Wednesday 21 March 2018

Catherina McKiernan: Best way to tackle your blisters

Blistering pace: Catherina wins the 1998 London marathon.

Catherina McKiernan

I drove up home to Cavan last Monday evening to meet and chat to a group who have caught the bug for running.

I love giving advice and sharing my expertise with people who have found the joy that running gives. The event was very well organised and I wanted to make sure everyone got plenty of information and motivation from the evening.

At these kind of events I get asked all kinds of running related questions. I was asked about how to prevent blisters. During my running career I experienced and endured them and in some cases, I was unable to train as I prepared for a race.

Friction is the main cause of blisters. Because the motion of running is so repetitive, all it takes is one little thing to be off to increase pressure in a certain spot. Heat can also cause some swelling, which puts extra stress on the skin making it more susceptible to irritation.

I tried everything to prevent blisters. For example I rubbed Vaseline on my feet, and put on second skin for a protective shield between my feet and socks.

I wore proper synthetic running socks as cotton is super absorbent and it soaks up water which causes more friction. I walked around in my bare feet as much as possible and tried numerous pairs of shoes but I still experienced blisters from time to time.

The most important thing to ensure is that your shoes fit properly and are slightly bigger than your ordinary shoes because feet swell up when you run.

I now accept that my running form or the way I ran – very much on my forefoot – was the reason I got blisters.

Every stride was like hitting the brakes a little bit which caused my foot to slide forward in my shoe, creating friction.

Ideally you allow your entire foot to land underneath your body with a short snappy stride.

When I started training for my first marathon I moved from my home in Cavan to Dublin and I use to do some of my 20 mile runs in Malahide Park.

I met some great people who helped me through those gruelling training sessions.

I knew the only thing that would stop me in my tracks during my first marathon in Berlin was a blister. David Ivers, who I trained with, was aware that I was anxious about this and gave me tape to put on my feet.

It was a very sticky secure tape that they use in the army. It acted like a protective layer and I can safely say without it I would not have got through my marathons. It worked wonders and there wasn't the slightest mark on my feet after the 26 miles.

If you do get a small blister it's almost always best to leave it alone. If it's large, very carefully lance it with a sterilised needle, then squeeze out the fluid. Apply antiseptic cream and put a plaster over it, but don't remove the skin on top of the blister.

It's important not to run when you have a very sore blister because you will typically change your gait in order to avoid the painful area. This may further compromise your form and lead to more serious injuries. Don't get discouraged, just assess the issue, find a preventative method that works for you and get back out running as quickly as possible.

Twitter: @cat_mckiernan

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