Best Women's Running Shoes

Updated August 2023
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom line
Best of the Best
allbirds Women's Tree Dasher 2
Women's Tree Dasher 2
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Most Versatile
Bottom Line

The Tree Dasher 2 was built for runners, walkers, joggers, and everyone in between them, and our tester noticed an improvement over Nike and other brands.


After 36 miles running in these shoes, our tester found them comfortable and easy to wear through lots of use. They withstand hard workouts well and don't get a stench like Nikes do. They're easy to wash, too.


They're a little costly, but our tester found them worth the price tag.

Best Bang for the Buck
Saucony Women's Cohesion 10
Women's Cohesion 10
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Most Supportive
Bottom Line

An attractive running shoe that packs the greatest amount of value for a lower price.


Affordable, yet quality remains similar to costlier brands. Triangle-shaped patterning on the sole makes the shoes stand out. Feels secure and sturdy through its rubber sole. Available in multiple colors, including teal, gray, or pea coat.


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

ASICS Women's GEL-Kayano 27
Women's GEL-Kayano 27
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Most Durable
Bottom Line

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


Standout gel cushioning system optimizes shock absorption. Midsole technology provides arch support. Structured yet lightweight, making it ideal for tougher runs or rougher locations. Looks sleek and elegant with any workout outfit.


May be on the pricey side for those not planning to regularly use them.

Adidas Women's Cloudfoam Pure Running Shoe
Women's Cloudfoam Pure Running Shoe
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Simple Yet Solid
Bottom Line

A highly popular women's running shoe that excels in the cuteness and comfort department.


Cloudfoam molds to your foot, making it super comfy; no break-in period required. Easy to clean, making it ideal for casual wear. Stylish look comes in almost two dozen color choices, including royal purple, metallic blue, or light granite.


May not be supportive enough for serious runners.

Saucony Women's Cohesion 14
Women's Cohesion 14
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Trusted Brand
Bottom Line

The ultimate combo of ultra-plush cushioning and personalized feel, according to our testers.


Well-suited for a variety of activities including running, hiking, lifting, and indoor exercise routines. Solid arch support and sole with a knit top. Relieves foot and hip paints. Fits people with wide feet perfectly.


Treads are not very secure.


After going through an intensive research process to narrow down our short list of top products in this space, we tested most of our top five to be sure that these products are worth your time. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter and test to verify manufacturer claims.

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Buying guide for best women's running shoes

If you're 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 for the kind of track or terrain you'll be running on and something that will protect and support your feet and ankles in all situations.

First-time running shoe buyers often make the mistake of using only 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, including stride, arch type, and exercise routine.

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.
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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.
Health Care Professional

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.

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."

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.
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Expert Tip
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.

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.

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Expert Tip
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 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.

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Did you know?
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.


What may appear to be decorative or elaborate striping can actually be reinforcement on 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.


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."


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.


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.

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. Ultimately, the best running shoe for you is the one that fits your foot like a well-engineered glove.

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Did you know?
Many specialty shoe stores offer as much as 20 percent 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.
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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.


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 tissue damage.

Cold Water

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


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.


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

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