The Best Nike Shoes for Running a Marathon, No Matter What Your Pace Is

Buying Guide

Check out the top Nike shoes to get you over the finishing line.

Last updated: April 29, 2022
5 min read
The Best Nike Marathon Shoes for Men and Women

Committing to run a marathon is a physical and mental challenge that calls for weeks of training and preparation (18 weeks, if you're following the Nike Run Club marathon training plan). As you prepare for the race and consider details that can help your performance—such as nutrition, recovery and sleep—you'll want to think about what to wear on race day, too.

Can I Run A Marathon in My Everyday Running Shoes?

A high-quality and well-fitting pair of running shoes may be the most important piece of marathon equipment to select and wear on race day—and for the training leading up to it. If you're training for 18 weeks, you'll want a pair of everyday running shoes (also known as training shoes) that are comfortable and supportive.

As you ramp up your weekly mileage, be sure to replace those training shoes after they've been worn for about 480 to 565 kilometres. If you haven't hit the 480–565 kilometre mark in your go-to training shoes, you can possibly wear them on race day.

"Initially you don't need anything other than your training shoes", said Chris Bennett, Nike's global running head coach. "You can still race in some training shoes. You can still do all your workouts in training shoes. The key is, no matter what, you just don't want to be running in training shoes that should have been retired".

Tips for Testing Out Racing Shoes Before Race Day

If you want to investigate shoes specifically designed for road racing, you'll find different features are key to consider versus your daily training shoes. For road racing shoes, seek out lightweight, responsive running shoes that are built for speed. According to Bennett, marathon racing shoes have sufficient cushioning and are lightweight enough that they can be worn during weekly speed workouts.

He also suggested wearing the marathon shoes during a couple of long runs leading up to the race to get used to how they feel. But use them sparingly—they're not designed to withstand the impact of everyday training. "You want to make sure that whatever shoe you're wearing on race day, you've worn and you're comfortable in them", said Bennett.

You may find that the extra speed and bounce you feel running in racing shoes is worth the investment. For runners chasing a personal best or looking for an extra edge, check out the top Nike marathon racing shoes.

Nike Marathon Shoes Designed for Speed and Efficiency

  1. 1.Nike Air Zoom Alphafly

    When two-time Olympic gold medallist Eliud Kipchoge ran a marathon in 1:59:40 in 2019—breaking the elusive two-hour barrier—he did so in a prototype of the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%. Now, this shoe is the top Nike marathon racing option. With its responsive Nike ZoomX underfoot foam providing optimal energy return, this shoe protects against the impact of every step.

    Two slim, visible Zoom Air units deliver the most energy return of all of Nike's racing shoes, and the carbon-fibre plate in the sole of the shoe increases stiffness in the forefoot to provide a sensation of propulsion off the ground. The upper is made from the latest version of Nike Flyknit fabric called AtomKnit, a lightweight material that's steamed and stretched to provide a contoured fit while maximising breathability. For a peek behind the design of the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next%, see here.

  2. 2.Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next%

    Designed for races 10 kilometres or longer, the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% shoe is another option in the long-distance shoe line-up. Like the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly, this shoe combines a foam midsole with a full-length carbon-fibre plate for a lightweight, responsive fit that is made to help make your runs speedier.

    The shoe also features mesh panels for breathability, as well as offset laces and a padded tongue to help minimise pressure from the top of the foot. A wider toe area allows for a roomier fit, plus the grooves on the sole provide traction and multi-surface grip so you can feel confident about running in all kinds of weather conditions.

    For marathoners looking to stand out, the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% is also customisable.

  3. 3.Nike Zoom Fly

    The Nike Zoom Fly is a durable training shoe that's also designed for speed. In this shoe, lightweight Nike React foam technology is combined with an internal carbon-fibre plate, which makes for a smooth, responsive and bouncy ride. The webbing on the lacing system wraps around the foot for a secure feel from start to finish, and the mesh in the upper gives a soft and breathable feel that conforms to the feet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Nike Running Shoes Are Best for a Marathon?
Nike's top road-racing shoes are built to provide plenty of cushion, foot support, durability and speed. Top styles for racing the marathon include the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next%, Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next Nature, Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% and Nike Zoom Fly.
Should I Wear New Running Shoes for a Marathon?
Before selecting a shoe to wear on race day, be sure to test it out in training. Leading up to the race, try wearing your new shoes during a weekly speed run or during a long run to ensure they feel comfortable and supportive.

If you're planning to race in the same shoes that you've trained in, be sure they aren't ready to be retired. It's best to replace training shoes after they've been worn for about 480–565 kilometres.

Words by: Claire Tak

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