The right sneakers can make or break a workout, and the best lightweight running shoes for women can really make a difference. If your time has been lagging or you're dealing with callouses, switching to better footwear can help! They won't drag you down or cramp your toes, and can help prevent back pain, reduce your risk of injuries, and make you excited to hit the ground running. Ready to fly? Check out our picks below.
Are lightweight shoes good for running?
If you've been running for a while, you know the impact your running gear can make. For example, every time I wear a heavy jacket on top my hoodie to run, I regret it. For one thing, I start overheating about a mile in. The extra weight also slows me down. It's a similar deal with sneakers.
Many people like shoes with a lighter fabric because they feel less cumbersome, allowing you to move faster. The lighter build also fatigues the foot less, which means you can run for longer.
Although you don't want to feel weighed down by your sneakers, it's important to have proper cushioning. "Lightweight running shoes will typically have less structure to them, which allows more natural movement of the foot," explains Dr. Emily Splichal, DPM, MS. When paired with stretching and adequate rest, this foot freedom can help make your feet stronger.
What are the best lightweight running shoes for women?
Best overall lightweight running shoe : Brooks Ghost 14
Best lightweight running shoe for high arches : Saucony Ride 13 Running Shoe
Best lightweight running shoe for hills : New Balance FuelCell Prism v2
Best lightweight running shoes for wide feet : Brooks Launch GTS 8
Best lightweight running shoe for road running : Altra Rivera Road Running Shoe
Best lightweight running shoe for flat feet : HOKA Clifton 8
Best lightweight running shoe for rocky terrain : Nike Pegasus Trail 3
Best lightweight running shoe for underpronation : Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21
Best lightweight running shoe for plantar fasciitis : ASICS Gel Kayano 28
Best lightweight running shoe for ankle support : Mizuno Wave Inspire 17
Do you run faster with lighter shoes?
Can the best lightweight running shoes help speed up your pace? Yes, according to a study from Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. In fact, researchers discovered that just adding a few ounces to a sneaker can slow a runner down up to three percent. Although that doesn't sound like it a lot, it can make a big difference if training for a race. However, there are more important things to consider.
Dr. Splichal encourages exercisers to think about their foot shape and needs when shoe-shopping. "Instead of focusing on what the shoe does to the foot, I like to focus on the foot function," she says. "If [it] has high arches, then I want to increase foot mobility by releasing the feet and ankles. If the foot is flat, then I want to focus on building foot strength."
There are stretches for foot health, such as gently flexing your feet, which you can regularly do. And according to Yale Medicine, you should employ some dynamic movements (think straight-leg lateral swings and forward swings) before you run. This can decrease your risk of injury and speed recovery time.
Prepping aside, you still want to wear the right footwear. Says Dr. Splichal, "To reduce injury risk, you can look at footwear and make sure that it is appropriate for foot type, injury history, distance running, running strike pattern, and road versus trail."
How to find the best lightweight running shoes?
I've been a runner for years and still get overwhelmed when I hear talk of overpronation, gait analysis, and similar terms. I mean, whatever happened to just throwing on your Keds and taking off?
Although it can feel tedious, it's worth investing a few minutes into understanding your foot style. If you're new to running, here are the basics you need to know:
Gait style: Defined as the natural motion your legs make when running. The best lightweight running shoes for you will support how you move, which will depend on how your feet organically land.
Overpronation: This is when your ankle leans inward. If the inside of your shoe has some wear, there's a good chance you overpronate. Flat or low-arched feet tend to move this way. If this is you, you'll want a shoe that cushions and stabilizes.
Dr. Splichal is a fan of the Altra brand. Their Rivera Running Shoe is ultra responsive, giving a comfortable pushback from the ground. Instead of fighting against the hard surface, you feel like you're lifting away from it. It's very invigorating.
Underpronation: If your ankles move outward, you're an underpronator. You more than likely have high arches, and the best lightweight running shoes for you will be those that have lots of cushion for your midsole.
