Finding the Right Combination

November 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Footcare, General, Health, Sports 

This is Part V in a series about blister formation and prevention. Below are links to the first four parts of the series.

Finding the Right Combination

Each athlete needs to find a blister prevention strategy that works for him or her. One may use a lubricant, another may use Zeasorb powder, and yet another may pretape his or her feet. Each may use one of many types and styles of socks. There are many combinations. Remember, the goal of all these components is to reduce shear stress by bone movement, pressure, friction, and moisture; increasing skin resiliency; and absorbing shear. A look at the image will show how the 5 Blister Formation Factors (the 2nd outermost circle) and the 13 Blister Prevention Components (the two inner circles) are related.

Five Circles 1

High-level views of the factors in blister formation and components in blister prevention
The legend for the inner circle: G=Gaiters T=Taping N=Nutrition and Hydration C=Shoe and Sock Changes I=Insoles and Orthotics L=Lacing A=Antiperspirants S=Skin Tougheners and Adherents

Five Circles 2

 

Try any of the suggestions and find those that work for you. Some will and some won’t. That’s OK, because it’s a process. You are gathering information that will help you now, and file away other information that may help you later.

At the 2017 Western States Endurance Run I treated many runners who had ignored my advice about Running a Wet 100 Mile Trail Run posted on my blog two weeks before the race.I gave advice based on my years of experience in working on feet in multi-day races around the world. Things like clean socks, powder and lubes made for wet conditions in drop bags. And carry the same in hydration packs. I gave proactive advice on caring for one’s feet. It seemed the majority of the runners I treated had not read my blog post. because more runners than usual had badly macerated feet. The did not take advantage of a few of the components mentioned above.

Here are two more examples of runners using blister prevention components in combination.

Ultrarunner Dave Scott claimed his feet are often “as soft as a baby’s bottom” after the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run. Dave found that he rarely had foot problems. He trimmed his toenails, used a small amount of petroleum jelly, and regularly changed his shoes and socks. That is what worked for him.

Ultrarunner Tim Twietmeyer has won the grueling 100-mile Western States Endurance Run five times while accumulating 25 silver belt buckles for finishes less than 24 hours. Over the years, in addition to running ultras, he has enjoyed fast packing in the California High Sierra. He has found the differences interesting.

A week before running a 100-mile trail ultra, Tim trimmed his toenails as short as possible. The morning of the run he coated his feet with lanolin to reduce friction, provide warmth if running in snow or through water, and make his skin more resilient to getting wrinkled. Then he pulled on a pair of Thorlos Ultrathin socks. His strategy is “that the more sock you wear, the more moisture close to the foot. The more moisture, the more blisters and skin problems.” He usually wore the same pair of shoes and socks the entire way. Tim acknowledges, “My feet don’t usually have problems, and when they do, I’m close enough to the end to gut it out.”

Tim found that fast packing affected his feet differently. When he hiked the John Muir Trail in 1992 (doing 210 miles in five days and 10 hours), his feet were trashed more than ever before. His group of five experienced ultrarunners averaged 14 hours per day on the rough trail. Tim remembers, “We covered the ground so fast that my feet swelled and I almost couldn’t get my shoes on the last day.” He used the same strategy of using lanolin and thin socks. Instead of running shoes, he chose lightweight hiking boots. Foot repair became the group’s daily ritual as the 40-mile days took their toll. They realized that “an important strategy for keeping our feet from getting any worse was to get that first piece of duct tape on in just the right spot and make it stick. If we did that, our feet held up pretty well.” By the end of the fifth day, the last piece of duct tape had been used on their feet. Tim’s

cardinal rule for fast packing is to “keep your feet dry.” That can be hard to do when fighting afternoon thunderstorms, but when your feet are wet too long, it’s only a matter of time before they blister. Whether running ultras or fast packing, Tim knows the importance of keeping his feet healthy, and he has experimented to find what works well for him.

