As my running adventures continue and my mileage increases I have had to up my foot care game to keep my piggies happy. Up to this point my approach has been very trial and error. Not saying that approach is a bad plan, but I feel like I have tried to recreate the wheel in this process. There truly has to be a better way! Vincent Antunez the owner of Trail Toes (my FAVORITE anti-chaffing cream) suggested reading Fixing Your Feet by John Vonhof. It was a wealth of information and has become my go-to resource when I have something come up that I have not seen before. I was able to take what I learned and evolve my methods of foot care. I am happy to say I am in a great place as I train for my 1st 50 mile race in October. Many of my runner friends were curious as to what I do that works for me. Be it we are all unique in our needs this is what works for me, but don’t take my word for it…try these things out for yourself to find your perfect mix.
Here are a few things to take into consideration when caring for your feet:
1. Shoes: You will never catch me upset when it comes to having to add to my shoe collection. I love shoes! Especially running shoes, but they are not all created equal and not every shoe will work for every runner. It is important to try many brands and styles to figure out what is best for your body. Make sure they fit properly, too big or too small will end up causing problems. I have broken several toes through my years of running and have weirdly misshaped feet as a result. I have found that a wide toe box is more comfortable and gives me a natural splay. However when I tried wide shoes they did not fit the rest of my foot. To combat this I looked for a shoe with a specially designed toe box that would provide me lots of room, but keeps my heel locked in place. My current favorite brand is Altra (Superiors for trail and One 2.5 for road). When I trained for my 1st marathon I taped my feet to prevent friction, but it never completely eliminated the problem of friction and eventually blisters. Finding a proper fitting shoe has made the difference. My feet also don’t hurt or ache after lots of miles. Don’t get me wrong I still love a good foot massage, but it is not a crucial part of my plan now that I have shoes that feel good on my feet.
2. Socks: I am a sock snob. I have bought many socks through my many years of running. What I have found in my experimentation is that a sock must be breathable, wick moisture so they don’t absorb or hold water (aka my sweat), and create a barrier between my shoe that doesn’t bunch up. Socks do not have to brake the bank, but cheap socks have not worked for me. I have come to adore the FitSok brand. They are made here in the USA with carefully selected materials that last. With several styles to choose from I can tailor my sock to specific racing or training needs. If I hit the trails I want a crew length to keep debris out, but in humid conditions I want a sock that will not make any hotter than I already am. If you have never heard of FitSok give them a try, shipping is cheap ($1) and the socks are priced great that you can throw them out when they get old…and yes, socks wear out and can be a source of blisters. When I run ultra events I pack extra socks in my drop bags to make sure I change them regularly. Clean dry socks can be the difference between a blister free run and a disaster after 30+ miles. I also turn my socks inside out to cut down on the possibility of seams causing friction and turning into a problem.
3. Lube: Blisters used to be my biggest problem. No matter how many miles I ran be it short or long I would end up with a blister of some sort. Not fun! I have tried Vaseline, but it broke down quickly and I would still end up with a blister. I don’t remember how I 1st heard about Trail Toes Cream ($11.99 – 2oz), but I am so glad that I did stumble across this amazing product. I apply a layer on before EVERY run no matter the distance. I focus on getting between each toe and my heels. When I head out for long runs I use a ton more. Another consideration is the conditions you will be running in. When it is hot I sweat a lot and my feet get wet, I know that I will need to apply more cream and also carry a small container with me for reapplication if a hot spot develops. I take blister prevention serious. A blister can derail a race or training cycle. Big or small blisters hurt and I like to avoid them at all costs!!! Trail Toes makes that possible for me and it is great for other parts of your body to prevent chaffing. I use is along the waist band of my shorts and around my hydration vest. No matter how sweaty or wet you get reapplication is easy. I have yet to find another anti-chaffing product that can go on when you are wet, which in trail running and during humid Wisconsin summers tends to happen often.
4. Toes Nails: Before every long run or race I give myself a make shift pedicure. I remove any nail polish I have to inspect the health of my nail and then I trim them. This has become an art form and requires focus to not cut them too short. Since I am deep into ultra training I have several black toe nails, as a result not many polish colors will cover the beauty of the hue I have acquired…I have had to go with black and it may be several months before I change that up. It is a small sacrifice to accomplish big goals:) Moral of the story though is to check your nails often and keep them in shape. There are few pains like a toe nail catching on a sock or shoe and ripping free from your foot. OUCH!!!
5. Pay Attention to Hot Spots: A hot spot or feeling is a warning, if you ignore it you will be sorry. I have learned that the hard way. As soon as I recognize an issue I stop to take care of it. There are several remedies that work for me. If I am on course I apply Trail Toes cream to get me to an aid station and hopefully a drop bag. At an aid station if a hot spot has developed it is key to get my feet dry, put fresh lube on, and new s
ocks. If new socks are not in the cards simply getting them dry and re-lubed is going to help. I hate putting back on the wet socks but if necessary add extra lube. If the worst case has occurred and a blister has developed popping it may be needed. Use a sterile technique, dress it, and get moving – Trail Toes makes a great blister care kit ($9.99) that helps with this process. I will be honest I am not a fan of popping blisters in a race and try at all costs to not have to resort to this. It has been almost 3 years since this was an issue…using Trail Toes cream in large quantities prior to a run or race makes all the difference for me.
Hopefully these tips and tricks help. If you have a prevention method please pass it on in the comments. Sharing is caring!
#BeHappy #BeKind #BeActive