As seen in:
ASICS
Women's GEL-Kayano 22
Nike
Women's Revolution 2
Saucony
Women's Cohesion 7
PUMA
Women's Cell Turin
Salomon
Women's XR Mission
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Good

Incredibly durable. Stand-out gel cushioning system optimizes shock absorption. Shoes glow in the dark to maximize nighttime safety.

A top running shoe from a renowned company. At a mere 7.3 oz, these shoes offer exceptional comfort, traction, and control.

Quality similar to costlier brands. These shoes stand out for the triangle-shaped patterning on the sole that feels sturdy and secure during activities.

Sleek design and comfortable, snug fit. Water-resistant leather exterior, mid-range price, and classic, no-frills style.

Flexible soles and Quicklace system provide comfort and convenience. Solid outsoles create extra traction.

Bad

These shoes run one-half to one size small, and they are fairly expensive.

Runs somewhat narrow and can be uncomfortable for those with wider feet.

At 10.2 oz each, these shoes are a bit heavy, and users can feel it.

Slightly stiff until broken in by the wearer.

These shoes run larger in size than other models.

Bottom Line

Well worth the investment, these shoes provide everything you expect, including comfort and style.

Though these shoes offer unique features and quality support, finding the correct size could be difficult.

An attractive running shoe that offers support and traction for less money than other brands.

This is a classic women's running shoe with a durable and comfortable design that's built to last.

The best value for the money, these quality shoes are ideal for trails and rough surfaces, though they might not fit users with small feet as well.

How we decide
BestReviews is committed to providing comprehensive and trusted reviews for products that matter to consumers. We do the research to help you save time and money.
0
Products received from manufacturers
13
Models Considered
72
Hours Spent
6
Experts Interviewed
186
Consumers Consulted

Guide to Women's Running Shoes

One common mistake first-time running shoe buyers make is shopping “off the rack,” using brand reputation, aesthetics, or advertising hype as their sole criteria in choosing a shoe.

In reality, finding the ideal women's running shoe can be a complicated process. Different kinds of feet — and different styles of running — call for different selection criteria.

Experienced runners who understand their gait and arch type may be able to replace an existing running shoe with a duplicate, but beginners should factor in some basic information before they shop, including:

  • Stride
  • Arch type
  • Exercise routine

This information figures heavily into which style of shoe will best support your feet over time.

Evaluating Your Foot

Simple tests, which are available at both athletic shoe stores and doctor's offices, can help determine your foot position and arch.

  • Professional observation of the tread wear on an old pair of shoes reveals whether your natural gait is supine (under-pronated), neutral, or pronated.
  • Standing on a dry paper bag with moistened feet reveals whether you have a high, neutral, or “flat” arch.
You can have your gait evaluated at a running shoe store or at the doctor's office.
Evaluating Your Foot

Defining Your Gait

Before investing in a pair of high-performance running shoes, a beginner should identify her natural gait. Do you have a supine, neutral, pronated, or super-pronated step?

  • Supine step: The outer edge of the foot takes the most impact. Very few people fall into this category.
  • Neutral step: The impact zone is closer to the front and middle of the foot.
  • Pronated step: The inside edge of the foot receives the greatest impact.
  • Super-pronated step: Most people exhibit some degree of pronation as they walk or run, but a handful experience moderate to severe inward motion on impact.
Evaluating Your Foot

Considering Your Arch

The other part of the shopping equation is your natural foot arch. Many adults suffer from low or fallen arches. A trained shoe fitter can easily diagnose this.

A neutral arch is ideal, but the mechanics of running could flatten it over time. To compensate, some people invest in orthotics to support their fallen arches.

An exceptionally high arch places a different kind of strain on the foot. Runners with high arches require a different type of cushioning than others.

Knowing both your running gait and arch type is essential for shopping. Look for shoes with specific features that address your arch and gait type. For example, runners with flat arches require a different level of cushioning than those with neutral or high arches. Runners with pronated or super-pronated gaits should look for product descriptions that use phrases like “motion control” or “high stability.”

Your natural foot arch is another consideration when buying the perfect running shoe.
Evaluating Your Foot

Some Notes About Cushioning

  • A runner with a large body frame experiences more shock than a petite runner and may therefore appreciate thicker cushioning.
  • Higher-arched feet tend to be less flexible than feet with neutral or flat arches, so additional cushioning may not benefit people with this foot type.
  • For some, cushioning is more a matter of preference than biometrics. Some runners prefer minimal padding so they can feel the road better. Others gravitate toward heavy cushioning in order to protect their feet from shock.
Denise
Denise
Health Care Professional

Denise has a background in healthcare and physical therapy. She also has the unique experience of raising three boys. Through the years, she has coached her sons and many of their friends through their share of childhood health problems and accidents. When not helping others recover from their injuries, you may find Denise working in her garden or reading.

