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Best women’s running shoes for 2021: Nike, Asics, Brooks and more

Best women’s running shoes for 2021: Nike, Asics, Brooks and more

This story is part of Holiday Gift Guide 2020, CNET’s gift picks with expert advice, reviews and recommendations for the latest tech gifts for you and your family.

Shoes are one of the most important tools in your running arsenal. Yet, they are notoriously hard to shop for. Unlike other fitness gear that you can order solely based on good reviews, with running shoes, you really have to understand if an athletic shoe option will work for you personally, which depends on a lot of factors.

Before you buy, there are few questions to consider: What type of runner are you? Have you ever been evaluated by a running specialist? What kind of feel do you like when you run (i.e., more support vs. a “bare” feel?). With all of this in mind, I talked to running coach Holly Roser to gather all of the basic information you should know before shopping for the right shoe. Check out that info below our list of the best running shoes for women.

Looking for men’s shoes? Check out our list of the best men’s running shoes.


Brooks sneakers are an enduring favorite among runners, and this iteration of its Adrenaline model is likely to convert any remaining uninitiated. New additions to the shoe’s design include supportive “GuideRails,” which allow the wearer to maintain a healthy range of motion while reducing the kind of excess movement that leads to knee injuries, and a cushioned shock absorption grid along the sole. 

The attention to detail in this running sneaker’s construction, like the engineered mesh upper, makes it one of the best running shoes for anyone looking to protect their gait and extend their longevity as a runner — which will come in handy if you’re training for a marathon.

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Fans of the Mizuno Wave 15 women’s running shoes will like this update, which features a new sockliner, cool and dry ventilation system, and more durable outsole. One Amazon reviewer described the Mizuno Wave as the “best stability shoes on the market,” and another wrote about how incredibly comfortable and supportive the shoe is.

It should be noted, however, that the Mizuno Wave Inspire models tend be narrower than the average shoe, particularly through the toe box. 


Simply put, if your running style is to 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. 


Asics has been the dedicated runner’s longtime go-to brand for a reason: The brand remains the standard bearer for a long-lasting pair of running shoes with stability. 

In the past, wearers’ praise for the shoes’ support always came with the caveat that Asics tended to be clunky. But the GEL-DS Trainer 25 may very well dodge this common critique. 

It’s a great, cushioned neutral running shoe for overpronators since the solid midsole provides little to no pronation.

Hoka One One

With cushioning that’s described as “plush” on Hoka’s website, the Bondi 7 offers wearers a seriously comfortable fit and ride. The Bondi 7 is the most cushioned shoe Hoka sells, and the new 7 model added extra foam in the tongue and upper for more comfort.

Of course, there are clear drawbacks to this level of cushion in a running shoe, including a lack of sensation of the terrain beneath your feet, a clunky fit and overall lack of stability. But, if you deal with sensitivity or pain when running, these sneakers are one of the best running shoes for you.


Yet another sneaker built for comfort, these Skechers are similar to Hokas in terms of comfort and fit, as several reviewers noted, but at a slightly more appealing price point. In addition to the lightweight shoe’s cushiness, its sole’s wide platform offers stability for the wearer’s strides and encourages the foot forward with a propulsive response. But this feature can make for surprising loud landings, some reviewers noted. 

This clunkiness is likely a product of the shoe’s design, rather than its weight, as reviewers tended to describe the Goruns as “lightweight.”


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. 


One reviewer described the Kinvara 10 as a shoe that needs no break-in period, and they have the shoe’s contoured insole and roomy toe box to thank for that near-instant fit. The Kinvara 11 is the newest model available from Saucony and has many of the same features that people love about Kinvara 10.

These shoes are great cushioning your feet and have plenty of bounce to give you some spring in your step. If you aren’t totally sure which shoe on this list is right for you, consider starting with the Kinvara 11, as it could very well be a “Goldilocks”-style shoe. It’s not too much of any one thing — rather, it’s just about right.

What to look for when shopping for running shoes

Special support or injuries: If you’ve ever been injured or have a collapsed arch, your needs will be different than 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: “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,” which will help your traction as you run to avoid slipping and falling,” Roser says. 

How to get fitted for a running shoe during COVID-19

One of the best ways to start your running shoe search is by getting fitted by a professional at a running or shoe specialty store. But, with COVID-19 many stores are closed or you may prefer to stay home and out of stores until the pandemic is under control. Either way — you still have options for a custom fitting experience.

“Ask your local run store if you can email them a video of you running and ask them what shoe they would recommend for your specific footwear needs. Most local run stores are able to do this and can ship the shoe straight to you,” Roser says.

If you can’t find a run store that can help fit you virtually, Roser suggests opting for a stability shoe to be safe. “Your best bet is a stability shoe as they are the best overall choice to help adjust overpronation of your strike, knee pain, or arch pain,” Roser says. If the shoe 

Using customer reviews and footwear discussions on Reddit’s running subreddit, we’ve chosen the best running shoes currently on the market, for all different types of runners. Keep reading to find the best running shoes to fit your needs this year.

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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.

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