No single running shoe reigns as the best for all runners. That’s because different runners have varying foot shapes, running styles, prior injuries, and personal preferences. However, several vital characteristics define a great running shoe.
A quality running shoe is typically durable, lightweight, supportive, cushioned, and comfortable. The support and cushioning a runner prefers affects their decision when choosing a running shoe.
Our reviewers set out to find the best women’s running shoes for 2023. They researched, logged miles in each shoe, and reviewed their findings. This list includes the 15 best running shoes they found, varying in style, cushioning, support, and more.
For decades, running shoes were considered virtually unisex. They were designed for a male foot shape, and women simply purchased smaller sizes. However, avid female runners experienced foot pain, blisters, and even a greater chance of injury.
That’s because women don’t just have smaller feet than men; they have different foot shapes. Generally, women have narrower heels and wider forefeet. Women’s feet are more triangular, while men’s feet are more rectangular. Women who continuously wore men’s running shoes experienced a variety of setbacks.
Women require running shoes designed for their feet to reach their full potential in the sport. Thankfully, shoe companies now understand why women’s running shoes are so important, and numerous varieties are available.
Our reviewers based their opinions of the best women’s running shoes on several criteria.
The shoe must remain comfortable from the first mile to the last. Shoes that caused blisters or foot pain were immediately eliminated.
The shoe should absorb shock on landings. This helps keep the runner comfortable and reduces the chance of injury.
Some running shoes are specifically designed for stability. However, all running shoes, even ultra-lightweight ones, must provide a certain level of stability to keep the runner safe and comfortable without restricting foot or ankle movement.
Nobody wants a running shoe that feels bulky and weighs them down. We searched for shoes that provide the right cushioning while remaining lightweight.
The Brooks Ghost 15 was one of our top picks because it has been tried and tested for more than a decade. Brooks first released the Ghost 15 years ago, and it has proven itself year after year as a go-to women’s running shoe.
Stand-out characteristics of the Ghost include its soft yet responsive cushioning. The 2023 edition features a new DNA Loft v2 midsole—a welcome upgrade to the DNA Loft used in last year’s version. DNA Loft v2 is lightweight and soft yet supportive enough for long-distance runs.
The Ghost 15 is a go-to shoe for everyday training.
Hoka running shoes are praised for their ample cushioning, and the Clifton 9 is known as the company’s best shoe for daily training. The cushioning is undoubtedly what grabbed our reviewer’s attention, as they stated the shoe felt energetic from the first stride to the last. Our long-distance runners praised the Clifton 9 for comfort, which felt almost like running on clouds.
The Hoka Clifton 9 features a spacious toe box that is especially comfortable and breathable for women with wider feet. Toe pain and blisters were non-existent even when running extremely long distances. This women’s running shoe weighs only 7.3 ounces, making it one of the lightest yet most well-cushioned shoes on our list.
Altra running shoes are some of the most esteemed in the industry. They’re made for runners who hit the asphalt often, whether they’re running for speed, long-distance, or enjoy slow jogs. Our reviewers also found the Altra Torin 6 comfortable and effective for other workouts, such as gym days or Crossfit. It’s Altra’s best-selling running shoe for a reason.
The Torin 6’s comfort comes from the cushioned EGO™ MAX midsole, the molded heel collar, and standard FootShape™ comfort. This is a women’s running shoe that addresses the natural differences between men’s and women’s feet, creating a luxury fit with plenty of space in the toe box and a snug heel.
The Altra Torin has long been a favorite, but last year’s reviewers complained about the discomfort of the somewhat rigid tongue. It has been redesigned and is softer for this year’s model. The Torin 6 is an excellent women’s daily trainer that weighs 8.3 ounces.
The Mizuno Wave Rider is one of the most iconic running shoes on the market. It has become a cult classic for its unrivaled comfort, responsiveness, and stylish appearance. It’s a women’s running shoe that is comfortable enough for daily training and energetic enough for speed work.
The new Wave Rider 26 for 2023 features Mizuno’s ENERZY FOAM, which offers just the right cushioning and responsiveness. The Wave Rider also features the iconic Wave Plate, designed to provide stability while dispersing impacts. This means longer-lasting comfort and joint safety while running distances.
