Best Running Shoes for Women in 2023

Brooks Ghost 15 on grass

$140 at Brooks

Brooks Ghost 15 on grass

Brooks Ghost 15

Best women’s running shoes for beginners

$160 at ON

ON Cloudsurfer sneakers on grass

ON Cloudsurfer

Best cushioned women’s running shoes

$140 at Mizuno

Mizuno Wave Inspire 19 on grass

Mizuno Wave Inspire 19

Best stability running shoes for women

$140 at Nike

Nike Pegasus 40 shoes on grass

Nike Pegasus 40

Best Nike running shoes for women

$180 at Nobull

Nobull runners plus sneakers on the grass

Nobull Runners Plus

Most stylish running shoes for women

$160 at Asics

Asics Gel Nimbus 25 sneakers on grass

Asics Gel Nimbus 25

Best classic running shoes for women

As someone who likes to run both recreationally and competitively, I’ve learned my lessons through trial and error when it comes to running with the wrong shoes. It wasn’t until I stepped into a running store that I realized I was doing everything wrong when shopping for shoes. 

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I learned that I was an overpronator and I needed shoes with more stability to keep my feet in place so they didn’t cave in when running. When I learned about the different shoe brands that make styles compatible for my feet, it felt like a new world had opened up for me. The best part is that getting fitted for the right running shoe isn’t exclusive to people who like to run marathons. You can be someone who spends all day on their feet, enjoys going for walks or you could be a recreational runner who likes to jog a couple of times per week. 

Testing out running shoes while pregnant made this experience that much more interesting. 

Giselle Castro-Sloboda/ CNET

Now that I’m more than midway through my pregnancy, running looks a little different for me, but I still like to lace up and go. I tested some tried and true popular brands including Brooks, New Balance, Asics and Nike to see which held up to the test. I aimed to run at least 3 miles with these selections and observed the feel, comfort, weight of the shoe, unique features and more. One of my overall favorites ended up being the New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12, because it’s well-designed and comfortable.

I also consulted with a running expert on what you should be looking for in a running shoe before you make your next purchase. Below are the running shoes that passed the test with flying colors. 

Best running shoes for women in 2023

New Balance Fresh Foam  X 1080v12 on grass

Giselle Castro-Sloboda/CNET

Weight: 8.3 ounces
Drop: 8mm
Type: Daily trainer

Brooks Ghost 15 on grass

Giselle Castro-Sloboda/ CNET

Weight: 9.1 ounces
Drop: 12mm
Type: Road running

New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Elite v3 on grass

Giselle Castro-Sloboda

Weight: 8.1 ounces
Drop: 4mm
Type: Road racing

Brooks Glycerin 20 shoes on grass

Giselle Castro-Sloboda/ CNET

Weight: 9.1 ounces
Drop: 10mm
Type: Track and road running

ON Cloudsurfer sneakers on grass

Giselle Castro-Sloboda/ CNET

Weight: 7.2 ounces
Drop: 10mm
Type: Road running

Under Armour Flow Velociti Elite

Giselle Castro-Sloboda/ CNET

Weight: 7.5 ounces
Drop: 8mm
Type: Spee.

Mizuno Wave Inspire 19 on grass

Giselle Castro-Sloboda/ CNET

Weight: 8.6 ounces
Drop: 12mm
Type: Stability

Nike Pegasus 40 shoes on grass

Giselle Castro-Sloboda/ CNET

Weight: 7.7 ounces
Drop: 10mm
Type: Road runnin.

Nobull runners plus sneakers on the grass

Giselle Castro-Sloboda/ CNET

Weight: 7.8 ounces
Drop: 8.5mm
Type: Performance running.

Asics Gel Nimbus 25 sneakers on grass

Giselle Castro-Sloboda/ CNET

Weight: 8.9 ounces
Drop: 8mm
Type: Road running

Other women’s running shoes we tested

  • ON Cloudstratus: During testing for the ON Cloudstratus, I found this shoe to be heavier and firmer than the ON Cloudsurfer. 
  • Vimazi Z60: This shoe is designed to fit your running pace, which is a unique concept, but there were a few flaws that I couldn’t rule out. The shoe sizing seemed off, with one shoe fitting slightly larger than the other. Additionally, the outsole was slippery and did not have as good traction as the rest of the shoes on the list. 
  • Reebok Floatride Energy 5: This newest Reebok design could use some improvement as the shoe was firmer than I’d prefer and lacked shock absorption. After a run, my joints and lower back ended up sore which was something I didn’t experience with any of the other shoes during testing. 

How we tested

Comfort: We looked at how comfortable the shoe was during a two to three mile run and during walks.

Style: We took into consideration the design and style of the shoe. Some running shoes are versatile enough to be used for multiple activities like walking, cross training or lifestyle. 

Support: Running shoes provide different types of support, so we looked at the types of support while testing to determine whether it’s appropriate for certain running distances and your gait’s needs. 

Types of women’s running shoes

Picking out a running shoe is a different experience than shopping for other types of footwear. For one, everyone has different preferences as far as style goes and their running needs. Some shoe brands are known to make shoes for specific types of running (trail, speed, everyday), and you may notice some will market themselves as minimalist, maximalist or in between sneakers. Running shoes, like walking shoes, can also be versatile enough to use for different activities. The only difference is that running shoes are designed to withstand the rigorous nature of running, but they can work well as walking shoes since you need similar support. 

