The best running shoes for women share the same class-leading features with the best shoes overall—they’re light, comfortable, cushioned, and just supportive enough where you need it most. But that locus of support is where some of the biggest differences between men’s and women’s running shoes can be found. Check out quick reviews below of five of our top picks, or scroll deeper for more in-depth reviews of these and other options, plus buying advice.
First off, you should be interval training in a lightweight shoe to help you gain distance and endurance. However, for the 5K itself, you’re going to want a pair of running shoes that have a little more stability and cushioning, even if it means that they are slightly heavier. If you feel that you’re transitioning to more serious running, you must consider having a solid rotation of running shoes instead of just one. Remember that all cushioning (gel, foam, composites) require some time to recover from being used.
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Researchers have also found that because women tend to have wider hips than men, our feet are more likely to strike the ground toward the outside of our shoe soles. The inward rolling of the foot that results from this is known as pronation, which explains why more women are believed to overpronate than men. Some women’s running shoes account for this increased tendency with different materials used for support through the sole.
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For a responsive midsole and lightweight, springy ride with excellent energy return, you don’t have to spend a fortune—these Floatrides cost $100 (or even less, when you can snag a deal). Some of our testers described the shoes as feeling like “fast slippers,” with a comfy fit and a solid performance at everything from distance to threshold pace. In the first version, we just had one complaint about the shoe—the traditional lacing system didn’t hold the tongue in place mid-run. However, the 2 has improved the upper to reduce any sliding.
I'm in my running shoes a lot: I've set out to run a marathon in 30 different countries, raising money for local organizations in each one. Running race after race, I look for comfort and reliability in a shoe. I want to be sure every day that I'm getting the same fit as I did the week before, and that my feet are happy after 18 months of travel and running.
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If you have flatter feet then running shoes with more cushioning is the way to go. Having extra material to absorb impact on ground strike will translate into more distance and less fatigue. Runners with a more neutral foot type can make selections that are considered more “middle of the road”. Make sure you also check the way that your old shoes wear on the outsole, this can tell you a lot about the way you step.