The 18 Best Running Shoes for Women

Ten-time marathoner Emily Abbate recommends her favorites.

blue pair of running sneakers during a run
(Image credit: Getty Images)

I, like many people, decided to start running in 2022. After hearing so many of my friends drone on about how taking some time to run has changed their lives (and their mental states) for the better, I figured it was about time that I joined in on the fun. But one aspect has stopped me in my tracks from actually starting: not knowing how to find the best running shoes for me.

I have a pretty massive sneaker collection, but none of the pairs I currently own could ever moonlight as an athletic shoe. And since the best kind of workout shoes are both cute and functional, I turned to Emily Abbate, a  certified run coach and the host of the Hurdle podcast, to help me sort through the expansive selection of running shoes on the market. 

"Depending on what you're going to be using the sneaker for, that's really going to determine what you need to prioritize in terms of your go to pick," she told me. Ahead, she broke down what exactly I⁠—and the rest of us new runners out there—should look for before we make a purchase. Oh, and they each have a little something special about the way they look, too. 

How do you run? 

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This may sound self-explanatory, but everyone runs a little differently. "We all have a gait cycle when we run, and you may supinate or pronate," Abbate says, "or you may be a neutral runner." She clarifies that neither running style is better or worse on your body, and that they can even change over time.

But, with all of this in mind, you shouldn't necessarily let how you run deter you from trying on different types of sneakers to find your perfect fit. "If you choose a shoe that you feel comfortable and confident in, that is more important—and is shown to lead to less injury—than simply based shopping simply shopping based on your specific gait." 

Are you preparing for a marathon? 

Believe it or not, different sneakers are better for different distances. Long-distance runners know that comfort is key. That's why sneakers that are outfitted with cushioned details will be better for marathons or other longer runs.  Abbate says that HOKA's best-selling Clifton 8 Sneakers have become know across the internet for how comfortable they are to wear for good reason. 

But if you're running a shorter distance or if you're just working out, Abbate recommends opting for something that has less foam and padding. "A lighter shoe with less cushioning could feel faster," she says. "That's why we lean into these types of options when it comes to quick workouts."

Where are you running? 

Whether you're running on the concrete, on a trail, or on a track, your sneaker of choice should reflect your location. A trail path, for instance, might require you to opt for a pair like the Altra Mont Blancs, which is designed to give you better traction as you go. 

For her everyday runs, Abbate loves to wear either PUMA's Velocity Nitro 2 or New Balance's 1080 sneakers. Or, if you live in a particularly wet climate (or just love to run in the rain), Abbate recommends Nike's Pegasus 37 Shield, which are designed to be water repellent. 

Do you have "weak ankles?" 

If you find that your ankles hurt when you run, Abbate recommends speaking to a specialist about why that might be happening. "Make sure that you have someone you know kind of take a look at your form and your gait," she says. "And check out how your feet are hitting the ground as you're on the move.” 

Choosing one shoe or another may not resolve the issue, so figuring out exactly why you feel the pain where you feel it is important. If you are looking something that will be more comfortable as you move, Abbate says that looking for a pair of sneakers that has more padding underfoot could be helpful. 

The bottom line?

"Comfort is key," Abbate says. While understanding your gait or whether or not your foot pronates or supinates as you run, finding the shoe that makes you feel your best is what's most important for anyone looking to get into running in 2022. Keep scrolling to shop the best running sneakers on the market right now.

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Fashion E-Commerce Editor

Julia Marzovilla is the Fashion E-Commerce Editor at Marie Claire, where she covers everything from the latest beauty and fashion launches and sales to celebrity outfits and news. She also creates shopping guides that span every vertical on the site. Prior to joining the Marie Claire team, she contributed similar shopping stories to sites such as Bustle, InStyle, The Zoe Report, Who What Wear, and STYLECASTER. In her spare time, Julia can be found creating shopping guides for all of her friends, spending too much money on yet another pair of black boots, and cooking in her far-too-small kitchen.