Best women’s running shoes 2020

11 of the best running shoes for women of all abilities and running styles

Woman running in the countryside
(Image credit: Getty Images)

 A pair of the best women’s running shoes is the most important piece of fitness kit you’ll ever own, alongside the best sports bra of course! Whether you’re looking to start running, have graduated Couch to 5K during lock down or are a seasoned runner, the best running shoes (whether you're a man or a woman) are essential. 

Right now running might look a little different to usual; social distancing worries might mean you’re running outdoors when you’re used to pounding a treadmill at the gym, or perhaps you’ve swapped from the pavement to a treadmill in your home gym because of the increasingly cold and dark mornings and evenings. However you do it, running is one of the best exercises to help you get fit when you're unfit, and it's a time-proven way to lose weight at home.

Although a lot of the most sought after running shoes are at the premium end of the price scale– and frequently sold out, due to the recent explosion of interest in running – there are plenty of budget-friendly options in 2020. Not to mention, the best Black Friday deals and Cyber Monday deals will surely include some excellent running shoes deals. There is also the Wiggle Black Friday sale: there are savings to be made on running shoes already.

Choosing the best women’s running shoes

Women’s running shoes are specifically designed for a woman’s foot. Therefore they’re usually lighter, softer and ergonomically designed to fit a female-shaped foot. That said, if you have bigger feet or wide toes, you might prefer to run in unisex shoes, which can offer a wider toe box to prevent hotspots and blisters. You'll find some of the best below.

With any running shoe, make sure you have at least a finger’s width of space at the top of your toes for your feet to expand when they get hot. Most runners will go up at least half a size from your normal shoe size. If you have a history of injuries, then cushioned shoes can help provide greater impact on each foot strike.

At home gait analysis 

In simpler times we’d recommend you take yourself to a specialist running shoe shop to have your gait looked at before purchasing a new pair of running shoes.  It’s important to find out if you are a neutral runner or you pronate; this is where you need extra support on the inside of your feet to stop them rolling inwards and putting stress through your leg joints. 

If you haven't had this checked yet, don't stress: there’s an at-home test you can do in the meantime, and then this guide will help you choose the best women’s running shoes for you.  We’d still recommend you get your gait professionally checked when you can. 

For now, simply dip your foot in water and then stand on a piece of dry paper. If the imprint of your foot has some spacing around the arch of your foot this is ‘normal’, however if you have no indentation this suggests overpronation, and a large indentation suggests supination (or under-pronation). Whichever of these is you, look out for the best women’s running shoes recommended for these foot type.

The best women's running shoes right now 

A pair of Nike Pegasus Turbo 2, the best women's running shoes

(Image credit: Nike)

1. Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2

Achieve record breaking speed with style thanks to ZoomX foam

Specifications
Best for: Intervals, 5Ks, daily training, longer runs
Level: Beginner to elite
RRP: £159.99
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Great energy return+Secure fit from the upper due to Flywire cables
Reasons to avoid
-Large investment for beginners-May not suit runners with wider feet

Nike leads the global R&D of running shoes, and the Pegasus Turbo 2 takes the top spot in our roundup of the best running shoes for women. Like its predecessor, the Turbo 2s feature Nike Zoom X, but you'll find the Turbo 2s feel lighter and more streamlined than the Pegasus Turbo. 

You’ll still feel the exceptional energy return and plenty of speed, but this model has been updated with a feather-light upper, while innovative foam brings revolutionary responsiveness to your long-distance training. As soon as you slip on this shoe you’ll feel the difference in the lightweight upper. There’s plenty of speed in this model, but it’s a versatile shoe that will transition just as well to longer training and marathons.

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Hoka Clifton 6

(Image credit: Hoka)
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2. Hoka Clifton 6

Signature HOKA ONE ONE cushioning makes this a shoe you can run in every day

Specifications
Level: Beginner to elite (it’s a popular brand for the world’s best ultrarunners)
Best for: Daily training, summer races, longer runs, injury-prone runners
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Plush fit+Breathable upper+Excellent cushioning for longer runs
Reasons to avoid
-Can feel too narrow in toe box-Can take a while to get used to cushioning or ‘bounce’

The Clifton 6 has shed some weight, but it remains as soft and comfortable as the Clifton 5. Women with larger feet often feel that these oversized shoes aren’t for them, but once you’ve run in HOKAs you’ll never go back. You can’t fault the EVA midsole, and even though these shoes look bulky they are deceptively lightweight.

If you want to keep running, forever, their cushioning is going to seriously help preserve your joints. As a daily trainer, the Clifton 6 provides a comfortable ride. You won’t get any hotspots and it is a great recovery run shoe. These sounds are ideal for those starting to train for a spring marathon.

