Tips for New Runners – Chafing and Blisters

Chafing and blisters, the bane of many runners existence. We all have our favorite methods of preventing and treating them. Today I’ll tell you about mine as well as some that I’ve heard about from other runners.

Chafing can happen anywhere that our clothes rub against our skin as well as anywhere our skin rubs against other bits of skin. Moisture, whether from sweat or the environment can make it worse. Dehydration can also be a contributing factor, so there is yet another reason to stay hydrated.

A quick search of a site like Amazon shows a fairly large number of products devoted to preventing chafing. The basic idea is to reduce the friction where skin is rubbing or being rubbed. The only gel/cream type product I’ve used is Body Glide. It works just fine for me, though I’ve heard from some people that it gives up after a while if they get very wet. I did not have any problems on our 26.2 mile training run in the rain, so I can’t speak to that. On long runs I apply it to all the places most people would, like inner thighs and inner arms, as well as underneath my bra straps. I don’t think I experienced bra strap chafing until we got up to 20 or more miles, but it was very uncomfortable when I did.

Little Sister Sole, on the other hand, swears by a product called Slider, and I can tell you that it at least smells better than Body Glide does. Little Sister Sole has very sensitive skin, so if you have used Body Glide and found it irritating, Slider might be a good solution for you. Other folks use plain old Vaseline Petroleum Jelly. I haven’t tried that because I find that overly slick sensation rather repulsive, especially on my feet.

Speaking of which, some folks use Vaseline Petroleum Jelly (or any petroleum jelly, I imagine) on their feet to prevent blisters, especially between the toes. I could not personally tolerate the way that would feel (hey, we all have our issues!), but if it works for you, I say go for it.

My primary defense against blisters on my feet is my socks, which got their very own blog post here. But what about blisters between the toes? Some folks swear by the Injinji toe socks. I have one pair and I find that they fit my toes well, but not the rest of the foot, so I don’t run in them. I use tape on my toes, but please be aware that if you use this method you need to be very careful. The type of tape I use is very stretchy and I do NOT pull it tight on my toes. My toes swell a lot during a long run and I don’t need the circulation getting cut off by my blister prevention method. I apply the tape around both of the toes that rub together, careful to wrap it all the way around so that it doesn’t come loose during my run and end up causing a blister. And I’ve never had any trouble with the tape rubbing against the adjacent toes and causing trouble, in case you’re wondering.

The first time I ever used the Elastikon tape was on the bottom of my foot, before I got the good socks. On our twelve mile run, we weren’t very far along before I started to feel a hot-spot on the bottom of my right foot. Fortunately for me, one of the other runners had brought along Elastikon tape. She helped me stretch the tape out before applying it to cover the hot-spot, and within a mile or two I couldn’t feel it anymore.

I have also used the tape (applied loosely, again) to prevent nipple chafe. A friend of mine, upon hearing that I was training for a marathon, advised me very emphatically, to tape my nipples on long runs and I took that advice very seriously so I’ve never had any trouble. After the Missoula Marathon I got to witness the affects of nipple chafe, because a friend of mine had stripes of blood down the front of his shirt. I am really glad I’ve never experienced that! I bet you want to avoid it, too!

If you decide to carry tape, like I do, you might want to carry a small pair of scissors. I just bring my Leatherman Micra along, since it folds up and won’t poke a hole in the pocket of my nutrition belt. And hey, I can cut tape, measure something small or fix a loose screw. I’m prepared for anything.

Well fitting clothes (not too tight and not too loose) that breathe well and wick moisture are another preventive measure. I have one running shirt that I really like, but I’m afraid to wear it on long runs because the arms are loose and floppy and I worry that it will chafe.

What other chafe and blister prevention tips do you have, dear readers? I’d love to hear them.

Happy running!


Blogs I Read

I know there are a ton of running blogs out there, but I thought I’d tell you about a few of those that I read and enjoy.

The Accidental Athlete is a grad student who runs and writes about her training.  She started running for many of the same reasons the rest of us do and found herself going farther than she ever imagined she would. I really relate to that and love reading about the things she’s learning and achieving as she goes.

