Best running shoes for women

14 January 2021

women lacing up running shoes

Whether you’re just starting Couch to 5k or you’re a seasoned pro, finding the right running shoes will make a big difference.

Running is brilliant for fitness, relieving stress and providing the kind of alone time that is all too rare when you're a parent. It’s also pretty affordable – you just need a decent pair of trainers.

Whether you’re flat-footed, wide-footed or not sure what you need, the right running shoes can help you up your miles and your fitness.

Here are the best women’s running shoes to buy this year.

1. Best overall running shoes for women: Asics GT-2000 7

“I've always worn Asics and never had a bad pair.”

“I always wear Asics ever since my gait was analysed and they were recommended. Been pain-free running ever since. I also like that they update the style and colours every season, yet the comfort and fit stays the same.”

1. Best overall running shoes for women: Asics GT-2000 7

Asics come up again and again as a great all-rounder for runners – both those starting out and those who are more experienced.

The GT-2000 7 includes a new mesh upper for a fresh look, while the FlyteFoam midsole cushions every step, which means that they should feel bouncy. The forefoot has also been expanded to reduce irritation and make the shoe more comfortable for every foot shape.

They’re made for any distance, running rhythm and are ideal for anyone looking for a reliable and supportive running shoe.

Reasons to buy

  • Sole with extra grip
  • FlyteFoam midsole for cushioning

Need to know

  • Weight: 303g
  • Drop: 9.7mm

Price: From £80.50

Buy now from Amazon

2. Best running shoes for beginners: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20

“I've got a pair of Brooks Adrenaline – love them, find them really comfy and love the cushioned run.”

2. Best running shoes for beginners: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20

The precise balance of bounce and stability that these Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20 trainers have will suit those in need of support. Snug and soft, this style offers greater underfoot cushioning than previous models, while still fitting securely. It's also more flexible, lighter, and breathable thanks to the new Air Mesh.

Intended for runners with medium and low arch, the shock-absorbing midsole adapts dynamically with every step and every stride, while the segmented Crash Pad has special padding located between the midsole and the outer sole, offering soft heel-toe transitions.

Reasons to buy

  • Shock-absorbing midsole
  • Soft padded heel collar
  • 'Guide Rails' are built into the midsole provide support without interfering with your running style

Need to know

  • Weight: 288g
  • Drop: 12mm

3. Best budget running shoes: Adidas SL20

“I’m addicted to Adidas now. Got many pairs.”

3. Best budget running shoes: Adidas SL20

The SL20 is a lightweight shoe (SL stands for Super Light) that’s very close in design to Adidas' Pro Shoes, meaning it’s great if you’ve got a bigger goal in mind like a 10k or half marathon.

The cushioning in the midsole is light enough for explosive speed but responsive enough for total comfort. It's also breathable and very supportive. A bargain!

Reasons to buy

  • Very lightweight
  • Cushioned midsole
  • Breathable
  • Affordable

Need to know

  • Weight: 230g
  • Drop: 10mm

Price: £60

Buy now from Adidas

4. Best cushioned running shoes: Hoka OneOne All Gender Rocket X

“I tried on a lot of shoes after having a gait analysis and ended up with Hoka OneOne – they are great! My knees knock together when I run but my gait is neutral. These have a shaped sole to stop my knees from knocking, and they’ve improved my performance/pace quite significantly in six weeks.”

4. Best cushioned running shoes: Hoka OneOne All Gender Rocket X

Hoka OneOne – pronounced Hoka O-nay O-nay if you want to sound like you know what you’re talking about – means ‘fly over the earth’ and, with this super light shoe, that’s exactly what you'll feel like you're doing.

The All Gender Rocket X running shoes are designed to be very responsive. It’s Hoka’s lightest racing flat and a 1mm carbon fibre plate delivers a smooth transition through the gait cycle.

Reasons to buy

  • Very lightweight
  • Small drop of just 5mm
  • Carbon fibre plate for smooth transitions

Need to know

  • Weight: 210g
  • Drop: 5mm

Price: £140

Buy now from Hoka OneOne

5. Best running shoes for propulsion: Nike Women’s Zoom Fly 3

“I have a pair of Nike Zoom Fly, a much lighter racing shoe, which also impels you to a forefoot strike. It doesn't make me go faster (it’s a shoe, not a miracle!), but it’s certainly very light.”

5. Best running shoes for propulsion: Nike Women’s Zoom Fly 3

The Zoom Fly 3 is the more affordable version of the Zoom Vaporfly 4% so you get all the advantages of Nike’s pro research without the hefty price tag.

The durable rubber provides a strong grip and works to protect itself from damage, and protect users from losing control and slipping.

The carbon fibre plate minimises energy loss during toe bends without increasing demand on the calf, and the shoe springs up under your heel as you stride which users says propels you forward.

Reasons to buy

  • Carbon fibre plate for smooth transitions
  • Very lightweight
  • Hardwearing rubber

Need to know

  • Weight: 210g
  • Drop: 9.5mm

6. Best long-distance running shoes: Saucony Women’s Endorphin Shift

“Saucony for me – they just suit my flat pronating feet! A really decent, neutral but cushioned shoe for steady mileage.”

6. Best long-distance running shoes: Saucony Women’s Endorphin Shift

The Saucony Endorphin Shift running shoes have PWRRUN cushioning and speedroll technology that really helps you to go the distance. Some users say that it feels like the shoes are doing all the hard work for you.

They’re also structured for comfort so your foot will feel supportive no matter how many miles you do.

