Sweat producing conditions in San Diego’s “humid” summer months can present a few challenges for runners. Moist feet trapped in the confines of running shoes, and hot running surfaces can be contributors to the common running ailment, blisters.
During the Silver Strand Half-Marathon in Coronado a few years back, competitors experienced a unique November phenomenon: searing heat. The Silver Strand is run primarily on asphalt, black asphalt, heat absorbing black asphalt, and as a result, the friction caused by a fast pace, coupled with the sweltering surface heat of the road, caused several finishers limped across the line.
Several things factor into the development of blisters on the feet of a runner. How well a shoe fits, or not, is a huge factor. The type of sock that is worn also factors in. Weather conditions, and the pace of a run contribute as well. Unfortunately, a runner who struggles frequently with blisters can also develop heavy calluses, and as these build up, they present changes in how the foot fits into the shoe, or hits the running surface, causing an added potential to making things worse.
Whether you are a runner who deals with the blister dilemma daily, or just occasionally, it is a problem that virtually all runners will deal with in their lifetime. And once you’ve got them, running will become quite painful, if not impossible. So, prevention is the best solution.
Follow these three simple tips to keep your soles healthy and happy this summer:
- Wear shoes that are designed for running and have a good fit. When shopping for your next pair of shoes, try several types and sizes until you find the sweet one. It is not always possible to know how it will feel on the first long run, but how it feels initially can give you clues. Make sure your foot doesn’t move around, or slip out. It should fit snuggly but comfortably, without areas that feel restricted or impinged.
- Choose the right sock. The right sock may be different for everyone, and may vary depending on the type of training or racing surface. For everyone, the sock material should be moisture wicking, made from synthetic fiber to help prevent friction. A thin sock works well for many, but in some cases a sock with a thick sole can be beneficial, as with running on hot surfaces, or over long distances.
- Prepare your feet for the task. Applying a moisture barrier, anti-friction ointment, such as Aquaphor, prior to putting on your socks will help keep moisture away, reduce friction, and care for the skin of your feet. Also, keep existing calluses small by occasionally filing them down with a callous remover.
Prevention is always best, particularly in a race. With blister prevention there is a lot you can control. As a runner, your feet are your most utilized instrument. So do your best to take care of them, and they will carry you far and fast.