Both Dave and Tim used a combination of components: skin care, socks, lubricants, taping, toenail care, and changes of shoes and socks in an effort to prevent blisters. Determine what foot problems you normally experience, study this book, and then begin the task of finding what works best for your feet.

We need to understand the importance of other elements that contribute to prevention. Proper strength training and conditioning will help make the foot and ankle stronger and more resistant to sprains and strains. Everything you put on or around your foot becomes related to how well your foot functions. Keep in mind that whatever you do, the aim should be to reduce shear, moisture,

The Components of Prevention

November 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Foot Care Products, General, Health, Sports 

This is Part IV in a series of posts about blisters, their formation, causes, and prevention. In this post we look at the 13 components of blister prevention – five major and 8 minor components. They all play a role and are important to understand.

Blister prevention takes place through a combination of 13 components. Five are the most major components: fit, socks, ENGO patches, lubricants, and powders. Eight others are minor but still important components: skin toughening agents, taping, insoles and orthotics, skin care and hydration, antiperspirants for the feet, gaiters, lacing, and changes of socks and shoes.

Within our shoes many things are happening, and everything is related in some way. Where something touches another, we have what we’ll call an interface. The basic interfaces are between the skin and sock, the sock and the insole, and the sock and the inside of the shoe. When you put tape on the skin, it adds two more, between the skin and tape, and the tape and the sock. Adding an ENGO patch adds two more. Since the tape and the ENGO patch are stuck to the skin and shoe respectively, the only interfaces we are concerned with are the tape and the sock, and the ENGO patch and the sock. The interface with the lowest COF determines or limits the magnitude of friction. If the tape loosens on the skin, another damaging interface is added.

The Five Major Components

We’ll start with the top circle comprised of fit, socks, ENGO patches, lubricants, and powders—the first line of defense against blisters. It’s important to remember that these five components and the eight from the next circle all work in some way to reduce shear distortion. They may increase skin resilience; reduce bone movement, pressure, friction, and moisture; absorb shear; or reduce the number of repetitions. Remember that the more you use shear-reducing or shear-absorbing materials in your shoes, the more you are taking that stressor off the skin.

  1. FIT comes first. You need to start with properly fitting shoes with a quality insole. No matter how well you tape, how good your socks are, or how good any other component is, if the shoes fit incorrectly, you will have problems. If your footwear is too loose, your feet will slide around, creating shear. If your footwear is too tight in certain areas, your feet will experience excessive pressure. Wearing too-loose or too-tight footwear will change the biomechanics of your foot strike, which in turn will affect your gait and throw off your whole stride and balance.
  2. SOCKS come in either single- or double-layer construction. Some singlelayer socks, particularly those without wicking properties, allow friction to develop between the feet and the socks, which in turn can create blisters. Double-layer socks allow the sock layers to move against each other, which reduces friction between the feet and the socks. Socks can also wick moisture away from the skin. Injinji toe socks give each toe its own sock.
  3. ENGO BLISTER PREVENTION PATCHES are effective at reducing shear distortion by reducing friction at the skin and sock–shoe interface. The patches are an alternative to taping.
  4. LUBRICANTS create a shield to reduce friction and protect skin that is in contact with socks during motion. This lubricant shield also reduces chafing.
  5. POWDERS reduce friction by reducing moisture on the skin, which in turn reduces friction between the feet and the socks.

 

Prevention Components

The 13 components of defense against blisters

LEGEND

Outer Circle: Fit, Socks, ENGO patches, Lubricants, and Powders.

Inner circle: G=Gaiters T=Taping N=Nutrition and Hydration C=Shoe and Sock Changes I=Insoles and Orthotics L=Lacing A=Antiperspirants S=Skin Tougheners and Adherents

The Eight Minor Components

Now, imagine another circle made up of eight components that play a strong supporting role in prevention—the second level of defense against blisters. This innermost circle is made up of skin toughening agents, taping, insoles and orthotics, skin care and proper hydration, antiperspirants for the feet, gaiters, lacing, and frequent sock and shoe changes. Each can contribute to the prevention of blisters and other problems. You could argue that these outer components should be identified as major components, and to some extent you may be right—some components may be more important for your feet than for mine. The trick is to determine what we each need to keep our feet healthy under the stresses of our particular sport. Let’s look at each component.

