Here’s another series of emails that are great at showing how I worked with a runner to try and solve his problems.
April 18, 2020 – David, a runner from Ireland sent me an email:
I picked up your 6th edition Fixing your Feet last week on Amazon. I’ve never taped but I’m practicing taping on myself and my wife already.
I’m running a marathon this Wednesday doing 2.5 mile laps of the area around my home. I always run in 1000 Mile fusion socks. They work fine for me as a blister-on-the toes prevention method but only up to about half marathon distance. The three toes between my big toe and my baby toe start to heat up at that point.
This is my second marathon. My last one was in October 2019. I lost a toenail in that one and blackened another one but I’ve already learned plenty from your book about trimming that I didn’t know before and I hope it will prevent that happening again.
I don’t know yet if I can get my hands on a benzoin tincture product in order to try out some of the other methods that you mention but I’m hopeful.
I also picked up Sumiwish Silicone Toe Caps. I tried them last week on a long run. They were fine for an easy pace but they’re a bit bulky if you’re putting them on two toes that are next to each other.
I’m living in Ireland and I’m using Zinc Oxide tape at home for practice. Is that a tape I can use on race day for toe taping? I didn’t see a mention of it in your book. I’m trying to pick up kinesiology tape, which is available here, but access to pharmacies is restricted at the moment with the Covid-19 situation.
I have Glide Stick lubricant sticks for chafing and I was going to try them on my toes for my easy runs this week. Is it okay to use a lubricant with tape or is it preferable to use either one or the other?
April 18, 2020 – I was able to respond to David within a few hours:
Thanks for getting the book. I’ll start with a question or two. You mention the issue is with the middle three toes. Both feet? At the same time? Do you curl those toes downward, like in gripping the ground? It’s not uncommon and often is done without knowing it. That could lead to hot spots and then blisters on the tips of the toes. Then there’s the possibly of a too-short toe box, wither in length or height. Toenails should be trimmed short and then files smooth. Yes, silicone toe cap add extra bulk to the toes so can cause fit issues. You really don’t need benzoin for tape on toes. Just use the tape or toe caps. You mention zinc-oxide tape. In the States it’s probably the same as Leukotape. It’s 1 1/2 inches wide and very sticky. It can be used on toes, but try to avoid folds or creases in the tape. I would advise you to try taping before the race. Many times when you tape one toe, you have to tape the neighboring toe((s). My suggestion is to run a strip of tape from the bottom of the toe, over the tip, and onto the top of the toe. Avoid the crease where the toe joins the ball of the foot. Then run a small strip around the toe making sure the end of the tape is on the top of the toe. If you tape properly, you should not need a lubricant. Keep me posted and good luck.
April 19, 2020 – David sent this email in response:
My problem is primarily on my right foot and yes, I definitely claw or grip down with those toes when it happens. In your experience, is that a bad habit I’ve picked up and something I can change, or is it something I have to compensate for indefinitely with taping and other solutions?
The problems I had in the last Dublin Marathon were while I was wearing Asics Gel Nimbus. I felt the toes on the right foot on fire right as I passed the halfway point. It really slowed me down in the second half. I have a wide foot and I’ve since switched to Nike’s Pegasus Turbo 2 and I love them. I have plenty of room in the toe box with them and I’ve done 8 or 9 half-marathons in the last 6 months without problems. I still get tip of the toe blisters on the longer training runs though as well as on a recent 3/4 marathon.
I checked online and it seems that the Leukotape and my Zinc Oxide tape are the same. Thanks for that. I’ll continue with that tape for now. I tried the bottom to top taping this morning on toes 2 and 4 with a silicone cap on the middle toe. It felt fine so I’ll try that on Marathon day.
I cleared the lint out of my shoes and cleaned and inspected the insoles as described in your book (something I’ve never done before). So many basic things to be learned that so many athletes probably don’t know and surprising what builds up in a shoe over a few months!
I’m doing this Marathon around the block to replace the Manchester Marathon, which was cancelled so that my training doesn’t go to waste. We are only allowed to exercise within a 2km radius of our homes so that’s how it has to be, either that way or on the treadmill in my garage.
April 18, 2020 – I wrote back to David with a bit more advice:
When someone clenches their toes, it’s often done subconsciously. The best way to overcome this is to force yourself to think about this as you run. Even if it means writing “Toes” on the back of your hand in ink before going for a run. You can also run a narrow strip of tape from under the toe, over the tip and onto the top pf the toe onto the forefoot in back of the toes. Apply the tape under a slight stretch to prevent the toes from curling. Wearing Injinji toe socks can also provide a bit of protection. Your zinc-oxide tape is fine for this. Good luck.
April 24, 2020 – Then I received an email from David about his success running his marathon:
Thank you so much for writing your book and for your advice over the last couple of emails.
I finished my second marathon this week taking thirty minutes off my time from the last marathon in October 2019.
The toes that I destroyed 6 months ago were taped this time and they are perfect now. The taped toes felt a bit strange for the first couple of miles but I soon forgot about them and I was off at a great pace.
I focused on not clawing or gripping with my loose toes (the ones that weren’t taped) and it was easy not to do the gripping action once I was conscious of it. I didn’t use any lubricants.
Thanks again. I look forward to recommending your book to many others, getting faster, and moving on to a 50km run for my first Ultra.
David did a number of things right. He practiced taping. He found toe caps and the right tape. He trimmed his toenails. He tried different shoes. He knew he was gripping down with his toes. He was being proactive and reactive at the same time. That is the most important takeaway.