ASICS Gel-Kayano 27: best women's running shoes for stability

(Image credit: ASICS)

3. ASICS Gel-Kayano 27

ASICS' best stability shoes have just got better

Specifications
Level: Mainly for beginner runners but works well as recovery shoes for more experienced runners too
Best for: everyday runs, long runs, overpronators, people looking for extra support
Reasons to buy
+FlyteFoam is as good as ever+Gender specific Trusstic system+Firm heel counter
Reasons to avoid
-Slightly on the heavy side

ASICS' Gel-Kayano series is synonymous with stability shoes and the newly released Gel-Kayano 27 elevates the performance of these fan-favourite shoes even higher. The Dynamic Duomax technology provides ample amount of support on the medial side and so does the external heel counter, locking the feet in position to help reduce pain and discomfort during runs. This helps make the Gel-Kayano a comfortable shoe for daily running, especially for overpronators. 

The midsole also integrates the gender-specific Space Trusstic technology, which is the narrow part of the sole that connects the forefoot and the heel area. Despite this technology helps keep the overall weight relatively low, the Gel-Kayano 27 is not a light shoe.

This is partially due to the presence of extra stabilisation elements such as the external heel counter and the extra padding which is essential to deliver that 'Gel-Kayano feel'. Don't let this put you off, though, as this shoe will certainly help you run more injury-free.

A pair of pink Gel-Nimbus 22 women's running shoes

(Image credit: ASICS)

4. ASICS Gel-Nimbus 22

Another winner from ASICS, designed for longer mileage

Specifications
Level: Intermediate to advanced runners
Best for : Long distances
Reasons to buy
+Durable+Comfortable over long distances 
Reasons to avoid
-Not the best choice for sprinters -Opt for the Gel-Kayanos if you unstable ankles

The Gel-Nimbus 22 is the second pair of ASICS shoes we've featured in this best women's running shoes roundup. Just like the Gel-Kayano 27s, the Gel-Nimbus 22s are durable and comfortable, but they're designed for longer mileage so if you're looking to increase the distance you run and want to cover long distances on a regular basis, these are the ASICS for you.

Compared to the Gel-Kayano the Gel-Nimbus is less stable, but you'll still be supported thanks to the resin TRUSSTIC™ used in the middle part of the sole. This structural support prevent the shoes from twisting, helping your feet to land more evenly in each stride.

You'll also be comfortable underfoot thanks to FlyteFoam, ASICS' softest foam cushioning with gel and foam cushioning in the heel and mid-sole to shock-absorb as your foot strikes the ground. This technology has long been one of the benchmark levels when it comes to cushioning in running shoes and it is often as comparison to put other cushioning systems in comparison.

Reebok Floatride: the best cheap women's running shoe

(Image credit: Reebok)

5. Reebok Floatride

The best cheap women's running shoe

Specifications
Level: Good entry level shoe, yet versatile enough for competitive runners
Best for: Speed work, interval training, track, gym, activewear
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Excellent value for a performance shoe+Encourages a natural stride
Reasons to avoid
-May feel narrow in the toe box and heel

The Reebok Floatride remains a steal as we come to the end of 2020. With its Energy Foam midsole you’re guaranteed lightweight responsive cushioning. It’s an everyday shoe, with a light mesh upper providing support and ventilation.

It’s not flashy but it has all the basics including excellent cushioning for urban outings, and a very natural feel. It’s also the perfect shoe for the gym and cross-training. As the most expensive trainer prices rise to nearly £250 per pair, these offer excellent value, especially as they look just as great in a café as in the gym.

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6. New Balance Fresh Foam Lazr 2 HypoKnit

Superior comfort and a dynamic fit from the HypoKnit upper

Specifications
Level: Looking for PBs
Best for: Speed sessions on the track or a fast 5K
Reasons to buy
+Super comfortable sock-liner/integral tongue+Secure heel+Great fashion accessory
Reasons to avoid
-Tongue may crease when laces first tightened-Limited dark colourways

Another great value shoe that is exceptionally comfortable, flexible and versatile. They are undeniably as stylish as they are a performance shoe. The HypoSkin upper provides a dynamic, engineered fit that’s stretchy and is designed to mould to the natural bendiness of your foot.

The integral tongue allows a seamless interior to the upper in the front of the shoe. The data-inspired midsole design and the Fresh Foam technology offers plenty of comfort for high-impact activity, and there's an Achilles heel pocket that locks the heel in place for a secure run. The hexagonal shaping of the outsole also provides impressive traction. They’re surprisingly light for a well cushioned shoe. This shoe looks both speedy and attractive and is a favourite of ours for its secure, comfortable fit.

