Looking for Minimalist Footwear?

April 22, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
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Today I received an email asking for help in finding a certain type of footwear. Here’s the email.

I’m looking for new shoes and thought you might have some expert counsel? I’ve loved my New Balance Vibram Minimus for three years and am ready for a true barefoot experience–I think. I keep hearing about the FiveFingers, but can’t find them locally and am reluctant to order a pair without trying them on. I walk and do some cardio at the gym. Got any suggestions?

I told her that I get an email from a minimalist shoe website called Birthday Shoes. They have a free online newsletter with almost 5,800 subscribers. Check them out. Five Fingers are not for everyone. There are other very minimal shoes out there. The birthdayshoes.com website has most of them – and shoe some reviews too. They have 17 shoes companies represented on their website. Each review has a full report and photos of the shoes. Each review has comments from readers, which adds value. Definitely worth reading before you buy.

If you are in the market for minimalist shoes for trail running or just kicking around the yard, check out Birthday Shoes.

BirthdayShoes.com website header

BirthdayShoes.com website header

Blister Repair – Your Way or Their Way?

July 29, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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One of my goals is to educate athletes about good foot care techniques. You may recall blog posts where I stress the importance of knowing how to do foot care and importantly, to know what’s best for your feet.

I recently received an email from Rob, asking for some advice. Here’s Rob’s email:

I have been running a modest 30 miles a week for a few years. Last weekend we attended a tennis camp and during the first night of drills during ball pick up (not during a drill or competitive play) another player smacked a ball in to the arch of my foot from a shot distance away causing severe pain. I played through the pain and the next morning I asked the trainer to tape up my bruised arch, which she did. I played all day and at the end of the day there was a blister in the center of my foot between the taped and un-taped area. I went back to the trainer in the morning and she created a donut shaped pad about a 1/4-inch thick and taped it to my foot. I took out my shoe arch supports and played for another 1/2 day in a bit of pain. When I took off the shoe, sock, and bandage and pad I found that the blister had filled with liquid to the size of donut hole – now a huge blister about the size of a silver dollar and 1/4-inches thick. The camp staff took picture as the biggest tennis-related blister they had seen. I went back to the trainer at the college and she drained about half of the liquid out of the blister and we decided I was done playing tennis for the rest of the camp. I’m not sure going to the trainer really helped and I probably should have had your book along as reference and taped myself up. Now I am back home and have a huge blister on the bottom of my foot. 

This is a case where the trainer patched Rob’s blister the best way she knew how. It was an “old-school” patch job. A piece of moleskin cut in a donut shape with a hole in the middle for the blister. There may have been Vaseline on the center, and then tape or gauze over the top.

The problem with this old-school method is that it adds bulk to the foot – that can easily alter the person’s gait. This gait change can lead to further problems. At the same time, the patch can cause irritation, expanding the original blister or leading to new blisters.

Rob’s experience shows there is a long ways to go to get everyone up to speed about good blister care. I’d bet that if Rob had been prepared, he could have done a better job then the trained did. It’s hard to go everywhere with a blister patch kit in hand, but here’s my recommendation. Make up several simple kits and put them in Zip-Lock bags and stash one in your car and another in your gear bag. Fill the kits with your choices of blister tapes and patches. Then of course, make sure you know the best way to patch any blisters that may develop.

Here’s where to start – pages 228 to 256 in the 5th edition of Fixing Your Feet. If you don’t have a copy, or have an old edition, my suggestion is to get the new one. My home page has a link to Amazon if you need one. I was amazed at Badwater in Death Valley a few weeks ago. One of the runners had me autograph a copy of the 2nd edition. So much changes from edition to edition that it’s a small price to pay to help your feet.

My Foot Massage

July 1, 2012 by · 2 Comments
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Have you ever had a foot massage?

I had never had one until late in June. A while back I bought a Groupon coupon for a “reflexology” foot massage.

Some of you are asking, what’s refexology? Here’s what Wikipedia says, Reflexology, or zone therapy, is an alternative medicine involving the physical act of applying pressure to the feet, hands, or ears with specific thumb, finger, and hand techniques without the use of oil or lotion. It is based on what reflexologists claim to be a system of zones and reflex areas that they say reflect an image of the body on the feet and hands, with the premise that such work effects a physical change to the body. A 2009 systematic review of randomised controlled trials concludes that, “The best evidence available to date does not demonstrate convincingly that reflexology is an effective treatment for any medical condition.”

I had heard of reflexology and read a bit about it. So I decided to spend a few bucks and get one for half off. So what did I find?

