Right shoes for a marathon

Hi all-- First off, apologies if I get my my technical terminology all wrong image I've just signed up for my first marathon in August, and as I'll need to be getting new shoes shortly, I'd love to have your advice on the following: So far, I've been running in Mizunos (now wave rider 15). They're perfect for my narrow feet (coming in different widths), and I love the fact I can feel the ground running in them. Here's the thing though: for the first 15k I land on my forefoot but as my legs get tired, I start using the mid foot as well, and finally the heel. Since the shoes offer little cushioning, I'm wondering if this can cause problems/injuries on the longer runs ahead, and if I should accept some cushioning in prep for the marathon (hate feeling any foam or fluff under my feet!). Any thoughts anyone, or suggestions for a different model? I'm a natural pronator.


  • not sure id want to switch to something new when you have a marathon to train for in case of injury or whatever, better to stick with what you know, mid foot is fine but i guess heel striking could be an issue on a lower cushioned shoe, 

    Personally i would stick with what you know, as your race distances get up, you will fatigue later, and when you do i would concentrate on maitaining form, has to be better than buying something which just encourages you to have bad form no?

  • "Since the shoes offer little cushioning,"

    someone correct me if I'm wrong but Wave Riders are neutral cushioned shoes, not minimal cushioning and are essentially designed for the heelstrikers amongst the running community.  so I don't see that you are going to gain any extra cushioning for the marathon - you have about as much as most standard running shoes have.  and injuries/problems can happen with all sorts of shoe types.

    maybe you need to look at your running style and develop better form??? a lot of newish runners do tend to lose form as distances increase so the only way you can overcome that is to gradually train more at longer distances

  • I would say wave riders have quite a bit of cushioning and are fine for heel striking I used to run in them but ditched them because they were too built up!
  • stutyrstutyr ✭✭✭

    As fat buddha says, you need to look at the problem and try and rectify it.  For example, you probably want to include core strengthening exercises to help you maintain your form for longer.

    What quite a lot of runners do is have a more cushioned shoe for the training miles and then swap for a lighter, less cushioned shoe for racing (i.e "racing flats") so your thinking is along the same lines.  However the Wave Rider would fall into the more cushioned shoe category for most runners, and has a large heel-to-toe differential making them suited to heel strikers.

     From the Mizuno range, I believe the Wave Creation or Wave Enigma offer a bit more cushioning than the Wave Rider (this is based on descriptions from the runningwarehouse.com website rather than personal experience).  But I think you're better going to a specialist shop and trying a few shoes if you want a more cushioned shoe. 

  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭
    Barkin Pumpkin wrote (see)
     for the first 15k I land on my forefoot but as my legs get tired, I start using the mid foot as well, and finally the heel.

    I agree with the above.Unless you're currently running in minimalist shoes, I think your best bet is to crack on with some sensible marathon training, getting lots of easy miles in, to help you push out the distance at which your legs start to tire.  Core strength exercises may help as well, but essentially everyone's form suffers with the marathon because it's a flippin' long way. 

  • I think the Mizunos are pretty well cushioned. You could maybe try Hokas if you want some more?! Low toe/heel drop (about 6mm I think) and LOADS of cushioning. They do look a bit silly though.

    As has been suggested already, get stuck into some suitable training and build your mileage up so that you are running comfortably over distance as opposed to struggling in the latter stages. Don't neglect fast sessions to help with form as well as fitness, keep your easy sessions easy and make sure you recover well after your tough sessions or long runs.

  •  As you gain physical and mental endurance from your marathon training you should find that your legs will not tire so much. However the marathon is a long way so don't expect to finish feeling fresh! image

  • There is a lot of talk about 'form' on this thread. Could someone please elaborate on what exactly you mean by form ? Cheers
  • stutyrstutyr ✭✭✭

    Hi carter, running form is a debate that could cover quite a few threads with various theories around the "perfect" form. 

    In this context, the OP could run comfortably for the first 15km with a forefoot strike.  As they tire, the legs and upper body start to weaken and this alters the foot strike.  Its not mentioned but its also likely that their cadence and pace drop for the same level of exertion, so it becomes harder to run at the same pace.

    So in this case the best running form for the OP appears to be a forefoot strike, but your best running form may involve a heel- or midfoot- strike.  The aim is to find a form that stays comfortable for the length of the race and allows you to run efficiently.  In reality, even the top runners form will deteriorate over the duration of a marathon - although the OP seems to be an extreme example.

    I've read the "Chi running" book that has some interesting views on running posture etc, and the other one that gets mentioned quite often is the POSE method.  If you google these, you should get some further reading.


  • Thanks all so far! You're right, of course: I checked and there's plenty of cushioning at the back. They just don't feel soft like many others that I've tried--which I love.