  1. SKIN TOUGHENING AGENTS form a coating to protect and toughen the skin. These products also help tape and blister patches adhere better to the skin and lead to a reduction in perspiration.
  2. TAPING provides a barrier between the skin and socks so friction is reduced. Proper taping adds an extra layer of skin (the tape) to the foot to prevent hot spots and blisters. Taping can also be a treatment if hot spots and blisters develop. ENGO patches can be an alternative to taping or compliment taping. Toe caps are silicone gel devices that go over the toes and absorb shear.
  3. INSOLES AND ORTHOTICS help maintain the foot in a functionally neutral position so arch and pressure problems are relieved. Some also have absorption qualities. Small pads for the feet may also help correct foot imbalances and pressure points. They can be bought over the counter or be custom made for your feet.
  4. SKIN CARE for the feet includes creams and lotions to smooth and soften dry and callused feet. This also includes good toenail care. Proper hydration can help reduce swelling of the feet so the occurrence of hot spots and blisters is reduced. These all contribute to skin resiliency.
  5. ANTIPERSPIRANTS for the feet help those with excessively sweaty feet by reducing the moisture that makes the feet more prone to blisters. It’s another help in skin resiliency.
  6. GAITERS provide protection against sand, dirt, rocks, and grit. These irritants cause friction, hot spots, and blisters as shoes and socks become dirty.
  7. SHOE LACES and boot laces often cause friction or pressure problems. Adjusting laces can relieve this friction and pressure and make footwear more comfortable.
  8. FREQUENT CHANGES OF SOCKS AND SHOES help keep the feet in good condition. Wet or moist socks can cause problems. Changing the socks also gives an opportunity to reapply either powder or lubricant and deal with any hot spots before they become blisters. Sometimes shoes are also changed as they become overly dirty or wet.

The next post will look at how we found the right combination of blister prevention components that will work for us.

Understanding the Five Factors in Blister Formation

November 2, 2017 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Footcare, General, Health, Sports 

Understanding the Five Factors in Blister Formation

This is Part III in a multi-part series on blister formation. This is a subject that still confuses many athletes. In this post, we look at the five factors that are the leading causes of blister formation.

For years, we thought blister formation was caused by heat, moisture, and friction. So, ever since the first edition, the image used to show this was a triangle with heat, moisture, and friction at its three sides. Everyone thought the three factors combined to make the skin more susceptible to blisters. That’s what was promoted in articles, running forums, and general discussion. It seemed to make sense.

Then we discovered shear, as you read in the previous Part II post. Shear encircles everything. The image shows a series of two concentric circles where shear is outside as the base on which everything else rests. The next circle contains the five factors that contribute to shear: skin resilience, bone movement, pressure, friction, and moisture. In the next post, we’ll look at the two inside additional circles: the first with the five major components of blister prevention and the innermost circle with the remaining eight minor components, which I will explain later. For now, we’ll look at the five factors that contribute to shear.

Blister formation

A view of the five factors in blister formation

1. Skin Resilience

Our skin is very resilient. However, repeated stressors to the skin, over time, can cause breakdown. The healing process can’t keep up with the ongoing trauma. This is why well-fitting shoes are important. Skin that is thin (like on the top of our feet) will abrade before it blisters, whereas thicker skin (like on the soles of our feet) is more likely to blister. We can make the skin on our feet more resilient by progressively increasing distance over time. This gradual increase of the frequency and magnitude of forces applied to the skin helps change the characteristics of the skin. Reducing calluses and using moisturizers also contributes to skin resiliency.

2. Bone Movement

As the bones in our feet move back and forth and up and down through the foot strike, and the overlaying skin remains stationary, the soft tissue layers in between stretch in a shearing motion. The more movement, relative to the skin surface, the more chance you’ll blister. When that happens, there is stretching and distortion between the inner tissues under the bone. Shoe fit is an important component in controlling bone movement. Changing your biomechanics is another way to work at reducing blister formation.

