Saturday, September 25, 2010

An Epiphany!

Tiffany's epiphany.  On Friday, September 17th, 5 days after my 140.6 mile triathlon, I was still dealing with some toe issues ... and besides being painful, I was seriously stumped as to WHY.  I've run that distance in those shoes many times over.   The two most lateral toes - toes 4 and 5 - on BOTH feet, had sloughed all their skin and were a raw, painful mess. Think burn victim. The pain 3 and 4 days out was way worse than race day or the next 2 days.  The other thing that was going on were toes 1 and 2 had black toenails - or subungual hematomas. Fortunately, these were painless!  Only the middle toe on both feet were spared!

On this day I head over to Achilles Running Store for another shoe measurement. I've been told I'm a 7, a 7.5 and an 8, on different occasions. Makes shoe buying difficult!

This day I measured as a 6.75 on my left foot and 7 on my right foot - WTF??  Okay, so the knowledgeable sales lady tells me that she's a size 7 and was currently wearing an 8. Just so much variability in brands and models. But this still didn't answer my question - why did all this happen!

Then: LIGHTBULB MOMENT!  I took in salt tabs during this race.  Probably 4 on the bike, and 6 on the run. My reasoning is to ward off crippling calf cramping. It was working!! Not one cramp!  But, the trade off is swelling, especially of fingers and toes. So, my toes swelled. They swelled A LOT! There was no room in my toebox to accommodate the swelling and no lubrication to help with the friction developed by the toes crammed in the toebox.  Well, this info was very, very helpful! 

In the mean time, I've heard that during full IM and marathons, it's not uncommon for athletes to wear shoes a half or even a full size larger. Also, applying body glide or aquaphor to the toes will be helpful. And, I've invested in a pair of compression socks, so I'm very happy to have figured out the etiology for the toe trauma, and have a plan to address it in the future. Plus, I'll gate-keep the sodium tabs a little more from now on.

Over Sat. and Sunday I developed subungual abscesses in 2 toes. This is painful :(  I soaked the feet, sterilized the instruments and went to work on releasing the pressure and and flushing out the purulent material. I removed one toenail, the other was immediately relieved by the draining. I started antibiotics and kept my feet elevated for a full day.  Seems like within 24 hrs I was feeling much better.  Ready to move on from this and be done with feet injuries. By Thursday, I was fully recovered!

So, lesson learned, and kind of excited to know that there is a logical explanation. And, it can be avoided! Woo hoo!

Peace out,


  1. Interesting. I wonder if that is why my fingers swelled to the size of gorillas? Because of the salt tabs I took?

    I wear a 91/2 normally and run with size 11 shoes. Probably why I didn't have the same issues as you with the toes.

    Thanks for not posting pix of your feet :-)