First, I’ll tell you that I did trim and file my toenails before going. It made sense. Why would anyone go for a foot massage with unclipped toenails?

Second, I made sure my feet were clean. Again, to me that’s just common sense.

Thirdly, here’s what I experienced. I was asked to complete a multi-page questionnaire that focused on my health. Because this was sold as a reflexology session, I expected that. The reflexologist had me remove my shoes and socks and sit in a recliner chair. It started with a warm towel wash of each foot. Then massage oil was applied to my left foot, after which she wrapped it in Saran Wrap – I assume to keep the oil from drying out. Oil was applied to my right foot can she started the massage.

Not ever having a foot massage, I had nothing to compare it to.

My Foot Massage

My Foot Massage

Honestly, it was good. She used her fingers to work the tissue on the top, sides and bottom of my feet. I could feel her working between the metatarsals, between the joints and toes, and the fascia at my heel. It was easy to relax. She worked a couple of stubborn hard areas and complemented me on the condition of my feet. Once she was done with the right foot, she moved to the left.

My overall impressions were good. There was little said about reflexology. That may have been because I did not identify any health issues she could have focused on. But that’s okay.

The massage was great. My feet felt wonderful. I can see the value in getting regular foot massages if I was running regularly. The massage would help my feet in the same way that a leg would help the legs.

If you have tight muscles in your feet, cramping, or stress your feet with long runs with little recovery time between, a regular foot massage could help condition them to be as healthy as possible.

Are Your Feet Nasty?

December 4, 2011 by · 1 Comment
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Well, not nasty in that sense. Nasty in how they look, smell, or feel. I could have put an image on this page showing nasty feet. Believe me, Google has lots that would turn your stomach. I choose not to make you gag. Instead I have some solid advice.

Some athletes struggle with nasty feet. Years of running and pounding that pavement or dirt with these valuable appendages, quick showers, no showers, sticky socks, calluses, ingrown toenails, long untrimmed toenails, Athlete’s foot, new blisters, old blisters that haven’t healed, scars from deep old blisters, and more.

On top of that, add the possibility of hammer toes, Morton’s foot, flat feet, bunions, and scars from scrapes and puncture wounds and you have quite a challenge.

Here are a few tips on avoiding nasty feet.

Get a foot brush to use in the bath or shower. These are good to rid your skin of dirt and dead skin, especially around your toes and heels.

The Mehaz Professional Wide Jaw Slant Edge Toenail Clipper

Get a high-quality toenail clipper. Preferably a flat edged one. Trim your nails as short as possible without exposing the skin at the corner of the nail. Trim straight across. Try and do this once a week.

Get a good nail file. These come in cheap emery board styles or more substantial long lasting files. Use one after trimming your nails to rounds the edges and smooth the corners so they don’t catch on your socks. The clippers show here are high quality. They can be purchased through FootSmart.com for about $12.00. If your nails are thick, you need more than the usual drug store clippers. I recommend these or a similar one.

Get a callus file, PedEgg, or a similar device to keep your calluses under control. Use it after showering when your skin is soft. Avoid going too deep. If you have thick calluses, it will take a while to get them under control, and

Get a high-quality foot cream to apply after you have done all the above.

If you have Athlete’s foot or toenail fungus, treat it. It’s that simple. Don’t treat it and you’ll be heading for more problems down the trail.

By sticking to an easy-to-follow regiment of foot care, your feet can avoid the nasty look.

Vibram FiveFingers

April 2, 2010 by · 1 Comment
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These Vibram FiveFingers changed my life!

Vibram FiveFingersThis simple statement caught my attention last weekend while spending six days at a writers’ conference near Santa Crux, California. The lady showing me her footwear discovery was about 70 years old. She told me how as a child she injured both heels and had struggled with bad footwear and could not run – even walking hurt.

Then she found Vibram FiveFingers. Now she runs and recently finished a 5KM race. She showed me how she runs on the balls of her feet. A conferee had asked me a question about her feet and I told her she needed to talk to the lady with the FiveFingers. They talked quite a while and she came away eager to check out her running store when she got home – our Internet search shows they carry the FiveFinger.

Another convert.

I read an email from a member of a listserv. He said, “My calves and glutes hurt like hell, but that’ll pass. My gait has also changed; fore- or mid-foot strike instead of heel strike.”

While Vibram FiveFingers are not for everyone, they are working for a huge number of athletes.

Have you tried them yet?

Not sure where to find them? The Vibram FiveFingers website offers a store locator, otherwise check out Zombierunner.com.

