Training With Wet Feet

May 5, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Health 

For years, the norm has been to avoid getting your feet wet. When feet get wet for extended periods, usually the feet have skin that is soft and macerated. In long events, and especially in multi-day events, that can lead to trouble. Taping or patching wet feet, or macerated feet, is very difficult. So it is best to keep your feet as dry as possible.

This has always been the rule.

In the past few years, adventure style races have become popular, which puts runners in conditions where wet feet are the daily norm. Most often, these races are six to seven days in length. The race often includes running through the jungle or mountains with stream crossings, wet foliage, wet trails, mud, and extremely humid conditions. In these conditions, your feet are always wet.

If you think this doesn’t apply to you because you are doing a “dry” race, please consider this. Even dry races with no water crossing can produce wet feet. Dumping water over your head at aid stations to cool off will get water in your shoes. Plus our feet naturally sweat and this buildup can result in wet feet.

Shirley Thompson, the Race Director of the Jungle Marathon told me, “We always advise runners to train with wet feet so that they can focus on a strategy before they get to the jungle. As far as footwear is concerned, we always emphasize trail shoes with good grip, and that comfort is the main factor.”

So how can we do that? For training runs, soak your shoes and socks before heading out. Step in puddles or use a hose if they dry out. Try to keep them wet as long as possible. If you feel a hot spot or blister start, stop and adjust your shoes and add tape, lube or your favorite blister prevention product. Take time to find the best shoe and sock combination for your feet when wet.

Personal Foot Care of Wet Feet

Because your feet will be wet, often at the start of each stage, it makes sense to do some of your training with wet feet. Use the same shoe and sock combination that you plan to use for the race – and get them wet. Walk and run in them. Not just a 30-minute run, but hours! Put some distance on your wet feet that is the same you expect to do during the race. Try to also to do back to back wet feet training days. It’s that simple.

As said earlier, stop and deal with any hot spots as soon as you feel them. Check for folds in your socks, friction from dirt or sand, pressure inside your shoes – and get rid of these irritants. Lube the area or apply a piece of tape or blister prevention patch to help. This may seem like common sense, but many people ignore this simple step.

At the end of each day’s stage, remove your wet shoes and socks, dry your feet and air them as much as possible. If your feet have tape on them, remove the tape to dry the skin underneath. Wear sandals or Crocs around camp to keep your feet away from the wet ground and dirt and sand. Walking around barefoot will often aggravate wet, cold, and soft macerated skin. Later in the day or the next morning, re-tape your feet and patch any blisters.

Because you cannot count on medical people patching your feet the way you want them patched or that they will be available, you must learn how to patch your own feet. I have helped at events where I have patched feet all afternoon and evening, and then had people line up in the morning for more work. Sometimes the medical staff is stretched thin or cannot get to everyone. Be prepared to do your own patching and have your own equipment. Better safe than sorry.

Many times at races, I have seen athletes who have not trained their feet for the event. They enter a race and don’t put the necessary miles on their feet, don’t have the right shoes, don’t know how to manage and patch their feet. I encourage you to take the time to train with wet feet and condition them for the extremes of your race.

When Tape Goes Bad

March 25, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Foot Care Products 

Today I worked the medical aid station at mile 20 of the Oakland Marathon. Saturday I restocked my foot care box, adding supplies that I had depleted during the past events. I also cleaned up my Baggies of patches, and other small items.

One of the things I noticed I was short was tape. I added a roll of Leukotape and some Kinesio Tex. The Leukotape was out of a box off my shelf. I knew it had been on the shelf for while, but was unsure how long.

A short time into the race, I had several runners come in for some taping over hot spots. I cleaned the skin with an alcohol wipe, assessed the problem, and peeled off a bit of Leukotape. The first strip stuck okay. But after that, I could tell the tape did not have its usual stickiness.

I unrolled more and more, but the tape was bad. It would not stick.

Thinking about it, I think the tape was several years old. Maybe even three years. I am pretty good about checking my tapes – but this one slipped by me. So my advice is to check all your tapes before a race.

The Best Shoes for You

March 17, 2012 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Footwear, Sports 

Life has been busy this past month and I apologize for not posting more often.

As I read the my magazines, I find shoe reviews. As I open emails, I read people’s experiences with their shoes. As I check newsletters, websites and blogs, I read reports and reviews of shoes. And then, of course, there are the ads – everywhere.

The thing is, they all point out the features and benefits of their shoes. Is there one shoe for you? Yes, there is one – and many more that will also work. Some work better than others.

My feeling after all these years of providing foot care is that you could easily slip into a number of shoes and they would work. You read the ads, the emails on forums from other runners happy with their shoes, and you hear other runners in one-on-one conversations recommending certain shoes. Maybe you’re happy with your current shoes and simply want to try out another pair. Or maybe you find the shoes you like have been discontinued.

Everyone wants the perfect shoe – and some people find them. Others try on shoe after shoe, looking for the elusive “best” fit.

You could run a 5K or 10K or even a marathon in many shoes and not have a problem. But move up to an ultramarathon or a multi-day event and you could have problems. A small thing when training or running can be multiplied many times over with more miles and cause problems. When changing to a different shoe, pay attention to any changes in how your feet and ankles feel. Does anything feel funny or seem bothersome? Do you feel a twinge the next day – telling you that something is wrong? At some point, if this continues, you need to consider the shoes. Change back to your old shoes and see if the problem goes away.

Where this affects athletes the most is moving from regular shoes to minimalist shoes or even no shoes (barefoot). Changing to these takes time and a gradual slow process. Wearing minimalist shoes puts added stressors on the feet until they get used to the change. Give it time. Slowly. Recognize you should be changing the way you land on your feet and your overall stride.

There are lots of shoes that will work for you. Give them a try. I bet you’ll find several you really like.

Are Your Feet Prepared?

January 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Sports 
Krissy Moehl showing off her taped feet at the Gore-Tex TransRockies

Krissy Moehl showing off her taped feet at the Gore-Tex TransRockies

When I talk to runners preparing for a race, some seem to be well prepared. They know about blisters and what kind of socks to wear. They either have experience or are smart enough to want to learn more. Others seem unconcerned or unprepared.

The main question I ask is, “Are your feet prepared?” I give them a half page of tips. Here are the tips. They easily can be applied to anyone running or walking a marathon, or doing any similar event. Are they magic? No. But many people, even athletes, seem to forget the common sense tips that can make their marathon a better experience.

Before the Race

  • Toenails too long catches on socks – trim them short.
  • Then file toenails smooth.
  • Use a nail file to smooth calluses.
  • Clean out lint and junk from inside shoes.
  • Check your shoelaces and replace if frayed.

Race Morning

  • Apply a layer of your favorite lubricant or powder.
  • Smooth your socks around your feet.
  • Avoid tying laces too tight.

During the Race

  • If you feel a hot spot: apply a pad, a bit of tape, a dab of lubricant, or an energy wrapper between your sock and shoe.
  • Loosen shoelaces if you have pain on the top of your foot.

After the Race

  • Drain blisters only if they are in a pressure area.
  • If you have blisters, soak your feet in Epson salts and warm water three times a day.
  • Trim edges of loose skin around blisters.
  • If feet are swollen, elevate and ice.

Many of you know these tips – and practice them. However it is easy to become complacent and forget good foot care. Too many other things seem to be more important. Once you experience the pain of blisters, bloody toenails, or some other common ailment, you will again want to know the basics. The tips above will always be worth knowing.

%d bloggers like this: