Miles on Your Feet

April 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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.

Miles on Your Feet

May 25, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Footcare, Health, Sports 

Last weekend I worked the finish line at the Ohlone 50KM Trail Run in San Francisco’s East Bay hills. This is a tough trail, very exposed to the day’s sun, and every step is either up or down. Some people say, and I believe that if you finish Ohlone, you have a great chance of finishing Western States.

One runner who I admire and consider a close friend is Catra Corbet. She has proven herself as the “owner” of this trail. Many years she will run an Ohlone 100 or more just because she loves the trail so much. This year, Catra did 200 miles on the trail!

In talking to Catra after she completed the 200 miles, she mentioned that she had no blisters. I remember years ago taking a picture of her taping her toes. She used to tape every toe. I have a photo of her with a heel blister too. Now though, Catra runs blister free. What’s the difference?

I believe Catra’s success with blister free feet came through the miles of running she puts on her feet. She doesn’t run short runs, she doesn’t run a couple of times a week – she runs a lot. Many of you know Catra, or have heard of her – and know how much she runs. She also has found the right shoes for her feet – Hokas. She also wears Drymax socks – a favorite of mine.

But it’s not just Catra. I have worked medical and provided foot care at hundreds of ultramarathons, adventure races, walks, and multi-day races and have seen the same thing.

At the Western States 100 at 55.7 miles, for example, the top 20 to 30 runners come through Michigan Bluff 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 that 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 will have problems. You have 10-15 mile feet – not 50 mile feet.

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.

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. Change your socks and shoes as necessary for the conditions of your run or race.

Over the years, I have talked to too many runners who think blisters are naturally a part of running and racing. They don’t have to be. Make smart choices and put miles on your feet, and your feet can be blister free.

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