Let’s get this out of the way right from the start: Running is the single most beneficial thing you can do for your body. We’re not talking about running marathons — even lightly jogging 5–10 minutes a day can add years to your life.

Seriously.

OK, let’s assume that you buy into the idea that running is good for you. Maybe you’ve been running for years, or maybe you’re just thinking about getting started. But what you need more than anything is the right equipment — including good running shoes for women.

Because nothing can thwart your ability to tap into the benefits of running faster than an injury or even discomfort while you’re out pounding the pavement or the trail.

The good news is this: Running shoes today are more advanced than at any time in history.

The bad news is: You have almost unlimited options when looking for good running shoes for women.

How can you make sense of all these options? We’re here for you. Take a look below at 5 attractive options when you need good running shoes for women. There’s a pair for every budget, experience level and running style.

Before we get started, know that you’ll find different shoes for the two main types of running: road running and trail running. Both types of running have their own pros and cons.

For example, road running is convenient (just walk out your front door), and the surfaces are typically smooth and obstacle free — but hard surfaces like cement can be tough on your joints. Conversely, trail running can offer incredible scenery, and soft trail surfaces are much easier on your joints — but it’s harder to get to trails and uneven surfaces can lead to stumbles and injuries.

To make things simple, we’re focusing on road running shoes only. Sure, you can take these shoes out on the trail, and you can also find trail running shoes that get the job done on roads. But road running is far more prevalent than trail running — most likely due to the convenience factor. So it’s going to provide the greatest benefit to the greatest amount of people to cover road running shoes in this review.

 

1. New Balance Women’s Zantev3 — Our Top Pick!

What makes a great running shoe? It’s great to have a pair that can go long distances with ease but that is just as comfortable doing speed work on a track. You want a pair that is light but that provides stability and support. And you want a pair that looks great, too, right?

That’s what makes the New Balance Women’s Zantev3 our top overall pick. This shoe is quality throughout, and it’s versatile enough to take on all kinds of running, from beginners who are aiming to tackle a 5k to more seasoned runners who are doing regular half marathons and full marathons.

Yes, the New Balance Women’s Zantev3 looks great, too. We highly recommend that you leave style off your checklist when searching for good running shoes for women, but this is a side bonus. Choose from among six different color schemes, including the reflection/rose gold style pictured here.

DropWeightMade In
6.5 mm
7.6 ounces
Vietnam
No running shoe is perfect, even though the New Balance Women’s Zantev3 comes close. This shoe provides a little bit of a funky fit for some runners, with a low ankle that can lead to heel slippage and a tight mid-foot that can cause blisters. Feet are so different person-to-person, so you may not experience these issues at all — but beware that wide-footed runners may have some issues.

Lightweight Without Sacrificing Support

There’s a delicate balance to be struck when searching for good running shoes for women. It’s nice to have a shoe that’s lightweight, but lighter options often don’t offer the cushioning and support some runners need to stave off injuries. And many want shoes that offer cushioning and support, but those shoes can be exceedingly heavy — which definitely hurts your performance.

One of the main reasons why the New Balance Women’s Zantev3 is such a great option is that it delivers the support you need while offering lightweight performance. It’s truly the best of both worlds, which makes it a good choice for both beginners and more experienced runners.

Speed … Even Over Long Distances

Another challenge in picking the right shoe is finding one that can help you go fast over long distances — think half marathons and longer. Finding a speed shoe for a 5k is easy, because the distance isn’t quite as demanding on your body. But finding a speed shoe for your next marathon, well, good luck.

Until you find the New Balance Women’s Zantev3. This shoe can handle your 5k, and it’s right at home delivering the same fast performance for a half marathon — or even longer distances.

You may be thinking: I’m just starting out and I don’t care about speed. Maybe not. But maybe you will as you get more and more into running. I can attest from my own personal experience that tracking your runs (and your times) brings about a natural desire to go faster and to set personal records. Why not choose a shoe that helps you be at your best?

