Dealing with Blisters, Avoiding Ankle Pain and Other Lessons From My Second 5k Race

I finished my second 5k race a few weeks ago at Steven’s Creek Trail. I ran with my roommate Michael (who’s doing his own startup OYO Glasses) and completed it in 25:58, finishing 72nd out of 232 people (7th out of the 16 guys in my age group). It was slower than my first 5k by about 90 seconds which is kind of a bummer, but my training was also a bit off (you’ll see why in a minute). Also, this time I had shorts on. =)

I don’t want to turn this blog into a training / race log so I’ll focus on some useful things I’ve learned before and after the race.

Avoiding Feet / Ankle Pain

 

I'm screaming not from ankle pain here but just from general exhaustion in my all-out sprint to the finish.

I ran my first 5k in Vibrams and it was great. But after running in Vibrams all the time on pavement, I found my feet and ankles really starting to bother me. I took some time off to see if I just needed some rest but even after not running for most of August, it still hurt when I started running. I knew I wasn’t running hard to enough to have that serious of an injury, so I needed to try new tactics:

The solution ended up being three-fold: Hardcore icing, new shoes and treadmills.

Ice is the big one - everyone knows they’re supposed to do it, no one does it. [1] Icing your feet with ice packs is hard because your foot is awkwardly shaped. You gotta go with ice baths.

Get something resembling a bucket, fill it with some water and as many ice cubes as possible (I bought a 2nd set of trays for this purpose) and sticking your feet in there right after your run for about 20 minutes. Yes it’s really cold. But your feet and ankles will thank you later. I do this after every run and now my foot/ankle back is basically nil. [2]

Minimal Running Shoes

My new shoes! The New Balance Minimus Trail MT20.

Another part of my quest to rid myself of foot pain was to try a different pair of shoes. I love my Vibrams but I’m not 100% sold on the barefoot Kool-Aid – perhaps a little support would help. So I took a look at the Merrell Trail Glove, the Vivobarefoots and the New Balance Minimus. There are tons of good reviews on each shoe but ultimately I chose the New Balance for their nice shoe/foot feel (no socks ma!) and the way they squeezed the sides of my foot a little.

The key here is to order from Zappos for their free shipping both ways. I ended buying all 3 types of shoes in different sizes until I found the combination that worked for me. You’re not supposed to take them outside your house but I ended up doing 10 minutes on the treadmill with one of pair before deciding to go with a bigger size. My refund has come through so I guess I kept the shoe in a nice enough condition to qualify.

I still wear my Vibrams – especially when I’m lifting, but also on shorter runs. For longer runs and races, I’ll be wearing the New Balance shoes.

Dealing with Blisters

One thing that was unfortunate about the race and running in my new Minimus’es was that my foot got a little hotter than usual and I sweat in the shoe. When you aren’t wearing socks, sweating in your shoes is a big deal because it creates irritation and friction which can result in blisters.

I ended up with 2 big blisters on both feet. Even a month later, you can see the damage wrought by these blisters

20111017-075855.jpg

The white patch is new. It's the large red patch to the left that was the problem.

So the key here is eliminating the friction. I searched on Google and found Body Glide, or something like it, is what I need. This stuff is basically a moisturizer / lubricant that can be applied anywhere that chafes or gets blisters: thighs, nipples, armpits and feet. I haven’t had an issues with blisters since getting my stick.

Running with Music

Music and running are like seed capital and scrappy founders — they are great on their own and even better together. I love listening to music when I run. Three things make this work: good earbuds, a container for your music and great running tracks.

Earbuds: I love bass and have enjoyed the Skullcandy’s Ink’d line which is cheap ($12.99 on Amazon) and has a TON of bass. Problem is that they seem flimsy and I have to buy new pairs frequently. I have recently switched to Ultimate Ears because they have great ratings, are also cheap ($13.95 on Amazon) and have an L-shaped plug which I think will prevent the issues I’ve been getting with the Ink’d earbuds.

iPod holder: I don’t understand how people run in those armbands. I tried one once and had to pull it really tight in order to keep it secure, which ended up cutting off blood circulation. Now I use the SPIbelt – which is a tiny, fanny-pack like running belt – there are a couple different models out there and this one works for me.

