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Updated February 2017

Best Women's Running Shoes

Updated February 2017
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.

Best of the Best
ASICS
Women's GEL-Kayano 22
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Good
Incredibly durable. Stand-out gel cushioning system optimizes shock absorption. Shoes glow in the dark to maximize nighttime safety.

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

Bottom Line
Well worth the investment, these shoes provide everything you expect, including comfort and style.
Nike
Women's Revolution 2
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Good
A top running shoe from a renowned company. At a mere 7.3 oz, these shoes offer exceptional comfort, traction, and control.

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

Bottom Line
Though these shoes offer unique features and quality support, finding the correct size could be difficult.
Saucony
Women's Cohesion 7
Check Price

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

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

Bottom Line
An attractive running shoe that offers support and traction for less money than other brands.
PUMA
Women's Cell Turin
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Good
Sleek design and comfortable, snug fit. Water-resistant leather exterior, mid-range price, and classic, no-frills style.

Bad
Slightly stiff until broken in by the wearer.

Bottom Line
This is a classic women's running shoe with a durable and comfortable design that's built to last.
Best Bang for the Buck
Salomon
Women's XR Mission
Check Price

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

Bad
These shoes run larger in size than other models.

Bottom Line
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 Decided
  • 13 Models Considered
  • 72 Hours Spent
  • 6 Experts Interviewed
  • 186 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    GUIDE TO WOMEN'S RUNNING SHOES

    If you are looking to have a fit and healthy body, running can be one of the best ways to do so. And running success begins with the proper footwear!

    You need something that provides proper traction, based on the kind of track or terrain you will be running on. Something that will protect and support your feet and ankles in all situations.

    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.

    When you go to purchase your running shoes, keep plenty of time on hand, so you don't have to rush in making a choice. Buying wrong running shoes may lead to serious health issues, such as stress fractures.

    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.
    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.
    Your feet actually tend to swell — even if it is very little — by evening every day. Hence, shopping for shoes towards the end of the day will give a better fit for running, when your feet are bound to swell due to longer exercise time.
    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 an important 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
    EXPERT CONSULTANT

    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.


    Denise  |  Health Care Professional

    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 you 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.

    When trying out running shoes, wear the kind of socks or orthotics that you expect to be wearing during your exercise. This will help you find the correct fit.

    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 who buy into lots of mesh 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.

    Running shoes should feel supported in the heel yet moderately roomy in the toebox. However, too much “bend” in the toebox could cause a serious abrasive injury.

    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

    Reflectors

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

    Running shoes will last for around 500 miles, so make the investment towards a good pair, rather than one from a bargain bin.

    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.

    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 a product no more than one size larger than their street shoes.

    Your running shoe should contour to the shape of your feet. Make sure there's extra room at the toe, and your feet are firmly secured without chances of twisting or tipping over. The heel of the shoe should keep your ankle in place and not let it piston up and down.

    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.

    Many specialty shoe stores offer as much as 20 per cent discounts for running club members. If you are part of any such club, be sure to ask for any such discounts before paying.

    RUNNING SHOE MAINTENANCE

    Keeping Them Clean

    As a runner, you regularly put your shoes through a gauntlet that may include dirt, mud, sand, and other debris. It’s important to clean your shoes after each use. If they’re white, you may be able to reduce fading by gently scrubbing the shoes with a toothbrush and diluted bleach.

    Keeping Them Fresh

    Store your running shoes in a well-ventilated area so bacteria and odors have a chance to dissipate. You may also wish to apply a thin layer of foot powder to the shoes every several weeks to help diminish unwanted moisture.

    Keeping Them in Working Order

    You may find yourself needing to replace parts of your shoes before they’re completely worn out. Insoles are fairly inexpensive to find and replace, as are laces. Tread is a little trickier, though. Once the tread on your running shoes has worn down, it’s time to get a new pair.

    The experts we talked to suggest purchasing two pairs of shoes and rotating them to extend the life of both pairs.

    PREPARING YOUR FEET FOR A MARATHON

    If you’re prepping for a marathon, you probably already understand the importance of paced training, recovery periods, and a diet rich in carbs, iron, and other nutrients. But what about your feet?

    To help our readers better prepare for marathons and other athletic hurdles, we assembled a team of experts who know a lot about caring for the feet in times of great physical stress. Our team included members of the U.S. Special Operations community as well as civilian distance runners.

    To avoid foot pain and enjoy a great marathon experience, our expert team recommends that you observe the following tips:

    • Buy new running shoes several months in advance of your event.
    • Break in your new shoes with small training intervals. Our team recommends a distance of one mile or less for your first session.
    • Gradually increase mileage during your break-in sessions. Some members of our team like to double the distance covered with each session.
    • Wear clean, dry socks that fit every time you run. This minimizes your chance of blistering and other injuries.
    • Decide which type of shoelaces you prefer and use those. You may have to swap out the original laces for new ones, but you’ll be glad you did. Many people are happiest with soft laces.
    • If able, change your running shoes mid-race. This promotes even wear and allows the shoes time to rejuvenate between wearings.
    Many studies show that “special features” of running shoes are no guarantee for injury-free performance. So, unless your doctor advises gel inserts or such, basic versions of running shoes work just as well.

    MARATHON RECOVERY

    Your feet bear the brunt of the impact when you run. Take time to rest and rejuvenate them after a long session. You don’t just deserve it; you need it.

    Ice

    Applying an ice pack to your feet may hurt, but it helps prevent swelling and promotes blood flow. Limit your session to less than 20 minutes to prevent frostbite.

    Cold Water

    Running cold water from a tub or garden hose over your feet also helps eliminate swelling.

    Elevation

    Prop your feet up after a run. This allows pooled blood to drain, preventing soreness and diminishing your chances of injury in the short and long term.

    Massage

    Regular foot massage encourages blood flow and overall health. You needn’t pay for a pricey professional massage; you could use a foot roller or a mechanical massager

    The team that worked on this review
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Editor
    • Michael
      Michael
      Creative Lead
    • Anton
      Anton
      Director of Engineering
    • Ben
      Ben
      Operations
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer