.

Neutral Cushioning Shoes

A mid-weight shoe with more cushioning. Shoe weight varies depending on the model. Shoes with a lower heel-toe drop tend to encourage a mid-foot strike. Higher heeled shoes provide more protection for heel strikers.

Stability and Motion Control Shoes

These shoes are designed with cushioning and an internal structure that corrects for overpronation, the inward roll of the feet that can lead to injuries.

Racing Flats

These are lightweight performance shoes that weight 4-9 ounces per shoe. Despite their name, flats can range between 0-8 mm of heel-toe drop. Flats are less supportive, but promote faster leg speed and higher cadence.

So Which Should you Pick?

Go to your local specialty running store and get fit by a pro who will look at your feet; evaluate your foot type; ask questions about your training and injury histories along with your running habits; and, finally, watch you run. After this first part of the process, he or she will offer you an array of options based on observations (along with your important feedback), and help you decide on the pair that best matches your individual needs and preferences.

Once you’ve got your new shoes picked out, take a look at our upcoming Rock’n’Roll Marathon Series Tour Stops and decide where you’re going to break them in!