Underpronators tend to get shock-related injuries, such as shin splints. A great shoe to check out for this is Brooks Ghost 14. It's light but sturdy, has a flexible foam interior, and is great for distance runners. It's also one of my personal favorites.
Neutral Pronation: Ankles that remain upright while running are considered neutral. If your shoes wear evenly, this is probably your style. Although some padding is nice, you can get by with minimal material, and may enjoy the Trail Glove 6 Eco from Merrell. It offers support, but allows the foot to get a real feel for the road. It's also water resistant!
Which brand has lightweight shoes?
You have lots of choices when searching the best lightweight running shoes. Many top brands create sneakers that minimize the impact from your weight, while still protecting your feet. My go-tos have been Brooks and Asics, but there are other companies making noteworthy shoes.
If you've been running awhile, you've probably heard of Mizuno. If not, allow me to make the introduction! The company is more than 100 years old, and is always updating its footwear to become more functional and performance-enhancing. Their Wave Inspire 17 offers exceptional ankle support, and is structured to keep your foot from overpronating. It's also really stylish.
Another good brand is HOKU. Their signature thick sole is awesome for flat-footed runners, especially in the Clifton 8. Its midsole has an arch called a meta-rocker, which makes it easier to transition from heel to toe. You need to use less force as you lift from the ground, so you'll actually be able to enjoy longer, less strenuous runs.
Which are the best lightweight shoes?
If you dream about being blissfully oblivious to the fact that you're wearing shoes, you'll probably enjoy Nike's Pegasus Trail 3. Its pliability offers great foot movement, but its treads efficiently grab the ground. Alternatively, New Balance's Foam Mesh Running Shoe offers wonderful support to the heel and has a lighter feel. It has more 1,400 five-star reviews on Amazon, and is often listed as one of the best lightweight running shoes for women.
When looking for the right shoe for you, think of your running style, foot structure, and needs. The most important thing is to select a sneaker that offers the right protection. Trust me, there are so many styles and brands available that you'll have lots of options that suit your taste and perform well.
Looking for more running gear? Check out our other exercise equipment recommendations:
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Best Lightweight Running Shoes
Best overall lightweight running shoe
29% off at Zappos!
What we like:
Durable but light
Foam in heel and sides
Awesome for long runs
Ever since I tried Brooks Ghost sneakers I've been haunted by how incredible they are. I've owned several pairs, and am confident that the Ghost 14 will make you a believer in how awesome they perform. Whether you run two miles or 20, they won't rip or lose shape. The interior hugs the foot without suffocating it, and flex grooves in the sole allows for natural movement. Soft blown rubber provides just enough bounce without interfering your road grip, and even though it's sturdy, you'll feel light on your toes. Two types of foam keep your feet from bruising or chafing. These are perfect for taking you over the finish line on and off season. Plus, they're available in 27 color combos!
Promising review: "Brooks are my go-to for long distance running or walking. I have a neutral stride, and feel they still give plenty of arch support. I have tried different styles but the Ghost seems to last and breath better than others ... When not marathon training, I run 10 to 12 miles a week, and my Brooks last about 450 miles. Happy running friends!"
Best lightweight running shoe for high arches
Why we like it:
Good for underpronation
Ideal for high arched feet
Some sneakers remain stiff even after you've broken them in. Fortunately, that's not the case with Saucony's Ride 13. Don't let the slim silhouette fool you: these lightweight shoes are durable and protective. The feature a technology called FormFit construction, which makes it super pliable. This is exactly what you need if you have a high arch or underpronate your feet. When you move outward, the shoe will counteract to keep your alignment in check, and its cushioning is responsive. You won't deal with bruising, blisters or other nasty running hazards. There's some traction in the bottom, and the open mesh top keeps your foot from feeling stifled.
Promising review: "This is my first pair of Sauconys and they are super comfortable. I went running and did not have any discomfort like I normally do. I felt like I was [moving] on clouds. They fit true to size. I will be getting another pair."
