We usually recommend getting a professional fitting and gait analysis from a licensed retailer to make sure you have the right fit, stability, and comfort before buying a pair of running shoes.
As solo running is suddenly the most available method of exercise, many people have good reason to buy new running shoes – without access to a professional fitting.
So how should you go about doing it yourself? Start with the basics.
1. Trace Your Feet
What you’ll need:
Trace one socked foot at a time while kneeling on the opposite knee. Use a towel as a knee pad for comfort. Try to keep the leg of your trace foot bent at about a 90-degree angle.
If you have access to a helper, have them trace each socked foot while you’re standing with equal pressure on both feet – shoulder length apart with your knees slightly bent.
You’ll want to do two traces of each foot, without moving your foot off the paper between traces.
The first – in one colour – angled in as tightly as possible to the contours of your foot (be advised, this trace can get ticklish). The second trace – with the other crayon colour – should aim to keep the crayon strictly perpendicular to the ground while outlining the outer edges of each foot.
Trace both feet. It’s common for them to be different sizes
2. Measure Your Footprints
Why two traces?
Since you’re unlikely to have a Brannock Device shoe-sizer handy in your home, an average of the proportions of your two traces is the most accurate way to measure your feet via the tracing method.
You’ll want to use this averaging method to measure the following:
3. Convert to Your Size
The proportions of the human foot can vary from person to person, or even from foot to foot on the same person. For example, some people have longer toes or wider feet relative to the overall size of their footprint. That’s why a proper shoe sizing will take both heel-to-toe and arch length into consideration, with extra width also necessary in some cases.
Average your heel-to-toe size and your heel-to-ball size (round up to the nearest half size) using the following chart:
So, if the above chart indicates you’re a size 8.5 according to your standard heel-to-toe length, but a 9.5 in heel-to-ball length, your best size is really a 9, since this is the average between the two. For averages between a half-size difference, simply round up to the larger of the two numbers.
But what about width? How can you tell if you need a wide-width shoe?
The best way to tell is to divide your heel-to-toe length measurement by your foot’s width measurement. Standard shoe width sizes for both women (“B” width) and men (“D” width) are at a length-to-width ratio of about 2.65 to 1. For wide width shoes (“D” width for women’s shoes and “EE” width for men’s shoes), this ratio is closer to 2.45/1.
So, for any length-to-width ratio of less than 2.55, a wider running shoe might go a long way toward improving your comfort.
4. Check Your Gait
Next, you’ll want to see if your natural running form could benefit from stability-added shoe features.
Trained running shoe retailers will judge this based on a gait analysis, either by having you run up and down the sidewalk or on a treadmill.
If you have a friend or family member with a discerning eye for running gaits – or the ability to shoot slow-motion video – you can perform this analysis yourself.
Don’t have those things? Try the wet foot test. Or you can do it the fast way. Check your oldest pair of shoes. Where is the sole worn down the most?
If it’s along the inner edge of both feet, you may have lower arches than usual and a tendency to over-pronate and might benefit from a stability shoe.
Outer edges? You could be dealing with higher arches and supination, and you might want more cushion without added stability.
Straight down the middle? Congratulations, you can probably wear just about any running shoe that makes you feel comfortable.
When you shop HOKA shoes, check out the features guide on each product page to make sure you’re getting the right stability, cushion and size for your feet. You can also filter based on these features in browse mode.
Good luck, and happy running!
When I first won Ironman New Zealand in 2001 I finished in a time of 8:24:25hr 19yrs later I finish 6th in 8:14:36 as a 47yr old! At least I'm going faster and faster!
I know I can go so much better after such a limited build up in my running preparation so I'm looking forward to when we can race again, and full of motivation to race to my potential and keep pushing the boundaries as a nearly 48yr old!!
Part of the beauty of trail running is that even when the run doesn’t feel so good, being in nature can have its own positive impact on our sense of wellbeing and inner peace – even with no races on the calendar for the next few months.
Whether you’re an experienced trail runner, or a runner looking for the right shoes to start running trail, we hope this guide helps.