Several people have asked about what I listen to when I run. It’s a lot of electronic dance music (house/techno/dubstep). Here are some of the my favorites from playlist I listened to during the race (all youtube links):

Ok, a few more photos from the race…

20111017-080033.jpg

Michael and I before the starting gun

Scoping out the competition

Michael looks so calm when he's running!

Runkeeper data for the race

FOOTNOTES

[1] Seriously – no one does it. I remember one time back when I was gymnast and seeing our team trainer hobbling around. He said he had rolled his ankle playing basketball but hated icing so he didn’t do it, and now his ankles hurt. *facepalm* [2] If you want to know why icing reduces pain, the basics is that your body generally overreacts to pressure and the inflammatory response ends up doing more damage than help. Icing constricts your blood vessels and prevents the damaging factors in your blood from reaching the area in question, so you feel better.
`

Related Posts:

Entrepreneur, writer, and athlete. #gohardorgohome More here.

11 comments
pain on top of foot
pain on top of foot

Many people have these types of problem. Maybe this pain is occur by Slipper's or the Shoes which Alignment is bad.

droope123
droope123

Hi jason

i agree with tahoe tho i didn't have the time to read his whole post.

your technique maybe needs to be improved. keep in mind the best runners don't drop their weight on their ankles when running, but rather on the oposite, the part just next to the toes - the forefoot i think.

i don't know if I am clear, english isn't my main language.

check this out:

http://www.google.com.ar/search?q=heel+striking&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:unofficial&client=firefox-a

hope this helps!

Regards,Pedro

tahoemph
tahoemph

"I knew I wasn’t running hard to enough to have that serious of an injury, so I needed to try new tactics: The solution ended up being three-fold: Hardcore icing, new shoes and treadmills."

I've been running since I was in Junior High so maybe I just gloss over this but you really shouldn't be hurting that much. I think if you are icing on a regular basis I'd see about having your mechanics evaluated and getting some new shoes.

"The key here is to order from Zappos for their free shipping both ways. I ended buying all 3 types of shoes in different sizes until I found the combination that worked for me."

You probably don't know enough to pick your own shoes. Get somebody who does to help you. Fleet Feet does okay. It is hard to see yourself run and see what is going wrong.

"my foot got a little hotter than usual and I sweat in the shoe. When you aren’t wearing socks, sweating in your shoes is a big deal because it creates irritation and friction which can result in blisters."

Hopefully you are not wearing cotton socks. There are plenty of good socks (e.g. drymax) that should keep your feet from doing this. $10/pair seems expensive but it is worth it.

" I don’t understand how people run in those armbands. I tried one once and had to pull it really tight in order to keep it secure, which ended up cutting off blood circulation."

I thought this initially but realized that once you sweat a little these can be really loose and they mostly stick on. Your warm up should be enough to make this happen.

JangChoe
JangChoe

I used to get heavy blisters too when running on my Vibrams. But I have found out that it was my running technique. I researched a lot about it and change my technique. It helped to minimize blisters on my feet, not to mention aches and pains. Have you looked at barefoot running techniques like POSE, Chi Running, and others?

jasonshen
jasonshen moderator

@tahoemph Interesting. I have been loathe to take time out of my schedule to see someone, but maybe it'd be worth it. I'm not wearing socks at all - just running barefoot in the shoe. Noted on the arm bands.

Thanks for commenting!

jasonshen
jasonshen moderator

@franklinchen Thanks for the comment Frank! I love your race stories - and also amazed that you ran a 10k in 47 minutes after years of not training. I hope to be under 50 in my first 10k this fall.

jasonshen
jasonshen moderator

@JangChoe I've definitely read a bit on proper barefoot running technique and watched some videos. The good thing about mininmalist shoes is that it naturally encourages you to run the right way. I don't have years of experience with heel strike like other runners and as a gymnast, I'm more prone to running too high on my toes than anything else.

franklinchen
franklinchen

@jasonshen Well, my best time in the same race years ago had been under 43 minutes :-).

I have a reading suggestion for you: I think the best book by far on running minimally without injury is Ken Bob's "Barefoot Running". Check it out!

Trackbacks

  1. […] non-distance covering obstacle stuff, this suggests my fitness is definitely better than my last 5k and had I run a regular 5k, I maybe even beaten my first 5k results at the SF […]

  2. […] Dealing with Blisters, Avoiding Ankle Pain and Other Lessons From My Second 5k Race […]

Next ArticleEverything I've Learned About Sales, Marketing and Persuasion