Our reviewers praised the Mizuno Wave Rider 26 as a shoe they’d wear just about anywhere. It’s perfect for running, but is also comfortable and sleek enough for gym workouts, the store, dog walks, and even casual days at work. It’s a running shoe so comfortable that you’ll never rush to take it off.
The women’s Mizuno Wave Rider 26 weighs only 8.3 ounces, which is surprisingly light for the added support and cushioning it features.
The On Running women’s CloudGo isn’t your average running shoe. “Cloud” is in the name because it is undeniably one of the softest, yet responsive shoes our team has tested.
The CloudGo draws its comfort from On Running’s CloudTec adaptive cushioning technology combined with their premium Helion midsole foam. The TPU Speedboard offers impact protection, energy return, and softer landings to protect joints. Even better, the CloudGo is easy on the environment with a polyester mesh made from 85 to 90 percent recycled materials and about 30 percent recycled content throughout the shoe. It’s one of the most sustainable women’s running shoes we’ve found, and we’re proud to offer it at Marathon Sports.
The On Running CloudGo is a neutral running shoe that fits true to size. It weighs only 7.5 ounces.
The Saucony Ride 16 is another legendary women’s running shoe that has withstood the test of time. It’s a clear example of Saucony’s unrivaled durability and continuing innovation.
The Saucony Ride 16 features few upgrades from the Ride 15, but that’s because runners didn’t need much more. The cushioning is soft, and the newly designed PwrRun Plus sock liner is ridiculously comfortable. Saucony reduced the shoe’s weight while adding more cushioning thanks to the new FORMFIT design. The shoe features cushioning and support in all areas of contact for long-lasting comfort.
The Saucony women’s Ride 16 is very similar to the Ride 15. It’s softer, lighter, more durable, and more breathable than the Ride 14 and other previous models. Most Saucony fans didn’t want to see many changes after last year’s model was released with multiple upgrades, and they’ll be happy to know this shoe remained almost identical.
The Saucony Ride is a lightweight running shoe at 7.8 ounces.
The GEL-NIMBUS 25 is hardly recognizable from its earlier versions, and the changes are ones our reviewers welcomed. New features for the latest version of the GEL-NIMBUS include the softer-than-ever PureGEL technology. Unlike previous versions, the gel is hidden within the shoe and not visible from the outside.
Ultra-lightweight FF BLAST PLUS ECO cushioning makes the GEL-NIMBUS 25 softer than ever and features 20 percent more foam than the 24. This year’s model also features a stretchier, knit collar construction and tongue for a more personalized fit and added comfort.
Our reviewers found that the GEL-NIMBUS 25 is more comfortable and cushioned than ever, making it an ideal daily trainer for long-distance runners. They also felt the improvements will be especially appreciated by women with joint pain, under pronation, and high arches.
The Asics GEL-NIMBUS 25 is one of our heavier women’s running shoes at 9.17 ounces, but we think the new features are worth a little extra weight.
Brooks is one of the most iconic names in running shoes, and the new Adrenaline 22 lives up to the company’s hype. It’s a supportive road-running shoe that is also soft enough for daily long-distance running. Amazingly, the Adrenaline has been one of Brooks’ top supportive running shoes for over 20 years.
What our reviewers liked most about the Adrenaline 22 is that it provides added support and cushioning—not just one or the other. The innovative GuideRails technology offers support while promoting a natural stride, even when the runner is fatigued. This support spreads beyond the feet to the knees and hips, making this a comfortable shoe for runners with prior injuries or pain.
Smooth transitions, soft landings, and overall comfort make the Brooks Adrenaline 22 one of our favorite women’s running shoes for 2023. Each pair features 33 percent recycled materials in the upper and keeps 4.58 plastic bottles out of landfills.
The women’s Puma Velocity Nitro 2 is one of the most technological shoes on our list for 2023. It’s also one of the best looking.
The Velocity Nitro 2 features Puma’s advanced NITROFOAM technology, which is ultra-light and responsive. Additional technologies include PUMA Grip high-traction rubber is suitable for wet or dry conditions and even the occasional run on a well-maintained trail. The Puma Velocity Nitro 2 also has discreet reflective accents that shine bright in low-light conditions but don’t distract from the shoe’s sleek look. The TPU heel piece provides stability without adding unnecessary weight.
