Treating Your Tootsies Right
It’s easy to worry about about how much your quads or calves will be taxed on race day, but don’ t overlook your hardworking dogs; in a half-marathon, your feet hit the ground at least 20,000 times.
After all your diligent training, don’t let a blister make you wince in pain for miles—or worn-out shoes slow you down. Here are some steps to take to make sure your feet are feeling fine when you toe the line.
—Get a new pair of shoes roughly a month pre-race, and get a few miles on them. It’s best to get the brand and model you’ve been training in, unless they’re giving more problems than your overbearing boss. (If that’s the case, go to a running specialty store, bring in your old kicks, get your gait evaluated on a treadmill and try on a at least three different pairs to make sure you get the right fit.) To ensure the new kicks feel ready for action on race day, wear them on a few shorter (3- to 5-mile) spins and one long run. But don’ t overload them–30 miles total is a fine break-in for them—so you feel a fresh spring in your step when you run the race.
—Have a great pair of socks ready for action. By “great” we mean something other than socks from a Costco cotton six-pack. If you aren’t already, you should be sporting synthetic or wool socks specifically designed for running. The sweat-moving fibers will limit blister-causing abrasion, while the fit and padding ensure your feet are comfortable. (Well, as comfortable as they can be with all that pounding.)
—Rub some BodyGlide, Asics Chafe Free, or other sports lube on your feet on race day, especially on blister hot-spots like your heel, ball of foot, and between toes. Your tootsies will appreciate the extra attention.
—Save the pedicure and heavy-duty callous removal for post-race. Unsightly as they may be, that dead skin build-up (ewwww!) serves a purpose as a protective layer. Scrape off too much, and you’ll leave soft, fresh skin exposed and blister-prone. (If you’re embarrassed to bare your feet, post-race, with calluses as thick as an orange peel, just smile and say, “I’m a runner, what can I say?”) And don’t go crazy clipping your toenails. Short is good–you don’ t want a long nail digging into a neighboring toe for 13.1 miles–but too short can be painful, too.
—If you develop a blood blister under a toenail, either in the race or during training, it’s time for the DIY surgery. Sterilize a needle and pop that bad boy (go in either under the nail, or if need be, through the top of the nail). It’s gross, but not nearly as painful as it sounds. In fact, after the deed is done, you’ll feel nothing but sweet relief as the built-up pressure will be released.