Feet, Compression Socks, and Your Veins

June 19, 2009 by · 2 Comments
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Last week I posted an article on compression socks. This is a short follow-up to explain a bit more of the benefits of these socks.

Leg problems are widespread throughout the world, but what most people don’t know is that approximately 90% of leg disorders originate in the veins. If you have tired, aching legs, or if you see the beginning of varicose veins, it is time to learn how to improve the health of your venous circulation. Vein problems can progressively worsen over time and can affect your health and well being for the rest of your life.

Compression therapy means wearing socks or stockings that are specially designed to support your veins and increase circulation in your legs. The socks or stockings are normally worn in the morning upon arising, and removed at night. Throughout the day the compression they provide prevents blood from pooling in leg veins, thereby helping overall circulation.

Remember that the heart attempts to pump blood against gravity up the veins of the legs, and as a person walks, the regular contraction and relaxation of the calf muscles around the veins are necessary to help the heart move blood up the legs efficiently. But, it is unlikely that a person will walk continuously throughout the day – most of us sit or stand some of the time. Also, some people have inherited weakness of the vein walls or valves, which create additional challenges to venous circulation. This is why wearing compression socks or stockings is vital for the treatment or prevention of varicose veins and other circulatory problems, especially for individuals who are at risk.

For more information on compression products, including athletic socks, visit AmesWalker.com.

Feet Need Christmas Gifts Too!

November 30, 2008 by · 1 Comment
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A few days ago I published the November issue of my Fixing Your Feet E-zine. I wanted to share the best of the best Christmas gift list for your feet. If you saw the list there, I apologize for the duplication, but I wanted to make sure both the e-zine and the blog subscribers saw it.

You’ll see most of these are available at <strong>ZombieRunner.com</strong>. They have easily become the place to shop for all your foot care supplies, along with a huge assortment of other supplies – top to bottom – shoes to caps. Put a few of these on your list and then order some for your friends.

Drymax Socks – These socks are the best I have ever seen. Their Dual Layer Sweat Removal System has two different fibers interwoven together – a moisture hating Drymax fibers on the inside and moisture attracting fibers on the outside. The socks are made in a large variety of styles and heights. From trail, to road, from running to hiking and every other sport, these are the socks that work to protect your feet from moisture. Drymax socks are available through Zombierunner.com.

Hydropel Sports Ointment – This lubricant is one of the best because it protects the skin from moisture. In a test by BackpackingLight.com, Hydropel was the best at repelling moisture away from the skin. Provided protection from chaffing too. Hydropel is available through Zombierunner.com.

Kinesio Tex Tape – This is my favorite tape. Kinesio Tex tape is a very thin, porous cotton fabric with a medical grade acrylic adhesive. A special method of adhesive application and the porous nature of the fabric allows the skin to breathe. It's designed for a 30 to 40% longitudinal only stretch and when applied lifts the skin to provide support for surrounding soft tissue. It is designed to be worn for 3 to 4 days and with proper application will withstand water and moisture on the skin. Great for toes, ball of the feet, and heels. Comes in one-, two-, and three-inch widths. Kinesio Tex tape is available through Zombierunner.com.

Spenco 2nd Skin Blister Pads and Quikstick Adhesive Dressings – The Blister Pads are a hydrocolloid pad bordered by a thin film helps keep blisters from drying out, absorbs perspiration and helps promote a scab-free, naturally healed blister. QuikStik Adhesive Dressings combine a soft, moist hydrogel pad with an ultrathin adhesive film. These pads are ideal for blister repair during or after a run and help blisters heal fast. Both pads are available through Zombierunner.com.

Engo Blister Prevention Patches – Engo has made these patches to be applied to your footwear, not your feet. The blue patch can be applied to your insoles or shoes to provide exceptional friction protection. Put on a dry surface, they stick like crazy. Comes in a large rectangle and two oval sizes. The patches can be trimmed to fit anywhere. Engo Blister Prevention patches are available through Zombierunner.com.

Injinji Toe Socks – These tetratsoks are becoming the choice of many amateur and professionals athletes. These toe socks are constructed with an inner lining made of CoolMax® and a resistant outer shell of Lycra. Their Anatomical Interface System is engineered to separate your toes with a thin, anti-friction membrane that is both lightweight and breathable. Seamless in construction, the tetratsok forms to every contour of your foot. This allows for true restriction free movement from your heel to five toes, encourages healthy circulation, and eliminates skin on skin contact between your toes to prevent blisters from developing. Injinji socks are available through Zombierunner.com.

