Christine Giordano / Nike
The Nike Swoosh is one of the most iconic (and recognizable) logos in fitness and the world today. There’s a reason you likely think Nike when shopping for new running shoes. Running and running shoes have been at the core of the brand since the very first Nike running shoe launched in 1972.
From speedy sprints to endurance ultra marathons, new innovations have made waves in the industry and set records. ICYMI, Kenyan long distance runner Eliud Kipchoge ran the first sub-two-hour marathon in November 2019 in Vienna wearing Nike’s Vaporfly shoe. That’s just one accolade among many.
Meet the experts: Dr. Anh Bui, DPT, CSCS, is a physical therapist and USATF Level 1 certified running coach in Oakland, California. Laura Norris is an RRCA and VDOT certified running coach based in Boulder, Colorado.
But Nike’s running shoes aren’t just for the pro feet zooming. There are top pairs made for all levels of runners, types of race training, short or long distances, and budgets. (Note: Nike running shoes range from $50 to $300 per pair and most are in the $100s.) The materials and technology behind elite runners’ blistering paces can help beginners find their most comfortable stride and seasoned racers set their own new PRs.
If that’s enough to get you shopping, here’s a sneak peek at the top Nike running shoes selected by running coaches:
To help you sift through the vast array of speedy sneaks, Women’s Health tapped certified running coaches for their recommendations for the best Nike running shoes. They shared their picks for different types of runs, distances, and runners taking into consideration the materials, foot shape, cushioning, support, and more.
10 Best Nike Running Shoes For Women
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Best for Road Racing
Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% 2
- Versatile For Racing
- Science-Backed Performance Improvement
- Cushion Wears Out Quicker
Size range: 5-12 | Colors: 5; option to design your own , Material: Nike ZoomX foam, carbon fiber plate, mesh
Expert intel: “The Nike Vaporfly Next% is the most versatile, all around, great road racing shoe. It features a full length carbon fiber plate that maximizes energy return with every step,” says Dr. Bui. “The redesigned upper material is lightweight and conforms to your foot on race day. This shoe is best suited for the 10k- marathon distance. It has a lower stack height than the AlphaFly’s and is more agile, less bulky for shorter distances.”
“Research shows that the Nike Vaporfly improves running economy (how efficient you are) and time trial performance (source) compared to non-carbon plated shoes,” says Norris. “Out of all the carbon plated, the Nike Vaporfly sees the best results across research. While it does not work for everyone, many runners report feeling more efficient and less fatigued when racing in the Vaporflys.”
Rave Review: “These are the most amazing pair of Nikes I own. It’s like they took all the issues I’ve had in other shoes and said, not today fam. The cushion and bounce in these shoes is so good, I haven’t had knee issues once walking around, so that’s saying a lot. The ankle pad in the back helps my foot from feeling like it’s going to pop out of the shoe, and also helps from rubbing.”
Best for Marathons
Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT Flyknit
- Premium Foam Cushioning
Size range: 5-12 | Colors: 2 | Material: Nike ZoomX foam, carbon fiber plate, AtomKnit fabric
Expert intel: “The Nike AlphaFly’s are a great road marathon specific shoe with maximal cushioning, great responsiveness, and lightweight. These racing shoes feature 2 airpods underneath the ball of the foot to maximize energy return. They also have the highest amount of Nike Zoom X foam ( the most premium foam on the market with highest rate of energy return) of any of their racing shoes, which makes it ideal for the marathon. The upper material is breathable and minimizes water absorption.”
Rave Review: “These runner shoes have an outstanding level of stability and design. Once you wear them, the sneakers perform great for medium to long distances. In addition, your feet feel secure, giving full support for the entire sole.”
Best for Tempo Runs
Nike Zoom Fly 4 Premium
- Flexible Carbon Plate
- Durable Cushioning
Size range: 5-12 | Colors: 6 | Material: Nike React foam, carbon fiber plate, Flyknit material
Expert intel: “This responsive and cushioned shoe is a great training alternative to the Vaporfly,” says Norris. “It has a carbon plate, but the carbon plate is more flexible than the Vaporfly, which makes it better for speed workouts in training. This shoe allows runners to train in something similar to the Vaporfly, but without the drawbacks and in a more durable shoe. As a coach, I have seen runners race very well in this shoe also! It can be a great alternative to the Vaporfly for racing, at a lower price point.”
Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit
- Zoom X Cushioning
- Enhanced Stability
Size range: 5-12 | Colors: 6 | Material: Nike ZoomX foam, carbon fiber plate, mesh
Expert intel: “The Nike Invincible run is the most cushioned and responsive daily trainer on the market,” says Dr. Bui. “It is everything we love about the Vaporfly Next %’s and AlphaFly’s without the carbon fiber plate.”
