High-mileage runners ask a lot of their shoes. You need something soft enough to buffer unforgiving pavement, firm enough to provide adequate push-off mile after mile, and burly enough to take an hours-long pummeling—yet light enough to keep the word “slog” from darkening your thoughts. Durability and comfort will also take on new importance, as you’ll be spending a lot of time in these shoes, and you don’t want to buy a new pair every month. Whether you’re training for a marathon or just upping your mileage for the joy and challenge of it, these are the best shoes for the job as determined by our testing.

The 10 Best Long-Distance Running Shoes

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    The best long-distance running shoes share standout features with the best running shoes overall in terms of comfort, longevity, and value. However, more time on your feet could mean that your foot benefits from a wider toe box and a more expansive upper in case of swelling. Typically, we also find that very experienced runners will fare better than newbies in more minimalist shoes, as well-honed gait mechanics can help lessen the need for added cushioning. First-time marathoners, on the other hand, usually appreciate the extra padding of a heavier trainer and its help in getting them to the starting line injury-free.

    shoe lab
    Shoes undergo thorough mechanical testing at the RW Shoe Lab. 
    Trevor Raab
    running on track
    We supplement a shoe’s lab data with our own on-the-run impressions.
    Trevor Raab

    Since you’ll be putting in a lot of miles, a durable outsole will also be key: Solid rubber tends to last longer than the more flexible blown rubber, though the latter can add to the softness and cushioning of the shoe. At the midsole, thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) foam can provide more longevity than ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) foam, though will usually add more weight to the shoe overall. For this reason, many shoe brands have developed their own proprietary blends that incorporate a mix of both foams. Currently, one of the lightest and most responsive midsole materials is a polyether block amide elastomer, usually referred to as Pebax. You’ll find it used in higher-end foams like Nike’s ZoomX and Saucony’s Pwrrun PB—the drawback is that it’s expensive. Here’s more if you want to go deep on what makes a good running shoe.

    How We Tested

    We’ve devoted a boatload of miles to finding shoes that strike just the right balance of cushioning, support, and responsiveness. We test hundreds of pairs each year between our staff and wear-test team, which is comprised of more than 250 local runners of all ages, speeds, and experience levels. As our testers gather their detailed on-foot impressions, we also evaluate those same models in our RW Shoe Lab where we perform a battery of mechanical tests for midsole softness, flexibility, and energy return. We utilize both our testers’ feedback and lab data to determine the areas in which each shoe on this list excels. Keep scrolling for the models that deliver protection from the pavement, but also feel fast and perform well, so you can run longer and think about your feet less.

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    —MOST VERSATILE—

    Asics Gel-Nimbus Lite 3

    Weight: 9.2 oz (M), 7.9 oz (W)
    Drop: 10 mm (M), 13 mm (W)

    Gel-Nimbus Lite 3
    Asics amazon.com
    $159.95

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    • Taller heel-toe drop helps ease strain on the Achilles
    • Grippy, resilient outsole

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    • Some testers wanted softer forefoot cushioning

    You can’t have an Asics Gel-Nimbus without the gel. The Lite still packs some in the heel and forefoot but you don’t see it poking out. And it has a surprising amount of rubber underfoot still, which boosts durability. Those two elements can quickly weigh a shoe down, but haven’t impacted the sensation of the Lite 3. “The overall weight is its best feature,” one tester reported back. “It feels fast and nimble on runs, and is at home during speed workouts. But on longer runs it doesn’t wear out my legs because I’m not carrying heavy shoes over time.” The shoe isn’t overly cushy, however, and some testers wished for a little more softness under the forefoot. (If you really want that plush sensation, look at the standard Nimbus.) But the Lite’s livelier ride here comes from FlyteFoam, which is noticeably lighter than traditional EVA.

