Recently I have been having issues with hot spot forming on my feet during long runs. I have been running long enough to know that this is a precursor to a blister, something that I take seriously and try to avoid at all costs. While running the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon I had issues with my socks bunching up around mile 14. I stopped took my shoes off, adjusted my socks, and laced back up. This exchange was not a lengthy process, but did cost me a few minutes when all was said and done. I chalked this incident with my socks up to a one time deal and pushed it out of my mind to refocus on my remaining miles.
Fast forward a few weeks, I was out for a long run in final preparation for the Phoenix Marathon Feb 27th. I like to do a long run the weekend before a big event to ease my nerves. I have never been comfortable with tapering so I stopped doing it last year. This is not the recommended way to approach a marathon, but it works for me. (Please approach your races as you see fit…I’m a weird runner.) I headed out for a 20 mile run with my typical running gear. One of the major rules of running is to not experiment with “new” items (gear, fluids, fuel, ect) at a race. I follow and respect this rule and have extended it to include the week prior to an event.
Things were going pretty well until mile 10 and again I started to experience hot spots on feet. My socks were bunching up in my shoes as they had at the Icebreaker. I stopped on the side of the road to take my shoes off so that I could fix things before a blister started. This was not an easy task, the temps had risen in Wisconsin and snow was melting everywhere producing very wet roads. Individuals passing by must have thought I was a nut as I did my best flamingo impression in an attempt to fix my socks and remain dry.
What a pain in the butt!
A little background before I dive in to my quest to solve this problem. When I trained for my 1st marathon 9 years ago I struggled with severe blistering issues. I was a newbie distance runner and did not know that you can run far blister free. I suffered through the training and actual event with bad sores that took 2 weeks to heal after I crossed the finish line. In talking to more seasoned runners I came to find out that there were ways to avoid this agony. After a bit of trial and error I found a shoe (Saucony Kinvara & Zealot), lube (Trail Toes), and sock (FitSok F4 No Show Black Out) combo that worked and continues to work for me. I have been blister free for over 2 years, that is until my recent bunching problems. To say I am distressed is an understatement. I don’t want to revisit my years of running with open, painful blisters.
So now what? The Phoenix Marathon is in less than a week! I’m a loyal FitSok wearer. I love the product and don’t have the time to test out new brands, nor do I want to. I decided to contact the company to see if they could help. Here is the inquiry that I messaged FitSok via Twitter – “This may be a silly question, but how often do you suggest replacing your socks? Does the compression/elasticity wear out?” I know shoes wear out, but I had never thought about my socks. (On a side note…the folks at FitSok are amazing. I sent that message on a Saturday afternoon and did not expect an answer until Monday or Tuesday during normal business hours…they got back to me within hours! That in my book is pretty darn cool.) Here is the response from customer service at FitSok – “Absolutely… over time salt and oil from sweat will begin to break down fibers. The exact mileage or distance is different for everyone, but all socks will eventually lose some elasticity and wicking properties. The average pair of good running socks should last you 250 to 350 miles.”
Knowing this information it makes sense why my socks are bunching up in my shoes. I have worn the same three pairs day in and day out for a year. It never crossed my mind that they may be “worn out” or past their prime. They still look pretty good, no holes, black color is not faded, and they don’t smell awful. All signs point to my socks being fine, right – WRONG! I went to test the elasticity and they stretched out as I would expect them to, but did not bounce back at all. This leads me to believe that as I wear them they are stretching causing the bunching.
I have been running for 20 plus years (wow, that makes me sound old) and I never stop learning about my sport. The fact that socks wear out is a huge revelation and a nugget of new knowledge that I want to pass on to other runners, hence this post. Blisters are not something to take lightly when packing on miles in training or while participating in races. I am appreciative of this insight, especially as I prepare for many events this coming Spring. It pains me to throw away my cherished, lucky black FitSoks, but I need replace them. Thank goodness my local running store, Run Away Shoes, carries the style I need so I will be able to pick up a few pairs prior to leaving for Phoenix next weekend and take on the marathon with confidence that my socks will not be an issue.
2016 is going to be EPIC & blister free! Let the adventures begin.
Update 3/4/16 – FitSok was very kind in sending me a 15% off coupon to purchase new socks. I ordered my 1st pair of wool trail socks (ISW Isowool No Show Cuff) so that I could prep for the Ice Age 50k May 14th. They arrived this this morning. I’ll check back in with a review after I take them for a spin! On a side note…loving the fact that FitSok products are made in the USA.
Update 3/7/16 – The ISW Isowool No Show Cuff are a bit bigger than the F4 No Show. I ordered both styles in Medium per the size chart on line and my previous experience with this size. The F4 fit great (like before), however the ISW were too big. Upon pulling them up they turned into a cuff sock and the heel was well above the heel seam of my shoe. I wore them around the house for an hour and realized quickly that they were not going to work for me. My husband was overjoyed…he had just mentioned he needed new socks for an upcoming golf trip to Nevada and they fit him perfectly. I stopped by Run Away Shoes today and picked up the Small size (bonus I was able to use my Green Bay Running Club discount – 15% off). Once I have a chance to run in the ISW Isowool I will write a full review. The weather in Wisconsin has heated up to a wonderful 55 degrees so hopefully I will be able to get out in a bit and hit the trails to try them out.
#BeKind #BeHappy #BeActive