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Best running shoes for women: sporty styles for ultimate comfort

Whether you want to smash that personal best, increase your distance or start Couch to 5k, the right running shoes will help you achieve your goals.

By Karla Napoleon | Last updated Feb 2, 2022

Woman running tying up laces

Running is brilliant for fitness and even has lasting health benefits, reducing your risk of cancer and cardiovascular problems. But it’s also a great stress-reliever, headspace-giver and mood booster.

The best thing is that you don’t need any special skills or to spend lots of money. All you need is a decent pair of running shoes and leggings and away you go.

Good shoes can make all the difference to your training. They enable you to run comfortably and more efficiently, and most importantly, reduce your risk of injury. So whether it’s your tenth pair of running shoes or your first, it’s worth spending some time to find the right ones for you.

However, there’s an exhausting choice of running footwear out there, so if you’re on the lookout for a new pair, we’ve narrowed down the field for you. We looked at Mumsnet users’ recommendations, in-depth expert analysis and consumer reviews. Then we evaluated the merits and disadvantages of each model to bring you the shoes that we believe truly stand their ground.

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

1. Best overall running shoes for women: Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38

Nike Pegasus running shoes

Price: From £61.97 | Buy now from Amazon

“Nike Pegasus all the way! Pegs are my go-to for everyday marathon training, and shorter stuff too.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user fellrunner85)

A great all-rounder, if you like to mix it up you can’t go wrong with the Pegasus. Whether it’s speed sessions, long or short runs, treadmill or even a bit of off-roading, this workhorse can handle anything you throw at it. And it looks pretty good too.

The 38s feature a bigger toe box - great news if you found the previous edition too narrow. Added foam on the tongue ups the comfort factor and there’s a new mid-foot webbing system for an improved fit.

The Nike React foam offers soft but supportive cushioning and has a nice reactive feel. Although it’s not the lightest trainer around, plenty of reviewers said that it felt lightweight. The only issue that bothered some wearers was the lower heel.

Pros

  • Super comfortable and good cushioning
  • Stylish designs
  • Puts a spring in your step
  • Suitable for any style of running, including light trails

Cons

  • Lower heel may take some getting used to
  • The thick upper may feel too hot on warmer days

Key specs

  • Material: Upper - engineered mesh, outsole - 8% recycled materials, blown rubber
  • Drop: 10mm
  • Weight: 252g

2. Best running shoes for beginners: Reebok Floatride Energy 3.0

Reebok running trainers

Price: From £48 | Buy now from WIT Fitness

“Reebok Floatride. The cushioning is on a par with much more expensive shoes and they have regular discounts.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user Member)

This neutral trainer provides bags of cushioning and comfort for the price. Wearers found it nice and responsive and very, very comfortable. If you like cushioning, but don’t want to pay through the nose for it, this is the shoe is for you.

It’s relatively lightweight and bouncy, which makes it a versatile shoe that you can use for everything - from hill runs and speed work to longer distances. It has a lugged outsole as well, so can handle some light trail running. 

A couple of reviewers complained that the shoe was cut too high and rubbed against the ankle, but this wasn’t a concern for everyone.

Pros

  • Ideal for beginners as it’s suited to all types of running
  • Good fit for wide feet
  • Feels and looks more like a premium shoe

Cons

  • The high heel could prove problematic for some

Key specs

  • Material: Upper - square knit, outsole - carbon rubber 
  • Drop: 9mm
  • Weight: 201g

3. Best cushioned running shoes for women: Hoka Clifton 8

Hoka running shoe

Price: £125 | Buy now from Hoka

“They’re fantastic!” (Recommended by Mumsnet user AuntieStella)

“I have the Clifton and they are so comfortable.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user Ponks)

With their distinctive look and feel, Hoka aren’t for everyone. But once hooked, you’re unlikely to be tempted back into another shoe.

Now in its eighth iteration, the Clifton features a lighter, more responsive midsole made from one of their most energetic foams to date. It’s also slightly more streamlined. 

Reviewers say the updated version is more comfortable and feels more durable, with one wearer claiming their pair were still going strong after 450 miles. Yet despite all that lovely cushioning, the Clifton still feels surprisingly light. And with two width options, they’re a great choice for those with wider feet.