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    —BEST FOR WIDE FEET—

    Topo Athletic Phantom 2

    Weight: 10.3 oz (M), 8.5 oz (W)
    Drop: 5 mm

    Topo Athletic Women's Phantom 2
    Topo Athletic amazon.com
    $139.95

    Preserving the original’s traits, the new Phantom provides an accommodating fit with a generous amount of toe room. Some testers scoffed at the appearance of such a wide toebox but appreciated how its odd shape prevented black toenails and blisters. But the standout feature is the two-piece midsole, which provides firm cushioning and shock absorption—perfect for high mileage and runners with an aggressive cadence. “I found the cushioning to be top-notch from front to back,” said one tester who’s a self-described heel striker. “It was like running in a soft moccasin that held your foot secure without any unwanted motion.” The Phantom’s coziness puts it in the same class as the Brooks Glycerin and Altra Paradigm. Throw in some stability features—an external TPU heel counter, wider platform, and secure lacing system—and you have a well-rounded trainer that locks in your foot and guards against ankle rolling.

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    —LIGHTWEIGHT CUSHIONING—

    Hoka Mach 4

    Weight: 8.2 oz (M), 6.8 oz (W)
    Drop: 5 mm

    Mach 4
    Hoka One One
    $130.00

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    • Rockered sole and Profly foam promote a propulsive ride
    • Incredibly lightweight and plush

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    • Little traction in wet and wintry conditions

    After testing out his pair, runner-in-chief Jeff Dengate jotted in his notes that the 4 is “the best Mach yet, and perhaps the best current Hoka.” Take his word for it, and if that doesn’t persuade you, consider what our other testers had to say: One proclaimed the Mach 4 was second-to-none, another declared it was her new favorite road shoe, and still another—a Hoka virgin, no less—said she was impressed after just her first run. We already loved Machs 1 through 3 for their lightness and explosive rebound. But Hoka went next-level, tinkering with the midsole construction and applying what the brand learned when developing its competition shoes, the Carbon X and Rocket X. It owes this newfound giddy-up to its responsive Profly midsole (a dual-density foam that’s softer in the heel and firmer in the forefoot) and early-stage MetaRocker (a slightly curved sole that speeds transitions from heel to toe). This makes for a shoe that’s generously cushioned, but won’t turn your run into a slog.

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    —RESPONSIVE AND DURABLE—

    Mizuno Wave Rider 25

    Weight: 9.7 oz (M), 8.1 oz (W)
    Drop: 12 mm

    Wave Rider 25
    Mizuno amazon.com
    $139.95

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    • Enerzy midsole feels softer, smoother, and more responsive
    • Very durable outsole rubber for high-mileage training

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    • Some testers found the tall 12mm drop a bit obtrusive

    Twenty-five marks a huge milestone for the Rider, and that’s not just because Mizuno has now filled a quarter century with models of this shoe. One longtime tester pegged this one as his favorite yet, and another said it’s definitely the softest and most cushioned. Part of that is because the brand delivered on the promise that it teased us with in the Rider 24: a full-length midsole layer of luxuriously soft Enerzy foam. In previous Rider midsoles, Mizuno mixed-and-matched a handful of foams—ranging from its firmer U4ic to U4icX—both above and below the wave plate. Though comfortable underfoot, the combination of multiple foams could make the shoe’s ride feel a bit disjointed with messy transitions. Strictly Enerzy foam throughout makes the ride smoother and more consistent—especially when paired with the 25’s new castor bean-based wave plate. Built at a higher amplitude (the Rider 24’s plate was flatter), it helps return more energy with each footstrike, and more comfortably matches the shape of the arch. “Smooth and springy, this shoe makes a comfortable ride for endurance work and longer runs when you’ll be spending a lot of time on your feet,” one tester said.

