home |

Blister Free Long Distance Running

by Cathy Tibbetts

I never get blisters in marathons (although I did at first with my cotton socks). I never get blisters in 50-milers, either. But I get them in 100-milers and it's always before I get to the 50-mile point.

Now, I used to get awful blisters. Golf ball sized ones. Full-toe blisters on every toe. The deep ones under your heels that you can't pop. The pain and hobbling cost me many hours in races. And then there was the oozing aftermath to deal with at work the following week.

I spent years experimenting with different techniques and drawing on what I learned from others. Some things worked, some things didn't. Slowly, over time, things got better. Finally, I hit on the right combination in 2006 and ran my first zero-blister 100-miler.

I'll probably still get some blisters and this always be a work in progress. I still lose all of my toenails, which I suppose, technically, is a blister under your nail. So no pretty toenails with cute sandals any time in my near future...but at least now I can get my shoes on.

What you'll need:
Tincture of benzoin
Elastikon tape in 2 widths
1. For the sides of your feet: 2 inches wide
2. For the bottoms of your feet: 3 or 4 inches wide. (I have very narrow feet and use the 3")
Hydropel Sports Ointment

Step 1: I do this the night before the race. Rub tincture of benzoin all over the sides and bottoms of your feet. Give it a few minutes to dry. The purpose of the benzoin is to make your feet sticky so the Elastikon tape sticks better.

Step 2: Take the 3" or 4" tape and put it on the bottom of your feet. Start just behind the toes and continue up over your heel. Don't stretch the tape as you put it on. Pinch the sides together where it overlaps near the back of your foot and cut it flush with your foot.

Step 3: On the side of your feet, run the 2" tape from just behind your big toe, around the back of your foot, to just behind your little toe. It should overlap some with the tape on the bottom of your foot. Put socks on and let it set overnight.

Step 4: In the morning apply Hydropel liberally all over and between your toes.

Step 5: This is the hardest part.....the Hydropel wears off after a while so you have to reapply it periodically. Every six hours has been working and I don't dare to push my luck and go any longer.

I stash Hydropel in film canisters in my drop bags. You absolutely aren't going to want to stop and reapply when you feet feel fine, so you have to decide ahead of time that you will take the time no matter what. I clean the dirt off of my toes before reapplying it and the entire process takes less than five minutes. It seems like a lot of time but it's nothing compared to how much time you lose when you're in agony.

For me, taping my feet puts me into a half size larger running shoe. (Yes, I made that mistake the first time I taped my feet before a race and couldn't find a running shoe store open at 4 a.m.) Be sure to check this out before racing.

More on Cathy at her website: http://www.geocities.com/cdtibbetts/
Click to expand or contract image size:

Blister Free Running - For Ultra-marathons, Trail Running