Friday, 22 July 2016

Foot care happiness

Argyrios 'Argy' Papathanasopoulos is a superb ultra-distance runner. We met in March 2013 when I ran the wonderful five-day Namib Desert Challenge for the second time.

 Argy is helluva accomplished and he runs a lot. From Spartathalon to multi-day staged races, Argy gobbles up distance with ease.

Argy and his wife Hannisze before the race.
With the notorius Badwater Ultra (135-miles / 217-kilometres through Death Valley) coming up, Argy dropped me a note asking for foot care advice. This is what he wrote:

In one week's time, I will be running the Badwater race of 217 km in very hot conditions. Last time when I did Spartathlon 250 km, I suffered from many blisters. Do you suggest taping before race to prevent it...or changing socks - shoes on regular period and check for blisters and treating them during the race? 
I'm no foot guru like 'Fixing Your Feet's John Vonhof, but I have had a keen interest in blisters and foot care since I got into adventure racing and ultras some 17 years ago. I've been very fortunate not to suffer terribly from blistering, but I've had the odd heel blister, maceration, triangular little toes, random toe blisters and under-toenail blisters. My aim has always been to learn how to deal with the problem so that I never get them again.

On receiving Argy's note, I got all excited and fired off something about John Vonhof's excellent new article on foot maceration and skin toughening options.

I also agreed with Argy's his suggestions of changing socks and also checking on blisters and treating them during the race. Yes, yes, yes! I'm not big on taping, but that depends where the blisters arise and what is the cause and whether experience has proven that the taping will prevent blisters in the problem area.

And then I added, "So where do you get your blisters?" (this should have been my first response but I was just so delighted to receive Argy's note).

I get blisters only around toenails!
Ahhh... I love toenail issues.

Primary toenail issues are: shoes too narrow, shoes too small, seam line on socks, toenails too long and also thickened toenails. In the process of firing off my theories Argy replied,

I don't think it's too narrow. I think it's due to my thick nails coming upwards and increasing friction.
 Boom! Did you hear it? The sound of a nail being hit on the head.

In addition to suggesting that he uses a nail file to file his thickened nails down and to use a scraping tool to dig out any thickenings under the nail, I sent him this link to an excellent piece that John Vonhof wrote on his 'Fixing Your Feet' blog a few years ago on Toes and Toenails.

He took a quick look at the article and replied:

This last article is talking about my problem. First photo shows exactly my problem. I think I have to emphasise on filing the nail.
Argy completed Badwater about two days ago in an incredible 7th place. He ran the 217-kilometre distance in only 27 hours 39 minutes 32 seconds.

Emerging from the internet-free desert he just sent a quick note saying:

Everything went perfectly. Only two small blisters, sorted out straight before creating problems!
A successful race in more ways than just an excellent result and time. Very, very well done Argy.

1 comment:

John Vonhof said...

Glad he had such a good race and that he found you for help. Yes, toenail care is important and too many runners don't think to file down their thick nails - whether it's from nail fungus or nails that have come in that way after losing them many times. Good advice. They often leave them too long and with rough edges or corners. All things that can lead to problems- and easily fixed.