Running 101: Preparing your feet for Marathon

With so many people preparing for spring and autumn marathons, it’s a good time to take a look at how you can get yourself ready. When it comes to running, and marathons in particular, training is king.  Your feet, however, are queen and they run (we couldn’t resist the pun) the household.  Taking good care of your feet is key.





Many marathoners have a moment as the race approaches when they start asking themselves; ‘Are my shoes too worn out? Should I get new shoes or is it too close to race day?’ While everyone is different, there do seem to be some general rules of thumb about this issue that can help you make a decision:

  • Running shoes are generally classified as worn out between 300-400 miles. If you’ve been training for a marathon, then you know how many miles you’ve been putting in.   If you’re at that point, then you definitely need new shoes.  You probably shouldn’t have more than 150 miles on them at marathon day.
  • If you do need new shoes, the latest you should wait is two weeks before the marathon. Ideally, you should have them in time to wear them for one of your last long runs.
  • Buy the same brand, model and size shoes you trained in, unless you’ve decided there’s something really wrong with them. Don’t let the salesperson persuade you with ‘this is the latest, improved version,’ or ‘this is much better for marathons.’  If you like your shoes, stick with them.





We can never emphasise the importance of good socks enough.  Make sure you don’t choose a pair that’s been too favoured, though; they shouldn’t be so worn they sag or have holes in them (or hole developing.)  On the other hand, you shouldn’t break out a new pair on marathon day, just in case you happen to have gotten the one pair where the thread is a little weird or slightly misshapen.  Plan to wear a pair that you’ve worn and washed at least a few times.

Wearing compression socks while running can have additional performance benefits.  The socks offer gradual compression which improves circulation below the knee.  This increases oxygen delivery to the muscles, improves blood circulation to the heart and speeds the removal of lactic acid.

According to The Science of Running, another theory is that compression socks may decrease muscle vibration caused by impact.


Toughen up

As you progress through your training, your feet will naturally toughen up and develop calluses,  Some people suggest soaking your feet in strong tea several times a week so that tannic acid can help toughen up your skin.  We have never tried this so we can’t guarantee its efficacy.  However, if you have calluses or corns that keep rubbing on your shoes and are getting red and sore, we suggest putting corn pads on them to protect them.

If they’re becoming really painful or problematic, you should see a podiatrist at AA Podiatry (0141 778 4400) to have them checked out and trimmed.  You also need to figure out what’s causing the problem – for example, your shoes may not fit or your socks may be wrong for you.


Soften Up

Whilst you want your feet to be tough for the marathon, if you notice cracks or dry skin on your foot or heels, then make sure you apply moisturiser regularly.  Cracks can split open severely and become bloody, painful fissures.  Try to take care of them before they get there.

Some runners prefer a warm wax therapy to put moisture back into the skin and help soften it.


Right Before the Marathon

See your AA podiatrist for a thorough foot check a few days before the marathon.  If you have particularly thick calluses, you may want to file them down.  If you have blisters, make sure you layer blister pads over them.  Trim your toenails straight so they’re square across the top, no higher than the tip of your toe.  Keeping your toenails this length can help prevent the dreaded ‘black toenail’ that comes from your nail repeatedly banging against the tip of your shoe.

Following these steps will help your feet help you get through your marathon.  Good luck and have fun!

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