Reasons to buy

  • Lightweight
  • Very cushioned
  • Supportive

Need to know

  • Weight: 269g
  • Drop: 4mm

Price: £130

Buy now from Saucony

7. Best lightweight running shoes: Nike Women’s Epic React Flyknit 2

“Nike Epic React are very comfortable and have lots of cushioning. They feel much more bouncy than other running shoes.”

7. Best lightweight running shoes: Nike Women’s Epic React Flyknit 2

Taking over 2,000 hours of wear testing time and 400 material combinations to perfect, the Epic React Flyknit 2 are one of Nike’s softest and bounciest trainers.

They’re suitable for all kinds of runs and for a neutral running style as they’re designed with excellent stability.

Reasons to buy

  • Lightweight
  • Suitable for a neutral gait

Need to know

  • Weight: 196g
  • Drop: 10mm

Price: From £129.99

Buy now from Amazon

8. Most sustainable running shoes: Adidas x Parley for the Oceans Ultraboost

8. Most sustainable running shoes: Adidas x Parley for the Oceans Ultraboost

Adidas’s collaboration with Parley has resulted in running shoes that have serious eco credentials.

The Ultraboost have been created from recycled waste intercepted from beaches and coastal communities before it reaches the ocean. This means that millions of pounds of plastic that would otherwise pollute the world’s oceans is repurposed.

A chip in the heel lets you use your phone to scan your shoe so that you can see how it started life as a plastic bottle and ended up as a stylish piece of running kit. We also like that these trainers have amazing support and a responsive cushioned sole.

Reasons to buy

  • Made from repurposed plastic bottles
  • Responsive cushioned sole

Need to know

  • Weight: 309g
  • Drop: 0mm

Price: £90

Buy now from Selfridges

9. Best support running shoes: New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v10

“New Balance for me. They are oh-so-comfortable on my bunion-riddled clown feet. I run 7km every day. I've been wearing the current pair for almost a year and they’re still almost as good as new.”

9. Best support running shoes: New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v10

New Balance Fresh Foam are hugely popular among Mumsnetters both for running and the school run thanks to their stylish design.

This latest style is supportive – ideal for long-distance runs – and the cushioning helps you remain speedy. Laser engraving on the midsole removes added weight and provides enhanced flexibility.

Reasons to buy

  • Supportive
  • Stylish
  • Lightweight thanks to laser engraving on the midsole

Need to know

  • Weight: 238g
  • Drop: 8mm

10. Best zero-drop running shoes: Mizuno Women’s Wave Inspire 16

“Mizuno Wave – super cushioned and I find them really nice. I use non-cushioned when running fast, but for easy runs the cushioning on these is great.”

10. Best zero-drop running shoes: Mizuno Women’s Wave Inspire 16

A serious upgrade on a popular range, the Mizuno Women’s Wave Inspire 16 running shoes offer comfort, durability and innovation.

The general quality of the materials is impressive and the shock-attenuating platform of the shoes provide comfort and spring for your heels.

The midsole should help in preventing knee and back pain while running and the stability features in the midsole are good for your stance. Then there’s the jacquard mesh, which lets the air in and improves their breathability.

Reasons to buy

  • Zero drop
  • Lightweight
  • Stability features to help your stance
  • Come in a range of colours

Need to know

  • Weight: 285g
  • Drop: 12mm

What to look for in running shoes

There are lots of technical terms when it comes to choosing running shoes, which can seem intimidating if you are just starting out.

If possible, you should get your gait analysed at a specialist running shop, which often involves running on a treadmill while someone watches. They can then assess what you need from a pair of running shoes.

If you can’t get to shop, some will analyse your gait via video. The main things to look out for are:

  • Overpronation – your foot rolls inwards excessively
  • Supination – your weight rolls to the outer edges of your foot
  • Neutral – your foot lands centrally and doesn’t roll

You should also consider the ‘drop.' This is also called the heel-toe drop or offset and refers to the difference in thickness of material under the toe compared to the heel.

Running shoes tend to have more material under the heel, which cushions the impact when your heel strikes the ground as you run. Drop is usually given in millimetres so a shoe with 18mm under the toe and 26mm under the heel would have a drop of 8mm.

Are more expensive running shoes better?

More expensive running shoes aren’t necessarily better. You need to find the right shoe for your running style.

If you have shin splints, then you need a running shoe with lots of cushioning. If you overpronate or supinate (see above), then you’ll need shoes that are shaped to correct it.

If you are just starting out, you may not want to spend a fortune, but if you‘re going to be covering some serious miles then it’s worth spending a bit more. Expect mid-range running shoes to last around 300 to 400 miles.

How to size your running shoes

Running shoes that are too tight may give you pain or blisters. Mumsnet users advise buying running shoes around half a size bigger than your usual shoe size. That’s because your feet can swell when you run, especially if you’re running long distances.

What are the best running shoes?

The best overall running shoes are Asics GT-2000 7. They’re affordable but also well-cushioned and come in a range of colours and styles.

For running shoes with great eco credentials, you can’t go wrong with the Adidas x Parley for the Oceans Ultraboost. If you want style and substance, then the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v10 will give you the best of all worlds.

How we chose our recommendations

All of our recommendations for running shoes came from Mumsnet users themselves. We searched the Mumsnet forums for posts about which running shoes that Mumsnetters really loved, whether they were new to Couch to 5k or seasoned marathon runners. We also looked at other trusted review sites to see which trainers and running shoes performed well across the board.

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.

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