Moeben Sleeves – These UV protected arm sleeves are made for athletes. They are a fairly snug band of fabric that you wear like sleeves, without the shirt – wrist to arm pit. They keep the arms warm, protect them from branches and bugs, and offer sunburn protection. Shannon Farar-Griefer, an ultrarunner with Badwater experience, makes Moben sleeves. After a scare with a skin lesion on her arm, she created the sleeves. They are available in a myriad of colors and patterns, and three fabrics: nylon/spandex or poly/spandex, light fleece, and an organic fabric. Shannon sells the sleeves through Zombierunner.com.

Fixing Your Feet: Prevention and Treatments for Athletes – The 4th edition can be ordered through my FixingYourFeet.com web site, ZombieRunner.com, or Amazon.com. If you have any of the older editions, it’s time to get this one. It has three new chapters, lots of new sections, and is completely updated. At 350+ pages, it’s chocked full of resources.

Road ID – Having your personal information on your person when out and about is important. We never know when an accident might happen. RoadID has been around for years. They now offer the popular Fix ID, and other models: Wrist ID, Ankle ID, and Shoe Pouch ID. Available at Road Id.

Buying Socks

October 31, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
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Buying socks is not a rocket science purchase. However there are a few important tips to remember when looking for socks. Here are my favorite tips:

Buy socks that fit your feet. The heels, toes, and length
should fit snugly without sagging or being stretched too tight. Socks that are
too big will bunch up and cause friction and skin irritation. Socks Images
that are
too small can cause the toes and joints to rub harder against the socks. Turn
the socks inside out and look at the toe seams. Avoid those with bulky seams
because they can rub, causing hot spots and blisters. After buying socks be
sure to try them on with your shoes or boots to be sure they fit together and
are not too tight. Remember also to discard socks when they become threadbare
and too thin to provide their advertised benefits. The heels of your socks are
a good indication of the amount of padding and loft.

The right sock is one that fits your foot and fills the
inside of the shoe. Being too tight or too thick can constrict circulation and
lead to problems, especially in cold weather. Rubbing can lead to hot spots,
which lead to blisters. Changing to thinner socks can cause extra movement of
the foot inside the shoe, leading to friction, hot spots, and you guessed it,

More on Heal Fissures

August 30, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
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Back on August 16th,
I wrote an article on heel fissures called “
Fissures – Cracks in the Skin.” I
received a comment from a reader, which is worth sharing.

Gail wrote: “I just ready
your most recent e-newsletter article about heel fissures. The most effective
way my husband Sid and I have dealt with these when they occur is by
super-glueing them together. They heal quickly and the pain is gone
immediately. The hardest thing is reaching back to glue them (it's easier to
have someone else do it for you). And of course you have to be careful not to
glue your fingers to the feet and to let the glue dry completely before
stepping down or putting socks on.”

So if you are bothered by
these cracks in the skin, make a note to buy a tube of Krazy Glue. Give it a
try and let me know.

Fixing YOUR FEET E-zine – Change that Patch, Badwater and my Feet, and more…

August 30, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
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Volume 8, Issue 8, August 2008 ~
John Vonhof, Footwork Publications ~
Copyright, August 2008, All rights reserved

This issue has an editorial Change that Patch, and an article, Badwater and my Feet. It also has information on foot care resources, a foot care tip, a story on finding time for your sport, a new bad feet photo, information on the ElliptiGo Glide Bike, and a scary piece on the obesity epidemic.

The Fixing Your Feet E-zine is published monthly to inform and educate athletes and non-athletes about proper foot care skills and techniques, provide tips on foot care, review foot care products, and highlight problems people have with their feet.

Last month, I wrote about my, “… philosophy of patching feet.” I told readers how I look at a runner’s feet and figure out what to do, and I talk to him or her. This allows me to see them as an individual, see where their head is, and to help educate them on foot care. I enjoy the work and am pleased that many runners and crews are learning how to do the work themselves. I believe it is important to educate while I work.

This month, I want to expand on my philosophy. When I ran Western States in 1988, I needed a blister patched at Rucky Chunky. What I got was gauze over a donut of moleskin. It was really bothersome and more trouble than it was worth. Maybe that is why to this day I hate moleskin! But that’s how things were done back then.

