How many times do we see grisly photos of blistered and battered feet? You know the ones – with huge chunks of skin hanging and dangling, or maybe a balloon-like blister filled with who knows what gnarly fluid. Maybe a toenail or two ripped off, and garnished with plenty of blood for good measure. Then there’s always the Grand Canyon-like variety of foot carnage as depicted below.
Ultrarunners’ feet take a pounding like no others’. They are the workhorses that allow us to do what we do. But too often, we take them for granted until something goes south down there – usually during a big race. It’s only then that we remember just how crucial their health and happiness is to our ability to perform and get it done mile after mile.
A few years ago, I was in great shape and teed up for a super-fast race. At the last minute, I decided to go with some new minimal “fast” shoes. I laced them up extra tight and blasted off with the frontrunners. I was pushing hard and having fun out there. Except for the hot spot on my foot that was becoming “something more” around mile 20. Each step increasingly burned as I adjusted my stride so I wouldn’t land right on that area.
Around mile 30, I was able to pass another runner on a technical trail area. I was digging deep and the adjusted gait was working – until bam! I landed funny on a root and turned my ankle worse than ever before. I mean, it seemed like my foot might just snap off at the ankle. Needless to say, I learned the lesson the hard way, as I limped across the finish line with months of rehab and recovery ahead of me.
Take care of your feet and they will take care of you.
Dean Karnazes, a guy who knows something about abusing the feet (his 10 Western States and 10 Badwater finishes aren’t even the beginning of his long distance running resume), shares his best advice and insights on how to give your post-ultra feet some TLC in his column on page 77.
Also in this issue, we review comfort footwear for après-race. Give it a read and make the commitment to give your feet a break. And don’t miss our fall shoe review in this issue; it covers many great new shoes with features like expanded toe boxes, seamless uppers, cushy midsoles and grippy treads. You can choose from several of these to get your feet more happily through the fall racing season.
Also in this issue, we have great articles from our columnists, on issues ranging from the best recovery foods, to a plethora of strategies for overcoming ultra challenges – both physical and mental. Also inside are a number of great race reports, including features on two extreme mountain races: Hardrock and Broken Arrow, a beautifully tough new Skyrace. We also shine a light on some East Coast ultrarunning communities, from New York, Virginia and Asheville, North Carolina.
And don’t miss the latest rankings for the UltraRunning Race Series, which includes 126 regional Age Group Competitions, as well as scoring for our new Queen and King of the Distance categories, which will pay $500 to each of the eight victors at the end of this year’s competition next April.
Hopefully you have some fun races planned for this fall. Good luck, and may your every run be a great one.