Best Ultramarathon Shoes

 best ultramarathon shoes

Best Ultramarathon Shoes

 

When you think ultramarathon, what often comes to mind is crazy long distances, rugged terrain, ascents and descents (elevation gain, maybe?), varied weather, aid stations, camaraderie, and a massive sense of accomplishment. An ultramarathon shoe is a tool and a very important one at that, that must be tried and tested in training so the runner can rely on it on race day. It has to endure the weather, terrain, and distances. Trail-running is a sport is becoming increasingly popular (especially in light of recent world events), so I thought this may be a good post to explore as the running community expands. In no particular order, I’ve looked at a few popular long-distance, ultra-marathon running specific footwear (trail ultras) – the tech, the fit, and the cost-point. 

Consider what terrain you’ll be spending a significant amount of time on, the distance covered, and potential weather conditions. Why? Because you’ll need to consider the sole and materials of the shoe, so they best suit the conditions. Personally, I like a shoe that works well in mud, on rocks and sandstone escarpments (where I run in Australia has a ton of this) and sand. I also like a sole where I don’t feel sharper surfaces or rocks putting pressure on the bottom of my feet and metatarsals. 

 

Shoe 1: Hoka One One Speedgoat 4

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In the trail and ultra community, this is a well-loved shoe. Having taken a pair for a spin myself, I really enjoyed how it felt like a true ‘race’ trail shoe. Lightweight, well-cushioned, and responsive. The sole isn’t overly aggressive either, so you can run a variety of trail terrain in them. However, the mid-sole of the shoe is particularly thick, so if you like that close to ground contact, and to really feel the heel-to-toe push off, this may not be the shoe for you. After all, Hoka are known for their cushioned shoes, with the rocker feature. If you know your trail shoes, you shouldn’t be surprised about this! The sole is Vibram, with excellent traction/grip- so it does work well on the trails. 

The stability is more on the neutral side, as to be expected from a trail shoe. This allows for better traction and responsiveness on uneven ground and reduces the risk of a dreaded sprained ankle. One thing I did notice about this shoe, is it is better suited for a narrow foot, such as my own. I struggled to find a trail shoe that fits as well as the Speedgoat did. It does fit true to size and width, from the description. 

This shoe has a heel drop of 4mm and weighs around 9.2 ounces for women, 10.8 for men.

 It prices around $145.

Shoe 2: Salomon S Lab Ultra 2

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This is also a highly-discussed and popular shoe in the trail-running world. Salomon promotes this as their ultramarathon specific shoe. Being the 2nd generation model, Salomon has had some time to up the game on the technical features. According to their website, they have improved the weight of the shoe, the durability and kept all the comfort features onboard. The shoe, in essence, retains its speedy trail race purpose. Salomon is known for making shoes that are durable and can deal with almost all terrain. Mud, snow, sand, tree-roots, wood-chips – you name it. The midsole is made of long-lasting polyurethane foam, which Salomon describes as ideal for ultra-running. Their outsole is made of what they term their ‘premium Wet Traction Contragrip’. Since it is a trail-racing designed shoe, I have read from reviews that it generally doesn’t last as long as others, especially if it has been put through the trials of an ultramarathon, or training for one.

This shoe weighs in at 285g (men), and an 8mm heel drop. It prices at $180, however, Salomon is offering it for $135 currently.

 

Shoe 3: Saucony Peregrine 10 

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Saucony promotes this as one of their best trail-running shoes, perfect for uneven and varied terrain, climbing, and descending. It is a neutral shoe, as per most trail running shoes, and is cushioned so they have comfort but still retain that responsive edge. This shoe is great for rocky terrain. Saucony has integrated a rock plate into the sole of the shoe, so you’ll be right on sharper stone surfaces. Further, the outsole has been made to work well in tough conditions that promote wear and tear. Some reviews have said the shoe is quite flexible and therefore is very responsive. Make sure to break this shoe in before you use it for longer runs, including an ultramarathon. 

This shoe weighs 10.7 ounces for men (303g) and 9.3oz for women (264g), and has a 4mm heel-to-toe drop. It currently retails for $120 as per Saucony’s website.