Over the years I have honed my patching skills. I have used almost every blister patch product made. Some work better than others – but each have their place. I have patched feet from scratch, meaning nothing was on the feet. However many times, a patch or tape was in place and it needed to be removed before the new patch could be applied. In these cases, the runner wants the patch replaced because the blister has grown larger or because the patch simply no longer works. It is the latter that I want to talk about.
Take a few minutes and read Todd’s story in the article below. He had a blister patch applied and while it worked for a while, it did not do the job. The patch may have been applied perfectly, but it simple did not work for the condition on Todd’s feet.

When I saw Todd, I asked him questions about what he was feeling, and I poked and prodded to learn exactly where he had pain and what caused it. That gave me the information I needed to figure out how I would patch his feet. I ended up using a small gel patch under a layer or Kinesio-Tex tape, with Hypafix tape between the toes to hold the forward edge of the tape in place. I had felt a small hard core in the middle of each callus at the base of his second toes. This required cushioning – hence the small gel pad.

This patch worked for Todd. I was elated when I he came through Lone Pine and when on to finish with the second fasted time from there to the finish. He had guts and strong determination.

The point of this story is to remind you that when you patch a blister, sometime the patch needs replacing and another, better patch applied. Maybe the patch job needed another type of patch, a different type of tape, tape applied differently, or several elements combined.

Todd (in the story below) could easily have said screw it, my feet are shot, and quit. But He didn’t. I give him credit for allowing me to work on his feet. I gave him the best patch I could – and it worked.

In the other case in this newsletter, in the Bad Feet Photo part of the newsletter, the runner’s feet were in pretty bad shape, and he had not taken care of them correctly. Although I also patched his feet as best I could, it did not work for him on that day. Would another patch have worked for him? I don’t think so. There were several factors involved, the language barrier and since his wife was also running, he really wanted to help her.

So, if you do a race, a walk, a hike, or any activity where you develop a blister, which you patch, and it doesn’t feel right, try another patch. Of course, this means you have to understand the basics of patching and taping. Practice and then practice some more. Try different tapes and blister patches and learn as you go. It will be time well spent. Good luck and let me know how you do.

If you want to comment on this piece, please send me an email.

The 4th edition of Fixing Your Feet can be ordered through my FixingYourFeet.com web site, ZombieRunner.com, or Amazon.com. If you have any of the older editions, you need this one. It has three new chapters, lots of new sections, and is completely updated. The retail price is $18.95 but most sites, including mine, have it at a reduced rate.

Please take a moment and forward this issue to a friend or two and encourage them to subscribe.

By Todd Baum

Editor: This is the shortened story of Todd Baum’s attempt at Badwater this past July. Todd finished Badwater in 2007 and returned this year – and struggled. For the sake of space, I have cut much of his story to allow the issues with his feet to be the focal point.

The route is Badwater to Furnace Creek, 55% humidity and 115F. The only way to keep body temp in check is by staying wet… I was soaked head to toe… the toe part is the bad part to be soaked. Finally took off the soaked sun pants and changed into dry shoes and socks. The water wasn’t evaporating. Everyone in shorts had very wet legs. My belly seemed off, thought maybe it was the heat and slowed down from 5.7-5.8 mph (GPS) to 5.5 mph, but anorexia, gas and upset became worse.

Heading up to Towne Pass, my ever present callous behind each 2nd toe were getting sore (a very difficult area to reduce about 5mm x 10mm area that felt like a pebble in each shoe). I stopped and rested a while. I knew things were unraveling and needed to regroup. I reapplied Hydropel and again got into clean dry socks and shoes a second time. The skin was intact, the pre-race tape had come off, no blisters noted, but no doubt a painful inflammation had started. I took some time to eat calories…soup, crackers, PBJ. I should have taped to stabilize the calluses.

I wanted to walk to Panamint, and then rest, but I couldn’t make it. About four miles before the motel, I had to lie down on the mat and slept for 10 minutes. I arrived at Panamint Springs at 3:55am. Got to sleep at about 4:10am and Laurel pushed me back out on the road about 5:10am as twilight started.

The slow walk to Darwin was well off my plans, and my apologies to my crew started as I knew we were going into a second night eventually and perhaps into the third day.

Running wasn’t possible, and my tender calluses at times left me limping. The blisters there, that did eventually form, didn’t seem to stay filled as I (a foot care amateur who never has had a foot problem before) had poked several holes in each with a lancet.

Mike had had a little talk with Padre Crowley a little earlier, and he explained this is why the “Zombie Runner foot care” vehicle arrived seemingly on-call for the Padre’s work. Meanwhile, Gillian, Chief Zombie, patiently acknowledged my crews’ delirious greetings; “Are you a mirage? Are you the foot queen?” as if they had had three drafts at Jake’s already and found Gillian walking by. Gillian returned, “No, but I have been referred to as the foot princess.”

