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How Should Running Shoes Fit?

Not all running shoes are made equal. Wearing a perfectly-fit running shoe is crucial to the comfort and health of your feet. It saves you from discomfort, pain, and perhaps one or more black toenails. Do yourself a big favor, and don’t skimp on research, even if it means having to go to a store.

Finding the right size becomes easier over time once you have experience with different models from various brands and get the gist of how they fit. However, there are a few important points to keep in mind:

  • Shoes have different profiles and unique features.
  • Brands fit differently. A size Brooks size 9 may not fit the same as a Saucony size 9. What’s more, some brands are known to fit narrowly (looking at you, Nike) while others, like Altra, are reputed for their ample fit with a large toe box.
  • The fit can change from one version to another. Read the reviews and check if the model is similar to previous ones or represents a significant overhaul. If the latter, then it’s best to give it a try in-store.
  • Trust the most popular models… There’s a reason why some shoes have been around for over thirty years while others left the face of the earth after a couple of releases. They are trusted references that are known to be a good fit for most people, which makes them a great place to start, especially if this your first pair.
  • …but don’t let the hype fool you. While some models receive unanimous acclaim, they may not be a good fit for you.

How to Find a Running Shoe That Fits

The first thing you need to do before buying your first or next road or trail running shoes is measuring your feet’s length and width. Then compare your measurements with the brand’s sizing guide to determine the correct size.

In general, the size of a running shoe is a half size bigger than the standard shoe size. The right running shoe fit provides enough foot space and support. Your foot mustn’t slide or move inside the shoe.

Next, with your socks on, try on the shoes and feel how they fit, especially considering these two factors:

  • Proper toe fit: the space between the toe and the shoe end is a thumb’s width.
  • Midfoot and heel fit: it should give a snug fit in the midfoot and heel, not too tight or too loose. The heel fit should be firm to prevent constant lifting in the area that may cause painful rubbing or blister. The perfect midfoot fit allows arch compression to absorb shock and then springs back.

Suppose you have wide feet, you’ll be glad to know that some models are available in different widths. However, not all stores offer them. If you desperately look for a specific model in a specific width size, your best bet is to directly check on the official brand’s site.

How Should Trail Running Shoes Fit?

If you plan to go off-road and conquer the outdoors, you need a reliable pair of trail running shoes for better grip, stability, and protection.

Trail shoes often feature a dense engineered mesh and a sturdy outsole with lugs of various depths depending on the type of terrains they are intended for. The design reduces the risk of turning an ankle as it delivers better responsiveness. Many trail shoes are also equipped with a gusseted tongue to keep rocks and debris from entering the shoe.

The advice to find the best fitting trail running shoes is similar to the one for road shoes. The shoe needs to fit snugly around the arch or midfoot part. It should give you a locked-down feel in the heel to prevent shifting or lifting when treading uneven terrains. Like hiking shoes, trail shoes can cause your toes to press against the shoe end when going downhill, so get at least a thumb’s width of space to stay comfortable. Outdoor stores often have a platform to imitate a downhill terrain and test how far down your foot will shift in the shoe in such a situation.

Overall, if you feel even the slightest discomfort, find another model because that small annoyance will be dramatically magnified when you are down a difficult trail.

Do you have comments, questions, or special tips you would like to share? Please reach out in the comments or on social media.

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