 

Shoe 4: Salomon Sense Ride 2

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Different from the S Lab Ultra discussed above, this shoe is perfect for both training and racing and works well on most terrain. This is the perfect shoe if you’re new to ultramarathon training and don’t want to invest in a specific racing shoe just yet. Salomon discusses their technologies for each part of the shoe. The outsole is what they label, ‘Contagrip MA’, which is a sole that is composed of different compounds of varied densities. In utilizing this material, different parts of the sole of the shoe can be harder or softer, as required for the style of shoe Salomon are designing. This ensures that the shoe will likely last longer on varied surfaces. Where the shoe is more likely to wear down (the edge of the heel, as an example), the compound will be higher density and more rigid as a result. The Midsole of the shoe uses ‘Vibe’ technology (it is written on the side of the shoe) – to which Salomon explains “attenuates vibrations” to optimize shoe responsiveness in contact with the ground. To put it more simply, the shoe is designed to absorb shock and adapt appropriately for the comfort of the wearer. The Chassis (the framework or membrane of the shoe to put it in other words, i.e, the insole board or structure), is designed to prevent feeling rocks or sharp surfaces on foot.

 

I do like how they used a quick-lace system for this shoe. It makes life a little easier. If you’re not a fan of this, you could buy laces to lace the shoe normally. I also like the rigid toe box so if you hit large rocks with the front of your foot, or trip up, you don’t get a nasty bloody toenail as a result. This is a big must for me when buying a durable trail shoe. 

The Sense Ride 2 has an 8mm heel drop, and weighs This shoe won’t break the bank, at $84, down from $120 as per Salomon’s website.

 

Shoe 5: Asics Gel-Fujitrabuco 8

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I have personally used these shoes and really enjoyed them. My feet feel supported for a trail shoe, and I don’t feel the rocks underfoot. For me, this is a big bother if the trail has a lot of stones and I know I’ll be out there for a while. The shoe has a rock protection plate in it, which is great. Asics praise this trail-running shoe for its comfort and durability, alongside excellent traction on the sole. I can confirm that the sole grip on this shoe is great, I’ve tested it out in some pretty muddy conditions, such as Boise’s wet, muddy foothills sand. It makes for a whole lot nicer of a run. 

In terms of shoe tech, Asics claim that their ASICSGRIP outsole has bettered the traction on the shoe for wet and slippery surfaces, and uneven terrain. Stability is also an important factor for those who require or desire a bit more support, especially over the ultra-distance. Asics explains that they have improved this on the latest model of the Fujitrabuco, compared to the 7. The shoes also have reflectors on them, great for racing or running at night (in which most ultra’s you will be!)

One thing I did notice was the shoe isn’t too heavy, even though it looks it from the photos online. I was quite surprised when it arrived and felt how light it was compared to my expectations. It weighs around 12.2oz or 346grams, with an 8mm heel drop. These shoes won’t hurt the wallet too much, coming in at around $130. 

What shoes do ultra-marathon runners wear?

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Ultramarathoners wear shoes that are going to last a few tough training sessions, race day, and perform optimally on trails which vary in terrain, incline and can last in unpredictable weather conditions. There isn’t one specific shoe that is going to work better than another as it isn’t one-size-fits-all. Also, most people are looking to spend within a range to suit their budget. I recommend trying shoes on in-store if this is possible, or ordering a few pairs and returning the ones that aren’t suitable. Most places allow for this, especially in these times. Otherwise, read up as much as you can on shoes, and get the advice of teammates, friends, or family in the sport (this is where this post can help out as well!) You’ll assist yourself on the path to achieving your best and being the best ultramarathon runner you can be in a pair of shoes which you feel the best in and are right for your foot type. Which leads perfectly into the next question….

 

What are the best shoes for running ultramarathons?

