Fortunately in my running career to date I’ve been able to avoid any unpleasant injuries. Can you hear that knocking sound? It’s me touching wood repeatedly so that this trend isn’t broken before London!
The only issues I have encountered are plantar fasciitis and blisters, both of which were down to a poor choice of running shoe.
It was the week before my second stab at the Great Birmingham Run – half marathon distance – when I hit problems after a long training run that included some off road mileage. Being so close to the event there wasn’t much I could do save for muddle through (it wasn’t that bad on the day, fortunately), but afterwards I read up on things and realised my natural running style was probably doing me no favours.
Before resuming training in the New Year, I went for gait analysis at a local running store. Highly, highly recommended if you’re new to running and want to start building up your distance. I was the same as most – “shoes are cheaper online, I know what size I am, if I just buy the most expensive ones I can afford they are bound to be good!”
Then I looked back at the video in the shop and it was clear I was over-pronating, quite badly on one side which, no surprise, was the one where I was getting the most pain and the worst blisters.
For those unfamiliar with the term it basically means when I strike the floor I land on the outside of my foot. The foot then rolls inwards for me to keep my balance and that rolling motion is what causes rubbing and, ultimately, blisters. And striking the floor on part of your foot and not the whole of it can lead to extra pressure and tissue damage, hence the plantar fasciitis when I tackled some rough ground.
Better cushioning with my shoes has definitely worked. I’ve been using Asics GT 2000 V2’s for nearly a year and just recently tried out some Kayano 21s for even more support. I want to find which shoes suit me best for the marathon, so I’ll pick up a new pair of whichever about a month or so beforehand.
Even with the right shoe, it doesn’t protect you against carelessness though. I made a schoolboy error in the New Year on a very cold and frosty morning run. I hadn’t double knotted my laces, one worked itself loose and I only noticed after around five miles in. Too late, nasty rub and a one inch blister on the inside of my foot soon appeared.
Luckily I found some handy tips online, because I didn’t want it to interrupt my training programme while waiting for it to heal. I don’t want to be gross, so skip on a few paragraphs if you’re a bit squeamish!
I popped the little beast with a sterilised needle, drained it, cleaned it and tried a specialist blister plaster. Next to useless! It came loose on the first short run two days later and the blister refilled.
So the advice online was (sorry!) cut away the top layer of skin after a few days (again, everything must be sterilised), antiseptic spray, a large piece of breathable dressing strip and lots of lots of surgical tape to hold it in place. Firstly, this is way cheaper (£5 for a few blister plasters, 50p each for the strip and tape!). Secondly, it actually worked.
I did an eight mile run that weekend without a hitch and an 11 miler the following weekend, again all good. I’m now back to running without any dressing at all.
And the morale of the story is? Tie your laces properly! And when it comes to running shoes, get help to get it right and don’t compromise.
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