Navigate Sizing Issues

Before you rush to order your New Balance Women’s Zantev3 running shoes, get the lowdown on sizing — and some sizing issues. They run just a tad small, so you may want to order a half size larger than you normally would. Too big is always better than too small in distance running.

Some runners have reported slight heel slippage, which can usually be fixed by using different eyelets for the laces. But the more concerning sizing issue is some tightness through the mid-foot. If you have a wider foot, you may experience some of this tightness, which can lead to blisters.

Remember that your shoe will expand the more you run, and it will continually adapt to the shape and form of your foot. Some early tightness is reasonable as you break them in. But don’t move forward with a shoe that is severely uncomfortable from the start.

Sizing issues aside, it’s hard to beat this shoe as your best option for versatile performance running. Good for beginners and good for experienced racers, too, the New Balance Women’s Zantev3 also offers great value — an MSRP of just $99.99 (though you may be able to find it for less on Amazon and other sites). Get the New Balance Women’s Zantev3, and get the best among options for good running shoes for women.

Pros and Cons of the New Balance Women’s Zantev3

Pros of the New Balance Women’s Zantev3:

  • Lightweight but with plenty of support
  • Versatility, making it perfect for both speed and distance
  • Soft yet responsive for smooth and consistent performance

Cons of the New Balance Women’s Zantev3:

  • Occasional heel slippage
  • Heavier than previous versions of this model
  • Narrow through mid-foot, sometimes causing blisters

 

2. Saucony Women’s Kinvara 8 — Best Lightweight Shoe

Some runners want their shoes to feel like nothing at all — they put weight above all else when searching for good running shoes for women. And, for those weight-obsessed runners, the Saucony Women’s Kinvara 8 delivers.

This lightweight model is ready to go right out of the box. Take it on training runs, and use it for some longer distances — though runners that need lots of stability, cushioning and support may want to find something else for long distance.

But the Saucony Women’s Kinvara 8 provides a surprising amount of support while remaining the best lightweight running shoe on the market. There’s a reason why this model has developed somewhat of a cult following — it’s the solution that runners who want feather-light shoes have always been looking for.

DropWeightMade In
7.4 mm
6.9 ounces
Indonesia
You always sacrifice in one area when you go to the extreme in another. The Saucony Women’s Kinvara 8 is a stripped-down running shoe with one goal in mind — getting to the lightest weight possible. But it’s not going to last you as long as a shoe that offers more features and more durable construction. But, for many runners, that’s a tradeoff they’ll gladly make.

Speed, Speed, Speed

There’s one reason why runners like a super-lightweight option — it helps them feel like they’re running at supersonic speed. And you won’t find anything much lighter than the Saucony Women’s Kinvara 8.

This shoe is ready to go right out of the box, too. Just lace them up and hit the road — no breaking in needed. But what’s truly amazing about this model is that it delivers the super-lightweight, responsive performance you want without feeling stiff or heavy (as some other lightweight options do).

Get the Right Size

This model has a history of fitting a little tight in the toe-box. While that issue is somewhat remedied in the latest version, it’s still a problem for some runners.

Try going up a half size to make sure you have enough room to feel comfortable when running in the Saucony Women’s Kinvara 8.

Stripped of Desirable Features

Features you might find in other shoes are completely stripped away in the Saucony Women’s Kinvara 8. Other shoes might include materials that enhance durability and stability, but you won’t find them in this model.

That’s not to say the Saucony Women’s Kinvara 8 will fall apart on you after a few runs, and it’s not to say that they don’t offer some stability. It’s just not what you’ll find in other pairs.

And a funny shortcoming of the Saucony Women’s Kinvara 8 — the laces are cheap. Consider getting your own third-party laces to replace the ones that come standard.

No, not everyone’s going to be able to use this as a do-everything shoe — training plus long distances. But the Saucony Women’s Kinvara 8 can be a useful model for speed work or just for daily training, even if it’s not your best fit for distance. This model can help you stay in shape while enhancing your short-run performance.

