Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Day of Feet



Everyone who knows me well knows that I have a serious aversion to feet. I feel about feet the way Pompey felt about Caesar, the way Sooners feel about Longhorns, the way Hiroshima feels about uranium… okay maybe the feelings aren’t quite that strong. However, the fact remains, I really don’t like feet.

One of the unfortunate effects of sports is the jacked up things that make feet even more unpleasant than I already find them. Imagine a food you really dislike. Now add a liver puree on top… and heavy whipping cream… and perhaps a squirt of lemon juice to make sure your cream is thick. Now eat it. No? Not interested? Neither I am.

Running

Calluses... Heels, toes, balls of the feet- oh my! Calluses are a buildup of dead skin in response to pressure or fiction. Apparently it’s not so much a skin issue, but a foot mechanics/shoe fit/bone problem. Sounds great! Could it get any better? Of course. The calluses can be thick, dry, scaly, yellow, red, tender, and flakey. Oh- and you can develop painful blisters under the calluses. Bring out the liver puree, because this is making me hungry.

Blisters. Small, fluid filled, skin bubbles. Much like calluses, blisters are caused by friction. Things can get worse if you have excessive moisture in your shoe (wet shoes from transitions, wet weather, or just plain old sweaty feet).

Toenail loss. Watch out, Matt! I’m throwing you under the bus! For years I was sheltered from the horror that is black toenails that eventually fall off. Then I met Matt. After long stints of running, Matt's feet are a total train wreck. You want to look away, but you can’t. Interestingly, he always knows when he’s going to lose a toenail. As though it’s as common as changing his oil, he will declare flatly, “I think my toenail is going to fall off.” Black toenails are caused by constant rubbing of the toes against the front of the shoe. You are basically creating an unbreakable blood blister under your toenail.

Swimming

Athletes Foot. Not all athletes wear shoes. But they should. You know something is bad when it is also called ringworm of the foot and has the potential to spread to the groin. Chlorinated pool areas do not have magical powers that make the deck a nice place to put your bare feet. I cannot stress this enough. When I go to the pool and when I’m in locker rooms the average number of people wearing some sort of shoe? One. Me. Ya’ll are sick. All I can say is keep your flip flops on and practice the good hygiene your momma taught ya!

Plantar warts. Get your barf bag ready. These noncancerous skin growths are caused by HPV. The virus enters through breaks in your skin, often beneath the pressure points in your feet. Ummm… pretty sure I already told you that these are the same places you are blisters and calluses… so umm… right… remember the shoe thing… yep…

Dry skin. This isn’t caused by chlorine, so don’t think you’re immune if you stick to open water. Your dry, itchy skin is a result of being in water for extended periods of time. Say adios to your skin’s natural oils. No big deal. Moisturize. Enjoy a moisturizing soak in the tub with some nice bath oil. You’ll be fine. And you’ll smell better. All this training is making you funky.

Cycling

Loss of skin. I’m leaving this to seasoned triathletes with their crazy horror stories. I’m not talking about a little flaking or a tiny blister sized loss. I’m talking about large sheet like pieces. Ugh.

More Calluses and Blisters… I don’t want to talk about this anymore. Ugh.

There is light at the end of the tunnel and it is right up my alley. What better for a girl who’s not a fan of feet? Something to cover them…

Shoes

Running Shoes: Proper shoe fit is one of the most important factors for your feet. Before Carie took me shoe shopping for my Disney marathon shoes, I had constantly bloody ankles. I know, there was an obvious problem and it should have tipped me off. In all fairness, I’ve ALWAYS had bloody ankles from running. I was getting used to it. It was like a badge of honor. A war wound. My way of telling the world, “yes, I worked out and here’s the crimson proof.” Then I fell in love with Earl at Run On! Dallas.

There are some ugly truths about buying running shoes. These will be harder to swallow for women than for men.
1. Feet get larger with age. So do your ears and nose. Won’t you be pretty.
2. Running shoes should be larger than your regular shoes. This gives men at triathlons and running events a chance to lie… until they are forced to drop the track pants and you see them in all their spandex glory.
3. Your left and right foot may differ by as much as a full size… if you are a freak. Are you?
4. Women’s feet may become a half size larger or more during pregnancy. This information would be better birth control for teens than those baby boot camps you see on Maury.
5. Feet swell during the day... whether you are running long distances or not.
6. Socks make a huge difference, get ready to lay out more money for one pair than your grandmother spent on that pack of crew socks she gave you for Christmas

I recommend a shoe fitting. There are a ton of places, but if you are here in the DFW area, I recommend Run On! and Luke’s Locker.

Cycling Shoes: Before we get into this, an important note- the clipless pedal is one in which your shoe is clipped in. Way to make that easy to decifer.

Clipless pedal systems offer you more bang for your energy buck. Because you are attached to the pedal in a stiff-soled shoe, you can pull more efficiently on your upstroke. This is great if you are in shape and enjoy that extra oomph. Some days I wish I wasn’t clipped in so that my burning thighs could enjoy taking it easy on the ride back up to the top of the circle.

Toe clips allow the foot to bend. You remember toe clips? Our parents’ 10 speeds from 1985 probably had them. Great if you need to stretch, save money, avoid maintenance, take your 5 and 7 year old on a bike ride to McDonald’s for pancakes. Bad if you don’t like losing energy.

Cycling shoes are a veritable smorgasbord. Mountain bike, road bike, triathlon, straps, laces, Velcro, colors, clips, widths, materials, country of origin… But here are some basics:
1. Bike shoes should have a snug fit (not tight, snug).
2. Different brands have different dimensions and will fit you differently. Try a bunch!
3. Not all shoes are compatible with all pedal systems.
4. Your feet should not hurt when you take your shoes off.
5. You get what you pay for.

Buying the right cycling shoes, much like my running shoes, required trained help. In the DFW area, there are a lot of options including Bicycles Plus and Richardson Bike Mart.

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2 comments:

Debra said...

I hate feet too, we must have gotten in from somebody! Maybe one of our mom's hate feet ^^
And you are so right about proper footwear, but if those are your feet at the begining, not to shabby, they would be cute, if feet could be cute. It might just be the rainbow sock, though.

Linda East said...

I agree feet are the uglest part of your (or anybody's) body...ok that sounds funny...hahahahaha