Paul Nasri, who holds a doctorate in physical therapy and works at The Game Plan Physical Therapy in New York, says the most important thing to be aware of is the type of running you are trying to do, and the distances you are interested in running. “For example, if you are doing speed work, that sneaker should be lighter weight and slightly more minimalist, whereas if you are performing a long run, it should have more support and be slightly more maximalist,” he explained. On the other hand if you are focusing more on tempo work, or short easy runs, you can choose a medium support type of sneaker. 

Knowing how often you’ll be using the running shoe is also important because someone running just a few miles a week doesn’t need the same qualities as someone who is training for a marathon. “No matter the case, you should always be rotating between two sneakers when performing your regular running throughout the week,” Nasri advised.

Two key qualities to look out for in a running shoe are a supportive heel counter and space in the forefoot region. “You want to make sure the heel counter is supportive and that your heel isn’t moving much, but you also want to make sure that the sneaker breaks from the forefoot region, where your toes normally would go into extension,” Nasri said. “Many sneakers now have carbon plates in the sneaker and that can make for an easier run since that plate facilitates a spring when pushing off, decreasing the amount of energy required for you to propel yourself forward.”

The best way to find the right style is by visiting a running sneaker store and getting fitted for a shoe. You’ll then need to give yourself a trial period to walk and run in the shoes to see if they’re the best for you. Nasri said, “Be sure that the toe box is wide enough for your foot — if you are seeing red marks on the side of your big toe or little toe, that shoe is too tight for you.” 

Nasri advises looking at the toe box height as well, because if the tops of your toes are red or pink after a run, that means the toe box is too low and you are experiencing too much friction. “There should be one thumb-width of space in front of your big toe because that will make sure that the front of your toes don’t press up into the front of the sneaker, especially when running downhill,” he added. 

Knowing your running style

Another thing to consider when breaking in a new running shoe is whether it’s working for or against your gait. One measurement that makes a big difference is the heel-to-toe drop, which is the measurement (in millimeters) of the difference in height from the back of the sneaker to the front of the sneaker. Shoes can have a zero drop (a flat sneaker), low drop (1 to 4mm heel drop), medium drop (5 to 9mm drop) or a high drop (9 to 10mm or higher drop). 

The heel-to-toe drop you choose will depend on whether you plan on aiming for short, medium or long distances. You should also take your natural strike pattern into account. Nasri advises against using zero-drop or minimalist sneakers for medium and longer-distance running since they can significantly alter your natural strike pattern. 

If you’re a natural heel striker, you’ll want a shoe that has more cushioning in the heel, which Nasri says usually has a greater heel-to-toe drop. Natural midfoot strikers can get away with low to medium heel drop shoes if they prefer. Forefoot strikers may want a lower heel-to-toe drop, but they’re the rare group that can pick just about any sneaker that feels comfortable for them.

“I don’t encourage changing your natural foot strike pattern on your own, as it changes force distribution throughout the body and can result in overload injuries,” warned Nasri. Instead he recommends working with a running coach or qualified physical therapist or strength and conditioning coach if you want to focus on changing your foot strike mechanics. The good news is you don’t have to change the way you run since there isn’t enough evidence that your foot type increases injury risk

Supinated vs. pronated feet

You may be more prone to certain conditions depending on your foot type: supinated or pronated. Supinated feet tend to place more weight on the outside of the foot, whereas people with pronated feet place more weight on the inside of the arch of the foot. You need both supination and pronation when running — the issue is when your feet overpronate or oversupinate because that can make you more prone to lower extremity injuries. 

“People with excessively supinated and pronated feet may be more at risk for plantar fasciopathy,” said Nasri. Runners with excessive supination are more prone to foot stress fractures (or cracks in the bone) while those with excessive pronation are more prone to posterior tibial tendinopathy or pain on the inside of the ankle due to overuse. 

“The only time I care about this as a physical therapist is when there is a clear asymmetry between the left and right foot, and the side in question is presenting with pathology,” Nasri said. Overall, he suggests selecting a sneaker that feels comfortable and supportive to you, without getting too focused on marketing terms such as “stability,” “motion control” and “overpronation” sneakers. 

How often to replace running sneakers

Once you have a pair of sneakers that you swear by, you should note that you’ll need to replace them every so often. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends changing your running sneakers every 300 to 500 miles. Your shoe’s longevity may depend on the surface you’re running on. If you run on asphalt or concrete, you’ll want to change your shoes every 300 miles, but if you run on a treadmill or track you’ll want to swap them out every 500 miles. If you’re uncertain how many miles you’ve logged, you can also refer to the soles of your shoe and check for any wear and tear patterns. Additionally, if you suddenly notice you’re getting aches and pains during your runs and you haven’t changed your mileage or distance, then it may be time to get a new pair of shoes. 

Factors to consider

  • How much you’re willing to spend on running sneakers, because a good pair can run you over $100. 
  • How often you plan on running and the type of support you will need.
  • What surface you plan on running on. Whether you prefer the street or the treadmill, it can influence the type you buy.
  • If you’re comfortable owning multiple pairs of shoes to support your running habit. 
  • If you prefer comfort over style — in some cases, running shoes aren’t always stylish. 
  • If you plan on using running shoes for activities other than running.

Running shoes FAQs

Does it matter what type of running shoe you wear?

It does matter what type of running shoe you wear since it should work for your foot’s needs, running routine and striking pattern.

Can you use running shoes for walking?

Yes, running shoes can be used for walking. Running shoes are designed to handle the impact of running, so they are versatile enough for walking as well, while providing the same support and protection.

Why are running shoes so thick?

Running shoes are often thick due to the high cushioning needed to absorb the impact generated between your foot and the ground.

How often should running shoes be replaced?

Running shoes should be replaced every 300 to 500 miles or whenever they start to show wear and tear.

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