I tried my best to politely accept her foot care, knowing full well this woman, an entrepreneurial giant, was now going to touch and care for my feet out of love for the sport and this event. I immediately forgot her name as she introduced herself. She had seen the top runners safely find their way to Lone Pine, and she was now popping up for the race stragglers (who clearly suffer and need her), offering the help of the Padre.

As the “how’s your race going” question was absorbed, I quickly chose to not go off the point, and kept the concern on the feet. I wasn’t listening well…or understanding anything well, but I think Gillian explained her taping would stabilize the calluses and that area of the foot in hopes of controlling the pain. She did a good job of it because that helped me walk faster.

Cloud cover and a brief rain early in the day soon changed back into the good old Owens Valley desert that I remembered from 2007. The feet eventually became very painful again. The 23 miles from Darwin that I walked still left me with a good 10-mile chunk of road before Lone Pine.

I decided the race was over. After arguing a bit, we agreed to stake where we were, about nine miles from the Lone Pine time station, Laurel having 113.6 miles on the runner van that had been staying with me. Since much of my foot misery before this decision was not being shared with my crew, they were caught off-guard. I wedged the stake into the top of a road reflector post, those that give the desert drivers a visual of what is road and what is desert. It would make it easy to find if needed as a souvenir.

We went to the Lone Pine time station at the Dow Villa motel, and I reported that I was a DNF. Don, who I got to know, immediately told me, “You have a lot of time man.” He said I looked good. Apparently DNFing required dragging knuckles on the ground, drooling, and having an injury that was excitedly visible for the web cast. I had to quickly provide an excuse and I mentally went down the list: having an epiphany as a gardener, telling him each step hurt a lot, that my system was pooping my brains out for 113 miles, or that I was way behind my goal and feeling sorry for my crew. This helped me also focus on what was wrong, and I reported to Don that my feet had painful calluses and the self-inflicted pain no longer made sense.

Don woke up John Vonhof. This name was familiar to me, but names were going in and out of my head and as long as he was associated with this race, I welcomed his recommendations. Later, I recognized that the Padre had sent another caring person that would touch, wash and make my feet run again. I agreed with his plan that we were going to approach this as if I was going to return to the race. Apparently there were other approaches at this time. Perhaps embalming the feet was another option.

He seemed to follow a protocol of examining, washing, taking history and foot physical, and than padded, taped etc. He said this would be sore as I restarted my race. I knew this, but he wanted to be sure I wasn’t disappointed his fix wasn’t immediate, but a calculated one to get me up Mt. Whitney.

I was no longer a DNF, receiving a temporary reprieve from the Padre. I was now proud to try and finish this thing as one of the much respected post 48-hour athletes. My 36-hour goal was now just about ego, and finishing was now about me and my crew who didn’t want it any other way.

We agreed to sleep at the Comfort Inn for 2 hours in preparation of the day ahead. My head hit the pillow at 12:30am. At 2:30am we got up and drove to the stake. About 3:10am, I restarted my race and I had no idea what was in store. After a little walking, I wanted to test a run. I enjoyed it! Yes, the feet were sore, but the painful pounding was in effect a secure situation that didn’t worsen no matter how hard I pounded my run. I strangely felt like I didn’t run on Monday. I always enjoyed running at night and this was great. I suppose I ran a 1:25 nine miler into the Dow Villa. My pacers insist that I was closer to eight minute pace, but they were excited and at night things seem fast.

I now had 12.7 miles to go and 3:25 to buckle. I was too tired to do the math and told myself to keep pushing and I would eventually figure out the math as the numbers got smaller. I had a vague memory of my 2007 time up the mountain being over six hours; it was actually 6:05. That would be a 10:35am finish, but I didn’t want to rule out the buckle. The crew and I new we were working for the buckle at that time, but like a no hitter in the 7th inning, none of us said anything…we just worked it.

The grade soon became too steep to run and I pumped my arms and tried two different walking strides to power up the mountain. I even ran when it made sense.

I aimed for the switchback. I now could do the math. If I made the switchback by 6:30am, I would have 1:30 to go four miles; I might actually buckle!! I hit the switchback at 6:31am and felt confident that I could maintain 4mph and I heard rumor the distance was closer to 3.5 miles, but I wasn’t going to flirt with not buckling. I hammered, planning to go all out for the remaining 1:29 if needed. I minutes ticked down. Ryan, my pacer, handed me my bottle when asked and occasionally said “come-on.”