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    —BEST FIT UPDATE—

    Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38

    Weight: 10 oz (M), 8.2 oz (W)
    Drop: 10 mm

    Air Zoom Pegasus 38
    Nike nike.com
    $120.00

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    • Versatile for long runs and uptempo efforts
    • New looped eyelets and gusseted tongue secure the midfoot without creating hot spots

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    • Feels best after a break-in period of about 20 miles

    The 38th Peg upholds its legendary descriptor as a capable “workhorse with wings.” Last year, the shoe’s midsole switched from older Cushlon foam to more responsive React, and Nike added two more millimeters of it underfoot. Still not as light and bouncy as ZoomX, React feels medium soft, and moderately flexible. Nike also lowered the pressure in the air unit in the women’s model (15 PSI compared to 20 PSI for men) to make it a touch softer, doubled the size of the forefoot unit for extra pop on toe off, and scrapped the air unit from the midfoot and heel. The outsole got a facelift too with more flex grooves and a rectangular tread pattern that slightly improves grip for short stints off-road. Those tweaks remain on the 38, but the upper sees a bunch of problem-solving fixes. The previously cramped toebox is roomier, a deeper heel cup helps eliminate the slippage we felt in the 37, and new plush sandwich mesh feels much softer. “The Pegasus 38 has a solid, fast ride that doesn’t hold you back and can take a pounding, which made it a good choice for my 10-mile hilly long runs,” one tester said. “In my opinion, the shoe feels softer and springier than the equivalent New Balance Fresh Foam 880, Asics Gel-Cumulus, or Brooks Ghost.”

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    —BEST DAILY TRAINER—

    New Balance Fresh Foam 880 v11

    Weight: 9.7 oz (M), 8.3 oz (W)
    Drop: 10 mm

    Fresh Foam 880v11
    New Balance amazon.com
    $99.95

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    • Fresh Foam midsole feels soft but snappy
    • Slightly lighter than the 880v10

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    • A little heavy for speedwork

    Professional steeplechaser Emma Coburn told us recently that the Fresh Foam 880 is her all-time favorite running shoe for daily miles, and it’s easy to see why. The 880 is everything you’ll want in a workhorse trainer: It’s built to last, comfortable, and delivers a snug fit. New Balance gave the shoe a major update with the v10. The redesigned midsole feels livelier, with a softer sensation on landing and more bounce when rolling from heel to toe. But, it firms up readily when you push off the ground to deliver the same snappy toe-off of previous versions. (Credit that to the use of Fresh Foam. NB tunes the compound to varying zones of softness and support by using pressure-mapping data.) “I think it is the most complete running shoe I’ve ever worn,” said one longtime wear-tester who frequently leads 1:45 half-marathon pace groups. “As soon as I tried them on, they felt great! I like lightweight shoes, but I know I can’t run high mileage in them or do long runs without fear of getting injured. Heavy shoes just feel clunky. This shoe is the perfect blend of comfort, fit, weight, bounce, and good looks.” All those features remain unchanged in the eleventh version. The biggest update is a new jacquard mesh upper that boosts breathability and also helps trim some weight.

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    —BEST FOR TRAILS—

    Salomon Ultra Glide

    Weight: 10.1 oz (M), 7.8 oz (W)
    Drop: 6 mm

    Ultra Glide
    Salomon
    $140.00

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    • Softer than previous Salomon trail shoes
    • Excels on easy trails and technical singletrack
    • Quick-lacing allows for fast adjustments

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    • Slips a little on flat, wet rocks

    The Ultra Glide is by far Salomon’s most cushioned trail shoe but, don’t be fooled, it’s not the squishiest ride around. We found it’s plush enough to impress our Hoka fanatics, thanks to a lightweight midsole that combines EVA and Olefin for a more forgiving ride. That combo of compounds makes the foam durable and springy. While many tall-stack shoes can feel unstable on technical terrain, the Ultra Glide feels incredibly planted. Even with its high stack—38mm in the heel and 32mm up front—the shoe doesn’t squish and roll over rocks and roots like you might expect. It still feels as stable as racier shoes like the S/Lab Ultra 3, even with the extra 12mm of cushion. “The first time I wore the Ultra Glide was on day five of a 327-mile FKT run in April,” said video producer Pat Heine. “The upper provided enough protection for my tired feet when I inevitably kicked rocks and roots, while the rocker design and extra cushion underfoot took the sting out of pavement and extra-rocky sections—enough for me to make it through the final 75 miles.”

