Every journey begins with one step. Hopefully, we are striding toward our goal without foot pain. In a mile (5,280 feet) a person takes approximately 2,000 steps depending upon their stride length. Doing the math for a 5K, 10K and marathon, the number of foot strikes becomes an impressive 6,000, 12,000, and 52,000 steps, respectively, on those 26 bones in each foot – if you include the two sesmoid bones in the big toe. Plus, 250,000 sweat glands are trying to keep your feet cool.
The first step in caring for your feet is selecting the proper shoe. It needs to fit comfortably and have ample space in the toe box because your feet do swell during longer runs. Less space in the front of the shoe increases the potential for jamming the toes into the shoe, creating a blister beneath the toenail for the classic black toe effect. It’s not a badge of courage; rather poor shoe selection.
The second goal is to reduce friction on the feet – and this is accomplished with proper sock selection. Ditch the cotton socks and go for a pair that wicks moisture away from the skin. You can also apply Vaseline or Body Glide to your feet to reduce the rubbing.
If you know there is a potential “hot spot” on your foot, apply mole skin as a preventive measure for blisters. In ultra races beyond the marathon, drop bags are usually an option that should be utilized for foot care items like dry socks, a change of shoes (usually a half size larger due to foot swelling) and first-aid items to further prevent or treat blisters.
Routinely evaluate the condition of your feet. Are they cracking on the heels or bottom? More moisture, Vaseline covered with plastic cling wrap and a sock helps clear it up. Low humidity increases the dryness and Alaska is renowned for that, so lotion helps. Cut those toenails, especially before the races. Got some yellow going on at the nail bed? An antifungal cream maybe a useful self-treatment.
After a long run, an ice bath for the feet works wonders just as one does on the legs. The inflammation caused by hours of pounding is reduced. A foot massage also helps increase circulation and can be done by you or better yet by someone else.
Finally, many people would agree that Plantar Fasciitis is the worse condition one can have as a runner. The connective tissue beneath the foot that provides a measure of shock absorsion is inflamed. Treatment regimes vary but like all injuries patience is key to recovery. Initial preventive measures, such as training on softer surfaces like trails, help, along with proper foot wear and the R.I.C.E. treatment – Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
Prolonged pain will send you to the Sports Medicine Clinic for care, but with these few foot-care tips, you will reap huge dividends with your training and racing.
Keep striding and smiling,
Sept. 1: The Great Bathtub Race, Nome. A sprint of 123.346 yards with five folks in one tub. Sound easy? Not so. Contact is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sept. 6: Kesugi Traverse, Denali State Park. This wilderness run is 27.5 miles long and challenges the heartiest of runners. Contact is
Sept. 13: Seventh annual Climbathon, Girdwood. This 2.8-mile one-way climb challenges runners to climb as many times as they can between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Take the tram back to the beginning and start all over again. Contact is www.alyeskaclimbathon.com/
Sept. 27: Octoberfest Run for Beans, Anchorage. Stay in town for this low-key but competitive event in Anchorage. Includes a quarter-mile kids run, 5K and 10K. Contact is
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