Walking is my passion. Sometimes my walks are quite short like the walks to and from work, sometimes they’re longer. In my time I’ve walked two Moonwalk marathons and, in training, I’ve walked the full 26.2 miles several times. One of the bug bears of long distance walkers is blisters and, back in July 2012 I shared some of my tips for avoiding them. These days Commando calls me his blister technician because I’ve helped him avoid a few in his marathon running career. I don’t pretend to be an expert but if you’re looking for ways to avoid sore feet, the following may help. Now if only I’d listened to my own advice on Saturday!
19 July 2012
Today I managed to walk my ten miles and, surprise surprise, it didn’t rain. Given the recent weather that is something of a minor miracle. When I went out it looked like rain so I wore my parka. By the time I got to the little bridge by the White Swan pub I was wishing I hadn’t. I was also wishing I’d remembered to put my sunglasses back in my bag. Because I haven’t needed them for a while I took them out, no wonder it was sunny. In the end I had to take the parka off and tie it round my waist. What I really need is a decent foldaway mac so I can carry it in my bag and ditch the parka.
Anyway, I walked all along the river, stopped for a little while on the little bridge to watch a swan, and then went on, past the airport and the big Fords factory to the Swan Centre at Eastleigh. I did stop for a Costa Coffee, just like I planned. Let’s face it, there was no way I was going to miss that out. There was also a little wander round TKMax to have a look at fold away macs. Surprisingly they didn’t have any. You’d have thought, with the summer we’re having, they’d have had loads. After that, I turned round and came back home.
Forgetting my sunglasses was a pain but there’s one thing I never leave out of my bag, blister plasters. This was a habit I formed when I was training for the Moonwalk last year. My training started long before the event and I started small, adding one mile to my walk each week. Mostly, I used the same training route, from my house in Southampton along the river to Winchester and then all the way back again. Conveniently this is just over twenty six miles, my marathon target.
One of the things that gave me problems at the beginning, all the way through if I’m honest, was blisters. Everyone who walks any distance gets them from time to time but, if you are a long way from home and the only way back is to carry on walking, it can be a bit of a pain – in the feet. Thankfully, something I discovered quite early on was blister plasters. There are lots of different makes of these on the market but, after extensive testing on my part, my favourites are Compeed Blister Plasters. They really do do what they say on the tin, or, with them, little Plastic case. I should probably own shares in the company because I must have bought thousands of them in the last two years and I always have a pack in my bag.
One thing I learned was not to wait until I actually had a blister but to put one on. As soon as I felt like I might be getting one, you know that feeling, a bit sore, a bit burning, I’d stop, get my blister plasters out and put one on. The relief would be immediate and, if I caught it in time, it didn’t turn into a blister at all. If it did it would heal really quickly if I left the plaster on there for a day or so. I really don’t mind making an idiot of myself by sitting down on the pavement, taking off my shoe and popping on a plaster anywhere in front of anyone. Let’s face it I don’t mind making an idiot of myself full stop!
Another great blister preventer that I’ve recently discovered (and my feet are literally covered with them right now after my ten mile walk) are Scholl Party Feet. I tried them years ago when I had to walk for miles on educational trips in my job at Dream Factory but, being an idiot, I didn’t use them properly and didn’t think they were any good. I thought you were supposed to stick the sticky side to your shoes when, in fact, you stick the sticky side to your foot (which actually works much better). Doh!
They are great for really long walks where the constant pressure of walking makes the balls of my feet or heels feel sore and burning and can actually lead to blisters if I’m walking a really long distance. The best bit is you can wash them and reuse them. I’m not sure how it works because the magic stickiness doesn’t wear off even when they’ve been washed loads of times. I just wish they were in a nifty little case like the blister plasters because they usually end up covered in fluff and bits of stuff from the bottom of my bag.
Walking socks can also help fight the blister war. These were something I discovered by accident. On the day of my Moonwalk, I got to the hotel only to find I had forgotten to pack my walking socks. Commando and I had to go out for a little shopping trip to get some. We were lucky to find a branch of Marks and Spencer close to the hotel and I’ve been wearing their Blister Resist Socks ever since. There are lots of different ones on the market from the trainer sock type to quite long ones. I like the ankle sock ones myself. They are usually double skinned and all padded at the bottom. Because they’re cotton they don’t make my feet sweat, which is a sure fire way to get blisters.
When I get home I usually use a foot spray. If I’ve had a really tough walk and my feet feel really bad I soak them in warm water with some washing up liquid because I like bubbles, and some essential oils. My favourite is peppermint because it cools the feet and tea tree because it has disinfectant properties and will help heal any blisters or little grazes. Usually I chuck in a few drops of something that smells really nice too. Essential oils can be expensive but I buy big 100ml bottles quite cheaply on eBay because I use them to make my own body butter, so I have quite a collection to choose from.
So that, in a nutshell is my blister busting technique. If anyone has any other tips I’d be very interested to hear them.