Whether you’re a casual jogger trying to keep fit once a week or an elite runner pounding the streets day in and day out, getting a decent pair of running shoes should be your main priority.
After all there is precious little point having all the fluorescent rainproof gear if you can’t run properly because you’re wearing running shoes that are ill fitting or aren’t suitable for your style of running.
Until a few years ago the common approach of some manufacturers to women’s running shoes was simply to shrink ‘em and pink ‘em. It was assumed (wrongly, of course) that women’s running shoes were simply smaller versions of men’s shoes, but in a more feminine colour.
In fact, women are bio-mechanically very different from men. Importantly, women have a wider Q-Angle (the angle of incidence of the quadricep muscle relative to the patella, or knee bone) because they usually have larger hips than men.
As a consequence, women tend to pronate more than men – in other words the foot rolls inwards more. Shoe designers and developers need to address this by developing a different midsole/outsole on the women’s version.
Statistically, women also have 15 per cent body mass than men with the same foot size, which means designers need to produce a woman’s shoe, which sustains less impact. Another difference is that women have different shaped feet to men, especially in the arch, the first toe and the ball of the foot.
Here we choose our top four running shoes for women:
Here’s a running shoe that comes in various versions to match your running style, including over pronation and under pronation options depending on whether your feet naturally roll inwards or outwards when running (see text above). Importantly the Gel Kayano 20 are very light but Asics claims that cushioning is better than ever. Innovative Fluid Ride technology is a 2-layered sole to give improved cushioning and much better bounce-back. What’s more, the Dynamic DuoMax technology gives extra support and stability for over-pronators. For running in the dark, the Lite-Show edition offers 360o visibility with all-over reflective details.
A bouncy, lightweight shoe that offers top-of-the-line cushioning. With the Boost range, the German manufacturer has replaced the standard EVA foam found in most running shoes with a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) material found in the dashboards of BMW automobiles: up to 2,500 little plastic pebbles are fused with steam and pressure to yield the cushioning layer of a single shoe. The result is a midsole material that is “springy” and offers better cushioning than traditional foams. Adidas also claims ‘industry-leading energy return’, in other words more of the energy from hitting the ground is returned on the rebound.
Made of a completely polyester yarn, the Flyknit upper is both an ultra-lightweight and breathable running shoe. The seamless stitching is tighter where the foot needs more stability and more open in areas that require flexiblility. Now it’s also customisable offering a combination of options, which Nike claims, are designed to provide you with ultimate cushioning and natural flexibility. These include a choice of different soles for strength and flexibility as well as a range of different colours (seven different midsole colours and 13 different ‘Swoosh’ colours). Designed as a barefoot running shoe, the Flyknit however doesn’t offer the stability and dual density that is needed for over-pronators. Nor is it supportive enough to wear for other sports such as tennis.
Adidas adizero Feather Prime Shoes, £120
Like Nike’s Flyknit range, the Feather Prime are an ultra-light running shoe made of a single piece of fabric. Tipping the scale at just 164g (Size 5.5), they feature an air mesh, textiles and synthetic upper for comfort, breathability and support and a heel cup to stabilise your stride. There’s also an EVA midsole for lightweight cushioning. Available in amazon purple/frost mint/core black (pictured) or night grey/white/solar pink versions.
By Chris Price | August 26th, 2014