Trialling the best running shoes for women is not an easy task and many of those we put to the test have not been included here, as they didn’t come up to standard.
From the moment we unboxed them, we put each pair through its paces and considered how well they fitted, performed and benefited each workout. All trainers were used at least three times for different workouts to see how they fared and many were used a lot more than that.
The top pair of our best running shoes for women 2020 tried and tested was the Salomon Supercross Blast GTX W. They are worth the investment owing to how well they perform in wet and wild weather. Not only do they look great, but the grip is so strong that you won’t have to slow down when running in muddy conditions. Plus, they were the only pair we felt that boosted our performance. And if you really want to take your workout to the next level, pair one of these shoes with one of our best fitness trackers and suit up with our pick of the best leggings. You won't regret it!
How to choose the best running shoes for you
While choosing running shoes that are right for you can be a personal decision, there are a number of things you should always look out for.
A large toe box
“Fashion over function has become the motto of many shoe companies over the years,” says Vikash Sharma, a Doctor of Physical Therapy at New York City’s Perfect Stride Physical Therapy. “As a result, the toe box on shoes has been getting narrower, altering the anatomy of the foot and decreasing its functionality. When selecting a running shoe, toes should be able to sit in the shoe without being crowded.”
“If your foot can sit on top of the insole without spilling over the edges of the insole, you have a shoe that fits,” says Vikash. “You should never think that a running shoe can be ‘worn in’ to fit your foot – it should fit well on day one.”
“This is the distance between the ground and the bottom of your foot (how thick the sole of the shoe is),” says Vikash. “If you have a thick cushion between the ground and your foot, you are greatly reducing the ability of your foot to respond to its environment.”
“As long as your foot is functioning as it should, there is no need for increased arch support,” says Vikash. “But, if your foot is unable to get into and out of pronation, you may need to use a shoe with arch support until this can be resolved.”
The best running shoes for women to buy now
1. Salomon Supercross Blast GTX W
Best running shoes for women for most people
Size range: UK 3.5-10.5 | Offset: 10mm | Terrain: Muddy and soft | Waterproof: Yes, Gore-Tex
Lightweight, comfortable and with great grip even in treacherous conditions, these running shoes tick all the right boxes, especially when it comes to exercising outside. In fact, the grip is so good you never have to worry about slowing down or losing focus again. Plus, thanks to the Gore-Tex technology, these running shoes stay 100% waterproof, whatever the weather. With just the right amount of arch support, your feet won’t slip about, plus ankles will stay cushioned and supported throughout workouts. Currently available in either black, green or pink, the colours are muted and mature instead of garish, so you could wear them with jeans post-workout and wouldn’t look out of place.
The only thing you’ll have to get used to is the one-pull laces but, over time, you’ll never want to go back to manually tying them ever again.
Read more: Salomon Supercross Blast GTX review
2. 361 Strata 4
Best premium running shoes for women
Size range: UK 3-9 | Offset: 8mm | Terrain: Road | Waterproof: No
Great for long distance
Stop running when your feet start to hurt? Then these are the right pick for you. Yes, they are slightly more expensive than the rest, but you are paying for comfort, especially if you want to run for further.
Every detail has been thought through carefully. Often stop running to reposition the tongue? This has it integrated with the laces (via the Morphit lacing system), so it won’t move at all. But that’s not all. These are ultra versatile and great for protecting joints, no matter what sport or movement you are doing, such as burpees and squat jumps. Plus, they’re definitely not too clunky for the treadmill.
Looks-wise, these running shoes are more about practicality than being bang on trend, but being sleek, and not overbranded or brash, means you won’t need to upgrade for a long time.
Read more: 361 Strata 4 review
3. Helly Hansen HH W Varde Trail
Best budget running shoes for women
Size range: UK 3.5-8 | Offset: 5mm | Terrain: Trail | Waterproof: No, water-repellant
It’s not usual for a budget buy to have so much to offer, but this Helly Hansen pair definitely does. It’s designed for both trail running and mountain hiking, and, thanks to the multi-directional lug system, the traction is above average. Not only that, but with a very stable midsole, your feet won’t roll about.
So, what are you losing out on by paying around half the price of the others? Probably things most people would be willing to forfeit, such as reflective detailing and extra padding around the heel. And, while they are only water-repellent and not waterproof, they do protect against the wind.
The best part? The old saying ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ is definitely not the case here – the quality materials used mean these will last just as long as those double the price.
Read more: Helly Hansen HH W Varde Trail review
4. New Balance Fresh Foam Tempo
Best firm running shoes for women
Size range: UK 3.5-9 | Offset: 6mm | Terrain: Firm | Waterproof: No
Sizing not accurate
Often experience shin splints when running? The main selling point of the ultra-light New Balance Fresh Foam Tempo is the Fresh Foam midsole cushioning. This basically compresses each time your foot hits the floor to help protect against the force of the impact. So, however hard the terrain, joints will feel supported. But that’s not all, as the attention to detail (even down to the padding on the heel, meaning they will never rub) makes this pair worth spending your money on. The design is exceptionally stylish to the point where they’re not just a running shoe, but also a fashion statement post-workout.
The only downside is they are not waterproof and, although the traction is good, it’s not amazing. Therefore, it’s probably best to stick to paths, pavements and the treadmill, instead of any terrain that’s too treacherous.
Read more: New Balance Fresh Foam Tempo review
5. Saucony Ride 13
Best neutral running shoes for women
Size range: UK 3-10 | Offset: 8mm | Terrain: Neutral | Waterproof: No
If you pick a pair of Ride 13’s in Citron Mutant, then everyone will know about it. Not just because the bright yellow design is outrageously loud (yet strangely appealing), but because you won’t stop telling every runner who will listen how great they are. Yes, they are comfortable – which is largely thanks to the Formfit surrounds, but they don’t just allow your feet to melt away inside. These are flexible and responsive, so the cushioning actually helps power each stride. Sleek and stylish, with a large toe box for wiggle room, these running shoes are on the premium side when it comes to price. However, they are durable (the sole is pretty solid), so you’ll still have the same support mile after mile.
Read more: Saucony Ride 13 review