I never used to pay much attention to my feet. I mean, they were just there. They did what feet were supposed to do – provide my body a base of support and mobility. I just assumed and took for granted that they would continue to do that with minimal attention from me. And they did! Sure I washed them when in the shower. Yes, I clipped toenails. I did purchase shoes that fit reasonably well, provided of course that they looked exceedingly cool. Beyond that though, I pretty much left them alone. That was when I was young, strong and (cough, cough) invincible!

As I now know however, I am neither invincible nor young (but still hold onto strong) and I do need to afford my feet the respect and care they rightly deserve for having carried me along for 53 years thus far and, more importantly, for carrying me through the many years to come. Think for a moment about the pounding that, as runners, our feet take over the course of a life of running. We pound our feet into the ground at anywhere from 160 to 180 steps per minute during our runs. Over the course of a 10k run at, say, at a 7:30 pace, that’s nearly 8150 steps or 4075 steps per foot. That’s just for a 45 minute run! Now say we’re on a training program where we run 24 miles each week – not at all unreasonable. That’s equates to 32,600 steps or 18,300 per foot. Just for running! Don’t forget that you’re still walking on them, standing on them in lines or at the water cooler at work, shoving things out of the way with them, etc. You get the idea! Our feet rarely get time off! So, with that said then here is what I personally resolve to do for my feet – now and well into the future.

I resolve that from this day forward I will make sure that all footwear I entrust my feet to (not just running shoes) will fit properly and will include enough room in the toe box for my toes to stretch and breath yet still maintain a snug fit so that they do not rub around inside the shoe possibly causing major blisters or calluses to develop. I will make sure that the shoes fit comfortably over my entire foot – not too tight where circulation is impeded, not too loose that my feet rub and develop blisters.

I will not run in worn out shoes any longer. Shoes that look as if the dog and all his buddies took a turn at them. (you know what I mean! Go look in your dog’s bed!) Those shoes just will not work any longer - if they ever did! The structure of them has been worn down to a point where I do more damage wearing them than not. I will even go to a running shoe specialist if I have to in order to get properly fitted for the correct shoe for my running type.

I am a heavy runner who tends to under-pronate. By way of definition, pronation refers to the roll of your foot/ankle from foot strike to toe off. Normal pronation is slight inward roll, over-pronation is too much of an inward roll and under-pronation or supination is rolling outwards on your foot. I also have a normal arch. I look for a shoe that will help to bring my running gait to a more neutral pronation. It is widely stated that a running shoe’s effective life span is anywhere between 200 to 500 miles, again depending on your foot type and the type of runner you are. There is then a direct impact on how many miles you will get out of a pair of running shoes. Knowing what foot type you have is a big step towards being able to make proper decisions in your running footwear!

In addition to the correct shoes I will make sure that my feet are wrapped in adequate socks! No more ‘whatever’s in the drawer’ or ‘they’ve only been used a couple of times. How sweaty can they be?’ Now I will make sure that I doff clean socks for each and every run and that these socks will be of sufficient substance and material to help with cushioning, will allow my feet to breathe, and will not aid in the formation of blisters or calluses. No cotton socks which do not wick moisture away from your feet either making them feel cold and clammy or opening the way for those doggone blisters to appear. I go back and forth on my preference on thick or thin socks. I have some of each.

I resolve that from this day forward I will heed each and every signal of discomfort that my feet communicate to me. I am well aware that they have most likely been doing this all along and that I, wrapped in my self-made sheath of invincibility, have elected to ignore these communications. I will do so no longer! I will listen and (more importantly) hear when my heel screams from the constant rubbing against the back of my shoe. (I don’t expect that to happen any longer though as I have previously resolved to buy only proper fitting shoes) I will continue to use my heel cup and whatever other orthotics are needed to ensure my feet are protected on the run. I will be careful when choosing orthotics though as the combination of corrective orthotics and running shoes also designed to correct something in the runner’s gait may well do more harm than good. I do know that there are trained experts at my nearby running shoe store to help guide me. If I have to I will even take a day off from running and allow my feet total rest and recovery!

I resolve to allow my feet to breathe unencumbered at times during the day. Heck, I used to walk around barefoot for an entire summer! I can certainly give them an hour a day now! Let ‘em stretch, let ‘em expand, let ‘em feel the fresh air! I will also pamper my feet more than I used to (which was never!). I will massage them, I will soak them, and (a nice Epsom salt foot bath is a wonderful thing!) I will clip toenails properly, I will wash them and not just let the spray from the shower get them wet and call it good!

"The human foot is a biological masterpiece that amazingly endures the stresses of daily activity," states Marybeth Crane, DPM, a spokesperson for the College and a podiatric foot and ankle surgeon in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and herself a serious runner and marathoner. "For runners, the feet are more vulnerable to injury than any other part of the body, and these athletes should be on the alert for signs of foot problems that can slow them down if not treated promptly." I will ice when I need to, I will stretch when I need to, I will learn and understand about bursitis, plantar fasciitis, heel pain syndrome, stress fractures, blisters, calluses, black toe, yellow toe, foot fungous, athlete’s foot, and Morton’s toe syndrome. I will arm myself with knowledge and I will treat any potential injury, be it from overuse (such as Plantar Fasciitis or Achilles Tendonitis) or freak accident with intelligence, patience and care.

I will endeavor to cross train once or twice each week with activities that do not stress my feet as sorely as running does. By swimming, cycling, aqua-jogging or some other non-impact type of exercise, I will continue to stay fit but at the same time reduce the amount of direct stress I place on my feet when I pound the pavement.

These things I resolve and will do for my feet because my feet carry me where I want to go. Without them I, quite literally, go nowhere! Without them I do not run and that, simply stated, is not an acceptable alternative!

Run smart and have fun!


Author's Bio: 

For most of his life Art has been a runner and for the past 13-14 years also involved with the sport of triathlon. His discovery in that time is that there is so much more to running than the physical efforts and rewards. "For such a simple and basic activity there is a wealth of benefit to receive and incorporate into our hectic lives! Everyone of us receives something a little different and unique from participating in the activities that we love. It is my hope that by offering the shared stories and thoughts on running that will be published on our website, Conversations on The Run, runners of all ages and all levels will be inspired and motivated to truly make of their efforts something that provides benefit and worthy fulfillment throughout their lifetime!" To date, Art has completed 2 Ironman races, many 1/2 ironmans, many olympic distance triathlons, marathons, 1/2 marathons, 10ks, etc. I'm always middle to rear of the pack in both my age group and in the race but placing high was never a priority. Just being out there and being able to participate in something that adds such positive influences to my life is the reason I'm out there as often as I can! The positive energy that pervades these events is a palpable thing and something to soak in at every chance!" He runs nearly everyday so that he can "maintain an equilibrium with life that would not be possible without running."