3. Pressure

Pressure is vertical force exerted against an object or surface. In this case pressure is the normal force of the foot through the foot strike. The heel comes down, the foot rolls forward onto the forefoot and off the toes. At all of these transitions, there is pressure downward, forward, and most likely side-to-side. Optimizing the fit of your footwear, correcting any biomechanical issues with an orthotic, and adding cushioning or padding can reduce pressure.

4. Friction

Mention the word friction to athletes and they most commonly think of rubbing. For instance, “My heel rubbed inside my shoe and created a blister.” It may help to know that the dictionary gives two definitions for friction. The one most people think about is the action of two surfaces rubbing against each other. Rubbing can cause abrasions to one or both surfaces, but not a blister. Forget about this definition as we talk about blisters. Let’s look at the second definition.

Scientifically, friction is defined as the force that resists one surface sliding against another. It’s easiest to view friction in one of two ways. When two surfaces slide easily against each other, we have a slippery connection—and low friction. When two surfaces resist movement against each other, we have a sticky connection—and high friction. Friction is required for shear to reach traumatic levels.

Rebecca Rushton of BlisterPrevention.com.au says it well: “There is high friction in your shoe. Surfaces are resisting movement against each other. When your skin is moist, your skin grips your sock; your sock grips your shoe. All three surfaces grip together so your foot doesn’t move around in your shoe. But with every step you take, your foot bones are moving under the skin. And while the skin is stuck the bones are moving back and forth. Everything in between is pulled and stretched. This pulling and stretching is what causes blisters. We call it shear.” Note: Rebecca wrote the forward to the 6th edition of Fixing Your Feet.

There is good friction and bad friction. High friction, as Rebecca described, is when things grip together. From this comes traction, which we need for the mechanical efficiency of our gait. Most friction is good, but when high friction causes blisters, it’s bad friction, and has to be managed—but only in that specific location. ENGO patches are an example of targeted management of friction. Now let’s look at the forces affecting friction, specifically the coefficient of friction.

4.a The Coefficient of Friction

The coefficient of friction (COF) describes the relationship between the force of friction and the normal force between two objects at which sliding is initiated. It is a number that represents the slipperiness or stickiness between two surfaces and is generally below 1.0. Within the shoe, the COF between the foot, sock, and insole can range from 0.5 to 0.9. In contrast the COF between a sock and a polished floor is around 0.2. The lower the number, the better the effectiveness in preventing blister formation.

Here’s an example. A runner may have damp feet, creating a moist condition. The COF in his case might be a 0.7. By moving away from the moist condition to either very dry feet or very wet feet, he might reduce his COF to 0.5. If his blister-causing threshold is 0.6, getting to 0.5 will reduce his chance of blistering. Moist skin is higher friction than dry or very wet skin, meaning it’s more susceptible to blistering.

Understanding the COF of materials is beneficial to knowing how shear starts and what we can do to reduce blistering. Managing the moisture on the skin, using different socks systems, and using ENGO patches are the easiest ways to reduce the COF. The COF of an ENGO patch is about 0.16 equally against a dry or wet sock, effectively reducing friction by 80%. Compare that to the COF of moleskin against a dry sock of 0.6 and a wet sock of 0.86. Again, the lower the number, the better the result.

5. Moisture

Moisture is the last factor. Increased moisture leads to an increase in friction. Beyond that, moisture does not cause blisters in any other way. Generally speaking, a lower COF is achieved with dry socks compared to wet. Some degree of moisture control can be gained with moisture-wicking socks, antiperspirants, powders, and some special lubricants. Our feet have approximately 250,000 sweat glands that can produce continuous moisture, without factoring in sweat produced though an increase in body temperature as we engage in physical activity. When active, most athletes have feet that are always damp from moisture. Moisture can also occur from stream crossings, rain, and puddles, as well as from pouring water over our heads to cool us down, which runs down our legs into our shoes.

