Good Running Shoes for Women
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.
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.
|New Balance Women’s Zantev3 (Our Top Pick!)||7.6 ounces|
|Saucony Women’s Kinvara 8||6.9 ounces|
|ASICS Women’s Fuzex Lyte 2||7.9 ounces|
|Adidas Performance Women’s Ultraboost X||8.3 ounces|
|Mizuno Women’s Wave Skye||8.9 ounces|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
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
Run in tennis shoes, for example, and you’ll find that they’re designed for totally different movements — fast starting and stopping, as well as side-to-side motion. That’s not what you need when running for distance.
That’s why running shoes are built for straight-line performance and stability. Yes, you can run in anything you like, but running shoes are going to enhance your performance and help prevent injuries.
That said, running shoe companies are always updating their models. For example, when Adidas or ASICS or Mizuno come out with version 5 of a certain shoe, you may be able to find version 4 on sale. Of course, these older models will run out quickly, and it may be hard to find the shoe in your size. But looking for last year’s model is a great way to get quality shoes at value prices.
Shoes worn on asphalt are going to wear out more quickly than shoes worn on trails or composite tracks. It’s always a good idea to track your runs (I love RunningAHEAD and its free tracker), which also allows you to track mileage on each pair of shoes you use.
Track mileage on your shoes, but it’s an even better idea to look at your soles every once in a while. How are they wearing? Are they so worn that the angle at which you strike the ground is changing significantly? If so, it’s time to grab a new pair.
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.