Ready to sign up for your first marathon? Great! Now the search for the best marathon running shoes begins.
These shoes will be supporting your entire body weight for the longest 26.2 miles of your life, so they must be comfortable, durable and make your feet feel great.
Just remember, no matter which shoes you choose, wear them in a bit before the race.
The day of the marathon should not be the first time you take them out for spin.
All these are great choices. Click to see the best women's shoes, below.
Finding marathon running shoes that feel like they were specifically designed for your feet isn't always easy.
To make sure you leave the store with happy feet, you have to find shoes that fit perfectly from heel to toe. Knowing what to look for can help.
Feet tend to swell and lengthen over an extended run. There should be a space about the width of your thumb between your longest toe (which might not be the big toe) and the end of the shoe.
You should have enough room for your toes to freely wiggle up and down.
You should be able to move your foot from side-to-side, without climbing up the side. There should be about a quarter of an inch of space between the side of the shoe and the widest part of your foot.
A shoe's upper should be snug and secure around your instep. If the shoe feels great in all other areas, but you feel pressure under the tongue, it could be the way the shoes are laced up.
Try different lacing techniques to relieve the pressure. If this doesn't solve the problem, move on to another shoe.
Your heel should be cradled comfortably, without feeling tight. When the shoe is laced, but not tied, you should be able to easily slip your foot out of the shoe.
You will feel some movement in the heel, but this should be a comfortable feeling.
Although shoes need to be broken in, keep in mind that any irritation you feel in the store will be much worse when you hit the streets.
If your marathon shoes start to look worn out,
Check the flexibility of the shoes before you even try them on. If they don't have the proper flex points, they are not the marathon running shoes for you.
You can test this by holding the heel and pushing the front end of the shoe on the floor. The shoe should crease and bend exactly where your foot flexes.
Without properly aligned flex points, you put yourself at risk for developing plantar fasciitis or arch pain. A lack of flexibility can lead to calf strain or Achilles tendon injury.
Just knowing what type of arch you have isn't enough. You need to find shoes that exactly match the contour of your particular arch.
You won't be able to determine whether or not the arch is right just by stomping your foot on the floor, you have to take the shoes for a test run.
Many shoe stores have a treadmill for this purpose. If not, run around the store or down the sidewalk to see how the shoes feel in action.
Don't Buy for Looks
You want to look great for your first marathon, but preventing injuries and running a great race is much more important.
When you go shoe shopping, think comfort, not fashion.
Ask for Deals
Many shoe store owners are also sponsors of marathons or races, or offer discounts to repeat customers like members of local running clubs.
This makes them very motivated to offer discounts to serious runners. You might not get a deal, but it never hurts to ask.
Buy Shoes that Fit
Re-read the section on giving your feet wiggle room. Women are especially prone to buying shoes that are way too small.
Because they have become accustomed to tight fitting shoes and might not want to reveal their real shoe size, they are very likely to buy marathon running shoes that are too small.
This leads to blisters, bruised toenails and all sorts of other problems.
Shop After 4pm
This may sound silly, but it is a proven fact that your feet "grow" throughout the day. This may be due to the time you spend on them.
After a night of rest, your feet go back to normal. Once you get up and all of your body weight is put on your feet, they begin to swell because of the extra blood rushing down to compensate for the extra stress.
Experts say that by around 4pm they have swollen as much as they are going to, so this is the time to try on shoes.
Don't Get Stuck on a Number
Many people think they are a size six and no other size will do.
A size six from Nike is not necessarily the same as a size six from New Balance. Sizes differ for a variety of reasons – it could be the shape of the upper, a different last, the way the shoe is sewn together, or some other reason.
"If the shoe fits, wear it" -- don't worry about what number is stamped on the bottom.