While you enjoy the protective cushioning, it still offers you a responsive toe-off for faster running. The ‘Meta-Rocker’ technology helps ease the foot through a smooth landing and transition on each step - and should help reduce fatigue. You’ll feel like you’re floating on air over those long distances.

If you buy direct from Hoka, you can take advantage of their 30-day trial period, during which you can return them for a full refund if they’re not right for you.

Pros

  • Vegan
  • Supremely comfortable for longer runs
  • Good for those with plantar fasciitis 
  • Come in a choice of widths

Cons

  • Won’t suit everyone
  • Not as suitable for speed work

Key specs

  • Material: Upper - breathable mesh, outsole - rubber
  • Drop: 5mm
  • Weight: 215g

4. Best eco-friendly running shoes: VEJA Condor 2 Alveomesh

Veja running shoes

Price: £135 | Buy now from Sweaty Betty

School-gate favourite VEJA branched out into running shoes three years ago and the result is an ecological running shoe that more than holds its own among other not-so-sustainable shoes. They offer maximum style points too.

The L-Foam technology provides superior shock absorption and a good level of responsiveness, helping to avoid fatigue over those daily or recovery runs. They’re a pretty heavy shoe however, so you might feel that over longer distances.

They’re 57% bio-based and recycled, with the upper, including, laces, backloop and cords made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. And the sustainable Amazonian rubber sole provides good stability, without feeling too stiff.

Pros

  • Feels supportive and responsive
  • Excellent eco-friendly and ethical credentials
  • Good for casual runs

Cons

  • On the heavier end of the spectrum

Key specs

  • Material: Upper - 100% recycled polyester, outsole - Amazonian rubber
  • Drop: 10mm
  • Weight: 301g

5. Best running shoes to boost your speed: Saucony Endorphin Speed 2

Saucony running shoes

Price: From £126.22 | Buy now from Amazon

“My current trainers are Saucony Endorphin Speed, which I love. I also purchased a pair of Nike Vaporfly Zooms….I actually find the Saucony almost as good now.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user Teawaster)

Feel the need for speed? Grab yourself a pair of Endorphin Speed 2s. They’re super light - just 198g. If you need a shoe for a big race or one that’s going to help you smash your personal best (PB) these are it.

Featuring SPEEDROLL technology to propel you forward on each stride, they also have a responsive nylon plate, which is more flexible than a carbon plate. The propulsion you feel may take a bit of getting used to, but once you have, you should love the results. It’s like rocket fuel for your feet. Wearers loved that they were fun to run in, yet still offered great comfort and support. 

The payoff is that they do run small. And if you have wider feet, then you may just find them too narrow.

Pros

  • Fun to run in
  • Durable
  • Extremely light
  • Versatile

Cons

  • Narrow fit and not available in wide
  • ‘Rocking’ feel may take some getting used to

Key specs

  • Material: Upper - engineered mono mesh/recycled materials, outsole - carbon rubber
  • Drop: 8mm
  • Weight: 198g

6. Best running shoes for beginners: Brooks Ghost 14

Brooks Ghost shoes

Price: From £96.48 | Buy now from Amazon

“They are amazing and make running a lot more pleasurable!” (Recommended by Mumsnet user Jdabbers)

“I absolutely love them - they are the most comfortable trainers ever.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user TheHoundsofLove)

Considered a classic of the neutral genre, Brooks Ghost have been going forever and are very popular among Mumsnet users, recommended again and again on the Talk boards.

Now in their 14th iteration, the Ghost features a midsole with 100% DNA Loft cushioning, producing their softest midsole ever. This ups the comfort factor and keeps smooth transitions, but slightly dulls the responsiveness, so if you’re looking for something to give you a bit of pep, these aren’t for you. 

That said, it’s a comfy, no-fuss trainer that you can take on any sort of run, including trails. Reviewers said that although it’s a neutral shoe, it feels very stable. It’s nice and padded around the foot and has excellent shock absorption too.

The only minus? When we scrutinised the latest reviews, some wearers complained that the flat laces are too short and don’t stay tied. But of course, you can fix this by fitting your own laces.

