Give Away #1: One Best Hike: Mt. Whitney

December 30, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Books 

Here is my first give away of a Wilderness Press book – to get you and your feet into new adventures.

For your chance to win this book, there are two steps: by end of day January 1st,  1) Send me an email with your best 50-word reason why I should pick you, and 2) include the names of three people to whom you are sending an email encouraging them to subscribe to my Fixing Your Feet blog. Remember to keep it to 50 words only. No more.

I have included a link to the Wilderness Press and Amazon web pages for the book in case you don’t win the book. Check it out at either site.

About the book: One Best Hike: Mt. Whitney

One Best Hike: Mt. WhitneyThe most iconic 14er in the country, California’s Mt. Whitney positively radiates in the Sierra Nevada. For many, the hike up Whitney is a once-in-a-lifetime tick on their outdoor activity list.

The most popular route to the summit is the 22-mile round-trip Mt. Whitney Trail. Although the hike is non-technical, would-be hikers need to be prepared for the altitude, long distance, elevation gain, mountain weather, and other potential dangers.

Author and seasoned Sierra hiker Elizabeth Wenk provides the authoritative, step-by-step guide to planning and completing this superb hike with safety advice, insider information, detail, and reassurance found nowhere else.

Author: Elizabeth Wenk

Value: $12.95

Pages: 137

Pub Date: 2008

About the Author: Elizabeth Wenk

From childhood, Lizzy Wenk has hiked and climbed in the Sierra Nevada with her family. After she started college, she found excuses to spend every summer in the Sierra, with its beguiling landscape, abundant flowers, and near-perfect weather. During those summers, she worked as a research assistant for others and completed her own Ph.D. thesis research on the effects of rock type on alpine plant distribution and physiology. But much of the time, she hikes simply for leisure. Wanting to explore every bit of the Sierra, she has hiked thousands of on- and off-trail miles and climbed nearly 500 peaks in the mountain range.

Merry Christmas from Fixing Your Feet

December 25, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footwear, Health 

I wish all my readers a blessed and merry Christmas. I love the holiday season – especially time with family. I hope you and yours are well and celebrating the holidays.

I want to write something important as the year draws to a close and found a valuable idea in an old running magazine. And it fits with the gift giving that most of us participate in.

Recycle.

Donate your gently used running shoes

Donate your gently used running shoes

As we receive gifts, think about what you have that can be recycled. Often times we have more than we need. What does your closet look like? Is it full of shoes, shirts, pants, sweaters and more? What else? Books, magazines, tools, furniture, kitchenware, and games – the list could go on and on.

Sometimes we get new things and don’t think about the stuff it replaces. Yet there are individuals and families, and organizations that could benefit from our excess. Bag some stuff and donate it.

Running shoes are always needed. Run the Planet has compiled a list of recycling programs around the world. Their Shoe Recycling Programs web page lists 16 places to donate your old shoes in the U.S., Australia, and the United Kingdom. There is a Heaven for old running shoes.

Gently used running shoes can also be dropped off at a local collection point or mailed to the organization. Below are several popular ones to choose from.

  • Soles4Souls distributes shoes in the U.S. and 50 other countries
  • One World Running sends shoes to runners and others in Africa, Hti, and Central America.
  • If you live in Canada, use Sole Responsibility, which distributes used running shoes to needy countries.

Sock Loyalty

December 20, 2009 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Footwear Products 

Sock loyalty – is there such a thing? Is there really more than one ‘good’ running sock? Why are many people are loyal to their favorite socks?

It started with a simple email to one of the ultrarunnng forums:

“I’m so VERY disappointed today. My loyalty to a running sock company is unfortunately coming to an end given their recent business practices and unprofessionalism… it might be time for a change. So I’m hoping some of you could recommend a good running sock for me. I am NOT at all interested in Smartwool (NFI)… been there, done that. What I am interested is a sock that offers amazing cushioning, breathability and if needed, warmth. I’ve been running in a pair of Coolmax socks (NFI) for the last 2 years made by this local company… I’m sad to be searching yet it must be done… I loved the Coolmax with cushioning… it was PERFECT.”

Then the responses started – one after the other – for days. I found them interesting and fun to read. Being a sock lover, I decided to pay close attention to what these athletes were saying. I knew there was something to learn.

Right new, here is what people wrote, in sock company alphabetical order.

