How Running Shoes Should Fit?

Wondering how running shoes should fit but feel a bit overwhelmed? Then you have come to the right place.

Running shoes can make the difference between comfortable training or agonizing pain—the solution lies in getting the right fit.

In today’s article, I’ll share with you the full guide on how running shoes should fit so you can run comfortably and pain-free.

Sounds great?

Let’s get started.

The Benefits of Proper Fit

When it comes to choosing running shoes, proper fit should always be the main deciding factor.

Not the look.

Not the design.

Not the brand name.

Not the price.

It’s a fit or no deal.

When you choose properly fitted running shoes, you provide good support and stability to your feet. This not only helps you run at your best but also prevents injury.

Running shoes that are too tight often cause blisters and toenails injury, and ones that are too big or wide can damage your toes.

That’s not the whole story.

Improper fitting shoes can cause tendonitis, impingement, heel pain, ankle sprains, stress fractures—the list is long and full of terrors.

I can go on and on about the importance of proper fit, but I guess you get the picture.

Red Flags For Improper Fit

After wearing the shoes for a while, preferably first in your home and then out for a few long walks and/or easy, short runs, check for any signs that your new shoes don’t fit properly.

These include:

  • Heel slippage

If your heel slips when you’re running or going up uphill, it means that the shoe is either too big or not sung enough.

  • Numbness on top of your feet

This could mean that it is either too loose or too tight on your foot. As a rule, the upper fabric should be snug but not too tight to hinder blood flow.

  • Blisters on your toes

Tell you that the shoes are likely too tight in the box or too small.

  • Bruised toes

This indicates that the shoes are one size or smaller than your real size.

  • Numbness or tingling in your feet, especially the toes

This is a sign of lacking volume in the shoes. It can also indicate that your shoes are either too narrow or too short.

  • Blisters on the ball of your feet

This means that the shoes are likely too wide.

  • Blisters on your heel

This could indicate that the heel cup is too wide for you.


If you’re sure that shoes are not a good fit, and depending on the return policy, clean them up and return back to the store.

The sooner, the better, as used shoes make returns problematic.

Measure Your Feet

The first step for getting a proper fit is to figure out your correct shoe size, including length and width.

As a rule of thumb, the shoes must feature enough space for your foot but also sufficient support, so your foot isn’t sliding or moving within the shoe.

Additionally, measure your foot length and width with the type of socks you’ll use for running.

What’s more?

Check both the length and width every couple of years as foot size can change as you age and gaining or shedding weight.

Woman workout concept. Fitness background. Sport shoes, dumbbells, earphones on white background

The Measuring Process

To properly measure your feet, you’ll need a ruler or a tape measure, a piece of paper or cardboard, and a pen.

Next, find a flat, hard surface and place the piece of paper on the floor.

While wearing the same socks you use during training, stand with your right foot on the paper.

Then, trace a thin line around the outside of your right foot, pointing straight down toward the paper. To do it right, hold the pen perpendicular to the floor (or ask someone else to do it for you).

Repeat the same on the other side.

Next, grab the ruler and measure the longest and widest portion of each one of your feet.

To get your foot length, measure vertically down the length of your right foot. To get the width, measure horizontally across the widest part.

Find Your Size

Once you take your feet measurements, find your size using a sizing conversion chart.

It’s simple.

All you have to do is match the length measurement with the recommended running shoe size.

The Finger Test

For an optimal length fit, shoot for at least ½ to 1 inch—about a thumb’s width—between your longest toe and the shoe’s end.

How to check for this?

Easy. While wearing the shoes (preferably with your socks on), slide your finger between your heel and the back of the shoe (the heel counter).

Finger slides in easily but feels fairly snug? It’s a perfect fit. The shoes are definitely too small if you can’t get your finer in or have to use force.

Can fit two or three fingers behind your heel? Then your shoes are definitely too large.

As for width, you’ll want to be able to pinch some material at the top or sides of the shoe.

That’s why running shoe sizes are often a half size bigger—or even more—than your usual footwear.

The extra room leaves more space for your foot to expand during and training. This should you save a lot of discomfort.

Some of the red flags that your feet need extra space within the shoes include:

Try On Different Shoes

Once you’re done measuring, it’s time to try on several models and types of running shoes.

If this is your first few times buying running shoes (intended for actual training), head to the nearest running specialty store.

The staff should be able to help you find the right fit by choosing shoes that suit your foot type, running style, training goals, running surfaces, and other factors that impact your shoe choice.

Here are more tips:

The Running Store

Choose a running shoe store with a wide selection of shoes and savvy staff that knows what they’re doing is key. The staff should be runners themselves and know a thing or two about how to find the perfect shoes for you.

You should also disclose to the fit specialist any foot issues you might have, such as hammertoes, bunions, or overuse injuries such as Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis.


After measuring the length and width of your feet, use the following size charge to find your ideal fit.

Women’s Running Shoe Length Size Chart