Pros

  • Workhorse shoe that suits a variety of runs, including trail
  • Very comfortable
  • Good range of shoe widths
  • Made with recycled materials and reduced manufacturing waste
  • Durable

Cons

  • Not for speed work or race days
  • On the heavier side

Key specs

  • Material: Upper: recycled polyester upper, outsole - rubber
  • Drop: 12mm
  • Weight: 255g

7. Best running shoes for women with wide feet: New Balance Fresh Foam 1080V11

New Balance running shoes

Price: From £94.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“New Balance for me. They are oh-so-comfortable on my bunion-ridden clown feet. I run 7km every day. I’ve been wearing the current pair for almost a year and they are still almost as good as new.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user Ironfloor269)

Described by one wearer as like “running on clouds”, these shoes certainly hold their own when it comes to performance, and they’re a brilliant option for the wider-footed of us.

Ideal for long runs, these will help you stay comfortable, no matter how many miles you rack up. The Fresh Foam cushioning delivers a cushioned ride, but at 229g they’re fairly lightweight too.

The soft, stretchy knit upper and almost sock-like heel make for a bootie-like fit, so your foot should feel nice and secure, keeping you supported over long-distance runs. 

However, some reviewers reported early wearing out of the sole, so if you’re a regular runner, you might want to bear this in mind.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Good cushioning
  • Great choice of colourways and widths

Cons

  • Not as durable as other makes

Key specs

  • Material: Upper - synthetic/mesh, outsole - blown rubber
  • Drop: 8mm
  • Weight: 229.8g

8. Best stability running shoes for women: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21

Brooks adrenaline shoes

Price: £120 | Buy now from Runners Need

“Brooks shoes sorted out years of awful knee problems for me… They’re expensive but I’ve saved the cost in chiro and physio fees!” (Brand recommended by Mumsnet user OneMoreForExtra)

“I love my Adrenaline GTS and no wearing of heels.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user superram)

For great comfort and support, you can’t go wrong with Brooks Adrenaline. Now in its 21st incarnation, it’s an enduring favourite, especially with Mumsnet users, who sing its praises for its comfort and supportive fit.

Lighter and lower than its predecessor, the latest model also comes with a softer feel - using 100% DNA Loft cushioning along the whole midsole for increased comfort and smoother transitions. 

If you’re an overpronator, Brooks’ GuideRail technology will keep excess movement in check without overcorrection, enabling you to keep your natural stride. One reviewer particularly loved this ‘working-in-the-background’ nature of the rails. You can’t really feel it’s there, making the shoes a good bet for neutral runners who like cushioning too, as it can help with fatigue. 

Pros

  • A stability shoe that doesn’t feel like one
  • Good for those with plantar fasciitis, hip and knee pain
  • Comes in three widths

Cons

  • Not as good for speed work
  • The treads in the 21 aren’t as grippy as previous versions

Key specs

  • Material: Upper - air mesh, outsole - rubber
  • Drop: 12mm
  • Weight: 258g

9. Best running shoe for long distances: Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit

Nike running shoe

Price: £164.95 | Buy now from Nike

Designed for maximum shock absorption, a wider forefront for stability and a curved outsole for easier heel-to-toe transitions, the ZoomX Invincible Runs will help you carve those miles up. Real-life wearers loved how they didn’t feel any impact, even on the longest runs, and that the shoes felt effortlessly stable. 

They also loved the bouncy feel of the shoes - calling them fun to run in. And if your tootsies tend to get a bit hot and bothered, you’ll love the Flyknit upper, which helps your feet stay cool, no matter how long or far you run.

The downside of the cushioning is that it’s not the most responsive shoe. So don’t expect to hit your 10k PB in these, but if you want to go the distance, these shoes will do it with you.

