How Should Running Shoes Fit? Things To Know Before Lacing Up

a runner tying his shoe

We've all been there, trying on shoes at the store and asking ourselves "How should running shoes fit?" You don't want to get the wrong pair. That means blisters and possibly a sprained ankle.

So, do you guess? Nope.

Instead, learn how to fit shoes the right way.

When it comes to choosing the right running shoes, there's more to think about than you might realize. With the right information, you can choose a pair of shoes that will let you run like the wind -- and do it safely and comfortably.

How Should Running Shoes Fit?

tying the lace of the shoe

​Via Pixabay

So, how should running shoes fit? While you can guess at your shoe size and do the old "Feel the tips of your toes" routine, there is a better way to find the perfect fit. You can size your feet properly and look for a snug fit. Also, check out the arch, the collar, and the flexibility of the shoe.

Can you find a good shoe just by trying it on for a few seconds? Theoretically, anything is possible, but running shoes are not something you want to take chances with. That's why you need to learn how running shoes should fit before you hit the store.

Running Shoes and Your Feet

Feet wearing the black pair of shoes

​Via Pixabay

Here's something you may not have known until now: when choosing running shoes, think about foot mobility.

That is, how flexible is your foot? Some people have springy feet that can bend and arch with no problem. Others have rather stiff feet. Knowing your foot mobility will go a long way towards answering the question "How should running shoes fit?"

The more inflexible your foot, the more flexible the shoe you need.

That's just one thing to look out for. You need to make sure that your runners fit well because you don't want to live with painful heel blisters after each run. Even worse, a shoe that doesn't fit well could result in a rolled ankle. Ouch.

Let's dive right in.

How to size your feet

The first and most obvious, thing to look for is the right shoe size. But how do you know what size your feet really are?

Well, you can use the little foot measuring tool found at many shoe stores. Unfortunately not every retailer has one. Also, if you're ordering online, you'll need an alternative. But there's another way to measure your foot accurately.

Take a piece of paper and place it on the floor. Keep your socks on your foot and place your foot flat on the paper. Keep your body weight on that foot. Then bend down and trace an outline of your foot with a marker.

Now you can step off the paper. Next, take a ruler and measure down the length of your foot trace. This is your foot length. Measure the width of your foot across the thickest part. This is your foot width.

But it gets harder because shoe sizes in America don't follow actual measurements.

Shoe size and width

Wondering what your foot size looks like in shoe size? You're in for a confusing time, because there is no standard and each manufacturer interprets market trends in their own way.

The closest thing you can do is to approximate using the following information:

​Men's Shoe Size Conversion


  • 9 1/2 inches = size 7.5
  • 10 inches = size 8.5
  • 10 1/2 inches = size 10
  • 11 inches = size 11
  • 12 inches = size 14

​​ Woman's Shoe Size Conversion

  • 8 1/2 inches = size 5
  • 9 inches = size 6
  • 9 1/2 inches = size 7.5
  • 10 inches = size 9
  • 10 1/2 inches = size 10.5

As for width, if you're a woman and your foot is over 3 inches wide, you'll want to go for a wide fit. If you're a man and your foot is more than 4 inches wide, get a wide fit.

Shoe material

Are you ready to learn how should running shoes fit based on what they're made with?

You see, materials play a big part in the comfort and performance of running shoes. You want something that matches the weather you'll be running in. Also, you need a shoe that will absorb sweat. For these reasons, synthetic and real leather should be avoided.

If you're running in a gym or in warm weather, go with nylon material. It's light and breathes easily. Something like the Nike Roshe One for men and women works perfectly in this case. Of course, you don't want nylon on a cold winter run.

In that case, you want to go with a warm, padded runner that includes thick, grippy rubber treads. The Under Armour Charged Reactor is one of the best winter running shoes you can buy today. These shoes are available for both men and women.

Heel drop

There's one last thing to look for in running shoes. If you want to know how should running shoes fit, check out the heel drop.

Heel drop is basically how thick the shoe's heel is. The thicker the heel, the greater the angle from the heel to the toe. This is the "drop." As natural minimalist running gets popular, shoes with minimal heel drop gain in popularity. The difference is actually quite extreme.

Get this.

Thicker shoe heels force you to run heel first. It's the first point of contact with the ground. On the other hand, less heel drop allows you to run on your midfoot, spreading the impact energy through your foot instead of up your leg.

Tips for Trying on New Running Shoes

hand holding a black shoe thinking how should running shoes fit

​Via Unsplash

Now you know a few things to look for in your next pair of shoes. Once you get to the store, you want to know how should running shoes fit. We've got some tips for you.

First, remember that everyone is different. Your feet are not the same as the person next to you (twins excluded). That's why foot mobility is so important.

Also, don't skimp on style. You can find some great deals on running shoes, but you want it to match your personal tastes. If you hate orange, don't buy orange shoes just because they were the cheaper option.

Wear socks

The first tip is always to wear socks when trying on shoes. You'll be running with socks on, so you want to know what the shoe will feel like with socks on.

If you can wear the same type of socks, you run in, even better.

Also, remember your foot will swell as it heats up. You don't want your socks and the shoe to be too snug when you're at comfortable room temperature.

Wiggle those toes

The next tip when deciding how should running shoes fit is to make sure you have room to wiggle your toes.

The area of the shoe from the last lace to the tip is called the toebox. You want a toebox that doesn't rub against your toes. It needs to be spacious enough for your foot to swell and spread out as you run.

Wiggle your toes and make sure they don't touch the sides.

Collar your ankles

Are you ready for another great tip? Of course, you are!

Here it is.

You know the padding around the opening of the shoe that sits around your ankles? That's called the collar. It's supposed to hold your ankles in place so your heel doesn't move around. Some shoes use thick padding to accomplish this. Some others hope a funky shape will do the job.

The collar is the worst part of the shoe. If it slips and slides while you're running expect heel blisters. Even worse, your Achilles tendon can get rubbed raw.

When you're trying on shoes, strap them to both feet and seriously walk around quite a bit. Does the collar slip and slide? Does your heel feel loose inside? Pay attention.

Feel the saddle

The area of the shoe that wraps from the laces on the top, down the instep, to the arch of your foot is called the saddle. In a way, it resembles a saddle.

This is a key area of the shoe. It's what holds it all together and also what holds your foot firmly inside the shoe. If it's too tight, you end up with severe pain and bruising. If it's too loose, you're looking at blister city.

Instead, it should feel comfortable and secure. It should make the shoe feel like a part of your foot. There should be no slippage. That being said, it should be flexible enough to allow the arch of your foot to naturally dome and spring back with each strike on the ground.

Roll your feet

Finally, check how flexible the shoe is by rolling your feet around.

By this, we mean roll your left foot onto its left side, and then your right foot onto its right side. Balance on your heels and feel how comfortable the shoe is rolling back and forth.

If your foot stays anchored inside, and the shoe was flexible enough to roll with your feet, then you may have found the perfect pair of running shoes.

Get Running!

A woman running in complete gear

​Via Pixabay

There's only one thing left for you to do. Get running!

How should running shoes fit? They need to be comfortable and secure. Now that you've got yourself a great pair of runners, it's time to hit the pavement (or the treadmill) and get that heart rate up.

We love running. And with the right pair of running shoes, we know that everyone can love running, too!

​Featured Image Source: Unsplash

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