What running shoes do you use for ultra's?

I use Salomon XA Pro 3D ultra for off-road and trails and have been really pleased with them but they aren't much good for me on roads and paths...

For the last eight years I've used Brooks.  Initially running in Brooks Radius and more recently Brooks Vapor.  I have simply bought new versions of these shoes whenever required and I have three pairs on use rotation at any one time.  I've been very pleased with them.

I just feel, for whatever reason, that its time to look again at what's available and try something else...    if you have any preferences for a good quality road shoe suitable for ultra distances then please let me know....



  • loulabellloulabell ✭✭✭

    DV, ive used kids nike lunars for off and on road and they suit me fine..im thinking of going to freerun and maybe merrel for onroad..try nike perhaps?

  • Trail running and light fell conditions - New Balance MT110's, a little firm but cope with hard packed paths and tarmac, loose gravel, rooty and rocky and light mud on the flat to medium decline/incline. Feel a little firm when you put them on but strike a grea balance between feel and protection with a full rock plate.

    Fell Runing - Inov8 X-Talon 190's, light, comfy great feel however miss a rock plate when its gets rocky can leve me a iittle footsore if the run is long say over 20 miles.

    Road and trail (no mud) - Saucony Kinvara 2's currently waiting for a delivery next week of 3's. 4mm heel toe drop, neutral but with a good bit of sole that for me offers a ride where I do not need to think too much about form.

    Shorter training runs and dreadmill - New Balance Minimus Zero Drop, if my form were better would wear nothing else light and comfy.

  • Good info. Thanks. The run I'm planning is a multi stage ultra running back to back 50-60 miles per day for 8 days. Mostly roads and paths but some off-road. I need a shoe to cope with this..
  • DV - With that info, whilst I haven't tried them and the big squodge of sole jars somewhat with my more minimal instincts I would say the Hoka One One would have to be in the to be considered list. They are certainly a shoe of choice for some very impressive Ultra runners at present. On the minimal theme I think Hoka are either 4mm or zero drop in spite of the sole.  

  • I'm in the same position DV looking to change after completing sdw100. My feet really hurt on the hard chalk paths. I've heard alot of good things about hoka one ones the winner of sdw wore them and people who had them on today at the downland ultra swear by them.
  • It might be the case that you have got it right with what you are running in now. 

    I think that Brooks are the best road shoes for mixed terrain, and I swear by my Adrenalins.  The Vapour likely works just as well.  I ran a lot of the Thames Trott (2011) with somebody wearing Asics trail shoes, and my Adrenalins actually coped with the mud better. 

    My favourite trail shoe at the moment is the Brooks Cascadia.  When selecting a trail shoe for ultra distance, there are a number of things I look for:

    It should have enough cushioning to protect the foot from hard objects such as rocks and tree roots.  A large part of the problem with the longer events is keeping your feet in good order. 

    While the tread pattern must grip, it should also have a design that will shed mud quite readily i.e. enough distance between the lugs that sticky mud can be kicked off. 

  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    I'll second the NB110 and they are only ??40 in sports direct at the moment. A bargain compared to the others. Not had a blister with mine yet either.
  • I've never heard of Hoka...  have just googled them..    could be worth a look at them closer...    thanks for the tip.   Will look up the other suggestions too..  thanks.


  • I like the look of the new Saucony Kinvara TR, as I like the road version, and use it for something a with a touch more cushioning than my usual shoes - NB R00, and minimus MT10.

  • I have looked at the Hoka's...  wow... they look amazing...  am going to try the Hoka One One and the Hoka Bondi Speed.   Both should be ideal...   will let you know what I think..


  • KK speaks sense! If they are comfy they are the best shoes image

  • kittenkat wrote (see)

    I don't think ultra running is any different to normal distances, so why a shoe 'specifically' for ultra? Every shoe will do so many miles irrespective of the time frame you do them in.

    I'm looking at new shoes because I want to finally make one big effort at solving the blister problem that is caused by my orthotics...    I'm going to try to run without the orthotics...  they work at injury prevention but they are not solving the problem that caused the injury initially...  and with the ultra distances, I need to spend a huge amount of time on foot preparation just to avoid the blisters that they cause..  they are fine up to about 50 miles, but over that and its hit or miss as to whether I start blistering.;..

    So..  I'm going to try something new...   I want to find a top quality ultra shoe and learn to run without the orthotics again...  I want to protect my feet as much as possible from the shoe, and see what happens....

    I'm going to seek advice about the cause of the original injury five years ago and see what physio I can do to sort out the source of the problem and not rely on the orthotics...

    Hope that makes sense...   might be a bit of trial and error and one step at a time...



  • ok..  let me explain it a different way...

    The orthotics are used to fix a 'problem'.   However, they don't actually fix the SOURCE of the problem...  they simply avoid injury...    however, as the distances have now got silly, they are causing their own problems...

    So...  I want to go back to the start...  try to fix the source of the problem and buy some decent shoes at the same time...

    Badwater finished last week...  and the Hoka was a popular choice of shoe...  so.. it can't be bad..!  

    I only wear the orthotics when I run...  I don't use them at any other time and I don't have any injuries....

