How to Choose the Right Shoe for Marathon Training

With 12 weeks to go until the TCS New York City Marathon, it’s time to start training. If you’re looking for guidance in that regard, we have the 12-week TCS New York City Marathon Virtual Training Program starting this week. The program dynamically adjusts your training program to your fitness level as you prepare for the five boroughs.

But now that you might’ve settled the question of how to train, there’s still the question of what to train in. To cover one part of that question, we started from the ground up and talked shoes with Conor Shelley, Trackster/Technical Field Representative at New Balance. Shelley was on hand at the TCS New York City Marathon Training Expo at the NYRR RUNCENTER to answer questions from The Run On staff as well as from runners stopping in for some tips.

Here’s a quick video with Conor, followed by a short Q&A on how to choose the right shoe.


Q. What is some advice you can give, for someone training for their first marathon, on what to look for in running gear?

I’m going to highly recommend that you come to a local run specialty spot or the New Balance Run Hub here at the [NYRR] RUNCENTER, and get fit for a pair of running shoes that is fit for your biomechanics, not your friends’. Then, also, get fit for a nice pair of performance socks. You don’t want to have some cheap cotton something or other—it’s gonna cause some blisters. And then we want to make sure that you have a nice performance fabric, preferably a tech fabric, or a wool blend that’s going to allow you to wick moisture away.

And then, last but not least, whatever you get, try to slowly learn that that is the product that you are going to try to wear on race day. You’ll hear your coaches say, “Nothing new on race day,” so you start trying it out now.

Did You Know?

When you purchase a pair of shoes at the New Balance Run Hub, New Balance will donate a pair of shoes to a student in NYRR's free youth running programs through NYRR and New Balance's 1 for You 1 for Youth initiative.

Q: On shoes, can you talk about the difference between a highly cushioned shoe, a neutral shoe, and maybe more of a speed shoe?

First and foremost, you have a stability shoe and a neutral shoe as the traditional breakdown of the two categories of product.

Q: Especially for marathoners?

Yes, especially for a marathoner. And the idea is that, a stability shoe is going to correct the imbalances or mis-alignments in certain athletes, that is not necessarily a part of every single athlete’s biomechanics.

The other piece there is weight, cushion, and speed, or pop. These things are not necessarily mutually exclusive to each other nowadays, so there are some lightweight shoes that provide a lot of cushioning, and there are some heavyweight shoes that are actually a little bit firmer.

But the big thing is—and as a professional fitter, what happens a lot to me is—when someone walks in and says that their friend recommended their favorite shoe, or they show up with a five-star review on the internet without any other information based upon their running. I won’t say I laugh to myself, but for lack of a better phrase, I kind of laugh to myself, because, just because it works for one other person doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to work for you. Which is why I recommend going into a physical shop, where there is somebody that is experienced and professionally fits people for running products.

Q: Especially if you’re gonna do a marathon, 26.2 miles, you don’t want to just wear the hottest product.

Correct, yes, we want to make sure, and any professional fitter wants to make sure that you are wearing the product that works for your feet and not someone else’s.

If you're in the market for a pair of new running shoes before your next marathon, stop by the NYRR RUNCENTER featuring the New Balance Run Hub, or check out for more official TCS New York City Marathon apparel and footwear.

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NYRR Staff

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