Running Sunflower is a great writer and inspiring runner. She runs a lot of races, including marathons and always makes it sound like fun.

SisterSoleBlog is unique in two ways. First, it’s about BigSisterSole and LittleSisterSole who live in different states but encourage each other, train together (sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively) and have adventures.  Second, LittleSisterSole is one of my pace group buddies from my Galloway marathon class. She’s super fun to run with, especially if you’re feeling low. She can cheer you up and take your mind off whatever is bugging you like nobody’s business.

The T-Rex Runner is a favorite blog of many runners I know. She’s a Marathon Maniac who travels all over, runs marathons and writes some of the BEST race reports I’ve read. She’s snarky and funny, which I really enjoy, but you can always tell she loves running, even when she’s having a tough time. Check out her recent posts about running two marathons in two days.

Slow is the New Fast is a recent addition to my blog reader, but it’s an idea that’s close to my heart. She has a great attitude and clearly loves what she’s doing. Right now she’s training for the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World. She’ll be running a half marathon on Saturday and then a full on Sunday. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

Finally, the last blog in my list for today is Ultrun’s Blog. When Ultrun followed me I went to check out his blog and I will admit I felt absolutely unworthy. In the notification I got about being followed, wordpress included the suggestion that I check out his (then) recent post about the Ring of Fire – 3 Day, 131 Mile race. It’s a rather long post but absolutely worth reading. As with some of the others in my list, Ultrun’s love of running comes through in his words even when he’s writing about a race where he had a rough time. To be honest, reading about the Ring of Fire made me realize that if I want to, I can run a heck of a lot farther than a marathon. I just have to find the right races for me, and then train for them and I can do anything.

I hope you’ll find some of these blogs interesting. They’re not the only running blogs I read, but if I tried to include all of them I’d never get this post finished. I’ll have to do another roundup sometime soon.

Happy running!

Tips for New Runners – Toenails

This post is a part of my blog flash series, Tips for New Runners. It is based entirely on my own experiences as a new runner and may be missing a lot of information. This series is intended to help my readers find what works for them by sharing what worked or didn’t work for me.

This will probably the shortest post in the entire Tips for New Runners series, but I actually think it’s an issue worthy of its own post.

If you are going to go on a run that constitutes a long run for you, trim your toenails. I learned this lesson the hard way and I rather wish I hadn’t. As you run, your toes & toenails rub and bash against the insides of your shoes. Also, as I’ve mentioned quite a few times already, your feet may swell, increasing the amount of rubbing and bashing that your toenails are doing.

I don’t tend to notice the pain during my run. It’s always afterwards that I realize my toenails were too long. For several days after a long run with too-long toenails, my toes will be tender and sore. The slightest rub against shoes, socks or slippers can by oddly painful. I dislike wearing open toed shoes, though I suppose they would help considerably on those days when my toes are sore, so that may be a good option for you.

If you’re prone to ingrown toenails, be cautious as you trim them, so as not to cause yourself even worse problems. Otherwise, trim them as short as you reasonably can. Over time, you should find the happy medium that works for you.

I’ll be running in the Sweathouse Half Marathon tomorrow and am really looking forward to it. I don’t have a time goal for the race. My goal is to have fun and run happy. I’m not sure if I’ll have time to blog after the race tomorrow, as I have plans for the late afternoon & evening, so check back for my race report on Sunday.

Happy running!

The Pitfalls of Commute Running

The nice thing about the morning commute runs is being able to run when it’s cool. For the last two weeks I’ve done my commute runs to work on Tuesday and Thursday, as planned. The Tuesday run is straight to work, which is a little over 3 miles. The Thursday run winds through the neighborhood near work so that I can get 5 miles in. The first three runs went off without a hitch. This morning, however, I realized that I had forgotten to leave a pair of shoes at the office yesterday that I could reasonably wear with the skirt that I’d left. So I threw a pair of sandals into a bag, hung them on my water belt and off I went. It was a little awkward to have my bag of shoes flopping at my side, but it wasn’t really that annoying and certainly better than wearing my running shoes all day.

