The best running shoes for women will ensure your feet are properly supported and protected as you exercise. Even if you're new to running – perhaps just starting your 'Couch to 5K' training – or just like to jog occasionally, wearing the right running footwear is essential to avoid injuring your feet. As for seasoned sprinters, upgrading your footwear could be the thing that helps you smash that PB without completely ruining your legs.
This guide focuses on the best running shoes for women specifically, but we also have a guide to best running shoes in general, which covers men's and unisex options. If you're going off-road you might also want to check out our roundup of the best trail running shoes.
More and more people are getting into running at the moment. As well as being an activity that can take place outside and in a socially distanced way, it's also also one of the best exercises to help you get fit when you're unfit. Don a pair of the best running headphones to boost motivation and distract you from the pain, and perhaps splash out on a running watch to help you see your progress, then hit the pavement. Read on for some buying advice, or scroll down to browse our pick of the best women's running shoes right now.
How to choose the best running shoes for you
The best women’s running shoes are specifically designed for a woman’s foot. Therefore they’re usually lighter, softer and ergonomically designed to fit a narrower, smaller 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 end of your toes, to allow room for your feet to expand as they get hot. Most runners will go up at least half a size from their normal shoe size. If you have a history of injuries, then cushioned shoes can help provide greater impact on each foot strike.
About 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 to buy now, in order of preference
When your shoes are as versatile as the Mach 4, you can run long in them and rely on them to look after your legs, as well as take on tempo, or harder sessions and still feel fast.
If you like max cushioning, something Hoka One One is especially famous for, you'll appreciate the stack height of the Mach 4 and better still, these ultra-light women's running shoes can help you both in terms of comfort and injury prevention too. But thanks to its springiness, the Mach 4 can also enable you to go fast, offering the best of all worlds.
Some other running shoes with carbon plates might feel too firm, so if you want some softness without a squidgy feeling then opt for the Mach 4. At RRP, this shoe is also a little cheaper than similar models from other brands such as the women's version of the Saucony Endorphin Speed.
There’s really not much left to add, beyond a strong suggestion that you put these very near the top of your next potential shoe purchase list.
• Read our full Hoka One One Mach 4 review here
These shoes are for those long miles when you want to prevent fatigue as long as possible and ensure a comfortable run. From the first miles they adapt to your feet and provide premium comfort, with the soft feeling of the upper being sustained however long you run. With both superior cushioning and a soft, padded upper for comfort, you won't notice you are wearing them.
While this isn't a fast shoe, we suspect if you are a fan of Brooks as a brand, and are looking for a training shoe for your weekend long runs, you are going to think these are pretty special. These are an excellent choice for long runs and recovery days and offer a superior cushioned run.
It's worth mentioning that this model has a lot of fans, not just amongst runners, with many healthcare workers, and those in similar professions who spend long shifts on their feet, giving them a five-star rating.
• Read our full Brooks Glycerin 19 review here
P.S.: ever wondered what's the difference between the Brooks Glycerin 19 vs Brooks Launch 8? We'll tell you.
Nike leads the global R&D of running shoes, and the Pegasus Turbo 2 takes the top spot in our round-up of the best running shoes for women. Like its predecessor, the Turbo 2s feature Nike Zoom X foam, 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 this shoe on 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.
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 – the brand is popular with the world’s best ultrarunners. If you want to keep running for decades to come, 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.
Next up in our pick of the best running shoes for women is the ASICS Gel-Kayano 27. The Gel-Kayano series is a fan-favourite when it comes to stability shoes, and the 27s deliver even better performance than their predecessors. The Dynamic Duomax technology provides ample 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.
This design features Space Trusstic technology in the midsole (specifically the narrow part of the sole that connects the forefoot and the heel area), which provides added stability and reduces the overall weight of the shoe. Despite this, the Gel-Kayano 27 is not a light shoe, partially thanks 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.
The Flow Velociti Wind will give you impressive traction, feel fast and responsive propelling you forward, and offers lots of other tech in a very lightweight shoe. They keep you feeling lighter on your feet, so you can run for longer, and are meant to go fast.
This is an all-round trainer that's going to be hugely popular due to being so lightweight, giving great rebound, being innovative and easy to run in. They push you forwards, making them ideal for your tempo runs.
Is the UA FLOW VELOCITI WIND the very best running shoe out there?
It’s certainly an all-rounder and an exciting shoe, with the potential to support you over longer runs, or adapt when you want to change up a gear. The Flow Velociti Wind offers a lot; visually stunning, high-performance and lightweight.
• Read our full Under Armour FLOW Velociti Wind review here
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 prevents 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.
The Reebok Floatride is our current top pick if you're looking for the best cheap ladies' running shoe. They're not flashy, but they have all the basics you need from a great everyday running shoe, including excellent cushioning for urban outings, and a very natural feel. The energy foam midsole delivers lightweight, responsive cushioning, while a light mesh upper provides support and ventilation. It’s also the perfect shoe for the gym and cross-training. Dedicated runners will want to invest in something more advanced, but for a basic running shoe these offer excellent value, especially as they look just as great in a café as in the gym.
Another great value ladies' running shoe is the New Balance Fresh Foam Lazr 2 HypoKnit. Exceptionally comfortable, flexible and versatile, these are undeniably stylish as well as high-performing. 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.
Looking for a smarter women's running shoe? Try the Under Armour Hovr Infinite. A sensor embedded into the insole connects instantly to your phone, without the faff of having to wait for your running watch to find a satellite. It's not all about the tech though: there's also carbon-rubber traction pods that mean you can run with confidence, a compression-mesh Energy Web bringing great bounce with each stride, and an EVA sockliner that contours specifically to your foot to provide all-over support. The thick layer of HOVR foam and effective high-impact zones on the outsole also make this a great marathon shoe.
The latest upgrade to the Brooks Launch Collection, the Launch 7, has a new, lightweight, single-layer mesh upper allowing for maximum breathability. 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. We'd recommend these to runners with high arches, who are in need of extra support, as they feature 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 – and they're good value too.
The cool styling of the Adidas Supernovas makes them great for day-to-day wear as well as for running. They come in nine different colourways; our favourite is the Core Black & Signal Pink combo, but we also like 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. This soft, neutral running shoe is 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.
The best women's running shoe for tackling shorter distances might just be the Saucony Kinvara 10. Offering a lot of technology at a decent price-point, the Kinvara 10s feature an EVERUN topsole plus EVA+ midsole for maximum energy return and a cushioned ride. The engineered mesh upper locks your foot in place, making these 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!
Next up in our ranking is the HOKA Evo Carbon Rocket running shoes. 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!