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Excerpt from Fixing Your Feet

Time on Your Feet

Over the years I have seen many people complete marathons and ultramarathons. Most do well, suffering the usual malady of blisters, toenails issues, and an occasional ankle sprain. There are some, however, who finish their events with feet they can hardly walk on. Complaints range from, “My foot feels like one big blister” to “I can't walk!”

These athletes usually have one thing in common. They have stressed their feet beyond what their feet are comfortable doing. There are several typical scenarios. The most common is they have simply done too much too soon. The second most common is that they have encountered conditions beyond what they were prepared for. Since all of us, even non-athletes, can learn from these experiences, allow me to explain.

Sudden increases in mileage put undo pressure on the bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles of the feet. If you typically walk 3 miles a day and then suddenly walk 10 miles, you can expect your feet to feel sore, hot, and painful. Increasing your running miles from a 10K (6.2 miles) to a half-marathon (13.1 miles) will result in similar complaints. The rule-of-thumb for runners has always been to increase weekly miles by no more than 10% a week. This is good advice for all of us.

Whenever we go for a walk or run, we might run into the unexpected. We step off a curb or roll our foot on a rock and turn an ankle. We hike on a trail and are not used to uphills and downhills, the tree roots and rocks, and the uneven terrain, and our legs, ankles, and feet become sore. It's hot and we sweat more than normal, and this moisture leads to hot spots and blisters. We wear a new pair of socks, thinner than normal, and our feet move around inside the shoes, creating blisters. We wear a new pair of socks, thicker than normal, and the pressure inside the toebox leads to painful toenails.

Whatever our activity, we need to “do the time.” We must put the time on our feet to get them ready and in shape to handle the stresses we will ask them to endure. If you have a vacation coming up, or a marathon, count backward on your calendar and block off time to get yourself ready-including your feet. Putting in the time on your feet will lead to happy feet.