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Any one of the shoes discussed above may be right for you and your goals, training load, foot type, and injury history (if any, hopefully not too much). There are a few more brands that I didn’t discuss which do good ultramarathon running shoes. Here are some you can check out:

  • Altra
  • Innov
  • Merrel 
  • Nike Trail Running collection (Did you know they have a Nike Pegasus Trail? I love to jog in my Peg 36’s, and it was cool to learn there’s a trail shoe version of this model) I also hear the Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 6 isn’t a bad choice either)

As I always stress, take into account your foot type. For example, I have narrow feet, one foot is half a size bigger, and I pronate slightly more. So I’m going to look for a shoe that is slim fitting, doesn’t irritate the heel or Achilles of my bigger foot, and has slightly more stability or a stability piece integrated into the model of the shoe. Most ultramarathon shoes are neutral in design, as this is best for varied terrain and prevention of ankle sprains. The shoe is more flexible and your foot can adapt to the changes in terrain easier with this type of fit.

It’s also important to consider cushioning and heel-to-toe drop, as the higher the shoe is off the ground, the more likely you are to sprain an ankle. For me, this is a no-go, particularly when fatigue hits, and my step or stride is prone to becoming more clumsy in a race or session. 

 

What shoes do elite ultramarathoners train in?

The best wear the shoes they feel most comfortable and confident in. They definitely trial and test their shoes before race day, whether it’s in speed specific, race-specific or base-building training sessions. Know the shoe and how it works. I know of elite ultramarathoners who swear by Salomon and others who love Saucony. It really is about personal preference. Often companies that align better with the outdoors scene, trail running specifically and are known for durable, reliable gear, will draw in the ultramarathon crowd on a larger scale. 

 Keep in mind, most elites have a sponsorship of some sort, so it is likely they’ll be sporting a specific model of their sponsorship line of shoes. They’ll probably promote them too, on social media and on race day. Also, to end on a nice note, I saw plenty of these beautiful wildflowers which have just started to bloom on the trails today. What a beautiful time of year to be clocking in mileage….

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Best 5k Running Shoes

 

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Selecting the best 5k Running Shoes to optimize your race is important to the athlete. It is essential to find the best-fit considering factors such as the individual’s foot type, biomechanics, race, and training goals, training level (from weekend warrior to elite athlete), weekly/monthly mileage, and speed. For elite athletes, selecting the best racing flats for 5k is important. Now is the perfect time to find your best shoe before races start up again, hopefully in a few months. There’s time to test and try shoes out on varied surfaces, research shoes, and talk to fellow teammates or training partners before you commit to purchase. I’ve found quite a few nifty running shoe discounts online as companies desire to increase profits and sales turnover in an unstable economy at present. Try any of these, dependent on your location, to find your best 5k running shoes:

International:

 

Australian

 

These shoes are in no particular order, and there are many more that I’d recommend also, so just comment or contact me and I will be able to provide insight into other shoes on the market. I tried to be brand diverse, exploring a few different shoes on the market to give an all-around overview of what is available. 

Shoe 1: Nike ZoomXVaporfly Next%

These shoes have earned worldwide acclaim, and you may have heard of them before as these snazzy shoes have been worn by Eluid Kipchoge and Mo Farah to run some very speedy times. Having worn these shoes before, I instantly noticed the bouncy cushion under my feet, linking it to the ‘energy return’ and optimization of running efficiency Nike promotes under the label of these shoes. The engineering behind this is the ultra light-weight carbon fibre plate in the midsole of the shoe, cushioned between two ZoomX foam layers. This ZoomX foam is Pebax-based, meaning it is lightweight, provides optimal cushioning and optimal energy return. This time around, Nike footwear engineers have added 15% more ZoomX foam on the Next%, compared to the previous model, the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%, increasing the energy return even further than 4%. This is according to Nike engineers and independent studies conducted (see https://bit.ly/3duMjnF)

The traction on the sole of the shoe ensures grip on the track, wet or dry road and even works well on gravel surfaces. These shoes have a 40mm sole, and a 9mm drop, which means they are very well cushioned and can help prevent muscle fatigue leading up to race day. I have personally felt less muscle fatigue the day after a session in these shoes. Further, the Vaporweave upper is a woven blend of thermoplastic polymers and nylon which have water and sweat resistant properties. The laces are looped through slashes on the sides of the shoe, requiring no band and securing the feet nicely for a comfortable fit. 

Weighing in at around 190grams, this shoe is lightweight and speedy, but not at the compromise of cushion and comfort. 