Our reviewers felt the Puma Velocity Nitro 2 is an ideal women’s running shoe for everyday training, from long-distance runs to the gym and beyond.
The Gel-Cumulus 25 is another Asics running shoe now featuring some of the company’s latest innovations. It’s an everyday trainer designed for neutral runners and those who overpronate. This year’s model is more responsive than ever.
New for 2023 is a superior heel fit, softer FF BLAST™ cushioning, and rear and forefoot PureGEL™ technology. It’s the ultimate daily running shoe for impact absorption and comfort. The newly engineered mesh upper, OrthoLite X-30 sock liner, and gender-specific 3D SPACE CONSTRUCTION™ make running in the Asics Gel-Cumulus 25 feel more personalized than ever.
Our team was impressed by the innovations Asics brought to their running shoes for 2023, and we believe the Asics Gel-Cumulus is guaranteed to be a top seller alongside the new Gel-Nimbus.
The new women’s Ultraboost Light from Adidas is a high-end running shoe designed for optimal cushioning. It’s the lightest Ultraboost ever released by the iconic athleticwear company. Impressive features include the ultra-lightweight BOOST technology, the Continental Better Rubber outsole, and the Linear Energy Push system for responsiveness. The PRIMEKNIT+ upper is so comfortable it feels like it was made just for your feet.
The Adidas Ultraboost Light is more than just an ultralight, ultra-cushiony running shoe. The yarn in the upper is made from recycled polyester and Parley Ocean Plastic. Creating each pair of Adidas Ultraboost Light shoes uses 10 percent fewer emissions than the previous version.
HOKA is synonymous with cushioning, and they upped it even more for the Bondi 8. Our reviewers felt the lightweight, full-length midsole foam and redesigned, ultra-durable outsole made this a top pick for the best women’s running shoes this year.
The HOKA Bondi 8 also has a wider stance for 2023, allowing for superior breathability and toe comfort. We were surprised to find that the women’s shoe still weighed in at just 8.9 ounces despite added cushioning and width.
The Mizuno Wave Sky 6 is for serious runners. It provides enough energy return for racers who want to beat their current PR and plenty of cushioning for logging daily miles. The Wave Sky 6 offers Mizuno’s most innovative features, like ENERZY FOAM cushioning and WAVE foam with varying levels of hardness for the stability serious runners need. The Smooth Stretch Woven upper offers a smooth, form fit.
The Mizuno Wave Sky 6 is a top-quality shoe for runners who like to push themselves. Our reviewers chose it as one of the best for 2023 for its energy return and ultra-comfortable cushioning.
The Triumph 20 from Saucony is another update on a classic favorite. Our reviewers stated it’s their favorite Triumph yet.
Improvements include the TPU-based PWRRUN+ lightweight and responsive insole, a breathable heel collar, and a comfortably cushioned sock liner. Saucony’s goal when upgrading the Triumph was superior comfort for day-after-day training and responsiveness for better performance.
The new Saucony Triumph is more breathability, responsive, and cushioned than ever before, and our team of experts appreciated the energy it brought to their long-distance training.
Last certainly does not mean least on our list of the best running shoes for women. The New Balance Fresh Foam X 880 v13 is one of the hottest new running shoes for 2023.
This shoe features New Balance’s most innovative technologies, including the supportive yet cloud-like Fresh Foam X midsole and a new ultra-durable Ndurance rubber outsole. Our reviewers described the outsole as so grippy that it’s more than suitable for wet conditions and could occasionally extend to trail running. Comfort, stability, and durability are the key selling points of the New Balance Fresh Foam X 880 v13.
Our reviewers also described this New Balance long-distance runner as a shoe they’d wear just about anywhere. It features the classic N logo and a modern look that makes it as suitable for casual outings as for running.
Our goal in testing and reviewing the best women’s running shoes for 2023 is to provide you with a variety of quality options. Narrowing down the list of possibilities means you can choose a durable, comfortable, and supportive shoe and get out running sooner.
Don’t forget to consult our Marathon Sports representatives about our Right Fit™ system, designed to connect you with the best running shoes based on your foot shape, running style, prior injuries, preferences, and more. We’re here to help you reach your running and fitness goals. Visit Marathon Sports online or in-store today!
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