Drymax Socks

I wear Drymax socks every day of my life for everything that I do. They are the only socks I wear. When it comes to running ultras, I have yet to get a significant blister since I have been wearing them.

Another vote for Drymax. Ran Leadville in one pair, no blisters, nuf said.

I have no problems at all with Drymax. To me, they’re a godsend. OTOH, I had all sorts of blister problems with Injinji and they started falling apart on me after only a couple hundred miles. Those Smartwool micro-crew socks used to be great for me, but now, not so much.

Injinji Socks

Injinji socks worked great for me at three straight races.

Badwater (one pair the whole way); Leadville (one pair even with water crossing) and UTMB (one sock change).  For some reason my feet took a beating at Keys 100 this year, but I think shoes were the issue, not socks (which were Injinji).

I get blisters with ALL socks EXCEPT injinjis, and with injinjis, I get no blisters.

I like my Injinjis, but I’ll only wear them during a short race, or on short easy runs because of how unpredictable their wear is. Put me in the category of always wearing Injinji socks.  I have several pair that have been around since I started wearing them in 2003.

Injinjis! Not much in the way of cushion, but pretty comfy, nonetheless. The merino wool version keeps me plenty warm in single digit temps.

You’ll get very mixed reviews about the Injinjis. IMO, they’re fabulous. I probably have 30 pairs of them, and I wear them pretty much all the time, regardless what I’m doing. As far as lifetime goes, I have pairs that have seen thousands of miles of running and are still hanging in there. Others will report sock failures in the first 100 (or fewer) miles. Not sure whether their socks were a different material (there are several alternatives), they just got a lemon, the socks are better suited to certain running styles or anatomical properties, or what. Anyway, one very strong vote “for.”

Another vote for injinji. They are all I wear. Never had a blister. I’m not big on cushion. I wear minimal shoes (race flats, VFF’s etc) all the time except on fancy date nights. Performance style wears longer than the other materials in my experience.

Smartwool Socks

I tried a pair of SmartWool socks several months ago and haven’t had a problem since. I really like them a lot!

Smartwools that I ran my first marathon AND my first ultra in without any blister problems at all. Now I can’t even wear them in a 5K. I don’t know why they changed. And I sure wish I could get away with 47-cent tube socks from Costco.

Here’s my two cents on the gear in question… Socks: Smartwool – end of story. Their cycling socks offer the perfect length for trail running. They bounce back after every wash and last quite a long time.  Breathable in the summer, and retain their warmth during the cold – even when you go stream crossing in the winter. Don’t try that with a synthetic!

Swiftwick Socks

I’d like to recommend Swiftwick socks. I got a pair early this fall from a race & wear them every time if they’re clean (sometimes even when they’re dirty). Really cushy. They hold up really well in the cold/wet too.

The North Face Socks

I got a pair of socks from TNF this fall that are moving up my favorites list too.

Thorlo Socks

My vote would be for Thorlo’s, Level 3 Running.

I have been wearing Thorlo crew running socks for 16 years and 30,000+ miles with nary a blister. Excellent cushioning.

UnderArmour Socks

I love my UnderArmour socks.

Wigwam Socks

Wigwam wool-polypro blend socks were the best ever. ‘Twas also about 15 yrs ago I went around to all shops in the SF Bay area and bought what they had left of the Marathon Racers. Now down to about 5 new pairs and several used.  Save’em for 100s.

I have some Wigwam Ultimax wool blend socks I got *15* years ago that are still running strong.

I love the Wigwam Ingenious socks.

Wright Socks

For me, you can’t go wrong with Wright socks, Drymax and I been using Wal-Mart Coolmax for years.

I have found the double-layered Wright socks – and Glide – just about eliminated my problems with blisters.

Socks?

Who wears socks?

Then there were a few general comments about the subject:

If this conversation has proved one thing, it’s that what works for any one person won’t necessarily work for any one other person. You just have to try different brands until you find one that works for you.

Lots of folks on the list have strong opinions about their socks, and you’ll always get the old school tube sock crowd chiming in. It something works, why change it (don’t fix things that aren’t broke is always my first advice)… but if your socks are not working try other options.

The only problem is that that doesn’t work for everybody. I got a pair of Drymax socks (from the great Drymax folks, who were there at ATY last December), and while I liked the socks a lot, I ended up with a tremendous blister on the ball of my left foot from the socks sliding around. They may have just been the wrong size, I don’t know, but when I switched to my then-standard double-layer Wright socks, things settled down.