These shoes are a little pricey, retailing for around cheapest price $180-$300 USD, but I find most reputable stores are retailing them for $250USD (based on online figures). Grab yourself some fresh kicks here: https://swoo.sh/3boPR9c

 

Shoe 2: Asics Lyteracer TS 7

I thought I’d throw in an Asics shoe as this company has some pretty decent shoes for road racing and I often find they are under-explored as an option for athletes. Particularly those requiring a bit more support in the foot. The shoe is a great all-rounder, versatile on the track and road. I would use this shoe for shorter distance road races, like the 5k, up until the marathon (however watch the wear and tear, it is important to not wear an overused shoe for a marathon, it’s a long way). You want to break in a shoe, trial it out, and feel comfortable to run in it for the full 42.2km. 

This shoe has a 10mm heel drop (or gradient), slightly more than the Nike Next%. This ensures good absorption on hard surfaces through the heel/midfoot dependent on the athlete’s biomechanics when in the landing part of your stride. Asics claims that the “Speva Foam midsole” combined with the  “high-abrasion rubber improves durability to ward off wear and tear”, allowing the shoe to be used for larger amounts of mileage before a new pair is needed (https://asics.tv/3boPP14) This is a plus. Then again, I always say it is dependent on the runner’s biomechanics, the surfaces the shoe is used on, and how often the shoe is used in the athlete’s shoe rotation which determines the mileage a shoe can handle…..

Further, I always find Asics suits narrower feet, like my own. The lacing system also allows for a tighter, supported fit in this sense. I always prefer this extra support. Why? If I going to be running on the road and harder surfaces a lot, I want my foot to be landing with optimal placement in relation to my biomechanics, to reduce my risk of injury. The shoe needs to work with my body, not against it. 

The shoe is designed for those who have a neutral or under pronation type, however over-pronator type feet can also use this shoe (I am a over pronator) for racing and workouts as this is not as essential. Over-pronation means when the foot naturally rolls in more than usual. Neutral explains itself in a sense, “neutral”.  My training shoes are more important to me to have stability features for over-pronation than a racing flat. 

The women’s model weighs around 179grams whilst the mens is 235grams.

These shoes are not too pricey, around $100USD. Grab your pair here: https://asics.tv/3boPP14

 

Shoe 3: New Balance 1400v6 

The new version 6 of the 1400 shoe has had some upgrades! The upper is now lighter in weight, yet maintains the same firm structure to optimize stability for a racing flat. This can be hard to find in other racing flats from other brands. An important feature for those with wider feet, is the roomy upper. New Balance tends to make shoes that suit wider feet, so I always take this in to account (I have an extremely narrow foot). The REVlite foam is continued from the older versions. It is well cushioned to the preference of many road racers, so New Balance have intelligently kept it on board as a key feature to this shoe. The Fantom Fit support cage allows for a secure midfoot fit according to New Balance, however it still maintains breathability, being constructed from a synthetic air mesh. The new tongue design also improves the fit of this shoe, compared to the old models. They took this from their track-specific footwear which I found very interesting. Faster shoe = better fit and vise versa….

This is the heaviest shoe I’ve looked at so far, weighing in around 240grams (7.2 ounces). Like most of the racing flats, it also has a 10mm heel to toe drop. Also the cheapest pair so far, these guys retail for $99.99 USD. Grab a pair here: https://bit.ly/2y9NrwW

Shoe 4: Adidas Adizero Takumi Sen 6

These are a great pair of lightweight racing flats. They are super responsive, have a low heel to toe drop, and according to Adidas, acquire a “foot-hugging fit”. The Lightstrike cushioning is designed from EVA, however this particular EVA recipe has drawn from basketball shoe foam, allowing for optimal energy return particulalry through the midsole. A bit like the Nike Next% described earlier. The upper is made from a single-layer celermesh which is new to this shoe model and has a seamless appearance. It fits a little bit like a built-in bootie, which is super cool. It is lightweight, breathable, and holds the foot in nice and snug. 