Runners love this Nike racing shoes for the Zoom X cushioning that spares their legs in the later miles of the marathon and in hard threshold workouts, she adds.
“The Nike Invincible Run allows you to run longer and farther without the same fatigue on your legs due to the cushioning,” says Dr. Bui. “It’s designed with a wider forefoot to enhance stability and a rounded heel to improve the transition from heel to toe during running.”
Rave Review: “These shoes are very comfortable. They provide excellent cushioning and are very responsive – providing great rebound to help propel your feet off the ground. They have improved my mile times and help me to run faster without fear of injury.”
Best For Daily Runs
Nike Air Zoom Vomero 16
- Plush Ankle Support
Size range: 5-12 , Colors: 3 | Material: ZoomX foam cushioning, mesh, high-abrasion rubber
Rave Review: This pick is from yours truly. I have been wearing the Vomero for years. One of my favorite things about these shoes is the cushioned ankle support. Sometime shoes cut off the back of my ankles but these feel like a pillow. I run 3 to 5 miles a few times a week, and these shoes are perfect for those mid-distances. They’re not Nike’s flashiest design, but they’re reliable.
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38
- Wide Toe Box
- Iconic Aesthetic
- Some People May Have Heel Slips
Size range: 5-12 | Colors: 12 | Material: Zoom Air unit, Nike React foam
The Pegasus is as iconic as the Nike Swoosh in the brand’s running shoe repertoire and the brand’s best seller ever, It debuted in 1983 and has been re-invented ever since. The latest iteration is the Pegasus 38 (but the Pegasus 39 will be released soon).
It boasts a wider forefoot toe box and Zoom Air Unit that adds more bounce. This plush shoe that will help you feel extra supported.
Rave Review: “These shoes are so comfortable this is my second pair.”
Best Trail Running Shoes
Nike Pegasus Trail 3 GORE-TEX Trail Running Shoes
- Bike Tire Inspired Traction
Size range: 5-12 | Colors: 3 | Material: GORE-TEX, rubber outsole, Nike React foam
These trail running shoes are a best-seller for Nike. They’re a mix of Nike’s iconic Pegasus running shoe with added durability and support meant for the trails. They have a waterproof upper to keep your feet dry in any condition, and a rubber outsole that mimics bike tires for extra traction. They also have reflective elements to keep you visible in dark conditions.
Rave Review: “I got my regular Nike size, and I felt a little stiff cushion at first, but the more I wear it, it gets better and feels like it’s getting molded to my feet shape. I have tried other trail shoes, and this one is the best I have ever owned.” nike.com
Nike Winflo 8 Premium
- Great Price Point
- Unique Design Details
Size range: 5-12 | Colors: 7 | Material: Flywire cables, Zoom Air unit, mesh
One of the best things about the Winflo is that it is under $100, which is more rare for a Nike running shoe. These are a great everyday trainer. Design-wise, you’ll notice that the Winflo also has a little more height thanks to a Zoom Air unit surrounded by a foam heel. Another unique detail are the Flywire cables around the laces for more support.
Rave Review: ,Nike always does a great job in their running/training shoes! It literally feels like walking on clouds. The support and cushion inside are very comfortable. This shoe would be a great addition to any athletes collection.”-Ashleigh C.
Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 3
- Sock-Like Feel Isn’t For Everyone
Size range: 5-12 | Colors: 7; option to design your own | Material: Flyknit fabric, Flywire technology, Nike React technology
This is the brand’s most tested shoe, and is known for its smooth and stable feel thanks to the Nike React technology and rocker shape. It has a responsive foam for support with each stride. It’s made of the classic Flyknit material that is super breathable and feels like a sock, meant to keep your feet cool for miles and miles.
Rave Review: “I love this shoe! I am coming off a bad running shoe and wanted not only a good running shoe but a comfortable all around shoe. I couldn’t be happier and am already looking to buy a second pair!”-KarenJ. nike.com
Best For Long Runs
Nike React Escape Run 2
- Reflective Features For Visibility
Size range: 5-12 | Colors: 7; option to design your own | Material: Nike React foam, rubber outsole
Nike deems this shoe the ideal one for long city runs, specifically. (And happy customers confirm it.) It is made with a higher level of the Nike React foam for extra cushioning and durability for long miles on pavement. For runs in the city, it also has lots of reflective elements so cars and others on the road can see you in darker conditions.
Rave Review: “The sole is so padded yet unbelievably lightweight! These are so comfortable and was able to start using them right away for my runs. They broke in quite well and fast compared to my other Nike shoes. These were designed for a women’s foot/ankle and I can’t express how comfortable these are!”-Loreeve
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