Other Factors

There are three additional factors worth mentioning, but they are not important enough to warrant lengthy explanations or inclusion on the chart. The first is heat. Heat is not a factor in blister formation, but many athletes equate heat to causing blisters. Heat produces moisture as the feet sweat, leading to a higher COF and an increase in friction levels. But heat does not cause blisters in any other way. The second is repetition. We can minimize the chance of blisters by reducing repetitions. This can be done by shortening the length of your activity, reducing the level of intensity, and changing the frequency of your activity. But not many athletes will stop running or hiking—so there’s little point in talking about reducing repetitions.

The third factor is shear absorption. The less shear absorption in your footwear, the more pressure and friction your skin has to absorb—and that means more chance of blisters. Most of this is covered in cushioning components like socks and insoles as they work to reduce pressure and absorb shear.

The next blog post will look at the components of prevention.

Bad Toenails at Western States

July 7, 2017 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Footcare, General, Health, Sports, toenails 

I’m taking another opportunity to share a few pictures from the Western States 100 two weeks ago. The pictures were taken at the finish line. They are important because it’s very hard to get runners to learn how to manage their toenails. Maybe the two pictures will help.

The tops of bad toenailsThe first picture is taken looking down at the tops of the runner’s two great toes. Notice the apparent forward rough edge of the toenails. See the blood at the back of the nail, at the base of the nails? In this instance, the toenails were pushed backwards into the nailbed and into the cuticle of the nail and the nail folds that support the nail at the rear and sides.

The constant trauma to the toes with the toenails being pushed backwards, caused blood to form at the base of the nail. The blood then spreads to the inside of the toe and under the nail. In the second picture, you can see blood all along the inside of the toe and moving under the toe and forward over the tip of the toe.

The front of bad toenailsThe downhills, or a shoe too short in either length or height of the toe box were all contributing factors. But the real cause, in my opinion, was the toenails that are too long and not trimmed short enough and then filed smooth.

In August 2005, I wrote a blog post about Trimming Toenails – It’s Not That Hard. Here is what I wrote:

How hard can it be to trim your toenails? I guess for a lot of folks, it’s a huge deal and something they never do. In all the years I have been patching feet, I have observed that untrimmed toenails are the number one cause of problems leading to toe blisters and black nails. Socks will catch on nails that are too long or that have rough edges. This puts pressure on the nail bed. Nails that are too long are also prone to pressure from a toe box that is too short or too low.

So what are some tips to keeping your toenails under control? Toenails should be trimmed straight across the nail—never rounded at the corners. Leave an extra bit of nail on the outside corner of the big toe to avoid an ingrown toenail. After trimming toenails, use a nail file to smooth the top of the nail down toward the front of the toe and remove any rough edges. If you draw your finger from the skin in front of the toe up across the nail and can feel a rough edge, the nail can be filed smoother or trimmed a bit shorter.

Use a regular nail file from your drug store, you know, those cheap “use it a few times and toss it” file. Better yet, invest a few bucks in a nice metal file that will last a long time and serve you well. If you need clippers, there are regular large clippers and for thick nails there are nippers and scissors made exclusively for toenails. If your local drug store or pharmacy doesn’t have them, check out FootSmart for a great selection.

A little bit of care in toenail trimming goes a long ways in making your socks last, and in preventing toe blisters and black toenails.

In the case of the runner at Western States, good toenail care could have prevented his blood blisters.

I have repeatedly written about toenails and how to take care of them. It’s one of the things I stress with runners. It’s so easy to do and only takes a few minutes. At our aid stations and the finish line, we saw many runners with bad toenails.

Tonya Olson, a physical therapist who does amazing foot care too, has helped at Western States for many years. She’s worked Michigan Bluff, Foresthill, and then we work the finish line together. When we see runners with toenail blisters or untrimmed toenails, we look at each other to decide which one of us will give the runner “the toenail talk.” You don’t want to be on the receiving end of the “toenail talk” because we make you feel guilty about your lack of quality toenail care. Again, it’s so simple and can save your race.

