Warmer temperatures mean ditching the treadmill and finally feeling the sun on your face, and for runners it also means ensuring you have the best running shoes for women in your closet ready to go. If you switched from running gear to skiing gear over the winter months and are digging out last year’s running shoes as the snow melts, those old shoes might be ready for a replacement.
Pounding pavement or trails is in fact, pounding, and doing that on worn-out shoes puts more strain on your body (your knees especially) and forces your soft tissues to absorb more of that surface impact. Instead, you want a quality shoe that’s supportive, fits well, feels good on your feet, and isn’t completely falling apart at the seams. That being said, there are a lot of shoes that check those boxes. Short of going into multiple running shoe shops and spending hours trying on every single shoe, it can be hard to know which running shoe is best for you.
If you can hit up your local running shop, we definitely recommend trying on a few pairs to see what feels good on your feet. However, if you can’t make it in person or just want to start your search on the right foot (pun intended), we’ve gathered a handful of top-notches running shoes for women, from our own dependable favorites to new innovations and recommendations from other long-term expert runners and trainers. Shop the best running shoes from Nike, Hoka, On, and more.
Whether you’re a long-time runner or a soon-to-be runner, your running shoes will be ready to keep up with the extra miles. And if you’re looking for tips on becoming a better runner, joining a runner’s club, or training for your first 5K, check out our SELF Guide to Running.
All products featured on SELF are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Hoka Women's Clifton
Hoka is a brand known for its thick soles, making it a cushion-filled ride to help protect your feet from the impact of repeatedly hitting the ground. Its newest iteration of the Clifton fits right in with its plush yet lightweight padding. The Clifton is an ideal everyday road runner that can still hold its own on the occasional trail as well. The neutral shoe feels light enough to keep up with casual speed runs, but it really thrives when you’re pushing distance or regularly clocking runs over six to seven miles (read the full Hoka Clifton review here). The Clifton also won SELF’s 2021 Certified Sneaker Awards for best max cushion. — Johanna Flashman, freelance contributor
Available in sizes 5 to 12. $140 AT HOKA
These shoes have moderate cushioning and zero drop, meaning your heel and forefoot are even with the ground, which can help make your running form more natural and decrease the impact on your feet. —Meg Lappe, CPT and former associate editor
Available in sizes 6 to 11. $130 AT ALTRA RUNNING
Adidas Ultraboost 22 Shoes
The floating arch provides the support I need for runs, plus I love that the knitted upper comes from reclaimed and recycled ocean waste. Talk about doing good and feeling good. —M.L.
Available in sizes 5 to 11. $190 AT ADIDAS
Asics Gel-Nimbus 23
RRCA running coach Lauren Sheu recommends the Asics Gel Nimbus as a comfortable shoe, good for long runs and training. “These shoes have padding, padding, and more padding. They have dual padding in the midsole, the tongue, and the collar to prevent blisters. The top of the shoe is covered in a mesh overlay to add the ultimate breathability,” says Sheu.
Available in sizes 5 to 12. $130 AT AMAZON
Saucony Kinvara 13 Road-Running Shoes
For a solid everyday training shoe, Amanda Brooks, author of Run to the Finish: The Everyday Runner’s Guide to Avoiding Injury, Ignoring the Clock, and Loving the Run, recommends the Saucony Kinvara. Lightweight and breathable with a medium cushion and minimal heel-to-toe drop, this shoe is a good all-arounder, especially for folks who don’t want to shell out the money to have multiple types of running shoes. “The lower heel drop, I’ve found to help myself and others with preventing I.T. Band pain,” says Brooks. “While the moderate amount of cushion keeps my feet happy and my body still reactive to the road.”
Available in sizes 5 to 9.5. $120 AT REI
Brooks Ghost 14 Road-Running Shoes
The Brooks Ghost running shoes are good because they are the perfect balance of stability and cushioning, and I love their flexibility. This neutral running shoe has a more classic amount of heel-to-toe drop—12 millimetres—rather than the zero-drop Escalante, so if you know you’re a heel striker, this might be a good one to look at.
Available in sizes 6 to 12. $140 AT REI
New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v11
The extra padding in the sole of this shoe (look at all that!) provides you with lots of cushioning, plus the toe box is roomy to fit a wider range of feet. —M.L.
Available in sizes 5 to 13. $150 AT REI
Merrell Bare Access Flex
For your Tough Mudders and trail races, the slip-resistant bottom of this shoe will help you stop, go, and pivot in mud, grass, rocks, or road. —M.L.
Available sizes in 5 to 9.5. $90 AT AMAZON
Nike Free RN Flyknit
You can get by without wearing running socks with this pair, thanks to a molded sock liner—which means if you do want to wear socks, you might want to size up. These go from gym to street seamlessly.
Available in sizes 5 to 7.5, 8.5 to 10.5, 11.5, and 12. $100 AT NIKE