Academy Sports and Outdoors Logo
Academy Sports + Outdoors
Academy, LTD
skip to main content
Main content starts here.

How Should Running Shoes Fit? Learn the Easy Measuring Method

WriterAubrey McShan
10 min read
African American woman runner tightens her red running shoe laces

It’s a familiar feeling — sweat pooling at your forehead, miles to go left in your run, and the feeling of a blister forming on your heel or big toe. You think back to trying your running shoes on in the store. Were they too snug, loose, or tight?

A well-fitting running shoe is integral to your running flow. In this guide, you’ll learn exactly how running shoes should fit & feel! We also cover sizing tips so you feel confident in your shoes and more.

Key Takeaways

How to Know When Your Running Shoes Fit Well

A pair of running shoes that fits your feet well should tightly hug your heel and midfoot to prevent unneeded heel movement and chafing. However, your toes should have a bit of wiggle room so you always have control and balance.

Finding running shoes that fit well may take some trial and error. Rushing the process only leads to more blisters and uncomfortable steps on your next run. To ensure yours is the right fit, you might have to:

  • Search for shoes similar to your old favorite pair (if they fit well)

  • Try on different-sized shoes

  • Research the brands available within your price point

  • Experiment with various widths

Step-by-Step Running Shoe Fit Guide

Measure your feet using a ruler or measuring tape, then use a running shoe size chart to determine your size. When trying on shoes, wear sports socks and ensure a snug fit with space for toe movement. Test the comfort and fit by walking or jogging around the store.

Expert Tip:

As you walk throughout the day, your feet will expand, so try on shoes when your feet are at their biggest later in the day.

Running Shoe Fitting Guide for Women

In order to figure out what size shoes to try on, you need to measure your foot length and width first. Our running shoe size chart for women can help you locate your most accurate size:

U.S. Size Foot Length (cm) Width: Narrow - AA (cm) Width: Medium - M or B (cm) Width: Wide - D (cm)
5 21.6 7.1 8.1 9
5.5 22.2 7.3 8.3 9.2
6 22.5 7.5 8.4 9.4
6.5 23 7.6 8.6 9.5
7 23.5 7.8 8.7 9.7
7.5 23.8 8 8.9 9.9
8 24.1 8.1 9 10
8.5 24.6 8.3 9.2 10.1
9 25.1 8.4 9.4 10.3
9.5 25.4 8.6 9.5 10.5
10 25.9 8.7 9.7 10.6
10.5 26.2 8.9 9.9 10.8
11 26.7 9 10 11
11.5 27.1 9.2 10.1 11.1
12 27.6 9.4 10.3 11.3

Running Shoe Fitting Guide for Men

By using our complete running shoe size chart for men, you can determine what fit you need and whether you have more narrow or wider feet.

U.S. Size Foot Length (cm) Width: Narrow - B (cm) Width: Medium D (cm) Width: Wide - EE (cm)
6 23.5 8.4 8.9 9.4
6.5 24.1 8.6 9 9.5
7 24.4 8.7 9.2 9.7
7.5 24.8 8.9 9.4 9.8
8 25.2 9 9.5 10
8.5 25.7 9.2 9.7 10.2
9 26 9.4 9.8 10.3
9.5 26.5 9.5 10 10.5
10 26.8 9.7 10.2 10.6
10.5 27.3 9.8 10.3 10.8
11 27.8 10 10.5 11
11.5 28.3 10.2 10.6 11.1
12 28.6 10.3 10.8 11.3
12.5 29.2 10.5 11 11.4
13 29.4 10.6 11.1 11.6
13.5 29.8 10.8 11.3 11.7
14 30.5 11 11.4 11.9
14.5 30.8 11.1 11.6 12.1
15 31 11.3 11.7 12.2

How to Measure Your Feet & Shoe Size with Ease

  1. Put on the running socks you typically wear. No matter how thin or thick yours are, you’ll still want to provide enough room for them.
  2. Grab two blank sheets of paper and a washable marker or pencil.
  3. Standing on the paper with your full weight, trace an outline of each foot.
  4. Using a tape measure, measure the length of both outlines in centimeters and then locate your size in the chart below. Be sure to go up half a size, as your foot tends to lengthen slightly when you run.
  5. Next, measure the widest part of your foot. Most women fall into the M or B category and most men fall into the D category. If your feet don’t fit the average, narrower and wider options also exist.

Running Shoe Fit Breakdown

Runners training for a marathon usually require a more cushioned running shoe compared to the person who likes to go for an occasional run around the block. Despite the myriad of running goals you can have, there are universal signs that can help you judge how your shoe should fit and feel.