Best lightweight running shoe for hills
Why we like it:
Helps with momentum
When running up hill you need something to help fight gravity. This kick will do the trick. The FuelCell Prism v2's foam hugs your foot but also propels it forward. The adjustable sneaker gives good bounce, making steps a little lighter. That's exactly what you want when running stairs or more challenging trails. The co-molded medial post steadies overpronation, minimizing injury risks. The tongue is slightly padded to reduce the pressure from your laces, and the overall shoe is a bit firmer than similar models, while still being flexible. Even on uneven terrain, you'll feel more sure-footed.
Promising review: "I overpronate just a teeny bit, so i was very attracted to this relatively lightweight stability trainer. It's got just enough stiffness in the arch to keep your ankle from running over but runs like a tempo trainer. Don't be fooled by the low stack height, the FuelCell's foam keeps your legs and feet feeling fresh with minimal ground feel, and the thick rubber outsole helps with the shock absorption."
Best lightweight running shoe for road running
Why we like it:
Smooth heel to toe transition
Cushion in the foot's forefront
Whether you run mean streets or dusty trails, this flexible sneaker will keep your foot on track. Altra is a favorite brand of Dr. Splichal, and the Rivera Road Running Shoe is a great option for those who overpronate. Available in seven bright colors, the trainer features a bio heel that projects the foot's natural form. It makes your stride move more organically and unrestrained. The midsole is responsive, so you'll always have support whichever way you turn. A platform in the back adds some nice cushion, and padding around the heel and toes lowers impact as you hit the ground. Flexible grooves on the inside of the shoe make it easier to move and sustain power.
Promising review: "I just made the switch to the Rivera in search of something a little more supportive. I did a four mile run and love them! I have fairly bad overpronation, and these feel like they give more stability than other models. They provide more cushion, which is welcoming to the balls of my feet, ankles and knees. They are also nice and light."
Best lightweight running shoe for ankle support
Why we like it:
Supports heel and ankle
Sturdy but light
Excellent for sprinters
When you feel the need for speed, make friends with these kicks from Mizuno. The Wave Inspire 17 offers great durability without the added weight. Built with a plastic plate embedded into the midsole to keep your foot from turning, it does a fantastic job at offering support to ankles and high arched feet. If a plate in shoe sounds — uncomfortable, no worries. You won't notice anything but the wind in your hair. Energy foam encases the shoe to make steps sprightly. There's an internal counter in the heel for foot security, and the woven mesh exterior will keep feet from drowning in sweat.
Promising review: "I like these shoes so much that I bought another pair! Great arch support, and they don’t tilt me forward like other brands. My feet are comfortable even if I wear them all day long."
Best lightweight running shoes for wide feet
Why we like it:
Blown rubber in forefoot for momentum
A narrow shoe can cut circulation and hurt your feet. Fortunately, the Launch GTS 8 can be purchased in wide, so it won't cramp your running style. It's one of the best lightweight running shoes, offering supportive internal guide rails to stop your foot from jostling around. This helps to protect the knees, which sometimes take a beating in this sport. The top of the sneaker includes a breathable mesh to combat sweaty toes, and blown rubber in the forefoot pushes you forward to build speed. It's available in three different colors, and is a great option if you're seeking a durable stabilizing shoe.
Promising review: I normally purchase another brand but thought I'd give these a try. i'm glad I did! I have wide feet, and even when I size up my other shoes are a bit too long. This is the first pair of shoes I've had in a very long time that fit properly.
Best lightweight running shoe for underpronation
Why we like it:
Almost 18,000 5-star Amazon reviews!
27 color options
If keeping your foot in check is your aim, then the Adrenaline GTS 21 is for you. Your feet will practically feel naked, thanks to the streamlined design. There's a crash pad cushion built-in, and the shoe contorts to your movements. This means you're not going to have to tie your laces extra tight to stay in place. This also means you're less likely to experience numbness or tingling — something we want to avoid on and off the road. Don't be surprised if you end up buying a pair for working out and another for running errands. If you buy them on Amazon you'll be able to pick from 27 patterns. More than 14,000 runners, cross trainers, and everyday walkers love them.
