What's on your feet?

Your running shoes and socks play a critical role in your training.  The right shoes and socks are just two of many factors that will help you get to the starting line healthy.  Do you have the right shoes?

This sounds silly, as we all have running shoes and likely lots of socks.  However, as you put in the miles required for a good marathon, now is the time to make sure you are set for marathon race day. 

You will wear through your shoes a bit more quickly in marathon training than training for shorter distances.  The pair you started your training in back in January is likely NOT the pair that will get you to the finish line.  Find the shoe that works for you and stick with it, buy a few pairs to have them ready. Make sure the shoe you wear on marathon day has been worn for several runs.  Sometimes even the identical shoe model can have an odd seem, stitch, or rub the wrong way. You'll know in a few runs in a new pair of shoes if the shoe is a bit "off."  You do not want to wear an "off" shoe on marathon day!  A slight rub over a 5 mile run can turn into a nasty blister or cut over the marathon. 

If you like to wear a lighter shoe for the actual marathon day (such as a racing flat like the Nike Flyknit race, Air Zoom Streak, Brooks T&, Asics Gel Racer, etc), make sure you’ve worn this shoe during several of your Marathon Paced Training Runs.  It’s best to have several runs in the shoes before toeing the line.  Avoid buying a fancy shoe at the Marathon Race Expo to wear the next day in your marathon.  Buy the shoe if you want, but hold off on wearing until a later date. 

When do you need new shoes? Some go by the old rule of "500 miles".  I do not.  I go by how the shoe feels.  Some shoes might be good for 400+ miles, but others (especially if you were a light weight training shoe) need to be replaced more frequently.   I also recommend having 2 pairs of shoes that you rotate in training to avoid a big switch to a new pair of shoes.  While shoes are expensive, they are a lot less expensive than an injury!

Your socks are just as important.  Find a pair that works and buy a few pairs.  Use those for your long runs and race day.  You will be tempted at the Pre-race expo to buy some fun and fancy new stuff, including socks (there are so many cool running socks)… avoid the temptation to wear them in your marathon.  Save them for your runs after recovery from the marathon!

One of my claims to fame from my marathon was completing the marathon and training program with zero blisters, and no black toenails.  Why?  The correct shoes, socks, and a little extra secret - try a very thin layer of Vaseline over your feet before putting on your socks.  This helps with the friction/rubbing. As always, try this on your training runs BEFORE race day!   

Vicki is a distinguished athlete and international competitor, Vicki competed in the 1996 US Olympic Trials in the 10,000 run. She made her marathon debut at the 1999 Hong Kong Marathon, where she qualified for the 2000 US Olympic Marathon Trials. In 2001, she was invited to join the Fila Discovery USA training program, a program designed to develop American distance runners into elite marathon athletes able to compete with the best in the world. She has been a member of five USA national teams, including the 1993 World University Games and 1998 IAAF World Road Race Championship in Manaus, Brazil.