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Not all running shoes are created equal. While some are certainly just better than others, finding the best pair really depends on the type of activity you plan on using them for. Some running shoes are designed specifically for running on rugged trails, while others are created to perform best on a track. You’ll also need to consider whether you’ll be running long distances or short sprints.
Beyond the type of running, there are other things to consider before you: foot issues, any recurring pain in your legs or feet during runs, and whether the shoes are intended for training or racing. Answering these questions will help you narrow down the most compatible, functional styles.
If you’re shopping for yourself and haven’t the slightest idea where to begin, there are experts who can help assesswork best for you. If you don’t have a podiatrist, you can always rely on your local running shoe specialist for an assessment. They’ll look at your running gait, your pronation (which determines the way your foot rolls inward as it strikes the floor) and much more. I’ve been recorded running on a treadmill for this assessment; in another portion, I had to stand on a platform that reminded me of a mood ring to register an imprint of my foot’s pronation type.
Whether you’re shopping for someone else or yourself and want a guide to the best options available, we’ve gathered a list of the best running sneakers for women here, using customer reviews, forums and running blogs to choose the best models currently on the market. Keep reading to find the best running shoes to fit your needs this year.
Brooks is a brand well-loved by runners, and its latest Adrenaline GTS 21 is the perfect match if you’re looking for a smooth and supportive shoe. The softer feel is thanks to the stability and support provided by the brand’s BioMoGo DNA and DNA Loft cushioning foams. These shoes also include built-in GuardRails that support overpronation and help you maintain a proper range of motion as you run. They exceptionally support your joints (why your knees remain protected) because the sole of the shoe contains a cushioned shock-absorption grid.
Simply put, if you prefer the woods to the road, these are the running shoes for you. With high arches and a lug sole that offers excellent traction and grip through snow, rain and mud, the Speedcross helps the wearer maintain a steady gait over all varieties of terrain (one reviewer attested to the fact that the shoe’s durability doesn’t inhibit their performance while running).
The downside of a durable shoe that’s made to brave the elements is, unfortunately, a lack of breathability, although its antimicrobial footbed works to offset some foot odor.
If long-distance running isn’t your thing, but you still like to go on the occasional run, the Asics GEL-DS Trainer 26 is your best bet. This shoe is a classic style that has loyal runners continuously buying its newest editions. The GEL-DS Trainer 26 is lightweight and well-cushioned, and has enough stability to get you through your interval runs or speed training. Runners appreciate that this shoe isn’t bulky, and those who work on their feet for hours at a time find that the shoe keeps them properly supported all day long. It’s important to note that if you opt for these shoes you may need to size up as reviews say their sizing runs small.
The Hoka One One Bondi X is the upgraded version of its predecessor, the Hoka One One Bondi 7. This version stays loyal to the maximum cushioning provided by the former edition, but with a few improvements. The signature Hoka MetaRocker is extended in this version to amp up your speed and make your heel-to-toe transitions smoother. According to reviews, runners and walkers alike can appreciate the features on this shoe. Some reviewers shared that they have foot issues such as plantar fasciitis and osteoarthritis and this shoe provided the comfort and support they were looking for.
The Skechers GoRun Ride 9 is an upgraded version of the popular Skechers GoRun Ride 8 Hyper. The latest version is lighter and softer but still has the same cushion and bounce enjoyed by runners. It’s ideal for those who don’t want a heavy shoe yet need plenty of bounce to help them pick up the pace. It also provides ample room in the toe box, which is appreciated by runners with wide feet who aren’t looking to size up. If you plan on pounding the pavement mile after mile, you’ll be pleased to know that customer reviews say the outsole of this shoe is long-lasting and didn’t wear down even after logging 100 miles on it.
This shoe is designed with running and everyday wear in mind, so it makes sense that reviewers praise the Escalante for its comfortable fit — whether that’s for everyday wear or long runs. The flexible design allows your feet to flex for more comfort and still provides some stability.
New Balance has made a name for itself in the running world with its 1080 line, and the Fresh Foam 1080v11 is its current popular pair with good reason. The cushioning of the shoe is made up of its signature Fresh Foam and the upper consists of a stretchy mesh that makes the shoe feel lighter and more breathable as you run. The 1080v11s are a good choice whether you’re a new runner or a seasoned marathon runner, if you want a reliable sneaker that has good traction and will keep you comfortable during your long run without a long break-in period.
This Hoka shoe is known as the brand’s endurance racer and is intended for racing and training runs. The Hoka One One Carbon X 2 features the brand’s signature Meta-Rocker, a specialized mid- and outsole design that provides a smooth, efficient ride. The cushioning on this shoe has a lower profile and lets you keep your foot closer to the ground, which provides a more efficient push-off. The midsole on this shoe has been upgraded to the ProFlyX, which is designed with a carbon plate surrounded by a softer midsole and firmer outsole, providing extra comfort and responsiveness during your run. Runners who enjoy this shoe have said it’s perfect for running long distances (even ultramarathon distances), provides the right amount of stability and is best for road running.
What to look for when shopping for running shoes
We talked to running coach Holly Roser to gather all of the basic information you should know before shopping for the right shoe.
Special support or injuries: It’s important to consider the level of support your feet will need when you’re picking out a pair of running shoes. If you’ve ever been injured or have a collapsed arch, your needs will be different from those of other runners. You may need a stability shoe, since you’ll want a shoe that can support your ankles and joints more. “Stability shoes will help give your ankle the most support possible. This will help reduce some of the stress on your joints caused by running, and allow you to run longer in the correct foot position,” Roser says.
Lightweight or neutral shoes: “If you are injury-free and are free of arch issues, I suggest a lightweight running shoe, referred to as a ‘neutral’ shoe. These feel great on your feet, very light with medium support. These are excellent for sprints or any asphalt or concrete run,” Roser says.
Outdoor and trail running: Where you run will determine how much traction you’ll want your shoes to have. “If you primarily run on dirt trails, invest in a pair of running shoes meant for dirt or gravel. These are referred to as ‘trail-running shoes,’ [and] will help your traction as you run to avoid slipping and falling,” Roser says.
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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.