Pros

  • Offers great comfort for longer runs
  • Easy on the legs
  • Lightweight
  • Helps keep your feet cool

Cons

  • Some wearers have reported that they’re not as durable as previous versions
  • Can feel slippery on wet surfaces

Key specs

  • Material: Upper: engineered mesh, outsole - thin carbon rubber
  • Drop: 8.4mm
  • Weight: 253g

10. Best road running shoes for women: Adidas Ultraboost 22

Adidas Ultraboost shoe

Price: From £110 | Buy now from Very

“I feel like I’m walking on a cloud. I adore mine and will be getting another pair in the sales after four years of wear from my current pair (which still have loads of life in them).” (Vetted by Mumsnet user Milomonster)

Tooting the style horn fairly loudly, these beauties have also been updated with a complete “360° female fit improvement”, based on 1.2 million foot scans to produce a shoe that delivers more forefoot energy return compared to the previous model. It also features a narrower heel for a better fit.

The boost that gives the shoe its name makes for a nice bouncy ride. And a supremely comfortable and supportive fit, unanimously agreed by real-life wearers. They love how it feels responsive and fast, yet nice and plush when you’re notching up the miles.

The only downside is its weight, which might take it out of the running for speed work, but aside from that it’s a great all-rounder.

Finally, Adidas have upped the eco-credentials, using reclaimed plastic ocean waste for 50% of the upper, making it a feel-good shoe in more ways than one.

Pros

  • Super comfy and supportive
  • Reduces leg fatigue
  • Specially designed for female feet
  • Improved sustainability

Cons

  • Heavy

Key specs

  • Material: Upper: 50% Parley Ocean Plastic, 50% recycled polyester; outsole: Continental™ Better Rubber
  • Drop: 8.4mm
  • Weight: 289g

11. Best women’s running shoes for the occasional runner: ASICS Gel-Contend 7

Asics running shoes

Price: From £45.98 | Buy now from Amazon

Asics are widely loved by Mumsnet users for dependability, comfort and durability. They’re a solid shoe that will suit most people and types of run. Not the most exciting of shoes, admittedly, but they offer a comfortable fit, good cushioning and support for a very agreeable price. So if you’re only an occasional runner, these make good sense.

Asics technology includes an AmpliFoam midsole that provides a light yet cushioned stride, and the gel cushioning in the heel provides protection for your joints. Wearers love the springy feel and the breathability of the fabric.

They’re a neutral shoe but would also suit supinators. They have Guidance Line technology to correct when your heel rolls outwards.

When we looked at the reviews, people said they tended to run small, so make sure to size up. Some people also mentioned the sole is perhaps a little too firm, something you might feel as the miles clock up, but overall they offer a nice cushioned ride, and good support.

Pros

  • Great shoe for the price
  • Durable
  • Good all-rounder

Cons

  • Not the most stylish shoes
  • Doesn’t provide enough protection for your joints on longer runs

Key specs

  • Material: Upper: textile, outsole: textured rubber
  • Drop: 10mm
  • Weight: 223g

12. Best shoes for trail running: Saucony Peregrine 11

Saucony trail shoes

Price: £82.52 | Buy now from Amazon

“I like Saucony trail shoes; the Peregrines are great.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user RedPandaFluff)

Trail running is exhilarating and fun, but to enjoy it without worrying about slipping or falling, you need a pair of shoes that eat up anything that gets in their way.

The Peregrines have 6mm, multi-directional rubber lugs, which can confidently handle any terrain, be it mud, snow, ice or through wet and damp conditions. Leaving you free to concentrate on enjoying your run.

They feel solid and durable, yet despite the more rigid sole, they were generally regarded among real-life wearers as very comfortable shoes. 

And in a range of funky colourways, they look great too.

 Pros

  • Durable
  • Excellent grip on the toughest of terrains
  • Fast shoe if you’re racing
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Feels heavy
  • Stiff upper

Key specs

  • Material: Upper: air mesh, outsole - PWRTRAC tacky rubber
  • Drop: 4mm
  • Weight: 270g

What should women look for in a running shoe?

When it comes to running shoes, it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation. Here are some things to consider to help you choose the right shoes for you.

Support 

Your running gait is how your foot rolls as it leaves and hits the floor with each stride. Gait analysis looks at your foot roll and can help inform what type of support, if any, you need. Most specialist running shops offer free gait analysis in-store or via video.

  • Neutral - your foot stays central and doesn’t roll. You’ll be best suited to a neutral shoe.
  • Overpronation - your foot rolls inwards. A stability shoe is recommended here.
  • Underpronation/supination - your foot rolls outwards or not inward enough. Choose a neutral or cushioned shoe.

