Whether you’re new to running or a veteran with thousands of miles under your belt, shoes are arguably the most important piece of your kit. They can truly make or break your recreational running career.

If you don’t know which type you need, go for a gait analysis at a running shoe shop and they’ll be able to tell you whether you overpronate (your foot rolls excessively inwards), supinate (your weight rolls to the outer edges of your foot) or if you're neutral (your foot lands centrally and doesn’t roll). Stability shoes can help with overpronation and neutral designs are generally for non-rollers and supinators (but you need the addition of cushioning if you supinate).

Nathan Kehel from Runner’s Need, a specialist running brand, told us that it's worth getting your gait re-analysed before you buy new shoes, even if you’ve been running for years: “It’s not static across time and there’s a good chance it may have changed as you’ve gained strength and muscle mass.”

With so many marketing claims, technologies and shoes aimed at different kinds of run, it can feel like you need more than one pair. “For beginners, just one pair of reasonably cushioned shoes with the right support for your gait will do just fine,” says Nathan. “If you’re training for a marathon or ultra, something with more cushioning is wise. If you’re pushing for a time, a faster, lighter shoe is a good option for speedwork sessions and racing.

The difference in weight between shoes is not huge but a heavier shoe that’s highly cushioned and with less energy return (the energy that’s absorbed by the shoe as you land and returned as you push off) feels like more work when you’re trying to run fast.”

As for fit, Nathan recommends going up a half or whole size from your street shoes. “‘You want about a thumbs width of space at the end of the shoe. And try not to be led by aesthetics – if a shoe looks good but feels slightly uncomfortable, it’s going to feel seriously uncomfortable within minutes of running.”

We tested a range of shoes with at least 10K of road running and have included both new releases and the latest updates on old classics, with a selection of neutral and stability shoes.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

The verdict: Women’s running shoes

The New Balance 1080v10 ticks all of our boxes for comfort and spring, providing superior cushioning without sacrificing too much speed. If you need stability but want to move away from the traditional forms of support, the Brooks GTS 20 for wider, deeper feet or the Saucony guide 13s for narrower are both a good bet.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.