    Reading your replies, though, I realised that I'd not been clear when describing the issue. The switch to midfoot running after 15k is not a direct consequence of tired legs, but an indirect one: I can only "run right" @ above 5:20/k. Any speed under that feels uncomfortable, I don't seem to be able to get the mechanics right and end up with a midfoot strike. And I can only maintain the pace comfortably for about 15k. So plenty of work ahead image

    I probably need to have sb have a look at my technique and help me "run right" at lower paces, too. I'm guessing it's because in my past incarnation I was a sprinter. On the other hand, that was 3 babies ago--so I'm already happy about the fact that I'm managing any distance beyond 5k to begin with image

    Like carterusm, I'd love to know what is meant by form here.
  • Stutyr: thanks--and spot on! Will definitely look into form!
  • "I'm guessing it's because in my past incarnation I was a sprinter."

    that will explain why you're starting off as a forefoot striker - you're still running as if you're sprinting. ALL sprinters are forefoot strikers (it offers the best biomechanics for speed) and you mention that you only "feel right" when running above a certain pace.

    realistically for a marathon you need to re-educate the way you run as it seems to me that you are going out too fast - forefoot sprint style - and then tiring so you become a mid/heelstriker.

    perhaps what you need to do is longer, SLOWER, runs to improve your overall form.  that's not to say that eventually you will not do all your long runs on the forefoot - many top long distance runners do - but you need time to adapt

  • StiltsStilts ✭✭✭
    I found The Art of Running Faster by Julian Gloater really good on running form, basically engage strong core and glutes, keep your cadence high, there's loads more but you'll run faster with less effort and dramatically reduce injury - recommend this and chi running for more of same
  • Thanks stutyr. Should we all be aiming for a forefoot stride or is it going to be a personal thing ? I have had a couple of small attempts at it and, of course, it felt a bit strange. I believe it reduces the chance of injury ? Is it advisable for someone to try and change to forefoot ? Cheers
  • stutyrstutyr ✭✭✭

    TBH I think its all down to personal choice.  One of my abiding memories from my first couple of races was the variety of running styles, some were ungainly but towards the front of the pack whilst others looked graceful & quick but were running a lot slower than me.  It came as a bit of a shock at first, but now I just accept that everyone is different.

    I read the "Chi Running" book and picked up some hints from it and thought other bits were nonsense, and also enjoyed "Born to Run" and kinda like the idea that shoes have been over-engineered, and our feet are the best shock absorbers.  However, I can't ever see myself as a barefoot runner, but I have made a conscious effort to land on the mid-foot rather than the heel (although race photos suggest I still heel strike image).  

  • +1 with personal choice

    as stutyr says, there is no right or wrong way to run - just do what feels natural - some people are natural forefoot, some are natural heelstrke (me for one).  you only need to look at changing if you are constantly broken so need to look at solutions to fix, or you fancy giving it a try (as you have).   people will get injured whatever gait they have - there is no running gait that will prevent all as we have such complex biomechanics.  and as they say - why fix it if it ain't broke??

    I suffered serious plantar fasciitis last year after years of running - no idea why, it just happened.  as a result of it not improving using various methods, I tried forefoot running - BIG mistake as it killed my calves and after one 15min run (not my 1st like this) I could hardly walk for 3 days!!  so I gave that idea up.  what "cured" me was specific exercises, rest and getting some Hoka One One shoes which are highly cushioned and promote a midfoot gait.  that's helped keep pressure off the plantar so I can now run for up to 2hrs without pain - discomfort, but not pain. and looking at the wear on the Hokas, my gait is still more heelstrike than midfoot but not as heel as it was.

  • Big_GBig_G ✭✭✭

    Sorry to jump in here, but I'm finding this interesting.  I'd just like to add that as I've been getting more miles in over the last few months I have noticed that my running style has changed.  I seem to doing shorter strides with a higher cadence as opposed to longer strides with a slower cadence.  This has happened without me necessarily consciously thinking about it, and although I'm not lightening fast by any means I have been getting quicker.  Is this normal (what ever "normal" is)?

  • I'm guessing though that "natural" is a pretty flexible term here. I still remember how awkward I found it to get used to sprinting on my first spikes (some 30 years agoimage So I may not have been a forefoot to begin with, but spikes leave you no choice! And it looks like if I want to develop, I'll need to get used to reducing pace--which means having to get used to mid foot, however unnatural. Wonder if this is sth all sprint-to-long-distance converts face... Anyone else out there?
  • Go for some full-on barefoot shoes, build up your distance slowly and you'll find your running form improves - you just can't heel-strike in them. Can even mix it up with cushioned shoes and phase one out and the other in so your overall mileage doesn't need to reduce.

    Worked for me. I run in Vivobarefoot Neos - 5mm of rubber between you and the ground. Couldn't go back to cushioned shoes if I tried.

  • OP, concerning the title; I think it's quite important that your right shoe matches your left. Sorry I can't be any more helpful
  • stutyrstutyr ✭✭✭

    sean OC - image

    Big_G - That sounds perfectly normal, most people's gait etc will change over time due to training changes.  Also, The smaller stride & quicker cadence approach is something I picked up from the Chi running book, and it looks liked you've learned this naturally. 

  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭

    Big_G - The same has happened to me over a period of time.  In a not-very-scientific experiment, I've observed my cadence increase from about mid 160s to high 170s and my gait has changed from a fairly pronounced heel strike to heel/midfoot.  I'm now a little wary of the term "overpronation"; I certainly pronate, but then pronation is a natural part of the gait cycle, so I'm much happier using shoes which are designed for neutral/mild pronation rather than the stability type shoes which I thought (was told) I needed.

  • Too much emphasis on 'foot strike'. It's where the foot lands that's important - you can land in front of your body on the forefoot simply by plantar flexing...and it's not a good idea. If you drop your foot down near to under your hips you will automatically land forefoot. that's a consequence of correct form.

    Heel strike=slow cadence because usually heel strike means landing in front of the body, so you have to wait for your body to catch up before you can change support.

    A shorter stride with quicker cadence is more efficient.

    We ALL develop worse form in the latter stages of a marathon and for me with 2 miles to go and care if I crawl as long as I cross the line!


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