While some runners are happy to go on long runs in lightweight trainers, for most of us big mileage means big shoes. We’re talking footwear with a hefty stack of cushioning on the bottom that both protects your body from the impact of road running and ensures the shoes themselves are durable enough to last many a mile.
If you’re training for a marathon then you’re going to be running several times a week for three or four months, and some of those runs are going to exceed 30km in length, not to mention the full 42.2km you’ll run on race day itself. Even if you opt for a lightweight racing shoe when it comes to your event, you’re going to want a more cushioned option to use during your training to make it slightly easier on your body, especially if you’re don’t have the stick-thin build of an elite athlete.
Here are the best highly-cushioned running shoes available.
Hoka running shoes are all about cushioning, but that doesn’t mean they’re heavy clunkers. With the lightweight cushioning Hoka uses, the Clifton 5 weighs just 266g (men’s), which means that while its super-soft ride is best suited to long, easy efforts, you can ramp up the pace without feeling encumbered.
The latest version of the UltraBoost has 20% more Boost foam in its midsole than its predecessor, making it significantly bouncier than before. It’s also more comfortable thanks to the knitted, sock-like upper, which has less stretchy sections within the weave to lock your foot in place during a run.
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New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v9
The most cushioned shoe in New Balance’s Fresh Foam line-up, the 1080v9 is built to make your long runs feel smoother and more comfortable. If you’re running the London Marathon, there’s even a special edition of the shoe (opens in new tab) for the event, which you can use for your training and the race, and then have as the perfect memento of the big day.
The Triumph ISO is a plush beast of a running shoe, but to categorise it as purely something for easy efforts would be a mistake. The bouncy Everun midsole and topsole underfoot make it a great option for holding a steady pace over long distances, and the supreme comfort of the form-fitting upper and padded tongue mean it’s a joy to wear for however long you’re running.
Despite the generous stack of cushioning on the React it weighs just 239g (men’s size 9), which makes it the lightest shoe on this list and a top option for runners seeking a comfortable but quick ride. The React foam is springy at all times but really comes to life when you push the pace, and it’s also designed to be durable enough for at least 800km of pavement-pounding.
The rocker in this shoe’s sole is designed to make long running easier, which is something everyone can get on board with. The MetaRide shifts you onto your forefoot smoothly and reduces the energy lost at the ankle with each stride you take. Unfortunately all the new tech Asics has stuffed into the MetaRide makes it incredibly expensive at £225, which is going to rule it out for a lot of people no matter how easy it makes your long run feel.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.
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