Ryan said “you got it,” when we saw the Portal signs, but Ryan had not seen the upcoming switch-back and I wasn’t prepared to miss out on a buckle by being overly confident. Then I saw the finish, and let up for a moment so Steve Teal’s finish wouldn’t be spoiled, and then I hit that finish tape. I ran up the mountain in 2:49. The only runner that had a faster split from Lone Pine to the finish was this year’s champion, Jorge Pacheco’s 2:40. My time was 47:24:26.

In a way, finding the futility in this race also found its meaningfulness. The sport gone misunderstood by just about every person and runner was now becoming almost understood by one of its most avid members, me.

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The pads and tape helped me get through the airports, and I removed them when I got home. The 2nd day home, the callus tenderness and foot edema went away. I’m a little puzzled about what to do with the skin over the blisters because it seems to have reattached itself. I suspect with routine foot care over the next couple weeks things will sort themselves out. I haven’t had any trouble with my runs.

I will spend some time reading your book, and hopefully the next time I see you, I won’t need your treatment. You do a good job including others ideas and stories in your writings. I find the connections that are made in ultra marathoning quite remarkable. May our days continue to be full of such adventure and camaraderie.
Coincidently, a nice big hunk of old skin came off my right foot today, and the nice new skin that was underneath seems to be callus free. I’ll try to keep it that way.

Drymax Socks Update: Bob from Drymax socks sent me an email with a link to a video demonstrating how dry their Drymax socks really are. He says, “This is a demonstration we do at a lot of marathons and really shows how dramatically well our socks move moisture away from the foot.” The Drymax video is here on YouTube.

This month’s bad feet photo is from Badwater. The foot’s owner is unidentified. When I DSCF1644
patch feet, I often fail to remember whom they belong to. The runner came into the Lone Pine checkpoint and complained of pain in his right foot.

The runner had completed 122 miles and had 13 left to the Whitney Portal. His left foot was patched and felt okay. I removed the patch from the right foot to face the blister in the photo. I drained it and applied at patch. The runner and his crew spoke no English and it was hard to talk to each other. I later learned the runner did not finish. This type of blister might have been caused by a too narrow shoe, causing a pinched mid-foot.

Rod Dalitz (Scotland) wrote: “If you read the interview with Denise Jones, the Blister Queen (July’s Fixing Your Feet Ezine), you may recall she mentioned a runner with wet feet and how the tape came loose. I have seen the same thing at Western States. Runners come into an aid station and their crew or an aid station volunteer is waiting with a spray of cold water. While it feels good, this can be detrimental to one’s feet. The water runs down the legs and into the socks and shoes. While not totally able to prevent water from getting in your socks and shoes, gaiters or an absorbent cloth wrap around the lower leg can help. The water causes maceration of the skin and can increase the odds of blistering. The wet and damp skin also makes it much harder for blister patches or tape to stick. While some athletes may argue that they do fine with wet feet, the majority of us don’t. I will always try to keep my feet dry rather than wet.

I have read this idea many times in Fixing Your Feet among others, and I have been concerned about wet feet. Here in Scotland conditions on the ground are often very wet, and it is impossible to avoid soaking feet. I have run races like the Lairig Ghru 28 miles through the Cairngorms, the Lyke Wake Way 43 miles through the North York Moors, and the Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon two-day event, when it was raining and the round was running with water, not to mention the occasional stream crossing, and my feet were continuously wet. Although 25 years ago I used to get blisters, that is very unusual for me these days. So I do not know how to interpret your “macerated skin.”

One factor in blisters I learned from Karl King. When your sodium level is wrong, your tissues swell – too much salt, and cells dump saline into intercellular spaces; too little salt, and they dump plain water. When there is more intercellular liquid, the tissue is softer, and allows blisters to form more easily. So electrolyte balance is important.

What I have done to reduce blistering is not clear. It may partly be due to better choice of my shoes and socks, tougher skin, electrolyte balance, or something else. Twenty-five years ago I used Vaseline to lubricate my toes, and that reduced blistering, but I use little or none on my feet now. I have sometimes used duct tape on my feet, and I carry a small roll in my pack, but I do not normally use tape.”

Reader feedback to this E-zine and its articles is welcome and encouraged. Please email any foot care ideas or tips that you have tried and would like to share with others, or ideas for an article for the ezine.

