The 10 Best Women's Running Shoes

Updated October 30, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

10 Best Women's Running Shoes
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. Ladies, get the comfort and support you need to hit the street or the track with these women's running shoes. Available in a variety of brands and styles with a host of features, they are perfect for occasional and committed exercisers or simply for casual wear. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best women's running shoe on Amazon.

10. Puma PulseXT3

Puma PulseXT3 have a responsive footbed that ensures comfort, stability, and protection, even when you shift from that steady marathon-pace stride to a sudden burst of speed. They are easy to put on quickly with their rear pull-up loops.
  • fully attached tongues
  • attractive textured quilted uppers
  • only available in two color choices
Brand PUMA
Model PulseXT3
Weight pending
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

9. Adidas Performance Thrasher 1.1

The flashy and extremely stable Adidas Performance Thrasher 1.1 grip terrain like your life depended on it, making them a great buy for cross country runners. They have excellent midsole cushioning and feature a highly durable synthetic sole that can really take a beating.
  • accommodate orthotics
  • aggressive tread pattern
  • stiff heels can be uncomfortable
Brand adidas
Model thrasher 1.1 w-W
Weight pending
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

8. New Balance Neutral Light

Your feet and your joints will thank you when you run with the unbelievably comfy New Balance Neutral Light. They take the pounding, so your body doesn't have to, with their shock-absorbing ABZORB cushioning system, yet they still manage to be very lightweight.
  • adapt well to different surfaces
  • pliable forefoot area
  • sizing runs small
Brand New Balance
Model W890 Neutral Light Runn
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

7. Nike Free 5.0 TR Fit

Nike Free 5.0 TR Fit have a neoprene-inspired inner sleeve that grips your foot snugly, reducing the possibility of them sliding around on your foot while you run. They feel a little tight at first, but quickly break in after a few uses.
  • ideal for cross-training
  • come in unique and stylish colors
  • minimal arch support
Brand Nike
Model 704674-004
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

6. Under Armour SpeedForm Apollo 2

They may be a relative newcomer when it comes to the footwear game, but you'd never know that by putting on the Under Armour SpeedForm Apollo 2. They don't require a break-in period and will feel instantly comfortable once you don them.
  • bouncy and responsive step
  • perforations for breathability
  • good for indoor and outdoor running
Brand Under Armour
Model 1266241
Weight 1.4 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Saucony Cohesion 8

If you want to maximize your performance, but not max out your bank account, the affordable Saucony Cohesion 8 are a smart choice. They have a stability heel grid system that provides sure footing as you run and a breathable mesh top in the toe area.
  • flexible sole for maximum comfort
  • high level of shock attenuation
  • suitable for sprinting and distance
Brand Saucony
Model Cohesion 8-W
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

4. Salomon XR Mission

Salomon XR Mission were designed specifically for those who prefer a smooth, natural motion while running, but don't want to use barefoot running shoes. Their chevron Contagrip treads provide a good amount of traction on all kinds of surfaces.
  • quick one-pull lace tightening
  • good arch support
  • dry quickly after getting wet
Brand Salomon
Model XR Mission W-W
Weight 2.3 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

3. Mizuno Wave Inspire 12

The Mizuno Wave Inspire 12 might just make you look forward to your next run, rather than dread it. They are very supportive, making them a better choice for someone who prefers a stiffer shoe, and have a good amount of padding to lessen the ground impact as you run.
  • removable footbeds
  • help reduce overpronation
  • available in wide sizes
Brand Mizuno
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Asics Gel-Contend 3

With rearfoot gel cushioning and a padded tongue, Asics Gel-Contend 3 are among the most comfortable shoes on the market today. They are designed for regular, but low-mileage, use, meaning they are better for sprinters than marathon runners.
  • reflective accents for nighttime use
  • attractive two-color laces
  • fit is true to size
Model GEL-ContendTM 2-W
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. Merrell Bare Access Arc3

Reduce your risk of injury with the Merrell Bare Access Arc3. They have a zero drop design that lets you hit the ground with a flat foot, so you can run the way nature intended. This will help teach you to avoid heel strikes and adopt a more ergonomic stride.
  • odor control-treated mesh lining
  • extremely lightweight
  • feel similar to barefoot running
Brand Merrell
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

What Separates One Women's Running Shoe From Another?

When purchasing a pair of women's running shoes, the first thing you want to consider is how much cushion a specific pair of shoes can provide. Any running shoe with a half-an-inch or more of reinforced foam around its midsole should provide a significant amount of support. Shoes with a thin layer of foam can lead to anything from pulled muscles and ankle sprains to long-term cartilage damage and spurred bones.

Ideally, you'll want a women's running shoe to weigh somewhere between 1.8-2.4 lbs. Certain shoes can weigh more than this, but those shoes are generally designated for runners who are experiencing ongoing muscle problems. Racing shoes, which are also known as flats, weigh less than 1.3 lbs because they feature little cushion. As a result, distance runners are strongly cautioned against working out in racing shoes on a day-to-day basis.