So what have I learned? Socks are a very personal choice. We pick them based advertisements, emails like those above, suggestions from others, and simply by what is available at our local stores. There are many good socks to choose from. Some will work for your feet while others won’t. Questions include how much cushioning do you need? What weather will you be running in? Will there be water? Do you need any unique features like toe socks or double layers?

Companies want to make their socks the best. Many shoe companies have socks made that carry their name and many companies are trying to tap into the outdoor sports market. The choices are many.

So, are some better than others? IMHO, yes. Injinji socks are great for those prone to toe blisters, Drymax socks excel at moisture control, and Wright Socks offer double layers. Many others are made with almost equal part of different fabric components. While they may have areas of different thickness of cushioning, vents, and a variety of percentages of components, they are all very similar.

If this post inspirers you to try one of the socks mentioned, ZombieRunner carries most of them. And Don and Gillian at ZombieRunner are good people too.

Disclosure: I receive sock samples from Drymax, which I use at the races where I provide foot care services and I also give samples to athletes. I also have an affiliate relationship with ZombieRunner and earn a small amount from referrals.

New Fixing Your Feet Advice Column

December 5, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Health 
Foot Care Advice

Foot Care Advice

I get lots of emails asking for foot care advice. The topics range from socks, blisters, preparation, calluses, toenails, and much more. I try and answer as many as I can. This has prompted me to add a section to my FixingYourFeet.com website where I will post questions from readers and my advice back to them. Here is the link to the new page: Fixing Your Feet FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions).

Before you go there, here’s an email in which a question was asked in June and was just recently resolved – successfully. I received the first email on June 9th.

“Hi, my name is Luke and I want to say thanks for the advice on your site and book. I’m in the military and I’ve been gearing up for an event which will require me to run in boots cross country for 12 miles a day for a couple days with a 50lb pack on my back. I’m going to experiment with the different techniques. I’ve always gotten blisters in the past but just kind of dealt with them. I’m in pretty good shape and run and lift all the time but running in boots for a couple days straight for that distance and weight will push me pretty good. The taping and prep on your site is priceless! Thanks again. Any tips for running in boots by chance?”

I responded: “Running in boots? Not by choice. But in the military I understand. What are you using for socks and what prep work are you doing? Reducing friction in boots is key. Depending on the boot height, you have more areas to get hot spots and blisters.”

On June 22, Luke wrote back, “Right now I’m using regular cotton socks that are standard issue for the army. I’m looking into getting some of the Drymax socks. Those seem to reduce friction. I’ve tried taping my feet and that has reduced the blisters on the bottom front area of my feet. I still get blisters on the instep of my heels on both feet. I haven’t quite figured out the taping or best prevention method there. I’m really starting to train for a tryout that I’m doing later in the year. Right now I run with my pack on twice a week in tennis shoes anywhere from 8-10 miles and occasionally run in boots. I don’t think running in boots for months at a time will be good for my feet. My ultimate goal is to get up to 18 miles in boots with no big issues with my feet. I think blisters will unfortunately with that length. I’m very thankful for the tips on the website. I’ll continue to refine my techniques.”

I gave some advice, “Try and avoid using cotton socks at all costs. They retain moisture and do not breathe. DryMax are the best socks I have found. They make several kinds, which would work in boots. Go to Drymax Socks and see what they offer. They may not be called boot socks, but trail running socks should work. You want a pair that is tall enough up the ankle. You can tape the instep area. Just don’t pull the tape and wrinkle the skin. Round the edges of the tape too and if using tincture of benzoin to help the tape stick better, use a dab of lubricant on the edges of the tape and cut any exposed tincture. It is possible the insoles in your boots are not the best for your feet. Do they feel too high or feel like they are rubbing too much? Your toenails are okay?”

Then, after months, I just received another email from Luke on December 4. “I completed the training event I was talking about and my feet came away unharmed. The majority of my course was composed of running/walking in the woods for 6-7 hours a day for a couple weeks. I used some synthetic boot socks by Under Armour and Kinesio tape on my heels. The Kinesio tape held up excellently. I was surprised at how well the tape held especially after running through water, mud, and while it was raining. The train up tips helped immensely! Thanks again!”

Advice is good.

So I encourage you to check out the new page on my website: Fixing Your Feet FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions). I will put the advice in sections to make it easier. As I add content, I will split the section into several pages with links to the different topics. Then send me an email with your questions. I love helping you guys.

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