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7. Under Armour Hovr Infinite

A cushioned experience with accurate tracking of all running metrics

Specifications
Level: Beginners through to competitive
Best for: Longer runs where you want lots of cushioning
RRP: £120
Reasons to buy
+Digital connection to performance through UA's Record Sensor technology+Plush feel in the heel and tongue
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks a snug feel-Data connection may be temperamental

The built-in tech the Infinite offers (a sensor embedded into your insole) means you will connect instantly to your phone, without the faff of having to wait for your GPS watch to find a satellite. This has been a successful shoe since its launch early last year as it offers plentiful cushioning to reduce impact from the ground, and the compression-mesh Energy Web gives great bounce with each stride.

The thick layer of HOVR foam have made this a great marathon shoe. The EVA sockliner contours specifically to your foot, giving 100 percent support. High impact zones on the outsole are effective, with carbon-rubber traction pods under the heel to enhance confidence. Another great spring marathon shoe that will go the distance.

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8. Brooks Launch 7

A lightweight women’s running shoe that combines the speed of a racing flat with cushioning

Specifications
Level: Beginners and regular runners
Best for: Short to mid-length road running
RRP: £95
Reasons to buy
+Good arch support+Great for travelling as so light+Fun designs
Reasons to avoid
-May come up half a size too big

The latest upgrade to the Brooks Launch Collection, the Launch 7 has a new, lightweight, single-layer mesh upper allowing for maximum breathability. 

A great value and lightweight shoe, coming in at only 8oz, the Brooks Launch 7 are so light you don’t feel them, and with the BioMoGo DNA midsole cushioning and rebounding rubber you get a springy ride. They're a quick shoe, perfect for shorter distances.

They are ideal for runners with high arches due to extra support, with a midfoot transition zone shaped to go from heel to toe quickly. Available in grey, purple and a fun green with shamrock/clover pattern they are also great to look at. Overall, you will love the light, easy wear of these, which makes them a speedy shoe that's the perfect mid-point between a race shoe and a standard trainer.

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Core Black and Signal Pink Adidas Supernovas

(Image credit: Adidas )
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Sky Tiny and Signal Pink Adidas Supernova

(Image credit: Adidas )

9. Adidas Supernova

Super support and endless energy with the award winning Boost midsole

Specifications
Level: Beginner to advanced
Best for: All distances, all classes, all outfits
RRP: £84.95
Reasons to buy
+Lots of colourways to choose from+Also great for walking in+Enhanced Boost makes them even bouncier
Reasons to avoid
-Snug fit, so go up half a size to normal

We love the look of the Adidas Supernovas which makes them great to wear day-to-day as well as for running. They come in nine different colour ways; our favourites are this Core Black & Signal Pink combo, or the Sky Tiny & Signal Pink. 

Designed to be an easy shoe to wear and run in, the Supernovas are breathable, flexible and supportive. There's flexible cushioning in the forefoot plus responsive cushioning in the heel, making for comfort and incredible energy return. 

It's a soft, neutral running shoe which makes them a good choice for under-pronators (those who run with  limited inwards roll of the foot). 

Like many Adidas shoes, we'd recommend buying a half size larger than your regular as they can fit a little snug. 

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10. Saucony Kinvara 10

A well-loved shoe that's good for short distances

Specifications
Level: Beginner to advanced
Best for: 10Ks and half marathons
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight and responsive+Versatile for cross-training+Supreme comfort
Reasons to avoid
-May find it fits half a size too big-Wide toe box-Limited colourways

This is the shoe for you if you are focusing on shorter distances next year, with a lot of technology at a decent pricepoint. The EVERUN topsole plus EVA+ midsole gives maximum energy return and a cushioned ride. The engineered mesh upper locks your foot in place, making it a delight to run in.

There’s just a 4mm offset from heel-to-toe, so you get a natural feel with every stride, rather than relying on the shoe’s cushioning. Expect smooth landings and to feel in touch with the road beneath you. Definitely for those runners who are thinking of speedier runs!

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11. HOKA Unisex Evo Carbon Rocket

Having come down slightly in price, these quick-fuelled rocket shoes with a firm carbon plate will see you flying without breaking the bank

Specifications
Level: Serious speedster
Best for: Short, fast races such as 5K and 10K, speed work
RRP: £160
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Stable upper+Good shock absorption+Breathability+Great street appeal with fresh design
Reasons to avoid
-May struggle to find your size-May find the carbon plate feels stiff so expect a firm ride-Big investment for a shoe you may not use frequently-Outsole may wear quickly

These are a slightly more expensive shoe, but they're well worth the investment. With just a 1mm heel-to-toe offset you will feel your feet flying on the road or track. These go-fast shoes don’t have the signature HOKA cushioning that you'll find in the Carbon 6, but the flat carbon plate, shaped like a tuning fork, that sits 8mm above the rubberised foam outsole gives a firm yet cushioned racer.

The plate is designed for flexibility under the metatarsals, so expect your feet to be supported. These are a firm ride due to the plate and only 1mm drop, so may not suit all runners if you prefer a well-cushioned ride. The amazing colour combination is another reason to snap these up!