How Running Shoes Should Fit: For Your Best Performance (2023)/ Featured image

How Running Shoes Should Fit: For Your Best Performance (2023)

Key Takeaways:

  • Choosing the Right Shoe: Proper footwear is vital for comfort and injury prevention when running.
  • Know Your Feet: Identify your foot type, size, and pronation pattern using methods like the “wet test” and gait analysis.
  • Types of Shoes: Select from Neutral, Stability, or Motion Control shoes, considering your running surface (road vs. trail).
  • Proper Fit: Ensure snug fits in the heel and midfoot, ample toe wiggle room, and suitable flexibility.
  • Testing & Breaking In: Try shoes later in the day with running socks, utilize in-store running tests, and gradually introduce new shoes into your routine, typically over 20-30 miles.

Running is a fantastic way to stay in shape and improve your overall health, but it’s essential to have the right gear to support your journey.

Among all the running accessories, finding the perfect pair of shoes is crucial, as they have a significant impact on your comfort, performance, and injury prevention.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore how running shoes should fit, so you can confidently hit the pavement or trail without worrying about discomfort or potential injuries.

Let’s get started!

Understanding your feet

Before diving into the specifics of how running shoes should fit, it’s essential to have a good understanding of your feet.

This knowledge will help you choose the best shoe for your unique needs and preferences.

1. Foot types and arches

Everyone’s feet are different, but they generally fall into three categories based on arch height: low, neutral, and high arches.

To determine your arch type, you can perform a simple “wet test” by wetting your feet, stepping onto a piece of paper, and observing the footprint left behind.

The shape of your footprint will help you understand which category your feet belong to, allowing you to select running shoes designed for your arch type.

Watch a short video guide on wet test demo here.

2. Foot size and shape

Knowing your accurate foot size is crucial for ensuring your running shoes fit properly.

It’s common for people to have one foot slightly larger than the other, so be sure to measure both feet and use the larger measurement when selecting your shoe size.

Additionally, consider the shape of your feet, as some individuals have wider or narrower feet.

Many running shoe brands offer different width options to accommodate these variations.

3. Pronation and supination

Pronation and supination refer to the natural rolling motion of your foot when you walk or run.

Understanding your pronation pattern can help you choose running shoes with the right amount of support and cushioning for your specific needs.

Overpronation, neutral pronation, and under pronation (supination) are the three primary patterns, and they are typically correlated with your arch type.

A gait analysis, available at many specialty running stores, can provide further insight into your pronation pattern and help you make an informed decision when selecting your shoes.

Choosing the right shoe

Now that you have a better understanding of your feet, it’s time to dive into the process of selecting the perfect pair of running shoes.

There are several factors to consider when making your decision, and understanding how running shoes should fit will guide you toward the best choice for your needs.

1. Types of running shoes

There are three main types of running shoes designed to cater to different foot types and pronation patterns:

  • Neutral: These shoes are best suited for runners with neutral pronation or mild under pronation (supination). They provide a good balance of cushioning and support without overcorrecting the foot’s natural motion.
  • Stability: Designed for runners with mild to moderate overpronation, stability shoes offer additional support and structure to help guide the foot through a more natural movement pattern.
  • Motion control: For those with severe overpronation or flat feet, motion control shoes provide the most substantial support and structure, helping to reduce excessive inward rolling of the foot.

2. Importance of shoe size and width

Selecting the right shoe size and width is crucial for ensuring a comfortable and secure fit.

Running shoes should generally be half a size to a full size larger than your regular shoes to accommodate foot swelling during a run. Don’t forget to consider the width of your feet, as well.

Most brands offer a range of width options to accommodate various foot shapes.

3. Running surface considerations

The type of surface you run on can also influence your choice of running shoes.

Road running shoes are designed for pavement and provide cushioning and support for repetitive impact on hard surfaces.

Trail running shoes offer more aggressive traction and additional protection for off-road terrain. Be sure to select a shoe that’s appropriate for the surface you primarily run on.

4. Brand and model preferences

Every brand and model of running shoes can have a slightly different fit, so it’s essential to try on multiple options to find the best match for your feet.

You may find that certain brands consistently work well for you, while others might not be as comfortable. Experiment with different brands and models to find your ideal fit.

Check out the release of women-specific running shoes

How running shoes should fit

Once you’ve narrowed down your options based on foot type, pronation pattern, and running surface, it’s time to focus on the specific aspects of how running shoes should fit.

Paying attention to these details will help ensure you find the perfect pair for your needs.

Heel fit

Your running shoes should have a snug heel fit to prevent slipping and blisters.

There should be enough room for your Achilles tendon to move comfortably without excessive pressure. However, the heel cup should not be too tight, as this can cause discomfort or irritation during a run.

Midfoot fit

The midfoot area of your running shoes should fit securely without being too tight or constrictive.

This section of the shoe provides support and stability, so it’s essential that it feels snug but comfortable. Make sure the shoe’s arch support aligns well with the natural curve of your foot.

Forefoot fit

The forefoot area of your running shoes should have enough room for your toes to spread out and move naturally.

A shoe that is too narrow in the forefoot can cause discomfort, blisters, or even more severe issues such as bunions or neuromas.

Toe box and wiggle room

The toe box should be spacious enough to allow your toes to wiggle freely without feeling cramped.

Aim for a thumb’s width of space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe.