Promising review: "I have several Brooks shoes and I use Dr. Scholls orthotic insoles for most of them. The Adrenaline model works best for me, as I have plantar fasciitis, tendonitis on my Achilles’ tendon, and diabetic nerve pain. The Adrenaline GTS 21 is so well cushioned and comfortable that I didn’t need to use my orthotic insoles at all! They are well worth the money, especially if you have foot problems like I do."
Best lightweight running shoe for flat feet
20% off at Zappos!
Why we like it:
Supportive foam mid-sole
Extended Achilles tab
Flat foot runners tend to overpronate, which can lead to shin splints, hip problems, and other running owies. The Clifton 8 from HOKA has an early stage meta-rocker, meaning it reduces the height difference between your heel and toe. It's gentle arch moves the foot forward instead of to the side, improving your form. HOKA's hallmark J-frame also keeps you aligned and injury free. You'll hardly feel the ground, thanks to the sneaker's foam midsole. And if stepping into your shoes is often a pain, you'll definitely love the lifted ankle tab. Just pull it up, and slip your foot in like Cinderella going to her first Marathon. I'm really feeling the sneakers in the color cantaloupe (shown above). However, there are six other styles to choose from, including a very sleek black.
Promising review: "These are super comfortable and lightweight. I've had ankle surgery and knee surgery, so I take my shoes very seriously. I didn't think something so cushy and light would stay supportive, but they all do! Love them!"
Best lightweight running shoe for rocky terrain
Why we like it:
Grips on bottom for uneven terrain
The Nike's Pegasus Trail 3 is one of my favorite model's from the iconic sports brand. It's one of the best lightweight running shoes for rocky terrain. Much of that comes from its form fitting build that hugs feet in place. Interestingly, the rubber grips on the bottom were designed to mimic tires. They'll keep you from slipping, even if the ground is bumpy or wet from a recent downpour. The sneaker's cushion moves with you, and an internal dynamic band provides support to the midsole region. These babies are super comfortable, and will make you feel like you're flying like the mythical horse.
Promising review: "These are possibly the most comfortable running shoes I've ever used. I run mostly on cobblestone, dirt roads and sidewalks, and these have a nice grip. The soles feel bouncy, but not too much."
Best lightweight running shoe for plantar fasciitis
Why we like it:
Fantastic for road runners
Adaptive mesh top
Enhances for natural gait
Overtraining or overpronation can create inflammation in the Plantar fascia of your feet. In turn, this makes running uncomfortable. Although you should rest if you're dealing with the issue, when you hit the street again, try the ASICS Gel Kayano 28 on for size. They're one of the best lightweight running shoes for woman with plantar fasciitis, thanks to the calibrating design. Gel in the front and back cushions as you return to mid-stance, while the inset slope keeps your foot from rolling. An engineered mesh top makes the sneaker light, counterbalancing several cradling layers of material. This is a great option if you pound the pavement, treadmill or other hard surfaces. Consider it a stylish way to keep aches at bay.
Promising review: "These shoes are great! I have difficult feet, and some overpronation. Their stability is good, and the cushion is really soft — not mushy. I will be buying another pair in a different color, just to have more options with clothing. There's plenty of toe room, and they're slightly narrower at the arch, which is where I need it. Good heel support too!"
Best lightweight running shoe for treadmills
Why we like it:
Great for narrow feet
Lots of cushion
Great for mild/moderate overpronation
No exaggeration, I've owned at least five pairs of the ASICS GT-1000 10. They're seriously that good. They're not ultra thin, but they are protective, which is what you want when pounding against a machine. If you have narrow feet — like moi — or slightly overpronate, they'll keep you secure. The back has a combo of foam and gel for shock absorption, which is also why they're so comfy. The front is a little more minimal, allowing you to move unencumbered. The insole can be removed, if that's your thing, but I think they're perfect as is. If your feet are average or wide, you may want to size up. However, you're still going to have all the support you need to charge from one mile to the next.
