In honor of runners’ feet everywhere

I read on, that each foot strikes the ground 800 times per mile.  Over the course of a 10K, that’s 4960 footsteps per foot.  For a 50K, that’s 24,880.  

Our poor little running feet!

Add to the footsteps all the obstacles your feet encounter over a trail run: rocks, creeks, inclines, declines, holes, twigs, pebbles, dirt, sticks, sand, gravel, branches, mud…

Put it all together, and what do you get?  Well, if you are me, you get pretty gross feet.

In fact, I have the grossest feet of anyone I know.  They are abused, battered, calloused, dry, bloody, blistered, and black-toe nailed at various times throughout the year.

I think about getting pedicures, but I never do.  I don’t have time.  

I use lotion multiple times a day.  It helps, but my feet are still very rough and scaly.  

The Ped Egg - Promises to Smooth Your Skin
The Ped Egg - Promises to Smooth Your Skin

I even bought the “Ped Egg” as seen on TV. It is no match for my running feet.

Over pronation causes black toe-nails
Over pronation causes black toe nails

I over-pronate like nobody’s business.  This is a huge part of my problem and I don’t know how to correct it.  

I have learned to buy shoes a half-size too large just to protect my toe nails.

There are lots of ways to protect your feet: custom orthotics, the right kinds of shoes, spacing between hard runs and short runs, gators, good socks.  I follow all of them — except gators.  The way I run has never required gator protection for some odd reason.  

Blisters and callouses seem to be my biggest enemy.  They are caused by the same thing, friction.  Blisters form much quicker than callouses, which are caused by a long period of slow friction.  

Blood blisters are also a problem for me. A blood blister is caused when a blood vessel close to the surface of the skin ruptures and the blood gets trapped between the layers of the skin.

Here’s something that creeps a girl out. And I quote the source of all the world’s knowledge, WikiPedia, “The word “blister” entered English in the 14th century. It came from the Middle Dutch “bluyster”, and was a modification of the Old French “blostre” which meant a leprous nodule — a rise in the skin due to leprosy.”

Awesome.  Blisters, running and leprosy.  What a combination by association.

I wish I took care of my feet better. I wish I could stop overpronating.  I wish I didn’t get blisters on blisters.  I am off to get a massage, I can guarantee I will ask for much more time to be spent on my legs and back than on my poor little feet.

For the not-faint-of heart, here are photos of my feet taken a few hours after last week’s AR50.  Each foot hit the ground 40,000 times over 11 hours.  Click on the photo to enlarge.  Enjoy!




3 Comments Add yours

  1. Cynthia says:

    Man, those blisters look painful. You’re one tough cookie to endure with that going on. Sometimes it’s better not to know! 🙂

    I used to get much worse blisters, but since using DryMax socks, and lubricating the feet (though some say it’s not necessary with DryMax) I haven’t had so many blisters. I carry some spare lube, patches and toe caps for emergencies though.

    It’s worth getting a copy of Fixing Your Feet (they have it at Zombie Runner), plus John Vonhof has a cool website and blog.

    As for the overpronation, wearing insoles with arch supports might help?

  2. runrunrunrun says:

    Hi Cynthia

    Great advice. I didn’t know “patches” and “toe caps” existed! I wear custom orthotics already, but I am thinking of bringing my shoes to my PT to see if he has advice for better addressing the over-pronation.


  3. Cynthia says:

    For a while, I had a problem on my heel like the one on your right foot near the big toe. Gillian at ZombieRunner advised me to try a bursatek pad over the trouble spot before the run, and it worked very well- it formed a cushion over the spot and prevented further damage, and now the spot is completely healed.

    check out the fixingyourfeet website. He shows amazing bad feet (horrible blisters that will make you thankful you’ve never seen such horror!) and videos of how to lance blisters, etc. pretty gruesome stuff, but also great advice for avoiding those problems. He has worked at BadWater, fixing people’s feet so they can finish the race for a long time.


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