Last week I wrote about prevention and being proactive. I emphasized that you are the key to prevention. I want to share an email I received from a friend that is a great example of this in action. Lisa told me about her friend and gave me permission to share the story:
My friend ran a 50km x 2 (100km total, over two days) race a few weeks ago. Over the past six months he has put a lot of work into his running training and has been running beautifully.
I was away so when I got back I dropped him a text to see how his race went. He told me what happened and in the conversation said that he would be losing many of his toenails. I ask why and he said he forgot to cut his toenails.
As you can imagine I didn’t reply to this at all because I would have thrown some insulting words his way.
He has been trail running for more than a decade and been doing adventure racing for over a decade. He spent a fairly sizable amount on his race entry and it must be about 900km to travel to the race. He put in six months of training to get stronger and faster. And he forgot to trim his toenails! This is more than elementary and is totally stupid. It’s tough to have sympathy (I have none!) when friends do silly things like this. He knows better.
This story speaks for itself. I have often talked about how athletes spend a lot of time and money in preparation for an event but fail to plan for good foot care. More times than I care to remember, I have seen athletes quit a race or be pulled from a race because of feet gone bad. It doesn’t have to be that way.
I’ll say it again, you are the key to prevention.
This past weekend was spent with friends in the Northern California High Sierras, combining trail running with social fun. I did three runs, two with the group and one solo, covering sections of the Pacific Crest Trail. The trails are great and the scenery spectacular. Every inch of the trail is going either up or down—never flat. The footing ranges from soft dirt to rocks, to shale and granite. If you were prone to turned ankles, it would happen here.
In between the fast hiking and running, while watching my step, I kept an eye on what others had on their feet. The majority had good footwear—either trail running shoes or larger heavier boots. There were many, however, who wore the wrong footwear. They wore running shoes made for roads or court shoes. These shoes provided no traction on the slippery rocks, no protection from the sharp rocks, and did not give their feet and ankles the needed support. One friend wore her road shoes and ended the first day with three blisters and very sore feet. I saw several hikers with courts shoes and a pack—a very poor combination.
It is too easy to decide to go for a walk or a hike and simply wear what one has. That may be OK is the event is spontaneous. The trouble is when you end the day with blisters, damaged or black toenails, a turned ankle, or simply very sore feet; you may associate the discomfort and pain with the activity. Instead, the right footwear would have make the hike much more enjoyable.
The same can be said for wearing the wrong footwear in other instances—cheap flip-flops instead of good sandals and inexpensive shoes instead of quality shoes. Whether walking, hiking, running, trail running, playing court sports, adventure racing, climbing, or biking, the right footwear can make all the difference.