Promising review: "I was a bit hesitant to spend this much on running shoe, but what a change! I've never felt such great padding and support in both the sole and the heel. The ankles were also well padded and didn't require any breaking in... The top mesh is very flexible, and it still fits well."
Best barefoot lightweight running shoe
Why we like it:
Made with eco-friendly, recycled materials
Protects natural running pattern
Remember when barefoot running was the rage? Well, it's still a thing, and if you're interested in transitioning to it, this is the shoe for you. Merrel's Trail Glove 6 Eco has a protective plate for feet, and a thick sole for rocky roads. It's still minimal like previous models, but just includes a little more cushion. It's one of the best lightweight running shoes for embracing your natural position and stride. What makes me really excited is that it's made with environmentally friendly materials. For example, the cushion in the middle comes from algae biomass. The laces and mesh? Recycled fibers. Now that you're ready to run like our ancestors, see what this happy customer had to say.
Promising review: "The Trail Glove Eco 6 has a good combination of minimalist feel, support, and enough cushioning to take the edge off impact. The fit provides a roomy toe box with a snug heel to prevent slippage and crammed toes. Try running in these on a pine needle covered path for sheer bliss."
Best lightweight running shoes for sprinters
Why we like it:
Thick rubber outsole
Sprinting is great on days you're short on time or if you're working you way to longer runs. A lightweight running shoe the secures your foot for those quick bursts can make things easier. Adidas Supernova Shoes, for example, have a narrower top to lock feet in, but also feature a larger cushioned heel. It's minimal enough for your foot to get a feel of the terrain, while still protecting sensitive sides and ankles. The company's signature reflective strips make it great for evening runs (still wear a reflective running jacket, please), and the padding in the midsole should keep you from adjusting to stay comfortable. Fans recommend breaking in the toes, but these make for such a breezy run, you'll do that in no time. Another tip? If your feet aren't super narrow, go up half a size. You'll thank me later.
Promising review: "I bought these to run in and love how they feel. They're super easy to break in, and I love the look!"
Best lightweight running shoe for wide feet
Why we like it:
Thick foam base
If your feet are on the wider side you want a shoe with some bend. What makes the Fresh Foam 1080 great it that it expands (or shrinks) to meet the form of your feet. That means whether you're narrow or less than petite, these won't mess with your gait. The hyperknit top keeps the entire foot cool, and the foam base has a higher density, wonderful for the treadmill or sidewalk. Although we love these for running, they're also ideal for cross-training. More than 1,400 Amazon shoppers love it so much, they wear them and off the track.
Promising review: "The foam insoles are amazing to walk on, and almost completely eliminate my knee being jarred by impact with the sidewalk. They are so lightweight I can keep them on all day, and the shape of the toe box easily accommodates my wide foot. The arch support is exemplary. I love the color I bought and hope to buy more in different colors."
Best Nike lightweight running shoe
Why we like it:
Great for wide feet
Nike has always made some of the best lightweight running shoes, but this model is a real winner. It's flexible, moving with your foot as it raises from the ground. There's less material between the midsole and insole, but there's also more padding. It's higher and plush, propping your foot up so you hardly feel the street. However, it's not all foam and no body. This sneaker has some serious substance, thanks to its flywire interior that give it substantial structure. The knit mesh has some strategically placed air vents, which will work against overheating. They come in lots of bright colors, but if you don't see one that suits your fancy, you can customize a pair on the site.
Promising review: "These Nike running shoes are beautiful and super comfortable. The first time I put them on and took off for a walk/run with my pup! After using them a few more times now, I can say they are the best Nike's I've ever purchased. Try them out!"
Best lightweight running shoe with extra cushion
Why we like it:
Reinforced abrasion soles
PEBA-based super foam
Like a little extra cushion? You'll love the Endorphin Speed. True to its name, it will make you quick as lightening, but sure in your step. Although it looks like the extra foam in its base would hold you down, it actually makes for quicker movement. The shoe is flexible, so whether you tend to run on your toes or naturally place more weight on your heels, it will move with you. The outside is fitted with high abrasion zones. guarding against chaffing and bruising. These also look super cute paired with leggings!