A lot of runners prefer a shoe with a mesh design in that the built-in ventilation minimizes any risk of blisters, athlete's foot, or any odor-causing bacteria (among other things). If a shoe features a deep tread, that's a good indication that the shoe is custom-made for running on loose terrain. If a shoe features a narrow tread, that's a good indication that the shoe is custom-made for running on the street, or on a rubberized track.

In the end, every runner is looking for a shoe that can provide some individual blend of comfort, aerodynamics, and stability. This may require a bit of trial and error. Over time, you'll begin to gravitate toward the brands and models that suit you the most.

How Do You Know When It's Time For a New Pair of Running Shoes?

The key to any pair of running shoes' support is its midsole. Once the foam in that midsole has lost its buoyancy, those shoes - at least from a fitness perspective - are shot. As the midsole begins to break down, a runner can actually feel her legs striking the ground harder. A few hours after a long workout, that runner may experience stiffness throughout the feet or lower-legs.

Most experts recommend changing running shoes once every 300 miles specifically to avoid any risk of injuries. If you don't keep track of your distance, you can still use that 300-mile threshold as a general gauge of when it might be time to buy a new pair of shoes. Assuming that your existing shoes aren't completely worn, it's recommended that you alternate between the old shoes and the new shoes for a week or so. This way your feet can adjust incrementally, as opposed to all at once.

A running shoe's outsole (aka the bottom sole) wears in different places based on how a person's foot strikes the ground. While the physics of an individual stride may vary, every runner causes some portion of the outsole to erode over time. Once you notice that the rubber outsole has begun to wear through to the foam midsole, it's safe to assume that the shoe as a whole is no longer providing an optimum level of support.

If you notice that the outsoles of your shoes keep wearing through too quickly (or unevenly), this could be an indication of a larger issue with your stride. It's best to consult with a specialist who can diagnose - or perhaps even help you to correct - any problem.

A Brief History of The Running Shoe

Footwear has been around for centuries. And while there is nothing revolutionary about the idea of wearing a shoe for comfort, the idea of a specifically-designed recreation shoe didn't come into its own until the late 1800s. These early running shoes, designed in England, were known as "plimsoils," a reference to the plimsoil line of a ship, which resembled a horizontal band circling the collar of these shoes.

Despite being marketed as leisurewear, plimsoils were adopted by athletes almost immediately. In short order, manufacturers began designing plimsoils with custom soles for gaining traction or achieving bounce. During the 1890s, the British Military began using plimsoils during fitness drills. Soon after, the British public schools made plimsoils a requisite part of their physical-fitness ensemble.

In 1895, a British company named J.W. Foster & Sons began manufacturing plimsoils that were specifically designed for running. These trainers, as they came to be called, caught on like wildfire. Within one decade, J.W. Foster had evolved into an international supplier. Within three decades, the company was designing shoes for all of the runners who were competing in the 1924 Olympics.

American companies had begun developing running shoes of their own by this point. None of these companies made a major splash, however, until the 1960s, when a burgeoning start-up called Nike began to open its own stores. Nike was the brainchild of Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman and one of his standout distance runners, Phil Knight. Bowerman had a unique understanding of a runner's mechanics. For years, Bowerman had been handcrafting sneakers (including early prototypes of the Nike Waffle Racer) in a garage that was attached to his home.

Running-shoe companies grew larger during the fitness craze of the 1980s, while branching out with specific lines that were devoted to trail running, distance running, sprinting, cross country, triathlon, and even ultra-marathoning. Today, running shoes are more popular - and viable - than they have ever been.

In 2014, running shoes accounted for more than $3 billion in sales, worldwide, thanks in large part to a proliferation of organized running events that focus more on enjoyment than hardcore competition. According to a recent study, more than 42% of Americans run for fitness on a regular basis. The largest core demographic of that percentage is represented by women, ages 25-34.

Statistics and Editorial Log

Paid Placements

Wiki Granular Update & Revision Log

help support our research

Patreonlogoorange psj5g7Wiki ezvid low poly earth xdypeb

Last updated on October 30, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

Thanks for reading the fine print. About the Wiki: We don't accept sponsorships, free goods, samples, promotional products, or other benefits from any of the product brands featured on this page, except in cases where those brands are manufactured by the retailer to which we are linking. For our full ranking methodology, please read about us, linked below. The Wiki is a participant in associate programs from Amazon, Walmart, Ebay, Target, and others, and may earn advertising fees when you use our links to these websites. These fees will not increase your purchase price, which will be the same as any direct visitor to the merchant’s website. If you believe that your product should be included in this review, you may contact us, but we cannot guarantee a response, even if you send us flowers.