Brooks Ariel
Brooks Ariel

What running shoes will be best for a marathon?

My sister Teri is running her first marathon in Florence, Italy, this November, and the Adidas Twin Strike shoes I bought her for a semi-marathon four months ago have already had their day. She has flat feet, a low arch, and needs support plus extra cushioning on her forefoot. This is vital here, and I have been doing research for her because she has little knowledge of computers and the world of online resources. Help! Tina Languedoc-Roussillon, France

Brooks Ariel

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Wow, a marathon in Florence! Makes me want to lace up the running shoes again. Last marathon I ran was on a drizzly November day in Seattle some years ago. I’d run a dozen or so marathons before, broken three hours several times, and was very much a running junkie. But something that day told me, this is kind of ridiculous. I got a sideache at mile 14, had to slow through mile 16, then was so far behind on my splits that I didn’t see the point. So I walked off the course, and never ran another marathon.

Brooks Ariel Brooks Ariel

But I digress. I’d be interested in seeing Teri’s Adidas shoes to get a sense of the wear pattern. Overall, I’d say four months of use sounds about right for someone training for a marathon and probably running 50 to 60 miles a week. But often a shoe at that point can still look pretty good—it’s the cushioning that’s shot. So signs of unusual wear can tell you a lot. That said, you seem to have a good sense of her running style: she’s a forefoot striker, has some stability problems, and, as an aside, has generally pretty rotten feet.

So what shoes are best? One good candidate: the Brooks Ariel ($110; This shoe is designed for a runner such as Teri, who has flattish feet and some stability issues. It’s always tough to mix stability with cushioning, but the Ariel has Brooks’ HydroFlow chambers in both the heel and forefoot. If Teri is a pronator—and most runners with stability issues are—then the Asics Gel-Foundation Plus ($90; is another good shoe; very stable, with pretty good cushioning. The New Balance 900 ($100; offers neutral stability and decent cushioning in a great shoe for a high-mileage runner.

In any shoe, Teri might benefit from a pair of Superfeet ($28-$35;, after-market insoles that add stability and cushioning to any shoe. They might help.

I hope your sis has fun and doesn’t ditch the sport in a huff like me!

For the year’s best running shoes, read the reviews from Outside‘s 2004 Buyer’s Guide.

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