If you missed last week’s blog post about the condition of feet at Western States, here the link to the post: Feet at Western States.

Next week I’ll be in Death Valley for the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon. We’ll see what feet are like there.

Bad Toenails at Western States

July 7, 2017 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Footcare, General, Health, Sports, toenails 

I’m taking another opportunity to share a few pictures from the Western States 100 two weeks ago. The pictures were taken at the finish line. They are important because it’s very hard to get runners to learn how to manage their toenails. Maybe the two pictures will help.

The tops of bad toenailsThe first picture is taken looking down at the tops of the runner’s two great toes. Notice the apparent forward rough edge of the toenails. See the blood at the back of the nail, at the base of the nails? In this instance, the toenails were pushed backwards into the nailbed and into the cuticle of the nail and the nail folds that support the nail at the rear and sides.

The constant trauma to the toes with the toenails being pushed backwards, caused blood to form at the base of the nail. The blood then spreads to the inside of the toe and under the nail. In the second picture, you can see blood all along the inside of the toe and moving under the toe and forward over the tip of the toe.

The front of bad toenailsThe downhills, or a shoe too short in either length or height of the toe box were all contributing factors. But the real cause, in my opinion, was the toenails that are too long and not trimmed short enough and then filed smooth.

In August 2005, I wrote a blog post about Trimming Toenails – It’s Not That Hard. Here is what I wrote:

How hard can it be to trim your toenails? I guess for a lot of folks, it’s a huge deal and something they never do. In all the years I have been patching feet, I have observed that untrimmed toenails are the number one cause of problems leading to toe blisters and black nails. Socks will catch on nails that are too long or that have rough edges. This puts pressure on the nail bed. Nails that are too long are also prone to pressure from a toe box that is too short or too low.

So what are some tips to keeping your toenails under control? Toenails should be trimmed straight across the nail—never rounded at the corners. Leave an extra bit of nail on the outside corner of the big toe to avoid an ingrown toenail. After trimming toenails, use a nail file to smooth the top of the nail down toward the front of the toe and remove any rough edges. If you draw your finger from the skin in front of the toe up across the nail and can feel a rough edge, the nail can be filed smoother or trimmed a bit shorter.

Use a regular nail file from your drug store, you know, those cheap “use it a few times and toss it” file. Better yet, invest a few bucks in a nice metal file that will last a long time and serve you well. If you need clippers, there are regular large clippers and for thick nails there are nippers and scissors made exclusively for toenails. If your local drug store or pharmacy doesn’t have them, check out FootSmart for a great selection.

A little bit of care in toenail trimming goes a long ways in making your socks last, and in preventing toe blisters and black toenails.

In the case of the runner at Western States, good toenail care could have prevented his blood blisters.

I have repeatedly written about toenails and how to take care of them. It’s one of the things I stress with runners. It’s so easy to do and only takes a few minutes. At our aid stations and the finish line, we saw many runners with bad toenails.

Tonya Olson, a physical therapist who does amazing foot care too, has helped at Western States for many years. She’s worked Michigan Bluff, Foresthill, and then we work the finish line together. When we see runners with toenail blisters or untrimmed toenails, we look at each other to decide which one of us will give the runner “the toenail talk.” You don’t want to be on the receiving end of the “toenail talk” because we make you feel guilty about your lack of quality toenail care. Again, it’s so simple and can save your race.

If you missed last week’s blog post about the condition of feet at Western States, here the link to the post: Feet at Western States.

Feet at Western States

July 2, 2017 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Footcare, General, Health 

On June 12 I wrote a blog post Running a Wet 100 Mile Trail Run.

On June 24, I found out many runners ignored my advice, to their detriment. Maybe they didn’t read it, or didn’t see it, or simply read it and ignored it.

A typical year at WS has our foot care team at Michigan Bluff lancing and patching a goodly number of blisters. On toes, heels, ball of the foot, arches, and more. Maybe 50 to 75 blisters. Maybe more. We really don’t count.

