Women’s Running Shoe Review for Heavier Gals

Hello fellow runners!

I’m guessing you’re here because you’re in the market for new shoes. Hopefully I can help you.

For years I was running on terrible shoes; shoes I picked because they were pretty, not because they actually fit and helped me run more effectively… I know, this is stupid. Don’t do this.

The first time I put on a shoe that was for performance rather than vanity was in 2012. It was the Asics Gel Kayano 20 and it changed my life. (RIP Kayano 20’s, you will always be my first love) Sadly, after over 360 miles with those babies, I had to retire them and get new shoes as I noticed I was starting to get shin splints (the rip in the toe didn’t matter). I can’t even tell you how many reviews I read or how many “shoe finder” tests I did, but it took me a few months to decide on what I was going to get. I went to our local running store in Anchorage, Skinny Raven, and did a gait analysis and tried on just about every shoe they had. I settled on the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 15. I didn’t feel super confident in my choice though, so I went on Amazon that night and purchased the newer version of the Kayano. By the way, they still sell the Kayano 20 and I won’t lie, I almost bought the same shoe!

I think reading running shoe reviews are helpful, but you really can’t trust them because most people don’t write about their size, history of injury, width of foot, preferred distance, etc. This is why I’m writing this review– so you know the context and can make a more informed decision!

Things about me:

  1. Female
  2. Height: 5’6”
  3. Weight: 160 lbs
  4. Frame: Muscular
  5. Foot size: wider foot, regular arch, size 8
  6. Pronation: normal to mild over-pronation
  7. History of injury: none, just shin splints
  8. Average miles per week: 20-30
  9. Favorite race: 13.1

The things I was looking for in a new running shoe were:

  1. Wide footbed
  2. Cushy, comfy ride
  3. Best for longer distances
  4. Not too heavy to lug around

Today, I am going to give you my opinion on the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 15 and the Asics Gel Kayano 21. Just in case anyone was wondering though, they just dropped the new Kayano 22 and it appears to have higher ratings than its older brother. But since I haven’t tried the 22 yet, I can’t give you my opinion.


The pros:

  1. There are 8 different color varieties to choose from
  2. Low on the ankle and Achilles’s tendon which seems to minimize rubbing on those areas
  3. Cushy ride; actually feels cushier than the Kayano which I believe the Kayano is known for…
  4. Brooks mentions   “Progressive Diagonal Rollbar” and “Segmented Crash Pad” as some cool features. I don’t know which fancy feature is responsible for this, but when your foot lands, it feels so smooth and almost like you are propelled forward from heel to toe. It’s very interesting and hard to explain, but I love it!
  5. Cheaper than the Kayano and other shoes that have similar features ($120-130)
  6. I actually did not need to get this shoe in a wide, there is enough room in the toe box for swollen toes on long distances too!

The cons:

  1. Out of the 8 different colors, only 2 of them come in a wide width; only 1 comes in an extra-wide or narrow width
  2. The wide-width colors are the ugliest (my opinion)
  3. Not really that much of a con, but it is heavier than the Kayano at 9.2 ounces\

Other Ratings:

  • Amazon: 4.5 stars out of 5
  • Brooks: 3.5 stars out of 5
  • Roadrunner Sports: 3 stars out of 5

Overall: I would give this shoe a 4/5 star rating, definitely a great shoe for the money

The contender… ASICS GEL KAYANO 21!

The pros:

  1. There are 13 different colors to choose from! Whoa!
  2. Asics is a household name in running, a very trusty brand that’s been around since… like, uh, forever!
  3. Currently this model is on sale for $120-130 which is down from $160. I’m guessing this is due to the newer model coming out.
  4. Just barely lighter than the Adrenaline at 8.9 ounces (the difference is really not detectable)

The Cons:

  1. Out of the 13 colors, only 2 come in wide, 1 comes in narrow and extra wide. Why are the ugliest colors always in “special” widths?!
  2. Super tight toe box even in the wide width
  3. My arches and mid foot cramp up in this shoe (did not happen in the previous model)
  4. Less cushion than the Adrenaline
  5. Really high on the heel; Asics sells this as a positive that the extra 3mm on the heel relieves Achilles’s Tendon tension

Other Ratings:

  • Amazon: 4.5 stars out of 5
  • Ascis: 3 stars out of 5
  • Roadrunner Sports: 3 stars out of 5

Overall: I would give this shoe a 3/5 rating. I’d recommend this shoe to a runner with a narrow foot and high arch.

** Above all, I recommend going to your local running store and getting a gait analysis, trying on shoes there, reading some reviews on amazon, and then making your final decision! Well-fitting shoes are a runner’s most important gadget!


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