When I started running over two and a half years ago I was wearing some Nike shoes that I got at Arch Rival. Originally I had them for walking, but figured they would suffice as a run shoe. I wasn’t really a runner so it seemed logical to me. Well, I got some major blisters on my feet pretty quick and not sure what to do (yeah, I could have gone to the shoe store, but didn’t want to spend more money on expensive shoes) I did what I knew from my days as a figure skater and bought some silicone toe pads to protect my toes. It wasn’t pretty, but they did the trick. No blisters from that day forward. They worked, so why would I change anything?
Up until the beginning of December and the Vegas Half marathon I participated in, this is what I stuffed into my shoes for every run. I now run in Brooks Trance and there is actually ample room for all my padded toes. Even so, with my upcoming marathon, I really wanted to find an alternative to running 26.2 miles with these on.
Back in October, I started working for Athleta and while stocking the merchandise I would always see these different looking socks in the workout section. They were made by Smartwool and I was intrigued because the package said: Blister Free! I was very skeptical and would always look at them but never tried them. Then one day a coworker, Jill, was raving about Smartwool socks in general. We sell a variety of Smartwool products and I, like most people, have this notion that Smartwool is like the wool our grandparents wore… itchy! But I had tried the tights (with no itchy feeling) and so Jill talked me into trying the running socks. I bought one pair.
I did a few test runs. On my treadmill and initially with the one silicone pad on my second toe. A mile into the run I removed it because I realized something amazing… I didn’t need it and my foot was getting numb. After I removed it the numbness went away. Long story short and a bunch of runs later including a twelve and a fourteen mile run… no blisters at all!
I felt cured!
Last week the Smartwool rep came to our store for a product training presentation. I learned just how great Smartwool is. Todd, our rep and an ultra-marathoner, told us some fascinating facts about this new and improved wool. Now this is going to sound kind of gross, but admit it… you’ve probably worn your run socks more than one time (maybe in an emergency) before washing… yes? If they are Smartwool socks that is perfectly fine as they are anti-bacterial. Think about it… sheep don’t wash everyday. Right? I will admit that I have worn my new Smartwool socks two times before washing them. And they don’t smell. Smartwool has not just moisture wicking properties, but vaporizing capabilities as well. You will never feel sweaty wearing them! I promise! And, they are temperature regulating, so you never feel hot or cold, just comfy. I like that. I like these socks so much that I have bought a few more pairs and won’t wear my old running socks again. I like them so much that I have given them to my marathon training buddies and good friends and am looking forward to trying out some of the other cool Smartwool products in our store, like the half-zip base layer tops and reversible beanie hats. Sounds perfect for a winter run although, Todd informed us that they are all-season clothing. That means that you can even wear them in the warmer weather and not get hot. Amazing!
I do not work for Smartwool nor am I an expert of their products. I just know I love these socks! Which is why I am blogging about them and reccomending that you try them if you haven’t already. What have you got to lose? Never getting blisters again? That seems pretty fantastic in my book.
So, here are my feet now… and I’m only sharing this not so pretty picture (yes, I know my toenails are icky which is why they are usually covered in polish, as you see red remnants of polish) as a reference point and because I recently lost my first toenail back in September from all the running. I look at it as a runner’s badge of honor. A new nail was already growing underneath, but now has turned black and I’m guessing will eventually fall off too. I’m thinking that it could be because I had all that crap wrapped around my toes and well… maybe that is why that happened. This picture is a reference point or a before image. In a half dozen months from now I want to compare what my feet look like. Will the Smartwool socks make any improvement over them? I have no answer but am hopeful they do. Regardless, I will be seeing my podiatrist soon for any other expert input.
For now… I will keep running smart… in Smartwool. 😉
Do you wear Smartwool? What are your experiences with socks and blisters? What do your runner’s feet look like? I’d love to hear from you.