Picking out the right running shoes can be the difference between enjoying a run and painful blisters. And with so many brands / options, the choices can be overwhelming. Because of this, many new runners and for runners going from road running to trail running often have the same question. How should trail running shoes fit? So below I’ll go over some of the most important factors to take into account when trying on trail running shoes. Noting what to look for and why. And as always, if you have any questions let me know in the comments below.
- Trail running shoes should fit snugly but with differences from regular running shoes.
- They should have a secure fit in the heel and midfoot for stability.
- There should be about a thumb’s width of space in the toe box.
- Roomier toe boxes are common for comfort and protection.
- Choose socks you plan to wear during runs when trying on shoes.
- Consider terrain type when selecting your shoe’s fit.
- Pay attention to shoe width for comfort and security.
- Try on shoes in the afternoon when feet are slightly larger.
- Test the fit on surfaces that mimic your trail conditions.
- Signs of an improper fit include blisters, hot spots, and discomfort.
- Consider your foot shape, arch type, and width.
- Don’t rely solely on shoe size; consult sizing charts and reviews.
- Professional advice can be valuable, especially for specific foot concerns or newcomers to trail running.
An In-depth Look at How Should Trail Running Shoes Fit?
When it comes to finding the perfect fitting trail running shoes, there is a short list of things you need to take into account. Here is what you need to know when testing out the fit in new trail running shoes:
Width is one of the most important factors to take into account when testing your trail running shoes. It’s a balance of finding a shoe that fits somewhat snug without being uncomfortable, and allowing for a bit of give on agile terrain. Another factor to take into account is foot swelling. Which can happen on longer trail runs, humid environments, and at higher elevations. Because of this a lot of trail runners like to go a half or full size up.
After width, I’d say finding the right toe box is the next highest priority. The wrong size is going to lead to tons of blisters and foot issues. With some shoe brands being known for wide toe boxes than others. The key is to find something wide enough for your toes to spread out naturally while running. You don’t want your toes to feel cramped or like they have a huge void of space.
You may or may not have heard of the term “heel lock”. But it’s a great, simple way to understand what the heel of your trail running should do. The heel should be comfortable, fitting snug, and cushioned while locking you in your shoe for the downhills. You don’t want to be sliding to the front of your shoes with your toes slamming into the front. You should feel stable and confident your shoes aren’t going anywhere.
If you find the right fitting toe box and heel lock, then you have found the perfect length in a pair of shoes. Overall the length of your shoe should allow for your toes to move freely without touching the end of the shoes. With a comfortable heel that keeps you from sliding around when stopping and starting. Again, dial in the width, toe box, and heel and the length should be perfect.
Do you have a high, mid or flat arch? What type of support do you like in that area while you’re running? This is especially important once you start running on uneven and rocky terrain. If you have a high arch, you need more arch support. Flatter feet typically need lees arch support. So knowing this when going into your search can save a lot of time.
Pro Tip, Ask a Pro:
The advise I always give people looking for their first pair of trail runners is to go to your local running store. Not only will these be run by people that are runners and have worn the shoes. They will also typically give you a free running form evaluation. Also, you would be surprised at how many pro runners work at running stores for their 9-5. Then there is the added bonus of shopping local!
Conclusion – How Should Trail Running Shoes Fit?
With so many options for trail running shoes, it can feel a bit overwhelming at times. But knowing what you are looking for, and meeting all of these key factors will have you in the perfect fitting trail running shoes in no time. If they are uncomfortable after your first run, don’t hesitate to take them back. And once you start adding up some miles, think about investing in some quality running socks.
Did this post help? Let me know about your experience finding the right fitting running shoes in the comments below.
FAQs about How Trail Running Shoes Should Fit
How should trail running shoes fit compared to regular running shoes?
Trail running shoes should fit snugly like regular running shoes but with some differences. They should have a secure fit around the heel and midfoot to provide stability on uneven terrain. Additionally, they should offer more toe room to accommodate swelling and protect against debris.
Should trail running shoes feel tighter than regular shoes?
Trail running shoes may feel slightly tighter in the heel and midfoot to prevent your foot from slipping on rough terrain. However, they should not be uncomfortably tight, as this can lead to blisters and discomfort during long runs.
How much toe room should there be in trail running shoes?
You should have about a thumb’s width (approximately half an inch or 1.27 cm) of space between your longest toe (usually the big toe) and the front of the shoe. This extra space helps prevent toe jamming on downhill descents.
Is it normal for trail running shoes to feel a bit roomier in the toe box?
Yes, a roomier toe box is common in trail running shoes to allow for natural swelling during long runs and to provide better protection against rocks and roots. It should not feel excessively spacious, though.
Should I wear thicker socks with trail running shoes for a better fit?
You should choose socks that you plan to wear during your trail runs when trying on trail running shoes. Thicker socks may require a slightly larger shoe size, so it’s essential to find the right fit with the socks you intend to use during your runs.
Are there specific fitting considerations for different types of trail running, such as technical trails vs. groomed trails?
Yes, the type of trail you plan to run on can affect your shoe choice. For technical and rugged terrain, a snugger fit with more ankle support is often preferred. For groomed or less technical trails, you might prioritize comfort and breathability.
What should I pay attention to when checking the width of trail running shoes?
The width of the shoe should provide a comfortable and secure fit. If your foot feels overly squeezed or the shoe feels too loose in the midfoot, you may need to consider a different width. Trail running shoe widths typically range from narrow (N) to extra wide (2E or 4E).
Should I consider the time of day when trying on trail running shoes?
Yes, your feet can swell throughout the day, so it’s a good idea to try on trail running shoes in the afternoon or evening when your feet are likely to be slightly larger. This helps ensure you get the right fit for longer runs.
How can I test the fit of trail running shoes on uneven surfaces?
If possible, walk or jog on a surface that simulates the terrain you’ll be running on (e.g., a rough trail or gravel path). This can help you assess how well the shoes provide stability and comfort in real trail conditions. Pay attention to any uncomfortable pressure points, sliding in the shoe, or inadequate support as you test them on uneven surfaces.
Are there any signs that indicate my trail running shoes don’t fit properly?
Yes, several signs can indicate an improper fit, including persistent blisters, black toenails, hot spots, or discomfort during runs. If you experience any of these issues, it may be a sign that your trail running shoes are not fitting correctly.
Should I consider the shape of my feet when choosing trail running shoes?
Absolutely. The shape of your feet, including arch type and width, can significantly impact which trail running shoes are the best fit for you. Some brands and models cater to specific foot shapes, so knowing your foot type can help you make a more informed choice.
Can I rely solely on my shoe size when buying trail running shoes online?
While your shoe size can provide a rough starting point, it’s not always sufficient. Trail running shoe fit can vary by brand and model, so it’s essential to consult the manufacturer’s sizing chart, read user reviews, and consider any specific fitting advice provided by the brand before making an online purchase.
How important is it to consult with a professional when fitting trail running shoes?
Consulting with a knowledgeable running store professional or podiatrist can be highly beneficial, especially if you have specific foot concerns or are new to trail running. They can offer expert advice on selecting the right shoes and provide valuable insights into your unique fitting needs.