This year I lanced and patched one blister. Yes, that’s right – ONE.

But this was not a typical year at WS. Instead of dry conditions, there were miles of snow, and mud, combined with heat so runners soaked themselves in streams and poured water over their hears and down into their shoes.

Maceration WS100I predicted the outcome. Maceration.

Runners came in to see us complaining of blisters and were surprised when we told them there were none. Just macerated feet.

So we powdered their feet, asked them if they had dry socks. And hopefully, dry shoes. We fixed and changed what we could and sent them on their way – wishing them well.

Were this year’s conditions not known in advance? I don’t think so. Runners and crews knew of the record snowpack. They should have expected water and wet conditions. For whatever reason, many ignored the warnings.

It’s unfortunate that so many runners jeopardized their opportunity for a buckle and a successful race on something that was manageable.

I’d love to hear from runners about what they thought. Send me an email.

In the meantime, click the link and read Running a Wet 100 Mile Trail Run.

Father’s Day Spartan Challenge

June 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: General, Sports 

I love today’s world where we can each pick races and events that we like. Some people run trails, others run roads, while some do both. Many athletes ride, or hike, or adventure race. Whatever your interest, there’s a race or event to challenge you.

But how often do you try something new?

Every so often I have the opportunity to try and entice you to try a Spartan Race.

Please read to the end of this blog post because I have an opportunity for one person to win a free entry into a Spartan Race.

Have you done a Spartan Race? These very popular races are obstacles course races of short to endurance length distances. Each race involves water and mud, and their signature obstacles that will test your physical, mental, tactical and team-based skills. Spartan Races are held throughout the country. If these races interest you for 2017, check out the Spartan website as well as the two books Spartan Up! and Spartan Fit! Do a Spartan Race and you’ll come out as more than a runner.

I know. Some of you are saying. They aren’t the same as a marathon, 50-mile, or 100-mile race. Ultrarunners are tough and our events are hard. Spartan Races are much shorter.

You are right of course. But. And it’s a huge “but”, Spartan Races have obstacles that I’d bet most ultrarunners could not complete. Carrying a 60-pound sandbag up and down a long grassy hill, the barbed wire roll, rope climbs, the log carry, carrying a five-gallon bucket filled with rocks up and down a hill, tire pull, water obstacles, and more.

You have to be in the best physical shape of your life for these events. So do your feet. Between the grassy hills, slick with water and mud, the muddy trails and roads, the uphills and downhills over rocky trails and roads, jumping onto and over walls, down cargo nets, and other challenges, your ankles and feet take a beating. You get junk in your shoes, and while no one in the shows complained of blisters, I am certain many of the racers had them. Just watching the shows I could see there would be sprained ankles along with other injuries.

If you can’t complete an obstacle, you have to do 30 burpees. And that’s after you failed at the obstacle. Your heart is racing and breathing is labored, and you are exhausted.

Check out the website and see if this type of race interests you. Their Spartan Race Father’s Day promotion with code SPARTANDAD will get you 50% off gear, $69 Sprint races, and two free digital books with any race purchase (Spartan Up! & Spartan Fit!). Here’s the link for more information: Spartan Race Father’s Day promotion.

That’s a pretty good deal.

This Father’s Day deal from Spartan expires June 18, Sunday night at 11:59 pm, Eastern time zone.

So here’s another deal. Spartan is giving me one free race code to give away. If you are interested, send me an email and tell me why you’d like to do a Spartan Sprint race and why you think it would challenge you. I’ll randomly select one person for the free race code. The only thing I ask is that after your race, I want you to write a short report on how these compare to a marathon or an ultramarathon.

Send me your email by midnight Saturday. June 17th and I’ll pick the winner Sunday morning. That way, even if you don’t win, you’ll have time to go to their Father’s Day promotion and use the SPARTANDAD coupon and save some cash.

You can also use the SPARTANDAD coupon as a gift for you husband or friend or significant other. Just make sure you use it before the deadline.