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    —MOST STABILITY—

    Brooks Glycerin GTS 19

    Weight: 10.7 oz (M), 9.4 oz (W)
    Drop: 10 mm

    Glycerin GTS 19
    Brooks amazon.com

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    • Works for both overpronators and neutral runners
    • Testers praised the plush cushioning and generously-padded upper

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    • Limited forefoot flexibility on toe-off

    The Transcend 7 was essentially the same shoe as the Glycerin, but had Brooks’s guide rails for added stability. (The guide rails serve as bumpers for the foot, which helps prevent the knee from erratically moving side to side.) So, to make it easier for runners to find the cushioning they liked with the support they needed, Brooks changed the name of the Transcend to the Glycerin GTS 19—the “GTS” indicating the shoe’s guide rails. Those rails make it slightly firmer in the heel than the standard Glycerin, but the GTS 19 now uses more plush DNA Loft cushioning than any of its predecessors to keep the ride soft. That does add some bulk to the shoe, but most of our testers found it worth the compromise for the comfort it offered on long runs. “I’ve been running in Brooks Adrenaline GTS for 10 years, and this new Glycerin GTS has all the support and stability I love in the Adrenaline but with more heel cushioning and a slightly softer feel,” one tester said. “The cushioning was supple enough to absorb the road feedback yet didn’t feel too squishy.”

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    —BUDGET DAILY TRAINER—

    Brooks Trace

    Weight: 8.9 oz (M), 7.9 (W)
    Drop: 12 mm

    Trace
    Brooks amazon.com
    $100.00
    $84.75 (15% off)

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    • Lightweight—but plush—BioMoGo DNA cushioning
    • Breathable and durable engineered-mesh upper

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    • Material becomes slightly rough when wet, resulting in hot spots in the toebox

    The Trace checks off all of the important running shoe boxes: adequate cushioning, some flex for toe-off, a responsive midsole, and all-around comfort. It’s also more affordable at $100, making it an ideal shoe for penny-saving new runners who want to reap the benefits of a supportively cushioned trainer. And, it’s durable. The Trace’s resilience quickly became apparent, as testers noted how well it held up after strenuous workouts in tempestuous winter weather. “The Brooks Trace is an extremely reliable trainer. The first thing I noticed about the Trace is how light it is. That lightness, however, does not detract from the outstanding comfort and cushioning,” one tester said. “I tested the shoe on roads and on the crushed rock paths, and on both surfaces, the shoe worked very well for daily runs and completing tempo or speed workouts. I feel that the Trace is both lightweight and comfortable enough to race the half-marathon distance, as well.”

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    —BEST MARATHON RACER—

    Saucony Endorphin Pro 2

    Weight: 7.5 oz (M), 6.3 oz (W)
    Drop: 8 mm

    Endorphin Pro 2
    Saucony zappos.com
    $199.95

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    • Very high energy return and responsiveness
    • Excellent outsole grip and durability

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    • Firmer ride than the Nike Vaporfly Next%

    The Endorphin Pro 2 has undergone subtle changes, so runners smitten with the OG can exhale a sigh of relief. This second iteration of Saucony’s carbon-fiber plated racer continues to offer what its competitors fall short on. For example: The thin, cloth-like, single-layered engineered mesh upper envelopes the foot without any unnecessary pressure. It doesn’t overheat like the Vaporweave material on Nike’s Vaporfly Next% when you’re six miles into a marathon. And it has a more secure ankle fit than Brooks’s unisex Hyperion Elite, which women found to have a loose-fitting collar and heel. (And, it’s $50 cheaper than both those shoes.) An issue with the first Pro was the lack of stability, especially in the heel. Tight cornering sometimes led to an ankle roll and a bunched-up, off-center tongue. The 2 provides more support around the heel with an even more secure fit, and the upper’s new lacing has elastic bands strategically placed to prevent the tongue from going askew.

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