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The Best Women's Running and Athletic Shoes 2010

SHAPE Shoe Awards 2010: The Best New Running and Athletic Shoes

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Whether you're grooving in a dance class or jogging down a trail, you can't give it your all without the right sneakers. That's why our group of testers put 37 new athletic shoes through their paces. They ran, walked, danced, and lifted for eight weeks, then rated the shoes on qualities like cushioning, stability, and comfort. The result: these 13 high-scoring pairs. Find your sole mate, and get moving!

Best Shoes for Fitness Classes: New Balance 812

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Who needs it: Steppers and dancers who want cushioning, flexibility, and traction.
What it offers: "Plush cushioning" and a sturdy midsole prevent ankle rolling. "Even during quick side-to-side moves, I felt stable," says a tester who takes six dance classes per week. Nubs on the bottoms ensure traction and "foot-hugging" mesh keeps feet dry.($85; newbalance.com)

Best Shoes for All-Around Gym Use: Nike Air Max Trainer One

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Who needs it: Women who mix things up with cardio, weights, and classes.
What it offers: This shoe "really absorbs the impact of high-intensity moves" like jumping jacks and burpees, and its "super firm" midsole is ideal for strength training and cardio machines. "Soft and pliable" uppers "never rub or dig into skin," and an adjustable strap "keeps your foot in place." ($85; nike.com)

Training Shoes Testers Also Loved: Reebok TrainTone Slimm

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What it offers: The seamless upper prevents rubbing and feels "super comfy." Air-filled pods on the outsole act like balance discs, which are designed to force more muscles to work harder to stabilize you.($100; reebok.com)

Best Running Shoes for Stability: Saucony ProGrid Omni 9

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Who needs it: Overpronators (runners whose feet roll in too much).
What it offers: The dense foam midsole is "firm, but not heavy." Heel cushioning, from an insert that resembles a tennis racket's crisscrossed strings, "gives squish-free bounce," while the large-gauge mesh upper is "roomy in the toe box." ($110; saucony.com)

Best Running Shoes for Cushioning: New Balance 759

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Who needs it: Neutral-stride runners who love plush-soled shoes.
What it offers: The "lightweight" cushioning "feels like you're running on a cloud," and there's "plenty of wiggle room for your toes." Says one marathoner, "My feet didn't ache—even after an hour-long run." Excellent traction makes you feel like you'll never slip, even in the rain. ($100; newbalance.com)

Best Running Shoes for Distance: Asics GEL-3020

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Who needs it: Runners training for a 10K or longer race.
What it offers: A "perfect blend of support and cushioning." The hard-plastic bridge spanning the outsole makes the shoe "stable, but not rigid," and the heel feels "extra cushy." The nearly all-mesh upper "provides ample breathability," key for keeping feet cool (and blister-free). ($120; zappos.com)

Best Running Shoes for Speed: Brooks Ghost 3

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Who needs it: Racers who want to pick up their pace.
What it offers: The Ghost is "super lightweight," yet "not at all flimsy." One tester who runs half marathons in the Ghost says, "The soft, flexible insoles make my legs feel energized." Break your personal record with these tips from pro athletes.($100; brooksrunning.com)

Running Shoes Testers Also Loved: Puma Complete Vectana 2

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What it offers: Firmer foam on the arch side of the midsole improves stability, and padding around the heel ensures "a precise fit." A 10K racer adds, "This shoe helps me to be a faster, more confident runner." ($100; puma.com)

Best Trail Running Shoes for Distance: Mizuno Wave Ascend 5

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Who needs it: Women who cover 5 miles or more on a trek.
What it offers: This shoe's cushioning, provided by two layers of padding in the midsole, "feels pillowy soft." One trail trotter says, "Even after 90-minutes, my feet weren't sore." Mesh on the upper "prevents overheating," and the rubber outsole "has excellent grip." ($95; mizunousa.com)

Best Trail Running Shoes for Speed: Salomon SpeedCross 2

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Who needs it: Runners who want to cover rugged trails quickly.
What it offers: At 8.6 ounces, the SpeedCross 2 makes it easier to "power up hills." Firmer midsole cushioning near the instep "helps keep the foot stable" and a deep-grooved outsole provides "flexibility for pushing off roots and rocks." Stay-tight laces cinch up with just a tug. ($120; backcountry.com)

Best Walking Shoes: Asics GELFitwalk Lyte

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Who needs it: Dedicated fitness walkers.
What it offers:This "featherweight" shoe's "stellar shock absorption" comes courtesy of gel-filled inserts in the heel. "They prevent my usual knee pain," says an 18-mile-per-week walker. Under the forefoot, foam cushioning material and deep grooves help you "bounce from step to step." ($70; zappos.com)

Best Walking Shoes for All-Day Wear: New Balance 850

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Who needs it: Women who are constantly on their feet.
What it offers: The structure of the midsole propels you forward and "adds spring." This "supportive" sneaker also has ample cushioning that "eases joint pain" and a mesh upper that keeps feet "delightfully cool." ($90; newbalance.com)

Trail Running Shoes Testers Also Loved: Ryka Trail Exodus

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What it offers: With "just-right cushioning" and "superb traction," this shoe earned rave reviews. "It felt natural on my first run," says one 20-mile-a-week runner. What's more, its "lightness and stability" come at a crazy-good price. ($75; ryka.com)

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