So you’re running a marathon. Good for you! Running a marathon isn’t just about tying up your sneakers and heading to the starting line on race day – there are weeks and months of preparation that go into marathon running. This three part series will look at race preparation, foot care, and post race foot treatments, to make sure your feet stay in top condition from training to the finish line. Today, it all starts at your shoes.
This seems like an obvious thing to say, but you need to have the correct size shoe. Dr Craig Brandoff, a New York City Podiatrist, says it is crucial to get fitted at a proper store, adding “Get professionally measured – most injuries are from wearing the wrong size shoe”. This means taking the time to go to a sports store and working with a sales assistant to find what is right for you. Physical Therapist and Fitness Expert Laura Miranda agrees, saying, “If this is your first race or you haven’t been fitted in a few years, make use of stores that specialize in runners with well-educated staff to analyze your gait, and running form. With this information they can recommend the best type of sneaker for your specific foot type or biomechanics i.e. excessive pronation, neutral foot, high arches etc.”
Laura adds, “Since your foot will move, swell and shift during your 26.1 miles it is recommended to have at least 1/2 to 1 inches of extra wiggle room for the toes.” This allows room for your feet to swell, for your arch to naturally flatten, and for your toes to move. It also prevents your toenail hitting the box of the shoe, which can cause a lot of damage to the nail. Laura adds, “Overall proper fit of the sneaker is crucial to not only prevent superficial skin trauma, but also to help reduce potentially more serious musculo-skeletal injuries that can sideline you from your training or even your race!” Yikes!
When trying on shoes, it is important that you try them on with the socks you will wear while running, for a correct fit. Laura says, “Since excessive moisture is one of the main causes of blisters, moisture wicking socks are preferred over simple cotton construction because, like their name, they help keep the foot ventilated and prevent sweat from collecting in any one area. Choose a snug fit that holds the sock in place but one with enough breathability as to not suffocate your precious feet!” Dr Brandoff has a slightly different approach, and advises wearing cotton socks with nylon socks over the top – the cotton will absorb sweat, while the nylon slides in the shoe so there is no friction to cause blisters. Laura has another helpful tip, adding, “On the day of the race be mindful of any folds or seems that might irritate your foot after a few hours of constant motion. Some veteran runners take no chances in this department and wear their socks inside out to avoid any possible irritation from the seams.”
The last thing to remember with shoes is to give yourself enough time to break them in before the big day. Laura Miranda recommends, “Give yourself about two weeks ‘breaking in period’ because even though you are using the same kind of sneaker, ones that have been pounding the pavement for 400 miles will feel very different than the fresh new kicks right out of the box.” She also impresses the importance of replacing your sneakers often when you are clocking up the miles. “A good rule of thumb is to look at the bottom of the sneaker and the inner and outer edge of the heel. Regardless of how many miles you have put on, if the rubber is significantly worn down or even missing, it is time to replace the sneaker. Excessive wear on one edge over the other is a red flag indicator for abnormal running mechanics and a shoe that is past it’s prime. Continued use without change can lead to injury in the foot or other joints up the chain (knees, hip, or lower back.) Most runners should think about getting a new pair of sneakers after approximately 300-500 miles of use depending on climate, weight of the runner, and shoe construction. When it’s time to get a new pair, stay with the same make and model of the shoe you’ve been training in.”
Stay tuned next week when we talk about foot care!
Are you running the 2013 New York Marathon?.