This extra space will accommodate any swelling that may occur during a run, helping to prevent discomfort and blisters.

Flexibility and support

Your running shoes should have a balance of flexibility and support to allow for a natural stride while also providing the necessary protection and cushioning.

The shoe should flex at the same point where your foot naturally bends, and the level of support should match your pronation pattern and arch type.

Tips For Testing The Fit

Now that you have a solid understanding of how running shoes should fit, it’s time to try on some shoes and put your newfound knowledge to the test.

Here are some tips to ensure you get the best possible fit when trying on running shoes:

1. Best time of day for trying on shoes

Your feet tend to swell throughout the day, so it’s a good idea to try on running shoes in the late afternoon or evening when your feet are at their largest.

This will help ensure a comfortable fit even as your feet expand during a run.

2. Socks to wear while testing

When trying on running shoes, wear the same type of socks you plan to wear while running.

This will give you a more accurate representation of how the shoes will fit during your runs and help prevent any surprises related to sizing or comfort.

3. Lacing techniques

Experiment with different lacing techniques to find the most comfortable and secure fit for your feet.

Some runners prefer a tighter fit at the midfoot, while others may need more room in the toe box. Adjusting the lacing can help you fine-tune the fit of your running shoes to suit your preferences.

Check out the heel-lock lacing style

4. In-store running test

Many specialty running stores have a treadmill or designated space for customers to test out shoes by running or walking.

Take advantage of this opportunity to ensure the shoes feel comfortable and supportive during actual movement.

Pay attention to any areas of discomfort or slipping and use this feedback to make any necessary adjustments or try different shoe options.

Read more about finding the right pair of running shoes. in these two informative and detailed articles.

Everything You Need to Know About Running Shoe Size

A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding the Right Shoes

Try out this handy and easy-to-use shoe size converter, Men’s to women’s shoe sizes and vice versa, or convert your sizes to (US, UK, and EU)

How To Break in new running shoes

Once you’ve found the perfect pair of running shoes with the right fit, it’s essential to break them in properly to ensure optimal performance and comfort.

Here are some tips to help you with this process:

Gradual wear-in

Start by wearing your new shoes around the house for a few hours or during short walks. This will help the shoes mold to your feet and give you a better idea of how they feel before hitting the pavement.

Rotate with old shoes

As you begin to wear your new shoes for running, alternate between your old and new pairs. This will help to gradually adjust to the new shoes without causing discomfort or injury.

Short runs first

Begin with shorter runs, no more than 2-3 miles, to allow your feet to adjust to the shoes. Gradually increase the distance as your feet become more accustomed to the new shoes.

Pay attention to fit

Make sure your shoes fit snugly, but not too tight. Your toes should have enough room to wiggle, and there should be no excessive pressure points or rubbing. Adjust the lacing to ensure a secure and comfortable fit.

Check for discomfort

Monitor your feet for any signs of discomfort, blisters, or hot spots during your runs. If you experience any issues, try adjusting the lacing, wearing different socks, or applying blister prevention products like anti-chafe balms or adhesive bandages.

Break-in period

It typically takes about 20-30 miles of running to break in a new pair of shoes. Be patient and give your shoes time to adjust to your feet.

Listen to your body

If you experience pain or discomfort after several runs in your new shoes, consult with a professional or consider trying a different pair. Not all shoes will work for every runner, and it’s important to find the right fit for your unique needs.

Related Post: How to stretch out running shoes


Grasping how running shoes should fit is a game-changer for achieving maximum comfort, performance, and injury prevention on your running journey.

By taking the time to understand your feet, explore various shoe types, and focus on the specific aspects of shoe fit, you’ll be well-prepared to find the ideal pair tailored to your unique needs.

Keep in mind that investing in the right running shoes is an investment in your overall running experience and well-being.

We hope this comprehensive guide has offered valuable insights and practical tips to help you confidently select running shoes that fit just right.

Armed with the perfect pair, you’ll be ready to tackle any running challenge that comes your way, knowing that your feet are well-supported and comfortable every step of the journey.

Here’s to discovering how running shoes should fit and enjoying many happy miles ahead!

Interesting read: Rise of Robotics in shoemaking


How much room should you have in a running shoe?

Running shoes should have a thumb’s width of space between the end of the shoe and the tip of your longest toe.
This ensures that there is enough room for your foot to expand during a run without being too loose or too tight.

Should my heel move in running shoes?

Your heel should not move excessively in running shoes. A small amount of movement is normal, but if your heel slips out of the shoe or moves around too much, it can cause blisters and other discomforts.
The shoe should fit snugly but not be too tight.

How do I know if my running shoes fit correctly?

To know if your running shoes fit correctly, check for the following:
– There should be about a thumb’s width of space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe
– The shoe should fit snugly but not be too tight
– Your heel should not slip out or move excessively
– The shoe should provide good arch support and cushioning.

How can I tell if my running shoes are too big?

Here are some signs that your running shoes may be too big:
– Your feet slide around inside them
– You experience blisters or calluses on your feet
– Your toes hit the end of the shoe when you run downhill
– The shoe feels loose and unstable.

Should running shoes be a size bigger?

No, running shoes should not be a size bigger. They should fit snugly but not be too tight or too loose.

Should running shoes be 1/2 inch larger?

A thumb’s width of space between the end of the shoe and the tip of your longest toe is recommended. which is half an inch.
Usually, running shoes are half an inch bigger than your regular shoes.

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