Man readies himself on the track for his next sprint in running shoes.

Expert Tip:

If you plan to or primarily run on trails, then you’ll need trail running shoes.

Overall Fit

A proper pair of running shoes fits about a half-inch from the end of your longest toe to the end of the shoe (while standing). Your running shoes should fit the shape of your feet and accommodate their length and width.

  • Running shoes should be snug, especially around the heel and midfoot, but not too tight. If they’re too loose, you could end up ‘walking out’ of them.
  • You’ll want wiggle room near your toes, as your foot expands as you run. However, too much space can cause you to trip while you run.
  • Your running shoe should feel like it was made for you.

Expert Tip:

You may alternatively opt to choose shoes a half-size bigger than your normal shoes if you plan to wear thicker socks. The extra room accommodates some swelling that can occur as you run while also avoiding any damage to your toenails.

Toe Fit

  • Your toes should never be cramped or squished. If you can feel the toe box (the part of the shoe that surrounds your toes) with your toes then you could go up in size.
  • When testing to see how much wiggle room you have for your toes, stand up straight and ask a friend to use their thumb to see how much space is between the top of your shoes and your toes.

Expert Tip:

A proper fit would allow about a 1/2 inch from the end of your longest toe to the end of the shoe (while standing). This allows for some swelling that may occur.

Heel Fit

  • Your heel should be flush against the back of the shoe and fit snugly. There shouldn’t be any gaps.
  • Laces should be tied fully to prevent your heels from slipping out.
  • The back of your heel is one of the most common places blisters can form due to friction caused by your heels sliding around. If your heel feels like it’s slipping out of your running shoes, then opt for a more narrow fit.
  • You can also test out the difference between shoes with a low heel-to-toe drop (meaning the heel is almost in line with the forefront and it’s an overall flatter shoe) versus one with a higher heel-toe drop that offers more “push off” through your stride.

Midfoot Fit

  • Your midfoot area should feel secure.
  • If a running shoe is too shallow, the laces and top area, including the tongue will feel too tight.
  • If a running shoe is too deep, your foot can slide side to side.
  • It's tempting to tighten the laces when there's too much room in your midfoot, but this can negatively affect your shock absorption when you strike the ground. It can also cause your foot to move around too much.

Expert Tip:

A shoe insert or insole may be needed if your midfoot feels too loose in your running shoe, which adds extra space to your shoe for a better fit.

Running Shoe Comfort

  • While you might need time to break in your new pair of running shoes, they should be comfortable straight out of the box.
  • Take your running shoes for a few laps around the store to get a good idea of how well they fit your feet.
  • Your preference for a soft or firm feel can change over time, so stick with the shoe that feels the most comfortable during your test run.
  • The right pair of running shoes will help you to look forward to long runs — not dread them!
Marathon runners set a steady pace along a scenic road in bold blue running shoes with bright pink shoelaces

Signs You May Need a New Size

You may wind up purchasing shoes that you thought fit well at first — only to discover problems like blisters or plantar fasciitis down the (literal) road. Here are the most common signs that tell you to find a different size:

  • Plantar Fasciitis: Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia (the tissue on the base of your heel). Your running shoes might be too tight or have a too-high heel-to-toe drop, placing extra pressure on your heel.

  • Blisters: Moist feet and poor-fitting shoes can lead to blisters on any part of your foot. Let your blisters heal before you return to the store and try new shoes.

  • Numbness: Numbness in the toes points to shoes that are too tight. A loss of sensation or nerve-tingling means your shoe is cutting off blood circulation. Try going up half a size!

  • Black Toenails: As your toenails repeatedly crash into the front or side of your shoe, blood can get trapped beneath your toenail and appear black. A half-size-up may help out.

Tips for Trying on Running Shoes

  • Try on shoes at the end of the day: In the evening, your feet and ankles swell to their largest sizes, so it's best to go shoe shopping later in the day.

  • Re-measure your feet: Factors like age, weight gain, and activity level all affect the size of your feet, so get them re-sized before buying a new pair of running shoes.

  • Come Prepared: Wear your typical running socks, shoe inserts, and workout clothing that you like so you can try your running shoes in-store without needing to make any adjustments.

  • Shop at a store with a wide variety of shoes: Academy carries a large selection of men’s running shoes and women’s running shoes in different sizes, widths, brands, prices, and designs!

Have Fun Out There!

Ready to set a new running pace? With our comprehensive running shoe fitting guide, you can shop with confidence knowing how a running shoe should fit. Learn about the different shoes made for running and training and shop for shoes by sport!