To better manage expectations, let’s begin by clarifying what ‘long-distance’ means here.
The definition will vary depending on the fitness level of a runner. That said, we view any distance longer than 10 miles as long-distance. In metric terms, that’s 16 km – that’s not the kind of run you can do daily without weekly rest days.
This may sound like a wide range if the starting point is only 10 miles. Because a shoe which works for a half-marathon might not have the level of comfort needed for a marathon or an ultra.
Hence it makes sense to set boundaries here.
The running shoe models that follow are recommended for distances between a 10K to a half-marathon. If you want an ultra-cushioned running shoe for marathons and longer, then reading this guide should help.
So what kind of long-distance running shoes are we talking about here?
If there’s one thing we’ve realized after replying to thousands of reader comments, it’s that no two runners are the same. A shoe which works perfectly well for one person may not suit the other.
For example, experienced runners have a higher cushioning tolerance. They are perfectly ok with low-profile running shoes for their high-mileage races or workouts.
Others prefer shoes with plenty of cushioning. In this category are running shoe models with a high-volume midsole which make long runs comfortable. In both cases, the upper needs to breathe well and accommodate the temporary change in foot volume – long runs leads to the swelling effect.
So this is how it’s going to play out for this guide: two camps of runners = two shoe categories.
We’ll begin the guide with the lower-profile trainers first. While these shoes aren’t as punishing as the ones meant for 5K runs, they aren’t what you would describe as fleshed-out cushioned trainers. So there’s a fair bit of overlap with the products mentioned on our ‘shoes for 10K’ guide.
The second group packs more foam underneath as compared to the low-profile runners. However, for this guide, we’ve steered clear of bulky daily trainers such as the Asics Cumulus, the adidas Solar Glide, or the Brooks Ghost. The reason? If you’re running anything less than a half marathon, you should be able to dial up speed.
There are no max-cushion shoes either; please refer to this guide for options if you’re interested.
In their place, we’ve included cushioned running shoes with a bit of snap in them. That way, the cushioning won’t slow you down even if you want your high-mileage runs to be fast. The Reebok Forever Floatride Energy is an exception. After all, we did name it the best running shoe of this year.
Category 1: Low-profile running shoes for long distances
1) adidas adizero Boston 8
Over the years, the adizero Boston has built its reputation as a tempo-friendly shoe which is also easy on your feet.
A snug upper locks the foot down over a midsole which uses firm EVA rims along with a Boost foam midsole and full-contact outsole. As a result, the shoe feels stable and fast while being cushioned enough for high-mileage outings.
You also get a lot of useful life out of the Boston due to its ultra-durable Continental rubber underside.
2) Asics DS Trainer 24
If you haven’t read our glowing review of the DS-Trainer 24, do it now. We’ll try our best to sum the shoe up here; the DS Trainer’s Flytefoam midsole feels speedy and padded enough for the long haul.
And there’s also the bonus of a comfortable upper interior and a grippy outsole which promotes quick turnovers.
Also see: The Asics Dynaflyte 3.
3) New Balance Zante Pursuit
The Fresh Foam midsole’s slim build promotes fast and smooth transitions while forming a protective barrier against the hard running surface. The stretch upper snaps over the foot and secures it in position during faster runs.
The Pursuit is no Fresh Foam 1080 but it has adequate cushioning comfort for up to half marathons.
4) Reebok Floatride Run Fast
This shoe must be tired of featuring in almost every ‘best shoe’ list. But you know what? The Reebok Run Fast totally deserves it.
The various features of the Run Fast come together to produce a speedy yet cushioned ride. This is the only shoe on this guide to have a Pebax foam-based midsole, thus creating a unique shoe which weighs less than 7 ounces.
A high cushioning-to-weight ratio is also made even better by a breathable and lightweight upper which disappears over your feet.
5) Skechers GoRun Razor 3 Hyper
We thought that the bar had been raised with the Reebok Run Fast. Hold my beer, says the Skechers GoRun Razor 3.
While the Razor franchise has established itself as a road-racer with credible chops, the 2019 edition uses a new Hyper Burst foam midsole. So what’s changed?
The thickness and composition Hyper midsole make the ride sufficiently cushioned for long-distance runs while maintaining a speed-friendly persona.
Category 2: Cushioned running shoes
1) New Balance Beacon V2
Ah, the Beacon. Last year, New Balance’s then-new shoe quickly gained a cult following due to its versatile nature. It was lightweight, yet cushioned. It was cushioned, yet speed-friendly.
In retrospect, the Beacon V1 made itself useful in a shoe rotation by serving as a middle ground between thin racers and slightly weighty daily trainers. The Beacon V2 still has the same midsole and ride quality which makes long-distance runs fun and comfortable.
The jury is out on the wacky heel design, though.
2) Nike Pegasus Turbo V2
The Pegasus Turbo V2 is the most cushioned and responsive shoe on this guide. The ZoomX and React foam midsole has gobs of comfortable padding which works perfectly for longer runs and races.
By the way, the toe-squishing upper of the V1 has been toned down for this year’s Turbo.
3) Saucony Kinvara 10
Is your idea of a distance running shoe a lightweight trainer with a low heel drop? The Kinvara 10 fits that description, and we can’t praise it enough. In our detailed review, we called the Saucony Kinvara 10 under-rated. And it truly is.
The EVA and Everun midsole with a 4 mm drop has the cushioning to take you to half-marathon distances in comfort. The upper is breathable and has ample room for your feet to splay.
4) Saucony Freedom ISO 2
The Freedom ISO 2 is a low-offset running shoe with denser cushioning than the Kinvara. When Compared to the latter, the Freedom has a more durable outsole and a snugger upper fit.
There’s another shoe similar to the Freedom ISO 2 in many aspects – it’s called the Liberty ISO 2. That’s the shoe you get instead for a slightly more supportive ride and upper fit.
5) Reebok Forever Floatride Energy
The Forever Floatride’s appeal lies in its simplicity of design. The midsole is made of unadulterated Floatride e-TPU foam, a material which gives the Reebok shoe its responsive cushioning character.
The said cushioning proves comfortable enough for runs lasting half-marathon distances and longer.
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