The outsole is made from “quickstrike rubber”, allowing for a fast and sleek toe-off with good traction. The shoes are designed for speed! A US Size 9/UK Size 8.5 mens weighs in around 197 grams. They are a little heavier than the Nike Next%, but lighter than the Asics and New Balance options. Saucony wins in the weight department for 5k racing shoes, however. For some more quick stats, the 5mm midsole drop suits the flat and fast style and design of this Adidas shoe. It is designed to be responsive to the individual’s biomechanics and optimize energy return. 

One thing to note from some feedback is that the toebox fits narrower at front than previous Adidas racing flat models. So if you have particulalry wide feet, maybe consider trying this on in store, or looking at the New Balance option or Brooks options. 

These guys sit more mid-range in pricing, at $160USD. Grab a pair here: https://bit.ly/2QMeaWD

Shoe 5: Saucony Type A9

This shoe stands out because it is super lightweight, weighing in around 170 grams. This is largely thanks to the SSL EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) foam midsole, which also absorbs shock well and thus suits the road and track environments. The soft, minimalist upper aligns with the overall lightweight design of this shoe. The lowest heel to toe drop, at just 4mm, makes it suited to its label as a super-speedy road racing flat. Saucony have taken into account the importance of a road racing shoe that works well in varied weather conditions, with a wet-grip upper rubber, and lugs in the forefoot rubber for excellent traction when the athlete pushes off with their toes. 

I would keep in mind however, that the upper fit is tight. I experienced this trying the shoe on, however once my foot was inside the shoe, the toe box had plenty of room (too much for my extremley narrow foot in fact!). The shoe is also not optimal in the rain in terms of water absorption. However, many are willing to compromise this for an ultra-lightweight racing flat. 

Similar in price to the Asics and New Balance, they come in at around $80- 100 USD. Get your pair here: https://bit.ly/2WHgORh

So, what are the best shoes for running a 5k?

I can’t pin down exactly what the best shoe is. It is very much up to the individual and their needs. What might be my ultimate shoe may differ for another athlete. I see this all the time in the sport, it is very natural. However, to be more specific, needs include the fit, current training level/position, mileage, race goals both short and long term, advice of an experienced running shoe expert (in Australia and America, I take advice from my coaches, sports podiatrist, physiotherapist and running shoe specific stores like Running Science or Pace Athletic). I have personally used the Asics Tatherzeal, Asics DS Trainer and Racer, Nike Zoom Vaporfly Next%, Nike Air Zoom Streak 7 and Asics Gel Feather-Glide. These have all worked well for me. If you like a low heel to toe drop and minimal stability, go for the Nike Air Zoom Streak 7. Cushioning, I’d say the Vaporfly’s. For good stability, a bit of support and speed, either of the Asics are the go. In saying this, it has been a while since I have done a road race as I am a collegiate athlete. 

 

Best 5k running shoes 1I decided to speak to my Australian coach Gary Howard, co-founder of Australian running group Run Crew (see https://www.runcrew.com.au/) to gain some insight from someone who has been on the scene as an experienced athlete and coach for quite some time. I very much respect his opinion! The coaches at Run Crew are bloody brilliant. Specializing in distances from 800m-ultramarathons, the coaches here tailor the training to your needs, and will write online programs for you no matter where you are in the world. They also run sessions in Sydney which I attended regulalry when I lived in Sydney, and smaller coordinated groups around Australia I believe. 

Gary explained that he generally found (from experience and studies) that most are better in Vaporfly, but he has seen the Nike Streak LT be a good shoe if the individual is conditioned appropriatley to wear it. He mentioned that some good in between shoes are the Nike Streak, New Balance 1400 (discussed above) and Adidas Takumi Sen (also reviewed above). Thanks Gary for the input! Give Run Crew a look if you’re interested in joining the squad or obtaining an online runninng especially during this unstable time where we all have to socially distance from each-other for the greater good of society.)

Again, it’s all about the individual preference. I like to gather as much information and research as possible (from reliable, experienced human sources and online). I also can’t stress the benefit of trying a pair on and going for a light jog around the store if possible, and getting your foot mechanics assessed by a qualified podiatrist. This is how you ensure the optimal shoe and runner team fit. Ultimately, you’ll run a better 5k. Happy running!