However fit you are, your feet still take a pounding when you run. Ignore them for too long and you’ll end up with corns, blisters or calluses. Sore feet may eventually undermine your sporting performance, and certainly won’t look good in summer sandals either.

Podiatrist Suzanne Nyman says, “Whether you’re a beginner or a serious long-distance runner, you can’t afford to take your feet for granted. “Crucially, ensure you have good quality running shoes that fit properly. If your feet sweat and your runners rub against them, this will cause a painful blister that will bring your running to a halt.”

Feet

Invest in specialist running socks that have different shaped left and right feet and are designed to wick sweat away from the foot, reduce odour and prevent infections. Nyman advises making up your own foot spray. Buy an atomizer from your local chemist and fill it with surgical spirit (similar to methylated spirits, it is available from chemists). Spritz your feet before every run to help sweat evaporate and reduce the risk of blisters and chafing.

Soften up

Hard, cracked skin is one of the most common side-effects of running. As your foot works hard to absorb the impact of your body weight, a cushion of thicker skin can build up, especially around the heel and big toe. Left untreated, it can harden and turn a yellowish colour. Heels may eventually crack and bleed, and calluses may develop, which can be even more painful.

Exfoliate first

Beauty therapist Sally Mittuch says runners need to exfoliate their feet regularly to prevent and remove hard skin. Follow this with an intensive oil treatment, such as argan oil, which penetrates and softens the skin. Always exfoliate. “Many people don’t realise that it’s a waste of time moisturising your feet unless you have first exfoliated,” she says. Make sure your toenails are the correct length. Too long and they can press against your shoes as you run, which will lead to nail damage. Nyman says that many runners ignore foot problems until they affect their sport. Regularly soak feet in warm water and use a pumice stone on the heels, balls and sides of the feet and toes. Dry them properly and allow feet to breathe. Before you begin a running regime, visit a podiatrist who will assess your feet, looking for things that might impede your running progress, such as fungal infections or an uneven gait. “It’s best to seek advice before your run, rather than ignoring your feet and eventually damaging them so much that you can’t run properly anymore,” says Nyman.

Caring for your feet during a long raceGrass run

Before the race, spritz your feet with an atomizer containing surgical spirit to reduce sweating and chafing. Wear well-fitting runners and specialist running socks. Tie your laces firmly. “Loose shoes can rub and harm your feet. Just loosen them during the race if you need to,” says Nyman. Post-race, apply a cooling, medicated gel. Then do some tension-releasing foot exercises. For example, standing in bare feet, raise up on the balls of your feet then slowly lower down five times – stand on the edge of a step if there’s one handy. Then, seated, gradually circle your ankles five times each way. Massage your feet firmly to increase blood flow. Later, soak your feet in warm water. Exfoliate and apply moisturiser before bed. Sleep in cotton socks to help your feet absorb the moisturiser.

Words by Liz Hollis