    Changing the shoes is part of the strategy, not the only strategy.  I anticipate some physio to fix my feet... if that is even possible..


  • you read mine...!   image


  • MR Vader feels he has been scraping the black bits off his toast for some time, now he wants to stop burning it.

    Kittenkat suspects when all is fixed and MR Vader has the gait of an olympian marathoner he will be able to put any old shoe on and run without issue.

    I like more minimal stuff for the above reasons it makes you improve your form, it's not your shoe it's your form. Can be some transition fun I managed plantar, trochanderic bursitis and achilles tendinitis during mine but am now usually pretty much injury free and blister free in some low and light shoes decent but not huge distances. My form is still CR4P just not as bad as it was.

    My view its the form not the trainer, give yourself time and a trainer that allows you to develop form you will get there but unless you are prepared to drop volume and speed of training expect some transition issues.

    A middle ground, I have not tried them, appears to be the Hoka which are either zero or just 4mm heel toe drop, with big toe box volume and lots of other usually minimal features but are stuck on a huge pad of foam???? Still lots of very good Ultra runners are converting.

  • I know for absolute certainty that it is the orthotics that are causing the heel blisters..  its not the shoe, choice of socks, weather conditions etc...  I've seen three different podiatrists, been filmed running barefoot, with orthotics in shoes, no orthotics, thick socks, thin socks etc...  tried every variation possible..  I think we have nailed the problem...  the orthotics are fine for marathon distances but don't seem to be able to work for me at ultra distanes.

    I'm fed up with the faff of having to tape my feet each time I go out and run.  I just want to enjoy my running and do it freely.

    I do feel its time to reassess my feet and shoe choice.   Prior to my knee injury five years ago I never used orthotics and on a daily basis now I don't use them.    I only use them when I run.   My legs are much stronger now than those early days and I'm willing to make efforts to sort this problem out.  I want to deal with the source of the problem and fix it.

    In the summer of 2010 on the run stage of a double iron man I had many problems with getting comfortable.  In the first 14 miles I changed my shoes three times.  For the last 38 miles I ran in a brand new pair, straight out the box, of Brooks Vapor 9 - one foot used an orthotic and the other didn't!   Totally crazy thing to do at that stage, but I was desperately looking for a solution and that was it.   I completed the run without any further problems and luckily no injury.

    I spent a long time last night researching this and I'm willing to give the Hoka a go.  It looks like the Hoka Bondi B might be the shoe for me, without using orthotics.   I'm going to try this and combine it would foot exercises to strength my arches and hopefully that will do it.

    I'm not a fast runner...  I just want to enjoy it, and not get these sodding blisters..!


  • I feel for you Vader, touching wood seem to be blessed with robust trotters that resist blisters unless I do something silly.

    What are the othotics doing for you? The very presence suggests some compensation for your biomechanics are you looking to fix the biomechanics thereby negating the need for the othotics?

    My arches are visibly higher since going more minimal, my toes are wider spread, toes thicker and feet much stronger.

    Not sure about the rest of your routine but I introduced two gym sessions a week for strength and conditioning and do 4-5 15 min core workouts a week whilst not directy related to my feet the overall increase in strength and condition is improving what I think of as general 'sturdiness' I am finding I just feel that I move better promoting that 'joy of movement' feeling.

    A final thought, I recognise they are not to everyones taste but I had some Newtons a couple of years ago which were the comfiest running shoes I have ever owned. 

  • I'm not entirely certain or convinced that I need the orthotics now.  

    The history is this...     I was an inexperienced runner and I did Tunbridge Wells half-marathon.   On the downhill run into Penshurst I had a sharp pain in my left knee.  Stupidly, rather than stop I kept going.  There was probably another 7 miles to go.. something like that.   I finished the race in 1:46, which I was pleased with at the time but the finish photo clearly shows my pain.  I was so inexperienced I didn't even have any running kit!   I was running in baggy beach shorts and a polo shirt from Marks and Spencer!  I don't remember what shoes I was wearing, but I doubt they were any good.

    Within a couple of hours of finishing, my left knee started to swell..  by the evening I could barely walk and by bedtime even the weight of the duvet was too much.  In the early hours of the following morning I went to A&E and all the signs were that I had broken my leg.   Simple touching of the skin was agony.

    An x-ray showed no broken bones but instead it showed I had torn one of quads off the femur, just above the knee cap.   No wonder it hurt.

    Six months of physio at Crystal Palance Sports Injury Clinic later and I am able to run again and have orthotics in my shoes.   I've used them ever since.

    I do wonder whether now that I am more experienced at marathons and ultra's whether I don't actually need them - even though they do work at correcting my collapsing arches.  I think if I try to fix the arches, that will fix the ankle, which fixes the knees....  

    I know there will be a transition phase...  but if it will stop the blisters in the long-term and mean I can enjoy my running then its got to be worth a try.


  • Brooks pure range are another shoe to look at. I have the pure grit which are a light trail shoe, they aren't good in mud but are great for mixed trail/ road and feel like slippers on! I wear mine with orthotics and they fit no problems!!! I'm thinking of investing in the road version next!!!
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