We chose all the shoes in this roundup based on feedback from the women on our test team, as well as test results from our RW Shoe Lab. We also researched the market, surveyed user reviews, spoke with product managers and designers to find the best of the best. Every shoe was evaluated over the course of hundreds of miles, with attention given to overall performance, comfort, ride, longevity, value, and yes, even style—because who doesn’t want to feel like they look good, even alone on a trail? Here are our favorite running shoes for women this year.
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!
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!
We chose all the shoes in this roundup based on feedback from the women on our test team, as well as test results from our RW Shoe Lab. We also researched the market, surveyed user reviews, spoke with product managers and designers to find the best of the best. Every shoe was evaluated over the course of hundreds of miles, with attention given to overall performance, comfort, ride, longevity, value, and yes, even style—because who doesn’t want to feel like they look good, even alone on a trail? Here are our favorite running shoes for women this year.

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.

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.

Mizuno completely redesigned the brand’s midsoles this year with a dual layer of foam in the shape of a wave, plus a full-length third foam level for even more cushioning. In the case of the Waveknit 3, the result is a shoe that feels softer, bouncier, and less stiff—without losing the smooth-riding qualities we’ve loved in Mizunos of yore. A more flexible knit Waveknit upper provides a snug fit with better stretch in the toebox than the Waveknit 2’s mesh upper. The durable rubber outsole is largely unchanged, adding up to a cushioned-but-firm trainer that will float you through your daily mileage.


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.
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.
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.
The arch, ball of the foot, and toes of women have different shapes and sizes when compared to male feet. In addition, men’s feet tend to be wider and longer on average. This is why it’s important to provide our readers with a selection that reflects the individual needs of a female’s natural foot shape. Responsive sole units can ensure a proper fit and a more customized overall feel.
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.
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.
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!
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