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Foot tips for Triathletes. 5 Important foot tips that can make or break a race

Foot tips for Triathletes. With the warmer weather upon us, it’s time for many to shave the legs, don the lycra and put their winter training to good use as the Melbourne triathlon season is here! Some triathletes will have already competed at the iconic Noosa and Shepparton triathlons recently. To get through your races as unscathed as possible, I’ve put together my 5 top foot tips for Triathletes.


Tip 1. Footwear:

Hopefully you’ve found a running shoe that you’ve been able to log some training kilometres in which have protected your feet and kept you relatively injury free. But what about racing? A lighter shoe can be more energy efficient with every 100g saved reducing energy expenditure by 1%, but beware! With less support and cushioning, too rapid a change may unearth some biomechanical inefficiencies making you more susceptible to injury. Speak to your sports podiatrist or speciality shoe retailer if this is you and maybe consider a mid-weight option in the transition to lighter race shoes. Leading up to your race you’ll want to ensure your feet are well rested. This means wearing cushioned supportive shoes (ie runners) in the days leading up to the race. As tempting as it is to kick around town in thongs during those destination races to Cairns or Busselton, the extra work placed on muscles in your lower legs and within your feet may be felt during the later stages of the run come race time.


Tip 2. Abstaining from socks?

That 20 seconds you saved not putting socks on in transition may quickly be lost as you limp from the 5km mark onward due to the large blister that has formed on the back of your heel. You definitely want to try going sockless in your race runners and cycling shoes in training before the main event to find out if ‘hotspots’ form (see Blister Management below). Technical running socks containing fibres that wick sweat away from the skin such as “Coolmax” are your go-to options here, particularly in long course events.


Tip 3. Blister Prevention:

Hopefully you’ve worked out where you’re likely to develop a hotspot or blister during your training sessions. Protecting your skin by applying a thin dressing tape pre-race such as Mefix/Hypafix/Fixomull with rounded edges should get through the swim, bike and run. Additionally or alternatively, a lubricant such as Vaseline (watch out for stained clothes and damage to your wetsuit) or Bodyglide applied to the skin or inside your shoes may lower shearing forces in the skin layers enough to stop blisters from forming. Bodyglide and Paw Paw cream also work a treat where your wetsuit catches around the neck and shoulders, so this should be in your kit. If a blister does form, washing it with an antiseptic and protecting it with a dressing such ‘Spenco 2nd Skin’ is crucial. Your podiatrist can provide further offloading and dress blisters for a faster recovery.


Tip 4. Skin and Nail Management:

While thicker skin can help get you through the longer T1 runs at Sandringham, Taupo and the new Noosa, too much callous will increase the shearing forces in the skin layers and blisters will develop (see above). Leaving your nails too long can cause pressure upon them from hitting the end of your shoe and a painful bruise will develop under the nail. Cutting your nails too short in the corners or the night before a race may leave the nail bed sore and contribute to the nail edges becoming in-grown. See your podiatrist if any of these areas affect you.


Tip 5. Injury Management:

You’re an athlete so injuries are going to happen. Recognising what is a small niggle from a hard training session versus the start of a prolonged injury can be tricky. Experienced athletes may be able to tell the difference, but from a practitioner’s point of view, if that niggle “doesn’t feel right”, get it checked out. Addressing injuries before they become more serious will be less costly and will usually mean less time if any, away from the sport you love!


Best wishes for the Tri Season!

Foot tips for Triathletes
Adam Fenton (pictured above) is a six-time Ironman Triathlon finisher and one of our senior podiatrists at Walk On Podiatry – Narre Warren