Best running shoes for half marathons

by Solereview editors
Published: Last Updated on

Long distance road run.

This article has been updated with current models for March 2024. Most of the shoes on this guide have been replaced with their updated versions.

Midfoot striking in the Asics Superblast.

We have running shoe product guides for 10K runs and marathons, but what about the under-rated half marathon?

A half marathon doesn’t get the credit it deserves. It’s a long-distance race that’s a good test of physical endurance. At the same time, it doesn’t require the intense training and long recovery period that a marathon entails. If you’re in reasonably good shape, a sub-2:00 half-marathon is within reach for most runners.

By the way, if you’re searching for an easy-to-follow training plan for a half marathon, here’s one on the Canadarunningseries website that’s put together by Saucony. And here’s another one from the Boston Athletics Association.

This guide contains running shoes that are recommended for distances between a 10K and a half-marathon. If you want to see a selection of plated running shoes for marathons (and longer), then reading this guide should help. On the other hand, if a soft running shoe is all that you need, then our recommendations are here.

So what kind of half-marathon running shoes would you find here?

The adidas adizero Boston 11 on the road.

This guide includes cushioned running shoes with a bit of snap in them. That way, the cushioning won’t slow you down during fast, high-mileage runs. Highly cushioned tempo shoes like the adidas Boston 12 use transition-friendly components like Nylon tubes for a speed-friendly character.

On the other hand, products like the Asics Superblast and Novablast 4 don’t rely on stiff internal components. They combine midsole foam and geometry to create a ride quality that’s comfortable as well as fast.

While the Nike Vaporfly 3 is also here for good measure, you’d be served equally well by a Saucony Endorphin Speed or Pro.

1) Asics Superblast

Many shoes claim to do it all, but the Asics Superblast is one of the few running shoes that deliver on that promise.

The specs appear contradictory, but the entire package runs like a well-oiled machine. Here’s what we mean: The Superblast has stack heights of 45.5 mm (heel) and 37.5 mm (forefoot), so it should be a heavy shoe, correct? Wrong. The Superblast weighs just 9 ounces.

The Asics Superblast in the outdoors.

It’s also a fast shoe. The rocker profile of the thick midsole helps with quicker turnovers, and the responsive cushioning of the Flytefoam Turbo – Asics’s premier foam – prevents the midsole from feeling mushy. A snug upper locks the foot in place over the tall midsole, so the shoe is supportive as well.

The Asics Superblast on the road.

Put everything together, and we have a shoe that does everything very well. Use them for daily runs, endurance training, tempo runs, and marathons – be it a half or full 26.2. Our review explains why we loved the Superblast so much.

2) Nike Vaporfly 3

The Vaporfly 3 is a popular pick for races of up to a marathon. The ZoomX cushioning and Carbon plate do what they’ve always done – which is to produce a ride quality that is equal parts cushioned, lightweight, bouncy, and quick.

The basic form factor hasn’t changed all that much since it was introduced many years ago. There’s a full-length Carbon plate inside a lightweight ZoomX foam midsole.

The Nike Vaporfly 3 on the road.

The S-curved plate provides the signature spring-back quality that makes fast runs engaging. The front part of the plate works like a rocker for quick roll-offs. Working in the background is the soft ZoomX foam for high-mileage comfort – be it a half-marathon slog or longer.

Do note that the upper fit has changed since the Vaporfly 2, and not in a direction we prefer. By making the VF 3’s upper too spacious, the quality of lockdown suffers. The foot’s connection to the plated midsole is weaker than before, thus diluting some of the Vaporfly magic. Read our review to know more.

The outsole rubber of the Nike Vaporfly 3.

The outsole skimps on the rubber, so the Vaporfly 3 won’t last as long as a daily trainer.

Just know that the Vaporfly isn’t a great everyday shoe because of its stripped-down construction. There isn’t a lot of outsole rubber either; reserve it for race day after breaking it in.

3) adidas adizero Boston 12

Over the years, the adizero Boston has built its reputation as a tempo-friendly shoe with a midsole that isn’t hard on the feet.

The Boston 12 is the softest yet. The tall midsole (38 mm heel and 31 mm forefoot) combines two different kinds of foam and a set of Nylon tubes.

The Lightstrike Pro midsole of the adidas Boston 12.

The Lightstrike Pro foam is soft right out of the box. However, the Energy rods need around 50 miles to bed in.

The Boston 12’s midsole uses the responsive ‘Lightstrike Pro’ foam along with the tried-and-tested Lightstrike EVA foam.

This makes the Boston 12 snappy under the forefoot and supportive under the heel. So the new Boston 12 is as much an everyday trainer as it is a tempo trainer. Our full review is here.

The Energy rods of the adidas Boston 12.

The high-tech midsole is softer than before, but it’s speed-capable.

The high level of softness doesn’t impede the speed-friendly nature of the adizero Boston. The Energyrod tubes and Lightstrike EVA add the necessary stiffness and snap to build up speed. The grippy Continental rubber outsole also helps with the quick touch and go.

The combination of cushioning comfort and speed-friendly ride makes the Boston 12 a great shoe for half marathons.

If there’s one thing that has changed, that would be the upper.

The heel collar pods of the adidas Boston 12.

The Boston 12 has the same collar pod design as the Boston 11 and adios Pro. By letting the foot sit closer to the back, the upper fits longer than it should.

The Boston 11 introduced a new heel collar design last year, and the Boston 12 has a similar design. There’s no padding along the Achilles, so the foot is now closer to the back of the shoe. That frees up space in the forefoot, thus making the Boston very spacious. The rest of the upper is secure enough, but the Boston 12 would have been a better shoe with a snugger fit.

4) New Balance SC Trainer 2

If you want your half-marathon running shoe to have a plush ride and a roomy upper, the New Balance Supercomp Trainer 2 makes a pretty good case for itself.

The SC Trainer’s midsole draws its cushioning from the high stack heights – the heel is 40 mm tall and the forefoot is 34 mm. That keeps the feet fresh during a half marathon.

On top of the midsole is a Carbon plate that helps with the gait cycle and prevents the foot from sinking into the midsole. The pronounced rocker shape propels the foot forward. The outsole is somewhat similar to that on the SC Elite V3 – a wide transition groove keeps the weight supported.

There’s one notable difference between the SC Trainer 2 and the SC Elite V3 – the SC Trainer’s upper has a lot more room for the toes to splay.

5) Asics Novablast 4

The Asics Novablast has neither a plate nor high-tech foam, but it does two things that are useful during a half marathon.

Given its considerable stack heights (41.5 mm and 33.5 mm), it’s a comfortable running shoe even for a marathon. The Flytefoam Blast foam is neither E-TPU nor PEBAX, but it’s not lacking in cushioning feedback.

While it’s not overly soft or springy, the compression from the foam and transition groove (under the midsole) is noticeable.

Asics Novablast 4 in a park.

Being speed-friendly is the other thing that the Novablast is good at. The rocker shape helps with quicker push-offs, and the firmness of the foam makes the Novablast relatively stable. Find out more in our full review, here.

The upper fits very well, albeit a bit long. Asics hasn’t fixed the outsole grip yet, so the forefoot bite isn’t where it needs to be.

Do you own any of these shoes? Improve this review by sharing your insights – submit a review here.

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