Miles on Your Feet

April 17, 2017 by
Filed under: Foot Care, Footcare, Health, Sports 

I have worked medical and provided foot care at hundreds of ultramarathons, adventure races, walks, and multiday races and have seen the same thing over and over—runners who do not have a good training base.

Of course there is not a set number of miles you need to run to do well at a race. Conditions vary. Some may get by with minimal miles a week, others run over 100 miles or even over 150 miles a week as they ram up for a big event. By and large though, the runners with more miles on their feet do better that those that have fewer miles.

I’ll take this a step further and say that the more miles on your feet, the better your feet will be.

At the Western States 100 Michigan Bluff 55.7-mile aid station, for example, the top 20 to 30 runners come through without needing any type of foot care.

There may be one of two that get some type of foot care from their crew down the road, but if so, is generally pretty minor. Most often, if anything, they just change socks or shoes. As the race progresses and more runners come through, we begin to see runners needing help with foot care. The farther back the runners are, the more foot care they need. Not every runner, but many of them. And many of them have multiple issues. Not just one blister, but quite a few. The more problems they have, the more complex the repair, and the longer it takes to complete the fix. This becomes a huge issue if they are trying to stay ahead of the cutoffs at each aid station. I remember a runner several years ago that we patched up. At the next aid station, she need more care and wanted to get out of the aid station quickly to avoid the cutoff. That meant not doing a quality patch job—and she came back to the aid station after going a bit down the road. She knew her race was over.

So the point here is that you need to put lots of miles on your feet in order to train them for long conditions. You can run 10 miles a day, day after day, and then try and do a 50-miler, and odds are—you’ll have problems. You have 10- to 15-mile feet—not 50-mile feet.

Doing Your Own Foot Care

Doing Your Own Foot Care

This applies to walking, running, adventure racing, hiking, any activity where you use your feet. It all boils down to how many miles you are putting on your feet. It’s about conditioning your skin, muscles, tendons, and finding what shoes and socks are the best, and finding the best fit—everything about your feet. We all can’t be the top runners. Many runners don’t have unlimited time to train. So what can the rest of us do? Make sure you get some long runs, especially closer to your race. Make sure you have the best possible fit in your shoes. Make sure you wear quality socks. Reduce your calluses. Learn proper toenail care.

Every sport has this. In the summer I ride a 24-hour road bike charity event where you ride as far as you can in 24 hours. How far I go hinges on several things. How well my legs are trained, how my stomach holds up, how my back feels. But the most important, for me anyway, is how many miles I have on my butt. That’s right. When I ride over 250 miles in 24 hours, every part of my body has to be conditioned. If you get saddle sores, they can be painful with every pedal stroke.

If you want to finish a race, your feet have to be in the best condition possible. That means knowing what they need for shoes and socks, skin and nail care, and having the right foot care kit—and how to use the stuff in it. It also means putting the miles on your feet. That’s what will carry you to the finish line.

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