Size

 As a general rule, you should go half to a full size up from your normal shoe size. You’re looking for at least a thumb width between the end of your longest toe and the end of your shoe.

Distance

Are you looking to improve on your 10k PB or are you training for longer distances? Whether you’re working on speed or distance will affect your choice of shoe.

Cushioning

You’ll need some level of cushioning as it provides shock absorption, protecting the impact on your joints when running on hard surfaces. Some people prefer the feel of heavily cushioned shoes, whereas others prefer the responsiveness of a less cushioned shoe. Those running more frequently and for longer distances may be looking for a little more cushioning on the sole. 

Surface you’re running on

Road shoes have more cushioning than trail shoes to provide shock absorption, whereas trail shoes have less cushioning and more grip and ankle support. If you’re planning on doing both, consider a hybrid shoe.

Weight 

Whether you’re working on your speed or aiming for a PB on race day, lightweight running shoes typically have less cushioning. For longer distances, you may prefer a more cushioned, and therefore heavier shoe.

Drop

 This is also called the heel-to-toe drop or offset and refers to the height difference between your heel and toes in the shoe. Lower drops (6mm or less) promote a midfoot or forefoot strike and could improve your cadence, and therefore your speed. They can also help with knee pain, but put more stress on the ankle and lower leg. A 6mm drop or above will suit heel-strikers and could help those with plantar fasciitis and Achilles pain, but could place more stress on your hips and knees. However, for beginners or those who don’t run as frequently, drop is less important. 

Why are good running shoes so important?

There’s no denying that running shoes are a bit of an investment, but it’s worth spending time and money finding the right pair, as without them you could put yourself at risk of injury.

Running shoes support your feet and ankles and absorb the impact of running on your joints. Regular trainers won’t provide the cushioning or support you need.

If you have shin splints, then cushioning can be extra important, or if you overpronate, you’ll need shoes that are shaped to correct it.

However, once you’ve purchased your shoes, they should last you between 300 and 500 miles, with lightweight shoes lasting slightly less time than those with thick soles. So if you put a lot of miles in, you’ll need to replace them more regularly.

How do women run differently to men?

Because women have wider hips than men, the angle of our quads in relation to the kneecap is wider. In addition, our quads are stronger and our hamstrings weaker, which can mean that we’re more likely to overpronate when we run.

Women tend to be more flexible and have less muscle mass, which means that we do run slower, as more flexibility means less energy with each stride. Our higher body fat also slows us down when it comes to short races, but can be an advantage over longer distances, as we have more body fat reserves.

How are women’s running shoes different?

Women and men’s feet are shaped differently. Unlike men, women tend to have a narrower heel than the ball of their foot and so women’s running shoes cater for that by being wider at the forefront and narrow at the heel. This is something to bear in mind if you have wider feet; don’t consider men’s shoes as it's likely to be too big in the heel.

In addition, the midsoles of women’s shoes are lighter and softer to accommodate for our smaller muscle mass.

What are the best women’s running shoes?

To choose our best women’s running shoes we assessed the pros and cons of each of the shoes in our list. We chose the Nike Air Zoom 38 Pegasus for its versatility, comfort and responsiveness. And at reasonable price point, we think it will suit a wide range of runners.

How we chose our recommendations

Our first port of call was the Mumsnet Talk boards to get honest recommendations from Mumsnet users themselves. However, brands bring out new versions of shoes fast, so even if you liked one year’s version, it doesn’t mean that you’ll like this year’s.

So the next stage was to look at specialist running review websites such as RunRepeat and Runners’ World to compare their top shoes and look at in-depth reviews of each shoe, comparing them with tried-and-tested reviews from users on the brand websites themselves.

We spent five hours extensively researching the shoes, scrutinising each detail and assessing which running shoes would be best for each task, taking things like price, use, comfort and durability into consideration.

It’s worth bearing in mind that running shoes are an entirely personal thing and just because one person loves it, doesn’t mean that you will too. So, use these recommendations as a jumping-off point, and make sure that you know the store’s returns policy before you order.

Why you should trust us

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