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.
In general, women tend to have 15% lower body mass than men, this means shoes must have a deeper groove that can provide greater flexibility, which, translates to a smooth and natural toe-off motion through the running patterns of the foot. Seasoned runners agree that a little less foam in the overall cushioning of a running shoe goes a long way for female runners.
How fast can you go on technical trails? The Antora is a trail-running shoe for runners who want to get a little crazy in the woods, with a soft ride but lightweight and responsive feel that makes navigating rocks and roots at PR pace a heck of a lot less terrifying and more fun. The shoe uses Merrell’s new Q-Form 2 midsole, which is made from compression-molded EVA engineered specifically for women’s feet. The design places softer zones of cushioning in the heel and forefoot that keep form true when fatigue sets in, while extra air pods at the heel maximize shock absorption. Our testers found that the water-resistant upper protected their feet through rain and puddles while maintaining breathability and lightweight flexibility.
Running all winter takes a lot—extra motivation, tireless dedication, and in the worst conditions, the right pair of shoes. The ICE+ makes it easier to get out there on days that would otherwise confine you to the treadmill with a Vibram Arctic Grip outsole that can grab ice without tearing up bare roads like a spiked sole would. Overall, the neutral shoe’s fit is comfortable, with a flexible overall ride and extra cushioning in the forefoot, plus a heel fit praised by women on our test team for how well it locks the heel into place. A water-resistant upper fends off the snow, even when you’re breaking new trail. But for summer trail runs, the regular Saucony Peregrine is equally capable, bringing the same deep, lugged outsole and cushioned platform to a shoe with a more breathable upper.
If you’ve never tried a thick, pillowy Hoka One One shoe, it’s hard to believe how light they can feel until you slide your foot into a pair. Great for recovery days or when you just need a break from harsh pounding against concrete, the Clifton 6 wraps your foot in foam and centers it over a thick slab of cushioning with a firm heel and soft forefoot. The shoe is slightly curved to help you roll through your stride. This year’s version is the lightest since the Clifton’s original release in 2014, but it is still a better shoe for long miles than speedwork. The upper has been redesigned in an engineered mesh to fit more smoothly and securely, with just enough structure to comfortably cradle your foot.

Running all winter takes a lot—extra motivation, tireless dedication, and in the worst conditions, the right pair of shoes. The ICE+ makes it easier to get out there on days that would otherwise confine you to the treadmill with a Vibram Arctic Grip outsole that can grab ice without tearing up bare roads like a spiked sole would. Overall, the neutral shoe’s fit is comfortable, with a flexible overall ride and extra cushioning in the forefoot, plus a heel fit praised by women on our test team for how well it locks the heel into place. A water-resistant upper fends off the snow, even when you’re breaking new trail. But for summer trail runs, the regular Saucony Peregrine is equally capable, bringing the same deep, lugged outsole and cushioned platform to a shoe with a more breathable upper.
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