Promising review: "These are the best running and workout shoes I’ve ever had. I’ve always used Saucony products, but never tried this model. Honestly, it was the color that pulled me in. However, once I tried them on I realized what great shoes they are! They are comfortable from the second I put them on, and so lightweight. They make me feel like I can add a mile or two to my run!"
Best lightweight running shoe for overpronation
Why we like it:
Memory foam in ankle area
Meta-rocker for a smoother run
If overpronation is your biggest concern, Bondi 7 has several features to accommodate your running style. It has an internal foot counter that keeps your foot from sliding back and forth, and the meta-rocker design allows you to smoothly lift your heel. Compression mold in the center cups the bottom of your feet, so you'll blissfully obviously to harder surfaces. The rubber bottom helps to minimize the impact from your weight, and the memory foam collar around the ankle prevents chaffing.
Promising review: I have been a runner for over 30 years and have tried many different brands. I finally looked into this brand and model, and can't rave enough about their comfort, stability, and cushioning.
Best lightweight running shoe for trail runs
Why we like it:
MaxTrac grip sole
Protective toe cap
Room in the toe for foot expansion
With winter almost over, it's time to start exploring your local trails. The Altra Lone Peak 6 makes the perfect running partner. It's protective toe cap keeps water from puddles off your tootsie, and there are even drain caps just in case you get caught in a downpour. The grips on the bottom are like tiny tired treads that dig into the earth. That means you can focus on your form instead of not slipping as you race down hills. Even with the extra protective features, the shoe is light and cushy. There's extra room in the toe, so when your feet begin to expand they'll still have room to move.
Promising review: "I love the fit of the Altras as I have wide feet. The space in the toe box is especially helpful. I wanted all-weather ones to run the winter or do walking/hiking in the summer when it's wet outside. I've used them several times and they have worked well!"
Best lightweight running shoe for shin splints
Why we like it:
5,725 five-star reviews on Amazon!
Heel clutching system
Made with a combo of gel and foam
Lots of things cause shin splints: overtraining, running on hard surfaces, and poor form are just a few things that come to mind. Interestingly, the wrong shoes can also be a sneaky culprit, and I say that from experience. To avoid those painful twinges, you need a sneaker that's soft and tough enough to handle wherever you workout. Enter in the Asics Gel Nimbus 22. They keep movements agile, while also providing support. They have multidirectional stretch, making them great for all foot types. Cushion in the midsole brings some softness, but also counteracts your weight. The heel is a little narrower to keep the foot in place, and the gel absorbs shock. It will be really hard to run these guys into the ground, but I know you'll be up to it. Almost 6,000 Amazon customers think it's amazing, and you will too.
Promising review: "These shoes have really helped with my shin splints. I didn't realize how much cushion I needed in a sole to avoid getting them with regular jogging, but these really do the trick. I’ve tried a lot of other running shoes in the past and they weren't nearly as good."
Best lightweight running shoe for walking
Why we like it:
Comfort insert footbed
4.6 stars on DSW
Although we've talked a lot about running, walking slowly has health benefits too. It's great for your heart, kind to joints, burns fat, and improves mental health. These FuelCore Nergize Sport Training Shoes are my favorite for this activity. They feature a memory sole comfort insert for support and a thicker rubber base. It's slim and keeps your foot stable as you walk your neighborhood or the gym track. The back is a little low, so it shouldn't rub against your ankle, and you can literally just slip them on. They're light enough to put pep in your step, and are super affordable. I love them in black, but they're also available in burgundy.
Promising review: "I am very wide across the box and New Balance never let me down. Even in the medium width, they accommodate this area and my feet feel secure and supported during the varied movement of cross training at the gym. Recommend any of NB's training shoes - you just can't go wrong!"