Pros and Cons of the Saucony Women’s Kinvara 8

Pros of the Saucony Women’s Kinvara 8:

  • Lightweight performance you won’t find elsewhere
  • Surprisingly comfortable and flexible for lightweight shoes
  • Ready to go right out of the box on Day 1

Cons of the Saucony Women’s Kinvara 8:

  • Cheap shoelaces demand replacement
  • Lack of features may lead to durability issues
  • Tight toe-box forces you to size up

 

3. ASICS Women’s Fuzex Lyte 2 — Best Value Option

I know what it’s like to get started with running. You want to give it a try, but you don’t want to invest a lot of money into fancy equipment, apparel and shoes. You just want to try out a few miles (OK, maybe just a mile), and there’s no reason to splurge on premium options.

That’s why the ASICS Women’s Fuzex Lyte 2 exists. At an MSRP of $85 (and you can often find it for less), this is just about the least expensive running shoe you can find that still offers any kind of performance.

It’s perfect for anyone who’s just getting started, and it could make a perfect budget option for experienced runners that want a separate pair for rainy days or otherwise messy runs.

DropWeightMade In
7.4 mm
7.9 ounces
Vietnam
Here’s something you probably could have guessed: Low prices often mean durability issues. You’re simply not going to get the longevity out of a budget option that you could expect from something more expensive. That’s not always a bad thing — there are plenty of good reasons to go the inexpensive route — just don’t expect premium performance.

Spacious and Comfortable

The thing that stands out about the ASICS Women’s Fuzex Lyte 2 is its comfort. These shoes just feel good on your feet. They’re a little soft for tempo work, but you’ll love wearing them as you get started with running.

They are simply made — there’s no advanced construction like you might find with other shoes. This simple design means that there’s extra room in the toe-box, which is a nice bonus, not to mention one that will help you avoid blisters.

These shoes stretch out a little too quickly for my taste, but that’s not terribly surprising given the price. Comfort is the most important factor when searching for good running shoes for women, and the ASICS Women’s Fuzex Lyte 2 definitely delivers it.

Can’t Beat the Price

Most performance running shoes will run you upward of $100 and then some. In fact, you can even find shoes on this page that are pushing $200. That’s a lot of cash to slap down on a pair of running shoes, especially when you’re just getting started.

The ASICS Women’s Fuzex Lyte 2 is a value option, but it delivers just that — value. You get what you pay for and then some at an incredibly attractive price for performance running shoes. You can’t expect much more than what you get with the ASICS Women’s Fuzex Lyte 2.

Here’s What You Sacrifice

OK, so there’s a lot to like about the ASICS Women’s Fuzex Lyte 2, with the price tag being first and foremost on that list. But, along with a discount price, you have to sacrifice a few comforts. This shoe isn’t quite as breathable as some other options, which is most likely a function of the quality of material used. In short, it can get a little hot in summer. The sole isn’t as durable as what you’ll get when you pay a little bit more, which makes perfect sense. And this shoe is too soft for accelerated tempos.

This pair won’t last you as long as some others, but that’s not always a big deal. Budget options are perfect for the reluctant beginner. When you choose the ASICS Women’s Fuzex Lyte 2, you’re getting a model that provides plenty of performance for what it costs. Use this pair to ease into running and to find out whether or not it’s the right type of exercise/hobby for you.

Pros and Cons of the ASICS Women’s Fuzex Lyte 2

Pros of the ASICS Women’s Fuzex Lyte 2:

  • Great comfort for a budget option
  • The price can’t be beat
  • Generous toe-box means blister-free running

Cons of the ASICS Women’s Fuzex Lyte 2:

  • Durability will be limited
  • Lack of breathability makes for hot summer running
  • Too soft for faster speeds and tempo work

 

4. Adidas Performance Women’s Ultraboost X — Best for Flexibility

Are you interested in having the coolest, the latest and most innovative of everything? You’re going to love the Adidas Performance Women’s Ultraboost X, which is way cool, way new and way innovative — to use technical terms, of course.

