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If you wanna be a runner, you gotta get with good shoes. A solid, supportive sneak is a must when you’re logging the mileage. If finding the perfect pair has you on the verge of an existential crisis, take a deep breath. (Go ahead — zig-a-zig-AHHHHH.) Then check out these faves made for all kinds of runners and feet.
There’s more to female-specific shoes than a splash of pink or purple. (And they do come in other colors, promise.)
Biologically speaking, females are generally smaller than males, which means they exert less impact when their feet hit the ground. As a result, running shoes made for women can be a little lighter and softer.
Another factor: Women are more likely to overpronate (meaning your foot rolls inward as you move). So running sneaks made for women tend to compensate for that to reduce the risk of injury.
Of course, there’s no rule that women have to wear women’s running shoes. We know not all women are smaller than all men, and some runners identify as neither male nor female.
The bottom line: It’s really more important to go by what feels good to you, which is why this list focuses on shoes that meet the performance needs of all types of runners.
The huge number of options out there can make buying running sneaks seem a little overwhelming, especially if you’re a newb. You can start narrowing down the picks by considering questions like these:
- What are you using your sneakers for? Running, duh. But are you running on pavement or on trails? Are you doing long runs or short sprints? Do they need to work for non-running activities too?
- What do you like? Do you like the ultrabouncy feel of sneaks with tons of cushioning, or do you want something more minimalist?
- What’s your gait and foot strike? The answers to both determine how much support and cushioning you need.
- What’s your foot type? Are your feet flat, high-arched, or somewhere in the middle?
You might not know the A’s to these Q’s if you’re brand-new to running. But popping into a dedicating running shoe shop will definitely help. The sales staff know their sneakers inside and out, and they can evaluate your running style and needs to help you find a solid fit.
- $ = under $100
- $$ = $101–$130
- $$$ = $131–$150
- $$$$ = over $150
Best everyday women’s running shoe
The Air Pegasus is the bestselling running shoe of all time, so you know it’s gotta be pretty good. It’s long been considered a versatile sneak that works for both long runs and speed work, and this latest version is lightweight and has an extra-springy, supportive sole.
Best value women’s running shoe
Here’s proof that you really can get a supportive, high quality running shoe for under $100. This one uses foam and gel technology to deliver cushioning, even on long runs. And the mesh upper makes it both lightweight and breathable. Definitely a winner.
Best women’s running shoes for beginners
Really aren’t sure what kind of sneaker will work best for you? This shoe is designed to conform to a runner’s weight, gait, and foot shape, thanks to three layers of dynamic cushioning. So there’s a good chance it’ll feel prett-ay, prett-ay good.
Best women’s running shoe for distance running
The latest version of this fan favorite is soft and cushiony without tons of bulk, so it should be megacomf for miles and miles without weighing you down. Also good: The one-piece mesh upper is totally seamless, meant to cut down on hot spots and irritation on long runs.
Best women’s running shoe for trail running
These babies have a specially designed sole meant to grip well even on wet or muddy trails. At the same time, they’re responsive enough to let you really feel the surface you’re running on — and respond accordingly.
Best women’s running shoe for overpronators
This shoe features a foam plate meant to help keep your foot stable when it lands instead of rolling inward. It also helps prevent excess wear and tear on the side overpronators tend to lean toward. Even with all the built-in support, this is a relatively lightweight shoe, and the mesh upper is still pretty sleek.
Best women’s running shoe for underpronators
OK, so it’s not exactly the coolest-looking shoe. But this sneaker has cushioning and support for feet that tend to roll outward on landing, and that’s way more important. Injury prevention is key, people.
Best women’s running shoe for cross-training
These lightweight shoes are made for running — but they’ve also got multidirectional features meant to keep you stable and comfortable when moving from side to side or even diagonally, so you can wear them for workouts like HIIT or CrossFit too.
Best maximalist women’s running shoe
Some runners like the feel of wearing practically nothing on their feet, while others want to feel like they’re running on marshmallows. If you’re among the latter, this ultracushioned shoe is for you.
Best women’s running shoe for flat feet
Flat-footed runners need shoes specifically designed for motion control, which deliver maximum stability. This one fits the bill, since it was designed for overpronators (who often have flat feet).
Best women’s running shoe for high arches
This sneaker was designed to cradle the natural curves of high arches, providing soft, bouncy shock absorption to keep your feet from crapping out midrun, even when you’re going long.
Best women’s racing flat
You might as well just give them the gold. These ultralightweight shoes boast special foam technology for soft, smooth takeoffs and landings, plus a comfy curved heel to keep your foot in place. There’s also an elastic strap to keep your laces from tripping you up and added traction to stop slippage on wet tracks.
Best eco-friendly women’s running shoe
Here’s a pick that wins on performance and sustainability. It’s made from renewable materials like eucalyptus, sugarcane, merino wool, and natural rubber and has a light, responsive feel that manages to offer plenty of support and stability.