You may not be able to hit the treadmill at the gym now like you normally would, but you can always take your runs to the park or your neighborhood. In fact, running outdoors is considered more rewarding and more well rounded than doing it indoors. If you really want to tap into a runner’s high, however, you’ll need the right running shoes. Thankfully, big advances in athletic footwear have been developed to ensure quality runs — from new outsole technology and high-tech fabrics and materials to dial-closure systems and pairs embedded with sensors to sync to your smartphone.
There are different types of shoes for different types of runners. The running shoes you need will depend on a lot of factors, including your weight, foot shape, and experience level, as well as the kind of run you’re gearing up for and the surface you plan on running on. Maybe you’re a casual jogger who needs something comfortable, a beginner looking for maximum stability and support, or a budding athlete planning to ramp up speedwork. Taking all these elements into account, we have compiled here the best running shoes for women. Say goodbye to sore and achy feet with our top picks.
At a Glance:
- Best for high-impact running:
- Best for minimizing vibration:
- Best with smart tech:
- Best for race running: The North Face Flight RKT
- Most versatile:
- Most comfortable:
- Best for trail running:
- Best for beginners:
Best for road running: Reebok Fusion Flexweave
Reebok’s Fusion Flexweave is specifically designed for high-impact running like sprints, speed training, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). These ultra-lightweight, supportive road runners feature an upper made of Reebok’s Flexweave material, a figure-eight open-weave technology that’s breathable and lightweight.
The Fusion Flexweave’s multidimensional cushioning sports the brand’s Floatride Foam core. which provides great shock absorption. The meta split outsole offers supreme flexibility as you move. They also have a carbon rubber rim for grippy traction and overall toughness. They truly are cost-effective, plus, they look good on your feet.
Best for minimizing vibration: Salomon Sonic RA
Salomon may not be the first name you think of when searching for high-performance runners, but its Sonic RA is, hands down, one of the best on the market. Constructed with Vibe Technology, these amazingly soft sneakers float on an intricate system of inserts that minimize tibial vibration, making your feet last longer and tire out less.
The shoes are part of Salomon’s Running Avenue (RA) line, which combines Energy Cell+ in the midsole with an adaptive Opal cushioning compound, both of which work together to attenuate vibrations, lessening the load and easing foot fatigue. The regular Sonic RAs are medium-cushioning shoes, but you can get the model in light-cushion or max-cushion designs as well.
Best with smart tech: Under Armour HOVR Phantom
Next time you run, leave your fitness tracker at home — that is if you’re running in Under Armour’s HOVR Phantoms. These innovative kicks feature the ability to actively track metrics such as distance, pace, time, calories, elevation, cadence, stride length, and a host of other exercise statistics. The sneakers map your route live while you run and even log area weather based on your starting location. Featuring MapMyRun app support, Under Armour allows you to easily keep track of your workouts over time and set goals or meet social challenges.
Best of all, you don’t have to bring your phone on your run — the technology happens directly from the sneakers via tiny sensors embedded into the soles. Beyond the smart technology, these shoes are lightweight and showcase HOVR foam, which harnesses your energy and keeps movement dynamic. They also have a breathable built-in SpeedForm 2.0 sock liner with women-specific shaping to give you added underfoot support.
Best for race running: The North Face Flight RKT
If speed is what you’re after, it’s hard to beat North Face’s Flight RKTs. These nimble trail runners are designed with adventure racing in mind, offering a weight-reducing podular outsole with spare, intelligently mapped rubber and a lightning-fast midsole built with dual-density FastFoam. The mesh upper is airy and lightweight with a suede tongue that resists sweat and moisture.
The Flight RKTs are also exceptionally comfortable and supportive, largely due to the OrthoLite footbed and cushioned EVA in the bottom layer of the midsole. These are the sneakers you want if you plan on speed-fueled runs off-road.
Most versatile: Saucony Peregrine 8
Saucony’s Peregrine 8s are some of the most versatile trail running shoes you can find. Equipped for everything from smooth, well-kept trails to rugged, technical terrain, they offer incredible traction via their burly PWRTRAC outsole with 6.0-millimeter lugs. They feature an exceptionally responsive and well-cushioned EVERUN topsole which provides solid support along with premium comfort, while the PWRFOAM midsole absorbs shock and keeps your run smooth and steady.
Most comfortable: Adidas Terrex Two Boa
Adidas is a well-known name in the running shoe industry, but its Terrex Two Boa is perhaps one of its most innovative styles to date. Featuring a cutting-edge lacing system, these sneakers borrow the Boa technology commonly seen in helmets and snowboarding boots, allowing you to cinch them tightly with a simple turn of a dial. These shoes showcase Boa’s special L6 trail dial, which is tough enough to withstand mud, dirt, and moisture.
The Terrex Two Boa also sports a breathable upper with lightweight cushioning and a rugged Continental outsole that grips the trail whether you’re running on dirt, rocks, or mud. These sneakers are an excellent all-around trail companion that slip on in a breeze.
Best for trail running: ASICS Gel-Venture 5
Comfortable yet rugged, the ASICS Gel-Venture 5 is a great companion for a variety of terrains. These shoes are equipped with the Rearfoot Gel Technology Cushioning System, which lessens shock during the impact phase and ensures a smooth transition to midstance. They have a trail-specific outsole that offers multi-surface traction no matter the terrain, complete with ASICS High Abrasion Rubber (AHAR) embedded in the critical spots of the outsole for durability.
Best for beginners: Mizuno Wave Rider 23
Classic and consistent, the Mizuno Wave Rider 23 is a nice pick for those new to running. This model flaunts a generous fit that conforms well to a variety of foot shapes, complete with a firm foam that helps stabilize each step. Mizuno also designed these shoes with a firm but well-cushioned midsole to enable soft landing and responsive takeoff. The brand’s signature Wave Plate is in place as well to absorb more impact and to make the transition from heel to toe as smooth as possible.
How to choose running shoes
What specifically should you look for in a pair of running shoes? First, you need to decide how much cushioning you prefer. For some runners, comfort takes precedence, and they’re willing to allow added weight in exchange for ultra-soft, maximum support. Others prefer their shoes to be as lightweight as possible, forgoing extra comfort for a nimble shoe that moves fast and doesn’t feel heavy or cumbersome.
You also want to consider the materials. A great pair of running shoes will be constructed with light, breathable fabric so your feet don’t get hot and sticky. The foam should be responsive and dynamic with flexibility and support, while the outsoles should offer durable, tough material with strong traction. Whether you’re running on pavement or heading off-road, our list will help you find the best running shoes for you.
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