Just check out the video Adidas created that highlights this shoe. Trust me, not every model of running shoe gets its own trailer:

 

This shoe is really unusual in that it includes a prime-knitted upper that looks almost like a sock. In fact, many describe wearing these shoes as like wearing aqua socks or some other kind of water shoe. It’s almost like your foot is sitting in a specially designed sock that’s attached to an incredibly flexible sole.

The Adidas Performance Women’s Ultraboost X isn’t for everyone. It’s got the highest MSRP of all the options on this page at $180. But it’s great for some runners, it features an innovative design — and it looks really cool.

If it were just a little more affordable and a little more versatile, it might even be our top pick.

DropWeightMade In
10 mm
8.3 ounces
China
Man, $180 for running shoes? That’s steep, I know. But Adidas is REALLY proud of these shoes. How proud? They say that this shoe gives “women their greatest running experience ever.” That’s a bold claim. I’m not sure that it’s entirely accurate, but I will say that this is a quality shoe. Is it worth the price? Only you can determine that based on your budget and your running needs.

Like Running on Springs

The energy return in these shoes is fantastic. That’s why you want a flexible shoe, and the Adidas Performance Women’s Ultraboost X delivers on that promise.

They are light and comfortable, too, which does add to the running experience. While they can be used at any distance, it’s smart to build up to taking on long distances with this model. If you pop them out of the box and immediately sprint out for 10 miles or more, you may find yourself a little sore afterward.

A Unique, Sock-Like Fit

Some users choose to go sockless in this shoe. Not me — my feet are sweatier than most. But know that it’s an option.

Some users also get a little confused by the fit. They find it a little narrow and tight at first, but that’s by design. The prime-knitted upper is designed to adapt and conform to your foot over time while always snapping back into shape without getting overstretched. It’s an interesting and cool innovation, but it means that the shoes can feel complicated to get on at first.

The Adidas Performance Women’s Ultraboost X is also light and breathable, which is nice in so many ways. As mentioned, this very well could be the best option you’ll find on this page.

Support is Limited

As you would imagine from such a spare shoe, it doesn’t provide the same support and cushion you’ll find from some other options. It’s not devoid of support or cushioning, but you do give up some in exchange for flexibility.

This is a great option from the innovative team at Adidas. You can tell that they’ve put a lot of time, energy and effort into the design. They clearly set out to make the best women’s running shoe of all time. Did they succeed? Only you can determine that. But this is an excellent running shoe, and you might just find that it’s your perfect fit — especially if you’re a more advanced runner.

Pros and Cons of the Adidas Performance Women’s Ultraboost X

Pros of the Adidas Performance Women’s Ultraboost X:

  • Really comfortable, especially on shorter runs
  • Cool design with plenty of color options
  • Responsiveness like running on springs

Cons of the Adidas Performance Women’s Ultraboost X:

  • One of the most expensive options
  • Prime-knitted upper can be confusing
  • Have to build up to long distances

 

5. Mizuno Women’s Wave Sky — Best for Cushioning

This is a brand new offering from Mizuno, one that replaces its old Enigma option. The bottom line with the Wave Sky is that you get the ultimate in cushioning and support. They’re going to be heavier, of course, but that’s just the trade-off that you have to make.

What’s nice about the Mizuno Women’s Wave Sky is that you don’t sacrifice all else for the cushioning and support. Yes, they are a little heavier than the other options, but they are still nice and responsive, they are nicely ventilated, and they also deliver a consistent experience when you’re out on runs.

This is not the shoe for you if you’re looking for a lightning quick, lightweight shoe. But it’s a great option for neutral runners.

DropWeightMade In
10 mm
8.9 ounces
Vietnam
If you’re looking to set a personal record with your next half marathon or marathon, this is probably not the shoe you’re looking for. This is more of a shoe for first-time marathoners who need more support and comfort over 26.2 than do more experienced runners looking for speed.

The Latest and Greatest

This is the latest and greatest from a trusted manufacturer of good running for women. It’s sure to reflect the latest in innovation and thinking on behalf of the Mizumo team.

