How to buy a running shoe (and avoid icky, oozy, sticky blisters)

Phylis would not mind my sharing the story of his blisters with you, dear readers, because we can all learn an important lesson from his predicament. Buying your running shoes a size to a size-and-a-half too large is not just recommended, it's really imperative to the preservation of a distance runner's tootsies. When a runner's foot makes contact with the ground, compression results, which begins way down in the ankles and makes its way up the body all the way to the low back and hips. This is why experienced runners always advise newbies, like the Stinky Drinkers, not to do all of their training on concrete and/or pavement. The harder the surface, the worse the compression. This is why many long-time runners must eventually endure knee and hip replacements.

However, Phylis is dealing with the other consequence of frequent distance running. His feet are widening. It's happening to all of us. At first, it's temporary. The swelling eventually subsides, and the feet return to normal. But — as running increases, the space between the foot bones expands, and feet can grow anywhere from a half to a full size. My feet have stayed about the same length, but I have noticed a definite tightness around the already wider part of my foot when I wear dress pumps or even sneakers. I simply look at it as a reason to buy new everyday shoes, and my runners aren't causing me problems because I followed the golden rule when I bought them — I wear a size 8.5 shoe normally, so my trainers are size 9.5.

Not so for Phylis. In an attempt to NOT have his feet look like boats, Phylis bought his runners in the same size as his dress shoes. A month in, his feet began to press against the sides of his shoes when he ran. A month-and-a-half into training, friction began to develop, and two months into training, Phylis was gritting his teeth, fighting to run through the pain as tiny mounds of irritated flesh and fluid grew beneath his socks.

Over the weekend, the Stinky Drinkers amassed for a mid-length run, after which Phylis removed his shoes to reveal bandages and medical tape wrapped around and around and around his red, swollen feet. We were all terribly upset by this and advised Phylis to return to the store where he bought his shoes and demand to trade them for a larger size. At first, he humbly stated that he would just tough it out, but I have recently been informed that he finally broke down and took our advice. He now has properly fitted shoes, but he will have to suffer through a few more runs before his poor, sad feet finally heal.

If you find yourself in a similar situation to our dear, injured Phylis, there is something you can do to speed the healing process. A baking soda foot bath is a great way to soothe the sting and dry out the sores. Just fill your tub high enough to cover your feet with warm water, dissolve in about half a box of baking soda and soak your feet for about 15–20 minutes. Do this every evening for 3 or 4 days and be sure to wear two pairs of socks if you run during this time of foot renewal.

So, take a lesson from Phylis. Don't worry if your feet look like boats. Better that than look and feel like they've been chewed on by blood-sucking, venomous zombies.


(The Stinky Drinkers are members of a beer-loving running team in training for the Women's Running Magazine Women's Half Marathon coming up this November in downtown St. Pete!  We're up to 10 miles per run and counting...and we're toasting every Tuesday night at Push Ultra Lounge with free John Hughes films and your chance to help support the fight against Leukemia and Lymphoma.)

Phylis has blisters. Big, nasty, fluid-filled pustules all over his feet.

Well, let me rephrase — Phylis HAD blisters all over his feet until just a few days ago when they finally burst, revealing stinging sores that stick to his socks, causing pain that fills his eyes with tears when he walks. This occurrence is especially unpleasant when Phylis is walking with friends from his place of business with whom he has not shared his blisters affliction — they simply think he's sensitive or, perhaps, suffering from terrible allergies.

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