Friday, January 27, 2006

No More Blisters

Last year I put in huge trail miles training for ultramarathons. In the past, I've always had some problems with blisters, but I learned two tricks from veteran runners that have eliminated my blister problems—both for running and for hiking and skiing. The first is Sport Shield. It comes in a tube like roll-on deoderant, and it works like Bodyglide or other anti-friction solutions, only much, much better. You just apply a thin coat anywhere you normally get blisters (heels and toes for me), pull on your socks, and you're ready to go. The big difference between Sport Shield and Bodyglide is the former seems to last much longer; I reapplied it once during a 50-mile race and didn't get any hotspots. Even better news for me is that it seems to prevent any blisters in my stiff old leather ski-touring boots and on long approaches in mountaineering boots. Highly recommended!

I have less evidence supporting the other running trick, but it makes sense and seems to work. Mike Monahan, a runner with 10 finishes at the Leadville Trail 100, recommended wearing nylon stockings as ultrathin, friction-beating liner socks. I bought knee-highs and rolled them down around my ankles, and I used them on two huge runs in Rocky Mountain National Park and during my attempt at Leadville (86.5 miles in 26 hours). No blisters. Was it the nylons? I don't know. But they feel good!

One final "trick": Wear the best socks you can afford. I used to buy three-packs of white "athletic" socks at Costco. Now it's SmartWool all the time. Worth every penny.

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