That said, there’s not a lot of information on the Wave Sky just yet, because not enough runners have had a chance to pile up the miles in them. The price tag is at the higher end, too, at an MSRP of $149.99.

Cushioning and Support

Mizuno’s Wave technology is meant to provide the perfect blend of cushioning and support, and that blend is perfectly captured in the Wave Sky. It’s not going to be as responsive as other options, but it’s going to be about as responsive as you’ll find in a shoe with this level of cushioning.

Carrying Heavy Weight

You always want to carry less weight, not more, when you’re running. This is the heaviest option on this page. It makes sense given that there’s more cushioning and support than you’ll find with other options, but this is certainly not the shoe for runners looking to lighten their loads.

Mizuno is one of the most highly respected manufacturers of running shoes, and they have a long history of delivering quality equipment for their customers. Mizuno first shared its Wave midsole platform in 1997, and it’s been helping runners be at their best ever since. You typically can’t go wrong with a Mizuno model, and the Wave Sky is sure to be no different.

Pros and Cons of the Mizuno Women’s Wave Sky

Pros of the Mizuno Women’s Wave Sky:

  • Nice ventilation for keeping you cool
  • Consistent and smooth performance
  • Soft cushioning for those who need it

Cons of the Mizuno Women’s Wave Sky:

  • Heavier weight than other options
  • Expensive price tag
  • Not designed to set PRs

 

Buyer’s Guide

Choosing the right running shoe can feel so much more complicated than it needs to be — especially when you’re new to running. It seems to simple, and yet it’s not. So let’s make this as simple as it can possibly be: Get the shoes that you feel most comfortable in. Nothing else should compare as a key decision factor. You can choose based on lots of other traits, features and characteristics (and we share those below), but go for comfort above all else.

Buying running shoes is a series of decisions. Are you looking for trail or road shoes? What’s your experience level? Your injury history? Your height and weight? Your speed, arch, motion and strike? Do you pronate?

It’s all exhausting. As mentioned, focus on comfort above all else. And also, rather than focusing on what you should do when looking for good running shoes for women, be aware of what you shouldn’t do. Here’s a look at 5 mistakes to avoid when buying your first pair of running shoes:

What’s Most Important to You?

We’ve tried to make our review as digestible and helpful as possible by focusing on the characteristics that are often most important to runners. Some are looking for a well-rounded shoe, and we’ve recommended one as our top choice. But others are looking for something that delivers the utmost in:

  • Flexibility
  • Weight
  • Cushioning
  • Price
  • Style

Price and style aren’t great factors for making decisions. Look at them more as secondary considerations. For example, if you find two shoes that are incredibly comfortable and that deliver what you want in flexibilty, weight and cushioning, choose the less expensive one or the more stylish one. Just don’t choose based on price and style alone and hope that the performance is what you need.

And don’t get discouraged, especially if you’re just starting out. Just like anything else, it takes time to figure out what works for you, what you like and what you need. You don’t come into the world knowing what you like to eat. But you figure it out over time. The same holds true of good running shoes for women. Try some different styles and models, and you’ll soon know exactly what you prefer..

The most important this is this: Just start. Get some running shoes and start pounding the pavement (or trail).

Frequently Asked Questions

Are running shoes actually needed for running?
Does the price of running shoes matter?
What is the lifespan of a pair of running shoes?

Final Thoughts on Finding Good Running Shoes for Women

I started this review by sharing something that I firmly believe: Running is one of the biggest favors you can do for your body. Just a few minutes jogged each day can add years to your life. That’s amazing, isn’t it?

As side bonuses, running today is one of the few times when you get to truly disconnect from the world. It’s just you, your thoughts and the road or trail in front of you. That’s it. I get some of my best ideas while running, and I wouldn’t trade the alone time for anything.

If you’re starting with running, get started the right way by getting good running shoes for women. If you’ve been running for a while and are looking to upgrade your equipment, improve your performance with one of the pairs listed above.

We’re also interested in what shoes you love running in. Let us know in the comments below, or you can always get in touch with us directly by using our contact page.

 

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