Planning Your Exercise Routine

Once you've defined the biometrics of your feet, the next step is to consider the type of running or jogging activities to intend to pursue.

  • Will you run primarily on a treadmill or smooth track? Lightweight running shoes offer more sole flexibility.
  • Will you be tackling off-road terrain? Off-road running shoes employ a more aggressive traction design to help runners push through wet or unstable road conditions.
  • Will you be cross-training? Cross-trainers offer a mix of traction designs for different purposes.

Every running shoe model is designed to handle a specific kind of terrain. Understanding the type of exercise you wish to do is crucial in order to avoid buying the wrong shoe style.

Buy shoes that are right for the type of surface you will be primarily training on.
Planning Your Exercise Routine

Concerning Breathability

Breathability is an important consideration. When choosing a running shoe, let your intended exercise regimen guide you in terms of how much mesh you need.

A poorly ventilated running shoe causes the foot to sweat excessively. This moisture creates additional friction and can cause blistering. However, the solution is not necessarily to buy a shoe with the largest amount of mesh.

While improved breathability is generally a good thing, off-road runners may be trading one problem for another. Mesh-heavy running shoes definitely wick moisture away, but they also allow outside debris—sand, grass, even water—to penetrate the inner layers.

Models with lots of mesh may be more comfortable during hot weather, but the lack of insulation during cold weather can cause a runner’s feet to lose natural heat. Owning at least one pair of running shoes with less ventilation makes good sense if all-season running is part of your plan.

When choosing a running shoe, let your intended exercise regimen guide you in terms of how much mesh you need.

 

Consider the breathability of the shoe when making your decision – it can be key to training comfortably.

Evaluating Design

While “fashionable” isn't always practical, there are often good reasons for a shoe's unique stylings.

Evaluating Design

Striping

What may appear to be decorative or elaborate striping can actually be reinforcement along the most common stress points of the shoe. An ordinary street shoe would soon fall apart under the constant shock of a runner’s impact, but a running shoe with reinforced seams can handle the additional pressure.

Evaluating Design

Reflecting

Those who plan to run at night should consider shoes with reflective badges and brighter colors. However, night runners should never pin their safety on the design of their shoes alone. Additional reflective running gear is highly recommended.

Best of the Best

ASICIS Women's Gel-Kayano 22

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Evaluating Design

Lacing

Some shoes feature a traditional criss-cross lacing system. Others use a more streamlined “single pull” criss-cross pattern or Velcro strapping.

Experts suggest that laces should feel secure but not restrictive. Too-tight laces (or Velcro) cut off the foot's natural circulation and restrict movement.

The difference between each lacing method may be subtle, but the ideal end result is a shoe that remains secure throughout the entire exercise session.

 

Your laces or fastenings should feel secure but not restrictive.
Evaluating Design

Sizing

Conventional wisdom dictates that you order a running shoe at least one half-size larger than your street shoe. This rule of thumb is based on the fact that a runner's foot swells and elongates during and after a session. You should be able to fit a fingernail between the end of the longest toe and the end of the toebox.

That being said, buyers should also pay attention to customer reviews that address sizing. What Nike considers to be a size 9 may not match a Saucony size 9.

To avoid major fitting issues, we recommend that first-time buyers select something no more than one size larger than their street shoes.

 

Best Bang for the Buck

Salomon Women's XR Mission

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Pricing and Durability

A rule of thumb among experienced runners is that a quality running shoe should provide 300-500 miles of service before replacement. A number of experts recommend purchasing two pairs of shoes at once for maximum benefit. This practice allows each pair enough downtime to regain cushioning between runs. It also means a higher initial investment, but doing so can actually extend the lifespan of both sets of shoes.

Structure and design elements vary widely among manufacturers, and you may expect to pay more for a better pair of shoes. But quality doesn't always come with a higher price tag.

Biometrics, running style, design, durability, and price—all of these factors will impact your purchasing decision. But ultimately, the best running shoe for you is the one that fits your foot like a well-engineered glove.

 

The experts we talked to suggest purchasing two pairs of shoes and rotating them to extend the life of both pairs.
The team that worked on this review
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Editor
  • Michael
    Michael
    Creative Lead
  • Ann
    Ann
    Operations
  • Anton
    Anton
    Director of Engineering
  • Ben
    Ben
    Operations