How to Prepare your Feet for a Marathon
Whether you’re working up to a 5K or already training for the BMW Dallas Marathon, your podiatrist in DeSoto, TX wants to make sure your feet make it through to the finish line—without pain or injury! Want to keep your training on track without getting sidelined by discomfort? Just follow our top 7 tips on how to prepare your feet for a marathon!
Gear Matters—More Than You Think
One of the best ways to protect your feet from the pressure of long-distance running is to choose the right socks and sneakers. But everyone’s feet are different—so how can you find your perfect pair of running shoes? First, make sure the shoes feel comfortable the first time you try them on. They shouldn’t rub against any spot on your feet. Still, the shoes need to have a snug fit at the heel and instep, otherwise, your foot could slide on runs, leaving you with blisters. Finally, make sure you have enough room at the end of the shoe to wiggle your toes—this will keep them from slamming into the shoe end while you running, increasing your risk for a blackened runner’s toenail. And make sure not to wear a brand new pair of shoes on race day—you should have worn your sneakers several times before heading to the starting line of the marathon. (Just be sure you haven’t worn them so much that the shoes need replacing!)
Now, the socks you choose are almost as important as your kicks. Skip the old-school cotton and head straight to moisture-wicking socks that will keep your feet dry during long runs, dramatically reducing your risk for blisters and even athlete’s foot infections. There are even socks specifically designed to prevent blisters. But many runners prefer to put some diaper cream or specialized anti-chafing cream on blister-prone foot zones, claiming it also helps combat hot spots. (That’s the term for the discomfort or pain you feel on the bottom of your feet at the end of a long run.)
How to Prepare Your Feet for a Marathon: Never Ignore Pebbles
Training outdoors means anything from rocks to leaves or even dirt can sneak its way into your sneakers. Of course, when you’re training for a race, or in the middle of your marathon, it can be tempting to ignore the invader and push through in the quest of your personal best time. But that would be a terrible mistake! Instead, stop and shake out your shoe as soon as you notice a problem. Otherwise, your feet could end up with blisters, cuts or even infections, depending on how long you leave the debris inside your shoe.
Prepare Feet for a Marathon with Proper Nail Care
Distance runners are notorious for developing blackened or ingrown toenails. That’s because training can slam your nail into your shoes (see tip number 1), causing trauma that can even change the direction of your nail growth. While not a fool-proof solution, trimming your nails carefully can help reduce the risk of a nail injury while training for your next big race.
First, make sure to trim your nails fairly short, but always leave a bit of white nail visible. Also, after a trim, smooth out any sharp or uneven edges with a brand-new nail file to avoid damage and infection. Be sure to trim straight across, not along the curve of the nail bed. And, after cutting your nails, make sure to apply a nice layer of moisturizer, to help avoid dry, cracking heels.
Keep Feet and Shoes Dry and Free of Fungus
If your feet are extra sweaty, be sure to wear moisture-wicking
socks to help prevent the buildup of moisture during training; as soon as you return from your run, slip into a pair of sandals to let your feet dry completely. (Or, at the very least, put on a pair of clean socks.) Now, leave your sneakers to dry completely—ideally in the sunshine. If you can, avoid wearing the shoes for a full day after training. If you can’t, consider investing in an anti-fungal spray for your shoes.
How to Prepare Your Feet for a Marathon: Incorporate Strength Training
Many distance runners know the importance of cross-training, and incorporating other forms of cardio and weights into your fitness routine. But, as it turns out, it’s also critical to engage in specific foot-strengthening and stretching exercises to help avoid common running injuries such as plantar fasciitis. One popular option involves nothing more than a towel and a chair. To get started, sit down on the chair with the towel right in front of your foot. Grab it with your toes and scrunch them towards you, holding it against your foot before using your toes to push the towel away from you once again. Repeat this exercise several times on each foot.
Focus on Training Form
Before and after your race, or anytime you head out to run, be sure to engage in dynamic, moving stretches. Pay special attention to your calf muscles, since tightness in this area can tug on your plantar fascia, leading to heel pain.
As you build up to longer distance running, be sure to keep your weekly distance and speed increases gradual, to avoid an overuse injury. And consider asking Dr. Lisa Brandy to check your gait for pronation or other concerns, since she may recommend fitting you for a custom orthotic to avoid a running injury.
How to Prepare Your Feet for a Marathon: Act Immediately on Discomfort
Runners are famous for training through the pain. But this is actually a recipe for serious injury, not to mention missing race day. Want to make sure you stay on track with training and make it across the finish line? At the first sign of pain during or after training, stop your run and rest your feet. Then, if discomfort persists for more than a day or two, schedule an immediate appointment with our podiatrist in DeSoto, TX.
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p. (972) 293-9650
f. (972) 291-2533
1801 N. Hampton Road
DeSoto, TX 75115