01 September 2013

Foot care

This is UTMB weekend and I have just watched Xavier Thevenard win the men’s race in 20:34:57 (an amazing 8.20 km/h over the 168.7 km and 9796 m elevation). Even more impressive was the first woman Rory Bosio who finished 7th overall in an incredible time of 22:37:26. During early morning there were some DNFs in the lead pack, among them our Swedish runner Jonas Buud. Another Swede, Johan Johansson, is however soon going to finish in top 15 overall.

Less than 8 days left now until Tor des Géants. This week has been full of hill running – but it feels almost ridiculous to prepare for 24000 meters elevation by running up (and down) local ski slope Sunnerstabacken in Uppsala with some 30 meters elevation. I choose a really step and technical path, however, to prepare for more difficult sections and it definitively ad both to the aerobic capacity and strength so I think it is good.

I have also spent some time taking care of my feet. Last year after La Boucle at Trail Verbier St Bernard I lost both my big toe (Hallux) nails and really want to avoid this at Tor des Géants (TDG) by preparing my feet better. The TVSB was such a short race (I finished just under 24 hours) so I did not feel anything during the race, but in such a long race as TDG feet problem might cause the dreadful DNF. I also expect the feet to swell more, perhaps not to such a great extent as for the runners in Trans Europe Foot Race 2009 (TEFR09), a 4487 km (2789 mi) multistage ultra-marathon covering the south of Europe (Bari, Italy) to the North Cape. An interesting study with MRI of the feet of the runners in this race showed that there was significant swelling of the Achilles tendon diameter as well as bone signal are thought to be adaptive since only subcutaneous oedema and plantar fascia oedema were related to abortion of the race (Freund W, Weber F, Billich C, et al. The foot in multistage ultra-marathon runners: experience in a cohort study of 22 participants of the Trans Europe Footrace Project with mobile MRI. BMJ Open 2012;2:e001118. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001118 ). The swelling was so severe that many competitors had to perform shoe adjusments turning the shoes into makeshift sandals.
The feet that will take me 330 km in TDG

Other studies confirm that feet problem is a common cause of abandoning of ultramarathons and one of the most common injuries, in particular foot blister (Bulla). A great article about common race day injuries and how to treat them is the one by Khodaee M, Ansari M. Common ultramarathon injuries and illnesses: race day management. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2012; 11:290-7. Their recommendations are quite general however with regards to both preventive measures and treatment and as we all are different I think it important to find what works for you. I will focus on tending to my feet and nails before the race, using good shoes and socks, and also as a preventive measure use the skin lubricant Sportslick which tend to work well for me.
I anyway of course expect to develop some blisters and will then use a self-adhesive colloid type dressing normally used on pet animals called Animal Soft (you can buy it at Swedish pharmacies over the counter).

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