Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Burden of Blisters

Today I went out on a jovial 10 mile jaunt excited to go out and run fast.  I ran a 50 miler (PCTR Headlands 50) last month and have been keeping my mileage low and pretty easy since.  Anyway, I decide I am going to give it a pretty good go and slap my racing flats on my feet sans socks.  Why no socks you ask?  Great question!  For the past year or so I have been consciously working on my running form as way to prevent injury and increase my running efficiency and speed.  I have read the Pose Method and think everyone who wants to run without injury should pick up a copy.  Part of the pose method is about wearing minimalist shoes that let you get a good ground feel so you can focus on how and when your foot is hitting the ground.  So my logic goes something like this.  If I wear my racing flats (which have less than  half an inch of cushioning without socks it will increase my foot feel more than if I wear socks.  So out the door I go sock free and ready to go!  It is a beautiful day in San Francisco and I am going along my usual 10 mile route out to Fort Point and back.  The sun in shining, the seagulls are squawking and all is right with the world.  All except for the 15 mph winds I am fighting.  It's OK I think; just lean into it and pump those arms.  I get to fort point paying not much attention to my feet up til now and turn around for the home stretch.  5 miles to go.  I get to the Marina Green and I start to feel something.  Hey is that an itch on my left big toe?  No.  That is an incessant rubbing of shoe on skin. I get to Van Ness.  Hmmm...still there and my rub a dub friction friend has cloned on the other foot except this foot, the right, is getting rubbed the wrong way near the heel.  With a little over a mile left I consider hobbling to avoid more friction but grind my teeth and continue since I am trying to keep my pace.  Finally I arrive home run upstairs and take of my shoes, toes a burning and heel ablaze.  I have a small blister on my big toe and a small blister on my heel.  Luckily they are not big enough to cause much of a ruckus so I let them be for now.  If needed they will get a visit from mister sterile safety pin but we'll play it by ear.  My message dear friends is this: Don't go on a 10 mile run without socks.  Socks protect your feet and limit friction.  If you are looking into going sans socks test it out on a short run and see how your feet like it.  Will I run without socks again. Certainly I will give it another try and see how it goes.  But 98% of the time I am on those trails or roads I will be socked up my friend!

Talking about blisters makes me think about shoes and shoe fit.  It is very important to have shoes that fit you right.  I highly recommend you go to a running specialty store like Fleet Feet Sports and have them watch you run and give you suggestions.  They are trained to notice whether you pronate or suppinate and recommend shoes accordingly.  You can always shop yourself but I highly recommend you at least to the wet foot test to see your arch type before getting shoes.  In my opinion running shoes should feel comfortable the first time you put them on.  If there is any thing that rubs you the wrong way put them back on the shelf and try another. We put our feet through enough stress running miles upon miles each week.  We should at least let them enjoy the ride.  Run on my friends...or else.

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