Friday, May 7, 2010

Multi-Day Runs and 5 Quick Tips for the Feet

Going beyond a 24 hour running race or 100 miler significantly increases stress to the feet and the dreaded blisters. Again, as we all know blisters, "bad feet", etc. cause many athletes to DNF. In my opinion, dropping out of an event because of blisters is not an option. I am "old school" and believe in taping them up and keep moving because the pain is only temporary and they will heal. A few years ago at the DECA Ironman in Mexico (262 mile run) the second place finisher lost the entire bottom layer of both feet and there was no way it was going to stop him from his great performance. The pictures on the website were pretty grim and many hot races like Badwater, etc. have similar examples.

On the opposite spectrum, I participated in the Burning River 100 mile run last year and noticed a woman on a chair nursing her blister feet at 87 miles and she was experiencing a fair amount of pain. I offered her duct tape (yes always have a small roll on me just in case) and she was thinking of quitting with only 13 miles to go because of her blisters. I encouraged her the best that I could but she was not there mentally to overcome the blister. After a few minutes I shuffled along and eventually spoke to her at the finish later that day. She did DNF and was upset that she did not at least push on to the finish. She told me never again will a blister cause a DNF.

5 Quick Tips

1. Load up on Bag Balm (yes it's magic) for the feet or other ointments to reduction "friction". Feel the hot spot starting, stop (yes I know it's a pain to stop, but it will save you in the long run) and fix before they become a problem.
2. Test out the Finger type socks for example Injinji to reduce the toes from rubbing.
3. Increase the size of the shoes to allow for massive foot swelling that occurs in long multi-day races.
4. Duct Tape - Yes I know it does not breathe and is not technical stuff, but it works - stick two pieces together and then tape is on the blister area. I have used Duct Tape for 25 years racing and never fails when I get horrible blisters.
5. Popping blisters (especially water blisters) when they get very large then clean, tape and get moving.

Fix the feet early on and no matter what Don't DNF because of blisters unless it's a serious medical issue (use common sense, a skill we all sometimes lack in these events)!

Happy running everyone this weekend!