I recently saw a web video for a new bike design. The bike is called the ElliptiGo Glide Bike. Designed and made by two guys in California, the bike combines the best aspects of Main-photo-01
running and cycling to create a fun and effective means of exercising outdoors. It offers weight-bearing exercise that builds muscle and strengthens bones. More comfortable and safer than sitting on a bicycle saddle, you do not have the irritating genital numbness, pain, or increased risk of urological problems and the upright position alleviates shoulder and lower back discomfort. The rider stands taller in the saddle and the elevated line of sight improves visibility. The bike allows for an easily modify stride length, pedaling motion, and rider position. Its unique hub eliminates derailleur and permits shifting without pedaling. There are eight different gears enabling comfortable speeds from 6 to 25 M.P.H. while it freewheels, allowing the rider to coast without pedaling. I watched the video on the web site would certainly consider the bike as a great means of transportation and exercise. Here is the link to Elliptigo Glide.

Those of you with the 4th edition of Fixing Your Feet can get a free copy of my booklet, Happy Feet: Foot Care Advice for Walkers and Travelers. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to go to the book’s page—and write a review of the 4th edition. Then send me an email telling me which site the review is on and your snail mail address. I will mail you a free copy of this 36-page booklet. Use it yourself, or give it to someone else. The booklet is described below and has a $5.00 value. Sorry, but because of postage, this offer is good only in the U.S and Canada.

Press Release: TUESDAY, Aug. 19 (HealthDay News) — The obesity epidemic in America has gotten worse — not better — in the last year, despite public service campaigns warning about the health risks posed by carrying too much weight, a new report found. Adult obesity rates increased in 37 states, while there were no decreases in any states, according to the annual report released Tuesday by the nonprofit Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The obesity rates rose for a second consecutive year in 24 states and for a third consecutive year in 19 states, according to the report, F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing in America, 2008″.

More than 25 percent of adults are obese in 28 states, up from 19 states last year. And more than 20 percent of adults are obese in every state except Colorado. In 1991, no state had an obesity rate greater than 20 percent. Eleven of the 15 states with the highest obesity rates are in the South. Northeastern and Western states have the lowest obesity rates.

The five fattest states and their obesity rates are Mississippi (31.7 percent), West Virginia (30.6 percent), Alabama (30.1 percent), Louisiana (29.5 percent) and South Carolina (29.2 percent). The five slimmest states are Colorado (18.4 percent), Hawaii (20.7 percent), Connecticut (20.8 percent), Massachusetts (20.9 percent), and Vermont (21.1 percent), according to the report. An estimated two-thirds of Americans are now overweight or obese. That compares to 1980, when the national average of obese adults was 15 percent.

Among the report’s other findings:
1. While all 50 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws related to physical education and/or physical activity in schools, only 13 states include language to enforce the laws. Of these states, only four have sanctions or penalties if the laws are not implemented.
2. While the Dietary Guidelines for Americans were updated in 2005, the U.S. Department of Agriculture school meal program has yet to adopt the recommendations.
3. Eighteen states have enacted laws requiring school meals to exceed USDA nutrition standards. But, only seven of these laws have specific enforcement provisions, and only two state laws include sanctions if its requirements aren’t met.


The headline caught my eye, “Hard Work Will Kill You So Play More Golf.” Although the following story is about golf, you can make its application to any sport. The moral of the story is important. We need to make time to stay healthy and sane.

Remember when you were younger one of your parents said “Get up off your butt and do something. Hard work never killed anyone.” Well, according to the Japanese, it has.

According to the Aichi Labor Bureau in Japan, the man who died was aged 45 and had been under severe pressure as the lead engineer in developing a hybrid version of Toyota’s Camry. In the two months up to his death, the man averaged more than 80 hours of overtime per month. It appears that this phenomenon in Japan is called “karoshi” and such deaths have steadily increased since the Japanese Health Ministry first recognized the phenomenon in 1987.

Now as a follower of golf, I think that to keep the American workforce healthy, we need to play more golf and spend less time in the office. Based on these findings from the Japanese Labor Bureau, there is quantifiable justification for playing more golf. A dead employee is not a productive employee.

The next time that your boss asks you to work overtime, just point out that poor Toyota engineer and he may even set up your tee time.


If you like to stay informed about foot care issues and information – on a more regular basis than this monthly newsletter, check out my blog, Happy Feet: Expert Foot Care Advice for People Who Love Their Feet. This is different from this ezine. The Happy Feet blog will have a new short topic every week. Click here for the Happy Feet blog.

I am always on the look out for stories to share about their adventures with some type of connection to feet. If you have something to share, please send me an email.

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