Don't be confused by the jargon - I've tried the newest trainers and these are the ones actually worth investing in
The NHS’s ‘Couch to 5k’ app had over a million downloads during the first lockdown in 2020. We’ve become a nation of runners, and if you’re one of the keen beans now lacing up regularly, know this. One of the simplest way you can improve your running is by investing in the right kit. Hence this handy guide to the best running trainers for women.
I’m a health editor who runs marathons for fun, so I’ve been testing out all of the newest running trainers currently available. Keep reading for an honest review of which are worth your investment – and which aren’t.
Shop the best options from the likes of Nike, Adidas, Under Armour and more, but also a few more purse-friendly trainer alternatives, too. I’ve run in all of the shoes included, so they have my seal of approval as the top running trainers you can buy.
While we’re on the topic – do check out our guides to the best workout leggings, best sports bras, best exercise headphones and best home workout equipment, while you’re here. There’s loads of my favourite fit kit in them which, again, I can guarantee is worth the investment. Oh, and our guide to running tips for beginners may help if you’re at the beginning of your running journey.
In the meantime—happy running.
Why is investing in a pair of running trainers so important?
Yeah, surprisingly enough your old Converse aren’t the best bet for your morning miles. Wearing incorrect trainers can increase your risk of injury and encourage poor running form.
Think about it: if you wear super flat Converse for your 5km, your foot arch won’t have adequate support, your joints won’t have proper cushioning as your body hits the floor, and your hips, knees, achilles and tendons will likely have to work harder to over-compensate. End result? Likely injury, if you run regularly (aka three times a week or more).
What should I look for in a women’s running shoe?
When you hit the floor during a run, you’re putting as much as three times your body weight through your foot. Think about that for a second – it’s a lot. Making sure you’ve got proper cushioning underfoot is vital.
Again, this one’s fairly common sense and worth thinking about pre-investing in running trainers. The lighter your shoe, the easier it’ll be for you to move quickly in them, right? You’ll be smashing that 5km PB in no time. That being said, if you’re a distance or marathon runner, making sure you’ve opted for a shoe with proper support for the mileage is key, so it may be best to opt for a slightly heavier shoe.
A design for the right terrain
In short, are you someone who’s going to be running on pavements home from work or heading out to the countryside for steady miles come the weekend? If it’s the former, invest in road shoes; the latter, trail shoes. Road shoes are more cushioned, to protect your body from the impact of the concrete, and trail shoes have more grip and support, for muddy trail routes.
Scroll our round up of the best running trainers for women now.
USP: A really great cushioned shoe which is super comfortable but also very supportive.
I love the Cloudstratus running shoe from On Running. Whether you are planning on running a 5k or a marathon, these shoes will see you through with two layers of Helion™-enriched CloudTec® for increased vertical and horizontal cushioning.
USP: The new Ultraboost trainers from Adidas are specifically designed to fit the female foot.
That's right, Adidas scanned over a million women's feet to see how they could improve the Ultraboost 21, and they definitely delivered, with this shoe giving 4% more forefoot energy return than the older style.
USP: This is the best all-rounder, IMO, and comes in a range of different shoe widths.
There's a reason New Balance's 1080 design is so loved. It's got a supportive upper and enough cushioning to help you go fast, but also proper support for long runs. This one was built for the neutral runner (that is, not someone who over or under pronates). Top tip: there are very minor differences between this new version (the v11) and the earlier v10, so if you're on a budget, scroll down to buy the v10.
USP: Seriously springy, light, and comfortable, too.
Although I am a big fan of the Ultraboost 22's, the Ultraboost 21 makes a great, more affordable running shoe. They're super light and springy, perfect for pushing your pace, but also supportive enough for long runs. They're white, so, you know, go figure, but I really rate them for their breathability, comfort and bounce. Fun fact: the upper is made from recycled ocean plastic, too.
USP: Under Armour have made a speed shoe that's also super light, and it's certainly impressive.
Fun fact which you may not have noticed: the UA Flow Velocity shoes have significantly less cushioning than the previous two designs from Adidas and New Balance. But fear not: despite not looking it, they're super cushioned, responsive and lightweight. Under Armour shoes also have a nifty function where your run stats are sent from your shoe to your phone, so you can see everything from foot strike angle, cadence, ground contact time and more. Neat.
USP: Stable, light and responsive - the perfect combination for all types of running.
Hoka are having a bit of a moment: their newer designs seem to be striking the perfect balance between fast and durable, which is what every runner wants. These are cushioned but less chunky than their other models, and responsive enough for longer runs, too. *Adds to basket*
USP: Great for those with wider feet, but not good for muddy trails. These get dirty, fast.
Nike's designs are universally well-known, but at near £145, you might be apprehensive to buy. Pros: these are great for if you have wide feet and offers loads of cushioning for how light the shoe is. However, it's not the most stable of shoes - if you're an ankle wobbler, beware - and they do get very muddy, very fast in the white colour way.
USP: The perfect pair to beat your 5km PB in.
Love setting yourself goals and beating your personal bests? Then you'll likely love the Cloudflash from On, racing shoes designed for speed. Do note, they're not the best for longer distances - I just didn't find they offered enough support - but I loved them for shorter speed sessions.
USP: They're durable and promise to last longer than most of the other pairs in this round up.
Like your running but also can't afford to keep buying new trainers every couple of months? Try the Brooks Levitate 4, a sturdy, reliable shoe that will see you through any kind of run - or walk, for that matter. They've adapted this model to make the upper more breathable, and you can tell. No more hot feet over here - plus, they are currently on sale for £98.
USP: They've got an in-built composite plate, which means they're light but fast.
I ran my first ever marathon in a pair of Saucony trainers, so it's fair to say I'm a fan. The Endorphin Speed's are comfy and super light, coming in at just 198g (that's liiiiight). Although, do note, with past Saucony shoes, I've had problems with the material on the upper wearing through after six months or so.
USP: Superior grip and support to any other trail shoes I've tried before.
These aren't shoes for running on road with, but if you're someone who prefers to run on muddy trail, then the USP says it all really. Salomon's Wild Cross design might feel clunky when you first get them on, but wow, are they lightweight when you get moving. Not only that, but they have an unbelievably good grip.
USP: If you're after extra arch support, the Solar Glide's arch cushioning will tick your boxes.
The Adidas Solar Glide 4 shoes are currently on offer for under £85, if you're after a bargain. They offer a sturdy, stable, reliable running shoe for all abilities, with engineered mesh uppers for breathable comfort and superior and responsive cushioning for maximum energy return. Enjoy.
USP: Springy, comfortable, supportive and a bargain at a reduced £94.50.
I've mentioned the v10's before - I spent most of last summer running in them and they're just great. A good compromise between the super snazzy racing shoes you see and a reliable option that'll actually last in the long run.
They've got a notably supportive upper - not ideal for those with wide feet, but great for those who need a little extra support - and a lot of underfoot cushioning to make sure you're getting return on your run. Go, go, go.
USP: Not only is this running shoe super versatile, but it is also planet-friendly.
I love Veja shoes for their stylish designs, but I also love them for running. The Condor 2 Alveomesh Trainers are made from 57% recycled and organically-sourced materials, with L- Foam latex padding offering high shock absorption. They are lightweight and breathable, with a rubber outsole for stability.