Whether you’re a newbie jogger planning on going from couch to 5k, or a regular Kriss Akabusi, there’s only one thing that can stand between you and the pavement, path, or treadmill: a pair of proper running trainers. And no, we’re sorry to say that this isn’t one of those things where a well broken-in pair of Converse will do the job just as well, because finding the right running shoes is the secret to staying safe and secure while you run, as well as finding your groove. No misalignment, shin splints, or painful plantar fasciitis to keep you from your personal best.
As with so many things, there’s a balancing act required to design a great running shoe: namely, between one that’ll be safe and supportive, protecting the feet and ankles, and one that’ll maximise performance and speed. Unless you’re Jessica Ennis-Hill, you probably don’t need to worry too much about finding the best running trainers to maximise your performance. We recommend going for comfort and safety over all else, especially if you’re buying your first pair of running shoes.
The choice can seem overwhelming, but in essence you’re looking for a shoe that suits your running style: underpronators hit the ground with their feet rolled slightly outwards and need more padding to protect from blows; overpronators, inwards, which means they benefit from more structured supporting shoes. Neutral pronators don’t have any special requirements when it comes to jogging shoes — if you’re one of these, lucky you!
1. New Balance Women's Vazee Prism V2
When it comes to style, performance, and stability, these achieve the perfect balance
Best for: Top all-round pick | Arch support: Stability | Weight: 255g | Heel to toe drop: 8mm
These New Balance trainers are our pick of the bunch for all-round performance and design. Their breathable bootie construction is comfortably seamless, just like a sock, and they fit generously even on wider feet. They’re good-looking enough to double as fashion-forward trainers, with their snazzy range of colours, and the 8mm drop has been noted to feel much lower than it actually is, while the stability offered is low-key and doesn’t get in the way.
2. Asics Women’s Gel-Ds Trainer 22
Comfortable seamless construction, for seamless integration into your workout wardrobe
Best for: Lightweight | Arch support: Stability | Weight: 187g | Heel to toe drop: 10mm
With its FlyteFoam midsole bringing great bounce-back and responsiveness in a wonderfully light form, this Asics offering is the best pair of lightweight trainers on our list. There are also no seams or stitching, to avoid painful rubbing while on the move. For impressively stable and cushioning performance even over long distances, without being dragged down by weighty or bulky inserts, take these for a spin.
3. Nike Downshifter 7 Ladies Trainers
These value Nike trainers are lightest on features, but also lightest on the wallet
Best for: Cheap all-rounder | Arch support: Stability | Weight: 227g | Heel to toe drop: 12mm
These are the perfect beginner running shoes, with their comfortable and lightweight construction to keep you buoyant while you hit your stride. You can alo nail sports luxe on your next post-run coffee date with their minimalist design and slick Nike branding — their streetwear credentials mean you won’t look out of place on or off the track. They’re not great on wet surfaces or over long distances, but their ability to double up as casual trainer and running shoe makes them excellent value for the first-time runner. Also ideal for those who recoil from Day-Glo pink and purple trainers in horror.
4. Hoka One Women's Challenger ATR 3
With these all-terrain shoes, you’ll be hot on the trail of your new PB
Best for: Trail-running | Arch support: Neutral | Weight: 224g | Heel to toe drop: 5mm
Our best choice for all-terrain running, the Hoka One Challenger deals well with rough surfaces and trails when worn by all kinds of runners. The 3D puff-print frame gives light support, while the breathable upper keeps you dry and ventilated on hard runs. While it’s an improved design with more wiggle room in the toe box, some reviewers found that the Challenger didn’t allow for natural splay and swelling during marathons. To that end, consider something more generously sized, like the New Balance Vazee Prism.
5. Asics GEL-Nimbus 19
With soft-as-a-cloud cushioning for long-distance road-based runners
Best for: Long runs | Arch support: Neutral | Weight: 252g | Heel to toe drop: 12mm
These are the best trainers for neutral pronation road runners, especially those covering large distances. The trademarked Nimbus cushioning is as fluffy as its namesake, and supportive, too, and the useful reflective details add extra visibility — and therefore safety — when running at night. Reviewers have noticed some sizing issues with this latest iteration, so it makes sense to try a few, and perhaps order a size up from your usual.
6. Brooks Women's Ghost 9 Running Shoes
Running, resistance, relaxing...is there anything these versatile gym shoes can’t do?
Best for: All activities | Arch support: Neutral | Weight: 258g | Heel to toe drop: 12mm
Good for neutral pronation runners, the Brooks Ghost 9 trainers offer a versatile solution for all manner of gym activities, not just running. With great traction, as well as comfort, they’re ideally suited to free weights, stretches, and machine work. Our buyers’ tip: go for a size up for maximum comfort with all the support you’ll need. Overall, these are a solid choice for runners with no special supportive needs who plans on taking their footwear off the road.
7. Nike Women's Air Zoom Pegasus 33
A comfortable shoe for speedy sprints
Best for: Breathable | Arch support: Neutral | Weight: 244g | Heel to toe drop: 10mm
Stylish and breathable, the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus is built for super-fast performance however your foot fits the ground, but is equally good over long distances. Its unique flywire cable functions like a suspension bridge to support certain points during the process of running, and it comes in a fantastic range of colours to suit all kits. They’re a small price to pay for a pretty perfect starter trainer to help you get up to speed.
8. Adidas Women’s Supernova Glide 8
Cushioned and ultra-grippy, these are a star find for outdoor running
Best for: All-round performance | Arch support: Neutral | Weight: 249g | Heel to toe drop: 10mm
For running outdoors in all manner of weathers, make the Supernova Glide 8 your go-to. It’s the Continental rubber outsole that keeps them sturdy and grippy, rain or shine, meaning no potentially dangerous slip-ups. The foam platform makes for a nice, comfortable stride, and there’s a generous toe box but no pinching pressure points. It can take a little while to break them in, though. If you’ve got a big race coming up, perhaps look for an out-of-the-box comfortable pair like the Asics GEL-Nimbus.
9. Women's Under Armour Charged Bandit 2
Super-charge your practice with these light and breathable Under Armour beauties
Best for: Heel support | Arch support: Stability | Weight: 230g | Heel to toe drop: 10mm
The ultra-trendy knit-look finish of the dangerous-sounding Under Armour Charged Bandit might not be to all tastes, but it’s their superior structure that makes them our best trainers for overpronation. With a seamless internal heel cup for an unparalleled ergonomic fit, they keep things locked in for perfect form. That, plus the breathable upper and light foam, which mean they won’t weigh you down along your journey, is precisely why.
10. Merrell Women’s All Out Crush Light
We’ve an all-out crush on these super-light, water-resistant running shoes
Best for: Lightweight trail runner | Arch support: Neutral | Weight: 170g | Heel to toe drop: 6mm
These lightweight shoes give good traction on the trail, or on the road, so if you like to split your time between the country park and the city streets, look no further. They’re not as long-lasting as some other trail-running shoes, but they do their very best, and considering they start at £50, their best is really rather good. Light as a feather, but grippy, with water-resistant upper. Definitely one for the outdoorswoman.
Check out our pick of the best base layers for women to keep you wrapped up warm during chilly sports sessions.