Whether you are an experienced runner training for an upcoming half marathon, or a beginner looking to go for a light jog around the neighborhood, getting yourself a pair of quality running shoes is the first step in getting the most out of your run. People are migrating from bulky, highly-cushioned running shoes to lightweight ones. Lightweight running shoes provide added breathability, better feet protection, improved speed, form correction and maximum comfort.
In 2016, women represented 61 percent of half-marathons, 58 percent of 5k races and 43 percent of all marathons in the United States. Until a few years ago, little thought was given to the difference between female and male athletes and their unique needs. But with so many women representing the running population, things have changed. It’s no longer a case of “shrink ’em and pink ’em” design approach.
Premium sportswear brands like Nike, Under Armour and Adidas have moved away from this simplistic standard. They are realizing that women form a large part of the running population. Also, they are taking into consideration that women bodies are different than men’s, so they need running shoes tailored to them.
What’s The Difference Between Men’s And Women’s Running Shoes?
Running shoes are not created equal. When it comes to the difference between male and female foot anatomy, we first need to address the variants. Different feet shape, lower body mass and wider quadriceps angles are just some of the physiological differences between women and men. Because of this, women’s shoes require different fits and cushioning treatments.
Women tend to have smaller heels than men. Men’s feet are longer and broader on average. Women’s feet are normally higher in the arch, narrow in the heel and wider in the forefront, meaning that the shape of women’s running shoes will be slightly different.
Women have a 15 percent lower body mass than men. Due to their lower body mass, shoe designers take into account how much foam is necessary for the midsole. That’s why women’s shoes tend have less foam in the midsole of the shoe.
Another difference between men and women is the angle of incidence between the kneecap and the quad muscle. Generally, women have wider hips that can lead to pronation outside of the normal range necessitating different types of cushioning. Common overpronation injuries include heel pain, bunions, lower back pain and shin splints.
Lightest Running Shoes for Women
The many brands and shoe options online may overwhelm you. We highly recommend the following lightest running shoes for women:
New Balance Women’s 890v7
- The lightweight construction and responsive style of the New Balance® 890V7 running shoe will give your daily run a boost of energy!
Starting us off is an early contender for the best lightweight running shoes women – the New Balance 890v7. If you’re looking for a featherweight shoe with enough protection, less aggravation and responsive comfort for your daily runs or trips to the gym, this is your shoe. Notable features in this shoe are Ground contact REVlite foam, a more flexible outsole and an improved Hypoknit upper. The unstructured knit has a highly varied density and knitting pattern. For breathability purposes, you get larger engineered openings in the vamp. An elastic saddle inside anchors the gusseted tongue and provides the midfoot support. You’ll also find a heel collar that hugs the ankle. The midsole foam is firm making it suitable for faster paces This keeps your feet feeling good mile after mile. New Balance finally struck the right balance of weight and protection with this shoe.
Nike Epic React Flyknit 2
- Full Flyknit upper construction delivers lightweight stretch and support.
- Nike React technology delivers an extremely smooth ride.
- Molded heel gives a secure, stable feel.
- Bootie is designed for easy entry. The contoured collar is low cut to sit right below your ankle for a snug, comfortable fit.
- Traction pattern has clear rubber on the forefoot and heel to enhance durability and traction just where you need it.
Finally, a shoe that looks fly and flies you past your competition. This running shoe brings a lot to the table to give women runners of all levels a sturdy daily trainer. This second generation of the Nike Epic React Flyknit is meant for runners who want better than average in both looks and performance. It feels comfortable and manages to add some extra bounce to your stride. Notable improvements on this shoe include a better flyknit upper to give you a smooth ride and the React Foam which performs better than the TPE foam. The react foam gives you an extra bounce during longer workouts. To make the shoe stand out, Nike mixed in some colors. This shoe competes with the New Balance Fresh Foam Zante Pursuit, the Saucony Freedom ISO and Adidas UltraBOOST 19. If you want a fast, bouncy shoe from a brand that you know and trust that doesn’t skimp on comfort, you should definitely give it a try!
Asics Gel Cumulus 21
- I.G.S (Impact Guidance System) Technology - ASICS design philosophy that employs linked componentry to enhance the foot's natural gait from heel strike to toe-off.
- SpevaFoam 45 Lasting - Employs 45 degree full length SpevaFoam 45 lasting material for a soft platform feel and improved comfort.
- EVA Sockliner - Removable sockliner that provides cushioning performance.
- FlyteFoam Lyte Technology - ASICS lightest weight midsole formulation that provides continuous cushion thanks to organic nano fibers.
- FlyteFoam Propel Technology - ASICS energetic foam formulation that provides supreme bounce thanks to a unique elastomer compound.
For a brand that is typically known for its heavier, more supportive shoes, the Asics Gel Cumulus 21 is super lightweight. This female-specific shoe is ideal for heel-striking runners. A continuation of a best-selling Gel Cumulus line of neutral everyday multipurpose trainers, this 21st version features a durable upper and outsole. AHAR (ASICS High Abrasion Rubber) and Durasponge Outsole enhance durability and traction, making the shoe useful for almost any run. This shoe provides comfortable rearfoot and forefoot gel cushioning, making it appealing to runners of all levels. Updates include a more breathable upper and more cushioning in the heel to provide a bounciness and responsive feeling. This shoe competes with Brooks Ghost, Saucony Ride ISO and Nike Air Zoom Pegasus. If you could only own one running shoe, this is the shoe for you! It’s currently available in 7 colors, so you can pick a color that suits your personal taste.
Saucony Ride ISO
Saucony has made its name on running shoes that promise plenty of cushioning. This 11th ride in the Saucony stable has the potential to take your running game to the next level. With some exciting features, it is a great example of a quality running shoe with a well thought out design and chic style. Somehow, the Saucony Ride ISO manages to be both incredibly cushy and featherweight. The shoe is specifically designed for women who tend to overpronate. It’s good for daily training, 5k marathons and everything in between. To provide you extra propulsion and energy return, the Topsole features layers of EVERUN and PWRFOAM cushioning. This will come in handy when you want to maintain pace during endurance events. Thanks to the ISOfit lacing system, it is now possible to control just how tight you want your laces to feel against the dorsal of your foot.
Brooks Women’s Ghost 11
Brooks has been a top name in the shoe game for years and have built up quite a remarkable reputation. They went above and beyond with this shoe in order to provide women runners with a shoe that can give a 5-star performance on any terrain. Built for comfort and durability, this shoe is based more on functionality than looks. It can tackle anything from short and snappy speed work to long distances. Thanks to the new sole unit that cuts down on the foam and incorporates DNA loft foam below the heel, this edition is more lightweight and responsive than the Ghost 10. The engineered mesh upper in this shoe has just enough stretch to fit any foot comfortably. The mesh keeps the airflow going. No matter the type of stride, the segmented crash pads in Ghost 11 adapt to your foot stride and provide cushion.
Running does not require a lot of equipment, but the right pair of running shoes is essential to prevent injury. Thankfully, running shoes continue to get lighter, faster and more comfortable. Whether you’re in the market for a shoe with extra cushion and support for long races or a cute running shoe with shock absorption for speedy days, there is a shoe for you in our lightest running shoes women list.