Finding the right pair of running shoes is a great investment of your time and money. A less-than-favorable decision will land you with slow running times, a lot of discomfort, and more worrying, the high chance of an injury occurring during one of your runs. For this reason, putting in the time to find the right pair for your needs is vital.
Many people wrongly assume that a pair of running shoes is supposed to be super tight, but that’s actually not the case. A pair of tight fitting running shoes will basically restrict or even cut off your blood supply, causing a feeling of ‘pins and needles,’ discomfort, and circulation problems, if worn regularly or over a long period of time. Would you wear a pair of super tight regular day shoes?
No! There is no reason why running shoes need to be tight. Yes, they need to be supportive, but that’s a totally different thing.
The ideal fit is basically a pair of running shoes which is not too tight, yet at the same time, not too loose. They need to be the perfect slice of middle ground. ‘Snug,’ is the best way to describe what you should be searching for.
Another reason why going for tight running shoes is a big mistake is because your feet expand slightly while you’re running. This is down to the increased blood circulation to the area, but also because your feet expand slightly to absorb the shock/impact from your feet hitting the ground.
If you wear a pair of shoes which are tight when you’re not running, can you imagine how tight they will feel while you’re actually in the middle of a run? Blisters will be the least of your concerns, and your performance and times will nose dive.
What to Look for When Finding the Correct Sized Running Shoe
There are three main areas you need to look at:
- The toe section
- The heel section
- The midsole section
In order to find the perfect fitting running shoes, the feel and fit in these three areas should be optimal. The front of the shoe, i.e. where your toes sit, should be roomy, but not loose. You should basically be able to wiggle your toes without restriction, but not to the point where your toes have free rein.
There should be around half an inch, or a thumb, between the end of the toe of the shoe, and the end of your longest toe. This will give you the space you need for your feet to expand a little during your exercise.
The heel section should feel snug, but it shouldn’t feel tight, and it shouldn’t feel like your heel is going to rub or feel like it can’t move at all while running. You should be able to remove your foot from the shoe when it is laced up, but when it is tied, your foot shouldn’t be able to be move out of the shoe.
If the shoe is too tight or too loose, you’ll end up with blisters on your heel. You’ll probably know from experience that a blistered heel is not a pleasant experience. If your foot is slipping or ‘slobbing’ from the heel, it isn’t the correct fit.
Finally, the midsole section is also important. The shoe should feel comfortable, almost like a hand is cradling your food, and there shouldn’t be any spots of pain or pressure. It might be that you need to adjust the laces slightly to achieve this feel, and that’s fine, but if you can’t find the right feel with any lace adjustment, they’re not the right pair of shoes for you.
A good tip is to go shopping for running shoes later in the afternoon or early evening. The reason for this is that your feet will have expanded by this point, because you’ve been doing regular movements by this time, and you will therefore find the most comfortable fit and right size. If you shop in the morning, your feet will not have expanded, and when they do, you’ll find the shoes you bought are too tight.
You shouldn’t need time to ‘break in’ your running shoes, and they shouldn’t need to be stretched. You should feel comfortable in them from the moment you buy them, whether you’re running or not. If there is any sign of pain, aching, or discomfort, the size isn’t right, and you need to think once again.