The Race Is On: How to Find the Best Running Shoes for You

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Last year during the height of the pandemic, like many others, I rediscovered the joys of running—and that meant searching for the best running shoes for women. Back then, it was one of the few ways to exercise safely and I wanted to make sure I set myself up properly. So, I turned to the experts.

I sought out Nike Training Club Master Trainer Traci Copeland, who explained that the best running shoes for women and men really depends on what your foot does while you run. “Some pronate or supinate,” Copeland says, explaining the difference between runners who place their weight on the inside versus the outside of their feet. “Sometimes you need more support based on this.” In order to determine your foot type, there are several fundamental tests you can perform in the comfort of your own home. The simplest is the “Wet Test,” in which you wet the sole of your foot and step onto a blank piece of paper. The damp footprint left behind will help establish whether you are a neutral runner or over- or under-pronator. As a neutral runner, I’ve found the various Adidas Ultraboost prototypes to fit my everyday running needs. Their supportive heel and midsole design provide just the right amount of cushioning to protect my fragile ankles from the daily pressures of urban running.

Senior fashion writer and Vogue’s in-house running fanatic Liana Satenstein found her perfect shoes through trial and error. “I used to run to work to wake me up—five and a half miles from Brooklyn to 1 World Trade Center,” Satenstein says. “Obviously, I can’t do that anymore, but I still go every morning for about a 5K to four miles. It puts me on a schedule and clears my head.… If I didn’t do it, I’d probably melt into my bed.” Through these seemingly endless miles, Satenstein found the best running shoes that work for her with a comfortable fit and sufficient cushioning.

From the comfortable, lightweight shoe for the everyday jog to the high-performance sneakers designed for elite runners and everything in between, shop the 16 best running shoes to incorporate into your running routine below.

Concrete Crusader

Designed for the streets, the superfoam technology of On’s Cloudflow sneakers make running on concrete feel like running on, well, a cloud. Their lightweight, modern silhouettes create a sleek design without compromising the styles’ high-performance capabilities, which are perfect for the New York streets. Or, take a lap in APL’s Techloom Waves and test the styles designed to absorb the shock with each pound on the pavement.

On Cloudflow running shoes

$140

ON

Nike React Phantom Run Flynit 2 running shoes

$140

NIKE

Veja Condor 2 running shoes

$160

NORDSTROM

APL Athletic Propulsion Labs TechLoom Wave mesh sneakers

$245

NET-A-PORTER

In for the Long Haul

Durability, stability, and fine-tuned cushioning are key to finding the perfect running shoe for long distances. Whether you’re running a 5K or prepping for a marathon, the extended heel geometry in Hoka’s Clifton Edge is designed to provide a smoother impact, while Adidas’s Ultraboost 21 combines energy return and responsive technology to emulate that I-could-run-forever feeling.

Adidas Ultraboost 21 shoes

$180

ADIDAS

Asics Gel-Kayano 27 running shoes

$160

NORDSTROM

Hoka women’s Clifton Edge running shoes

$160

HOKA

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11 running shoes

$150

NEW BALANCE
Photo: Getty Images

Treading Lightly

Making your way back into the gym and onto the treadmill? Try lightweight, breathable shoes with ample support to counteract the repetitive stress on your body and garner the highest efficiency. Take Nike’s Epic React for example, Copeland’s running shoe of choice.

Nike Epic React Flynit 2 running shoes

$150

NIKE

Reebok Floatride Energy 3 women’s shoes

$100

REEBOK

Allbirds women’s Tree Dashers running shoes

$125

ALLBIRDS

Hoka women’s Bondi 7 running shoes

$150

HOKA

Into the Woods

Trail running is a different beast of its own, with unpredictable terrain at each stomp of the foot. Much like long-distance running, durable sneakers with stability technology are essential when searching for the perfect fit. Be sure to consider outsoles with gripping to enhance your ground connection and motion control, and keep you on your toes for the unforeseeable rock obstacle just up the hill.

The North Face women’s Vevtiv Taraval shoes

$125

THE NORTH FACE

On Cloudventure running shoes

$150

ON

Merrell Bare Access XTR trail running shoes

$100

NORDSTROM

Adidas Terrex Agravic TR Gore-Tex trail running shoes

$100

ADIDAS