|Rest up my darlings...|
First the calluses. I don't have perfect form and I wear sneakers, therefore calluses will always be with me, in one form or another. They are a natural response to the friction, protecting the skin, therefore they are not necessarily a bad thing. However, after 20+ miles of pounding on pavement, those calluses can cause painful pressure points to develop. In addition, God help you if you get a blister under a thick callus, there is next to nothing you can do about it.
Continually throughout the year, I work on keeping calluses in check. Mostly sanding them down with a pumice stone. However, when a race is close, I have to be more aggressive. I go in with a callus shaver and take off about 50%, then sand down as much as I can, after soaking my feet. This cannot be done a couple days before, trust me. If you don't allow time for it to heal a little, it will blister and become more painful than if you left it alone. When done correctly, I don't have much, if any, pain from these areas. If you don't have this problem, I envy you.
There is more that I can do for these spots on race day, but that's a topic I've probably already covered. As for blisters, my techniques are not as fool proof, but they have effectively cut down on my issues. That said, blisters are much more subjective to a countless number of variables, not least of all, the individual. Anything ranging from socks to hydration play a role.
|I really don't like feet. I mean,|
I REALLY don't like feet.
Also, a hole could be ripped in the sock from a sharp toenail, obviously leading to a complicated situation. More subtly, the sock could be pulled tight or begin to bunch up, both of which create conditions ripe for blistering in potentially a totally different area, or even causing a neuroma. After your toenails are taken care of, look at the over all health of your foot's skin.
Removing any loose skin, smoothing rough skin, and helping dry or cracked skin can be beneficial. Loose skin, possibly from a previous blister, is the first place a new one will want to start. What happens is that dead stuff starts to separate, taking the living dermis with it. Carefully cutting loose the dead skin is very important. Rough skin can help cause needless friction, and we know that's bad. Dry skin, especially if cracked, is unhealthy and already stressed. It won't take much to create a cascade effect of problems.
Using lotion and gently exfoliating your feet will help, with even a week's worth of care paying big dividends. Don't go overboard though, rubbing your feet raw is a bad move that I'm guilty of. Patience cannot be stressed enough when wielding a pumice stone! Now, all that is on the outside of your feet, but there are some things you can do from the inside.
Don't over hydrate in the days before. If you're electrolytes are out of whack and your body can't process all the liquid going into it, where do you think that water wants to go? Gravity will cause it to naturally hang around in your feet. Not drinking too much and eating right will have a positive impact on blister prevention. Personally, when I started to care about my electrolyte balance, is when I noticed my feet resisted blisters better, even during hot, sweaty, summer runs.
Socks and shoes are most people's idea of the front line to blister prevention, and with good reason. I like to set aside my broken-in, but still young, shoes a week before the race to let them "rest." If your shoe has an EVA mid-sole, this break will allow them to be all they can be. I like to give them a tuneup as well. I take out the insole and feel around for issues. At the same time, I make sure all the debris is out of the shoe, including the little stones that might be lodged in the little drainage/air holes in the insole. Make sure all the mud is off and pre-tension the laces. I know I have a tendency to over-tighten on race day, which is it's own problem.
Socks are where I deviate a little from convention, as I always wear a new pair of Injinjis for 26 miles or greater. Personally, I've found this safer than going with a pair of socks that I can only guess at how miles they have. I've never had a problem doing this. Since most people wouldn't agree, and for good reason, I have this advice... make sure the socks you wear are newish, with no signs of excessive wear. We all have our favorites, but they might not be the best bet for race day (2011 Hudson Mohawk Marathon, mile 16). Don't cheap out now!
|What? You want to|
revoke my man card?
Only a real man is brave
enough to exfoliate
Like I said in the beginning, everyone is different. If you've never had a blister and always done the opposite of what I have here, don't change on my account. However, you don't have to suffer from superficial foot pain, it's not a "no pain, no gain" thing, most of it is preventable and totally unnecessary. Given the amount of time, effort, and resources put into a big race, this is a topic that has to at least be given a little thought.
I learned the hard way and I'm talking from experience. But you don't have to take my word for it, I've learned just as much from Dr. Vonhof, as I have my own mistakes. The longer the race is, the more important the details become.
Feel free to leave a question or comment about this post!