Staying Visible While Running

June 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: General, Health 

Today’s article is written as a guest post by Bryan Mac Murray, an Outreach Specialist with Personal Injury Help. I believe staying safe whether running or walking, or cycling is important and something we often forget about.

Staying Visible While Running

You are a member of the growing group of people who enjoy running to stay healthy. As a runner, you understand that making sure you are noticed by drivers is important. Visibility is essential is safety while running regardless of where you go – areas that are less traveled or busy streets. To ensure your safety, you must be proactive and make sure you stand out in the crowd so drivers will notice you and be much less likely to hit you. Here are few ways you can make yourself stand out when you are out for a run.

Fluorescent Clothing

You want to make sure you dress in bright colors so you will be noticed. Fluorescent clothing, such as hot pink, lime green, neon yellow, and orange will get attention. Traditional colors such as green, blue, black, brown, or gray just blend into the surroundings and camouflage you. You want to wear a jacket, vest, or shirt that will make you stand out from both the front and the back.

Visible After Dark

If you are out running when it is dark, such as before dawn or after dusk, you need to make sure you are visible to drivers. When there is no daylight your brightly colored attire isn’t noticed. Wear a safety vest that has reflective piping or put reflective tape on the front and back of your clothing. Reflective bands on the wrists and ankles also help. Add some reflective tape on your shoes as well. For added protection carry a flashlight in front pointed downward. Flashing LED lights can be worn on your clothing on both front and back to help you get noticed. It may be a good idea to make sure that any running clothes that you buy have visibility components, such as jackets with reflective panels, high-visibility colors or both.

Don’t Run Alone

If you can, run with a buddy. Two people running together are more visible than one. Both of you dressed to be visible and running side by side will definitely make you stand out. Having someone along in case of an emergency is also beneficial. This is especially true if you’re running in less-trafficked areas, such as a fire road or nature trail. Because there are less people around, it may take longer for someone to respond if you’re in trouble.

Follow the Traffic Laws

You need to know the traffic laws and adhere to them, just like motorists. This means that you don’t just zip through a stop sign or ignore a traffic light. If it says “don’t walk” you don’t just run on through. Approach the signal or sign, stop, and obey the traffic laws. You don’t want to run into the path of a vehicle where you weren’t seen until the last minute. While they may seem more avoidable, bicycles can also be a hazard in this way, and if they’re not being attentive cyclists, they can easily collide with a runner, especially when the bicyclist is turning at an intersection while a runner crosses it.

Run in Well-Lit Areas

You want to run in areas where you can see where you are going. If you head off down a dark street, you could trip over obstacles or debris or end up running into a criminal who is up to no good. Never go down a street that looks dark, abandoned, or just gives you a creepy feeling. Follow your instincts and stay safe when you are out and about. Remember, you need to see where you are going and you also want people to see you so you aren’t hit by a car or the victim of a criminal act. It’s also a good idea to do without earphones if you’re running in a dangerous area as well- being able to hear an approaching car or a would-be assaulter could mean the difference between a close call and a tragic incident.

Watch for Cars

If at all possible, run on the sidewalk. You keep a more significant distance between you and the cars by staying on the sidewalk. This distance can serve as a safety barrier of sorts. Always stay alert so you can get out of the way if you need to move fast. Don’t run around or between cars because you are setting yourself up to be hit because drivers cannot see you when you are in their blind spot. Watch for people opening car doors. Don’t run too close to parked cars or you might end up getting doored.

Staying Safe While Running

Running helps you stay healthy and provides great fun. Making sure drivers will notice you is a great way to improve safety and decrease your chances of being hit by a car. Make sure you know how to stand out and also be ready to jump to safety if the need arises. For additional protection, carry cell phone along with your name and emergency contact information taped on the back in case of an emergency. Let someone know when you are leaving, your route and when you plan to be back.

*This Article was written by Personal Injury Help, however this article is not intended to be legal advice nor should it be construed as such. To learn more about Personal Injury Help, you can visit their website at personalinjury-law.com or email them at help@personalinjury-law.org.

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