Not Too Tight, Not Too Loose: Your Go-To Guide for Perfectly Fitting Running Shoes

Do yourself a favor and learn how running shoes should (actually!) fit. You’re guaranteed to save yourself from unnecessary pain and maybe a few black toe nails, too!

If you’re wondering how should running shoes fit, for an enjoyable and comfortable ride, your trainers should fit a little differently than your casual shoes… in a word: BIGGER. Often this means buying a different size than you’re used to in order to get the running shoe fit you need. Fitting you in the right shoe is what we do, so you can worry less over how sneakers should fit. That’s why we’re perhaps the only running company to fit test every single shoe we sell.

Hop on a link below to learn more!

How should a running shoe fit?

Before going out and investing in your next pair of trainers, be sure to read up on how to fit running shoes to ensure you make the right purchase. Here are a few solid fit tips to keep in mind when trying on different pairs:

    1. Wiggle Room – You should have about a thumb’s width of room between the end of your longest toe and the front of the shoe. While this fit tip is pretty standard across all footwear, it’s especially important when it comes to how running shoes should fit. Pounding the pavement on repeat means that you’ll need more than plenty of space in the toe box to withstand lots of impact; if you’re feet are crammed in the shoe’s interior, you won’t have enough wiggle room to effectively absorb force upon impact. Your landings will be much less forgiving, and you could develop some major foot pain while running.
    2. Size Up – In order to bump up half a size in length, you’ll need to know your true shoe size first. To do so, stand on a blank piece of paper while wearing a pair of socks that are average in thickness. Keeping your foot still, closely outline its shape on the paper with a pen or pencil. Measure the furthest points vertically to get your length size and horizontally for your width measurement. Note: You should repeat this process for both feet since one might be slightly larger than the other! If that’s a case, stick with the bigger number for a more comfortable feel.

  1. Hold It – Look for a secure, comfortable fit through the midfoot of your running shoe; you want your toes to have some wiggle room upfront, but wobbling side to side is not how a running shoe should fit. Without enough structure, you could wind up incurring a painful running injury that sidelines you’re training so make sure you score a secure, locked-in running shoe fit that’s not overly constricting. Imagine a hand gently holding your foot in place, cradling it softly at the midfoot and giving your arches the specific support they need—whether they’re low or high.
  2. The Heel Deal – Just like at the midfoot, there should be little or no slippage at the rear foot or heel when you test how sneakers should fit. Heel slippage can be a major distraction—whether you’re training for your next race or just taking an evening jog around the block. Whether or not you opt for a bootie-like construction, a padded collar, exo-skeletal heel tab, or a different security feature, take a light lap around the shoe aisle and make sure you aren’t sliding out.
  3. Gauge Your Goals – When learning how to choose running shoes, it’s important to base your decision on the shape of your arches and type of pronation (Neutral or Stability), as well as your ideal cushioning category (Level 1-5). However, the type of running you’d like to achieve may also affect how your running shoes should fit. A tighter fit means you’ll stay more connected to your trainers as you begin to pick up the pace, so if speed is the name of your game, you might want to forgo wiggle room in favor of a snugger fit.

Road Runner Sports is perhaps the only running retailer to fit test every shoe we sell. Real-world testing lets us get you the right size better than anyone else. Instead of worrying over how running shoes should fit, just trust us—we’re your fit experts!

How should sneakers fit? Frequently asked questions – answered

  • Is the fit of your shoes “almost” right?

These lacing tricks might be just what you need to snug up the heel or loosen up that tight spot for the perfect fit. A lace-lock is good to protect against slippage, while an open-tie pattern is better for those with high foot volume looking to score a less-irritating running shoe fit.

  • Are your socks too thick?

When getting fitted for running shoes, don’t wear super thick socks. Sock thickness can affect the fit of your shoes, so consider how running in cold weather with thick socks or in the summer with compression socks might change your comfort level.

  • Not sure what size foot you have?

Go here to print out our handy foot sizing charts and measure your feet at home. Be sure to measure both feet since they may not be the same size and buy the size for the bigger foot—plus one half size in length! Your foot size can change as you age, so remember to re-measure every year.

  • Worried it will take some test runs to know if you like your new shoes?

We understand! That’s why we created the amazing Perfect Fit Guarantee. Hit the road in your new shoes. If they’re not just right for you, simply exchange them within 60 days, no questions asked.

  • Still have questions?

If you’re still not sure how sneakers should fit, our experts are here for you! Call a Customer Care Specialist at 800.743.3206 and get answers to your running shoe fit questions.

A properly fitting running shoe is critical for enjoying your rides (and not hating your life). To prevent running injuries and to push forward farther, faster, and for longer, make sure you shop for a running shoe that fits not too big, not too small, but snug and secure in all the right places. We’re more than happy to help you get fitted, so chat with an expert or head into your closest Road Runner Sports location to take off in a new pair of trainers—tailored and fitted just for you!

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