MARATHON - Basics of Marathon Footwear

As an orthopaedic doctor specialising in Foot & Ankle, I often get asked about the kind of footwear one should use in a marathon. Running a marathon is a challenging and rewarding activity, but it also puts a lot of stress on your feet and lower limbs. And if that stress is controlled, its great for your feet health. So run!!

Now since Mumbai Marathon 2024, is just round the corner, we believe information on how to choose your marathon footwear will be useful for the aspirants.

Choosing the right shoe can make a big difference not only in your performance, comfort and injury prevention but also will make the activity enjoyable. I have seen many of my friends ditch the activity not because of the strain on body or inertia when you start a new activity like gym but just because it was not enjoyable/comfortable.

We won't suggest any specific shoe you should use or any specific brand you should adhere to but the basics you should consider while choosing your marathon footwear. We also won't suggest generic term like "running shoes" as the term is heavily biased for the marketing campaigns run by footwear brands and at the store level it's mostly just a gimmick.

Here are some factors to keep in mind when choosing a shoe for a marathon:

Fit /Comfort

This one is most important and not only for a Marathon Setting. Any footwear from any brand and with any kind technology embedded is not good if not comfortable. Ditch it, return it!!

In terms of sizing, your running footwear should be toenail length larger than the length from back of your heel to the tip of longest toe. This is to ensure there is room for toes to wiggle and foot to expand slightly while running. If you have wide feet, consider shoes which give breathing space to your feet width - wise as well while not being loose. Do know, wide - size shoes are available, may not be at the store you are. Don't take the pressure to buy, put some effort and search the market - we guarantee you will thank yourself. Shoes should fit snugly with or without your laces tied.

Tip: Measure your feet and try shoes later in the day and not first thing in the morning as your feet do swell a bit from the activity during the day.

Support/ Stability

Many of us do not have perfect shape, arch or gait as defined by modern foot experts like us. However, you should note that shape/arch or the gait in whichever form it is, is mostly not a problem in itself (there goes the definition of perfect feet out of window! So much to call ourselves an expert!!). What's the problem if there is no problem. Let's understand it.

When we run foot and ankle play a crucial role, as they absorb the impact of landing and generate the force for propulsion. The heel and the ankle are responsible for stabilizing the leg during initial contact with the ground. The arch and the five metatarsal bones transfer the weight from the rearfoot to the forefoot. The toes and the ball of the foot are responsible for providing leverage and thrust during toe-off.

The type of foot affects the pronation or supination of the foot during running, which is the inward or outward rolling of the foot respectively. Pronation and supination are normal motions that help absorb shock and adapt to uneven surfaces. In some cases, excessive or insufficient pronation or supination can lead to injuries or inefficiencies in running.

Stability/ motion control footwear is made with extra support at required positions to help control or in extreme cases correct the running gait of the runner. While stability footwear is available everywhere, motion control footwear is found only in specialised shops. Though one should neither use stability or motion control shoes unless the condition is identified by an expert, or it may cause damage. Do not go solely by recommendations of sales executives at stores - most of us do not need such support in general.

Tip: While one should get an expert opinion to evaluate pronation/supination, one at home check could be to check your well-worn footwear and observe the outsole. If any one area/side is more rubbed-off, it may indicate that you do not have a neutral gait - don't conclude it's a problem - take opinion from expert doctors.


The shoe should provide adequate cushioning to absorb the impact of running on hard surfaces. Cushioning can also help reduce fatigue and soreness in your feet and legs. While cushioning is matter of personal choice, too much cushioning can make the shoe heavier and less responsive. You may want to try different levels of cushioning and find the one that suits your preference and running style.

Tip: Ascertain what type of surface you are going to run. The hardness and structure will ascertain the pressure and grip requirements. Mumbai Marathon 2024 route is on asphalt road so not hard as a concrete pathway but certainly more structured and supportive than rough wild trail surface.


The shoe should allow your foot to bend and flex naturally as you run. A flexible shoe can help improve your running efficiency and reduce the risk of injuries such as plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis. However, too much flexibility can compromise the stability and support of the shoe. You may want to look for a shoe that has a balance between flexibility and stability.

Tip: Many sales executives show off the flexibility by folding the shoe at all angles. Run away from such shoes!!


The shoe should be able to withstand the wear and tear of running long distances. A durable shoe can save you money and hassle in the long run. You should check the quality of the materials, stitching and sole of the shoe, and look for signs of wear such as holes, tears or cracks. You should also replace your shoes regularly, depending on how often and how far you run.

Tip: You can WALK in your running shoes - they are great - isn't it a revelation. Save that money on walking shoes unless you are using customised motion control shoes.

Break In

Train in the shoes which you plan to use during actual run.

Break in your shoes to prevent blisters and increase comfort. While your shoes adjust to your feet and your feet adjust to your new shoes, there will probably be some very slight friction which could cause blisters. Begin breaking in your new shoes by going on shorter runs or walking.

Running a marathon is an amazing achievement that requires dedication, training and preparation. Choosing the right footwear is an important part of that preparation. By following these tips, you can find the shoe that will help you run faster, longer and happier.

DON'T STRAIGHTWAY BUY SHOE ONLINE. GO TO STORES, CHECK, DO A TRIAL WALk & THEN FOR BEST DEALS LOG ON.......... Nah, we don't recommend any particular brand/site. HAPPY HUNTING!!