How To Lace Running Shoes – The 4 Techniques We Use

How To Lace Running Shoes – The 4 Techniques We Use

Do you ever feel like you really love your running shoes but sometimes they make you crazy? Whether it is that they seem to slip at the heel, feel a bit too tight at the top, or some other problem, it can be maddening. Did you know there are different ways to lace up and tie your running shoes to help alleviate some of these issues? True, you may just be in the wrong shoe… but it is also possible you just need to lace up and tie differently.

How Tight Should Running Shoes Be Laced?

When you tie your shoes they should be snug but not actually tight. Once they are tied up and you think you are good place two fingers side by side on the laces.

If you can comfortably fit two fingers over them between the eyelets it is perfect. If you can place three fingers you likely have purchased shoes with too much volume and should not try to correct that by lacing.

How To Lace Running Shoes

There are many tricks that can help you lace up and tie your shoes properly. Learning these tricks can help prevent injury, blisters and overall discomfort. You do need to figure out what your problem is prior to deciding how to lace up.

1. Heel Lock Lacing

Also known as the runner’s loop or runner’s tie, heel lock is popular among runners. To heel lock lace, you use that extra lace hole. Yes, many runners find themselves wondering what the extra lace holes are for. Here is your answer!

 Start lacing your shoes as you always have (cross cross pattern)

 When you get to the top come out the front top hole and enter in the second hole, creating two small loops (one on each side of the shoe).

 Crossing the laces over, insert each side of the lace through the loop on the opposite side you have just created.

 Pull laces and tighten.

 Tie shoes like you normally would.

Video: heel lock lacing

2. High Instep Lacing

If your foot is raised slightly under your arch, you have a high instep.

 Unlace the top 3-4 eyelets of the laces (leaving only 2-3 laced).

 On the 3rd or 4th eyelet, do not cross over. Instead, go directly up into the eyelet on top of the one you have just laced. For example: weave the left lace into the hole directly above it, going toward the inside of the shoe. Do the same on the right side.

 Now cross over so that you continue to lace like normal. See how there is now no cross pressure over part of the top of your foot?

 Continue lacing and tie normally.

Video: high instep lacing

3. Wide Forefoot 

heel lock lacing

 Unlace shoe so only the bottom part is laced through.

 Weave the end of the left shoelace into the eyelet directly above it, then do the same for the right.

 Proceed to lace up normally, and tie as you do in other shoes.

 This can help alleviate bunions and other foot issues that occur toward your toes.

Video: wide forefoot

4. Heel Slipping

 Lace normally up until the top two eyelets.

 Skipping the top front eyelet, lace into the back eyelet going toward the outside of the shoe.

 Tie as normal.

What Are the Extra Lace Holes On Running Shoes For?

Used for some of the above lacing and tying techniques, the extra holes are made to help your shoes have a more custom fit. Depending on what your shoe fit problem is, there is a multitude of different remedies out there for you.

As you can see from the above, that extra hole can help you tighten things up and lock the laces in tight.

Other Tips For Running Shoe Comfort

Besides worrying about how you are lacing up, there are other things to consider. Did you know that it is a good idea to get your feet measured at least once annually? Many running shoe specialty stores even encourage you to be measured every time you buy a new pair.

In addition to that, check the toe. You should be able to press down about the width of your thumb at the top of your shoe (the area between the end of your toe and the end of your shoe).

You should determine your needs as you are choosing a shoe. If you plan to run on trails that are dirt, rock or otherwise an interesting terrain you may want a shoe specific to that surface. Running on gravel calls for a shoe with more structure so you don’t feel every step.


Running on the track, especially if you plan to do speed work, may call for a lighter shoe for you. Many people prefer a racing flat or even a shoe with spikes if doing this type of track work.

Depending on how your feet roll or move, you may want a shoe with extra stability or cushion. Also worth considering is if you want a shoe specially made for people your size. Did you know they make shoes specific for heavier runners, often known as Clydesdales in the running world?

Lastly, consider how your foot strikes the ground. Are you a heel striker, a mid-foot striker or do you strike on your forefoot?

Visiting a Running Shoe Store

If you plan to visit your local running shoe store, there are some things to plan out ahead of time. If you wear any type of insert in your shoes bring them with you. The store employee will want to see them.

Also, you should wear comfortable clothing and the type of socks you would run in. Many running stores either have a treadmill or are adjacent to a running path. This enables a person to try the shoes out.

Many shoe specialists will actually make a video of you running and do a gait analysis to help you find the perfect shoe for your feet.

The key to buying new running shoes is to be sure you are paying attention. If they aren’t comfortable when you try them on they won’t get more comfortable! Don’t buy the cute or pretty shoes… buy the ones that fit!