The 26th iteration of the Gel-Kayano brings big changes, including a sleeker look, more stability for overpronators, and a snug mesh upper with an external heel counter for a locked-in feel. All this—plus a longer medial plate that extends from the midsole to the heel—comes with the intention of providing more motion control and a sturdier ride. Two types of lightweight foam at the heel (for added bounce) and toe (for forward propulsion) give the shoe plenty of cushion and support. Plus, the women’s version has an extra 3mm of midsole height to reduce strain on the Achilles.
A perennial favorite for new runners and marathon maniacs alike, the Ghost has always provided a quick, smooth ride that holds up over the miles. This year’s edition somehow raises an already-stellar bar with a new 3D Fit Print upper that promises a lighter feel and sleeker aesthetic. While our testers thought the Ghost 11 had ample cushioning in the heel, they felt it could use a little more softness up front—and Brooks listened; our RW Lab data showed there is indeed softer cushioning in the forefoot of the 12. “From front to back, the cushioning is superb without being too mushy,” said one female tester. “The forefoot was cushioned enough to provide a soft landing while also letting me feel the terrain beneath me.”
Altra is known for its Foot Pod design, mapping out the foot and balancing weight and pressure on tendons and bones. This technology married with the comfort and responsiveness of the Altra Intuition 4.5 is what sets it a notch above the rest. The Intuition 4.5 has a 0mm drop, allowing for your body to align properly while feeling the road under your feet. It's a great shoe for a long run, the kind that clear your head.
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, women’s shoes share a few features based on characteristics that may or may not apply to you. It’s possible you might prefer a “men’s” shoe, just as some men might feel more comfortable in a “women’s” shoe. The designs of the shoes are just based on general group tendencies—such as that women have less muscle mass than men and tend to weigh less as a result. For this reason, women’s shoes often have a lighter and softer midsole to make up for the lower degree of impact put on the shoe with each stride.
An elite female runner needs an exceptional pair of athletic shoes for women. If you're the kind of gal that only settles for the best of the best, then Road Runner Sports has the brands and styles for you. Check out the best Nike running shoes for women and our assortment of women's Adidas running shoes to see styles from top manufacturers. Feel like taking your women's running shoes on an off road adventure? Browse our women's trail runners instead! You'll find top-rated Merrell trail running shoes as well as waterproof trail runners that you can charge through puddles and streams!