I need to make myself a little checklist to make sure I bring a change of clothes as well as shoes to leave at work on Mondays and Wednesdays. If you ever decide to try the commute run, another thing to keep in mind is that you want to bring clothes that aren’t going to wrinkle. There’s no need to look all rumpled and unkempt.

So the other thing I did this morning was to try a little bit of speed play or interval training. I’m honestly not sure which heading it falls under. Possibly both. Here’s what I did:

I started off with a 5 minute warm-up walk. For the rest of first mile I used the usual easy 30s run/30s walk split and a comfortable pace. Then for mile 2 I changed it up and did 30s easy run/30s run faster/30s walk. I started mile 3 with a 60 second walk break and then went back to my easy 30s/30s. For mile 4 I tried the 30s easy run/30s run faster/30s walk again, before starting my last mile with another 60 second walk break and going back to the 30s/30s easy, comfortable pace. I did walk the last few minutes and then kept moving a bit to get a decent cool down. I’m also very lucky that there is a shower in a nearby building that I am able to use.

The strange thing about my run this morning is that my time was exactly the same as last week’s 5 mile run. 1 hour and 3 minutes. To be fair, I did run into Emily, an awesome pace group buddy, on the way to work and stopped to chat for a minute. But still, it seems odd that I wouldn’t have been faster, given the 2 miles where I tried the 30s run/30s run faster/30s walk. It will be interesting to experiment with this idea further.

In other news, I registered for the Sweathouse Half Marathon yesterday. It’s more than a month off, so my plan is still just to keep running 12 to 13 miles every Saturday between now an then and stay in half marathon shape. I’m not sure if I should taper the weekend before or not. I’ll need to do a bit of reading on that.

I’m also considering what types of blog posts to write between now and then. I think I have some ideas for a series of posts on things I’ve learned, things I wish I’d known at the beginning and ideas for new runners. I just have to sort it all out and start posting.

Thirty six days until my first half marathon race. This nerd girl just keeps on runnin’.



Sometimes it’s the Little Things

I’m sure I’ve mentioned that I’m setting a weekly mileage goal for myself of 20 or more miles per week. I’m planning for my longest run each week to be on Saturday. In that vein, yesterday I went to the Saturday Morning Breakfast Run thinking that I’d run 5 miles, which I had incorrectly assumed was the longest of the pre-planned routes. In order to get my miles in for the day I opted to run from home, to the Runner’s Edge and back again afterward.

Upon arriving, I found that one friend was planning to run the longest of the routes, which was in fact 8 miles, while the rest of my former class-mates seemed to be opting for a short 3 mile run which was too short for me. So off I went with my friend on the 8 mile route. The friend in question is faster than I am, so I had to speed up and he had to slow down a bit so we could stay together. Given that I’m not really sore today, I don’t think I went beyond my capabilities, so I’m sure it was actually good for me.  And I did opt to run home afterward, even though I’d gone on a longer run than originally planned. My total mileage for the day was 12.7 and I’m very happy with that.

I think that this will be my new Saturday routine, now. My house is about 2.5 miles from the meeting place (depending on which route I take), so I can easily combine the three legs of my journey into 12 to 13 miles of run/walking, even if I walk around downtown before I run home, as I did yesterday. Running to and from the group run seems like an easy way to tack on some extra mileage. Combine that with my plan of a 3 mile and a 5 mile commute run during the week and hitting my 20 mile goal will be easy! And I’ll stay in shape for any upcoming half marathons I decide to do.

I find that running in a group for my longer runs is really helpful. I think I’m mentally able to run considerably farther when I’m with other people. Hopefully I’ll continue to find people to run the 8 mile route with. It’s not the easiest route in the world. It has a pretty significant hill in the first half, which makes it even better from a fitness standpoint, but a little harder to talk myself into doing solo.

I plan to keep on blogging as well. I’ll keep you up to date on my goals and my running as well as anything new I learn.  I’m also putting together a post about things I wish I’d known from the beginning. Everyone will have different experiences, but perhaps some of what I’ve learned can help someone else have a slightly easier time.

I’ve got 47 days until the Sweathouse Half Marathon and I’m looking forward to it!