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.
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.