Ultramarathon Foot Care – How To Prepare Your Feet Throughout Training and Before the Big Day

This blog is fresh and raw because I’m 2 weeks out from running the scariest thing I’ve ever trained for.  In 2 weeks I’ll be attempting to run the TDS-UTMB – Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie – Part of the Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc (UTMB) trail running festival.  This is a 145 km trail running event through the alps, starting in Courmayeur (Italy) and finishing in Chamonix (France).  Runners have 44 hours to complete this treacherous and technical course which means I’ll be running against the clock and will constantly be on the move.  You guessed it, there’ll be no sleep!

Among other variables that I need to pay attention to during the training leading up to TDS, my feet are my number one priority.  Much of what I do to prepare my feet for the day can be applied to other running races, so keep reading as the basics behind foot care for ultramarathon runners can also be applied to other running events.

Before Training:

  • Find the best fitting shoe for your feet:
    – When standing, your longest toe should be a thumbs width away from the end of the shoe and your toes should feel relaxed and spaced out.
    – We all have one foot slightly larger than the other, make sure you fit the bigger foot first!
    – Get fitted for shoes in the afternoon when your feet are at it’s largest.
    – Try on at least 3 different pairs and choose the best one that feels the most comfortable.  Have a 5 mins run on the treadmill at the shop to get a feel for the shoe.
    – The right shoe for you is the one that ‘feels’ the most comfortable.
  • Buy moisture wicking and padded running socks:
    – There are a plethora of running socks on the market, we find the ones that are padded and have good moisture wicking properties to be the best.
    – Injinji toe socks are great if you tend to get blisters between your toes.

During Training

  • Long runs are an opportunity to learn how to take care of your feet.  During and after any long runs you should note if any of the following is happening:
    – Hotspots are blister prone areas.  These are areas that you need to remember to tape up before your next long run.
    – Bruised toenails are a sign that your nails are experiencing trauma.  This will likely be from the repetitive tapping of your toe against the shoe whilst running. Sometimes it may be due to your shoes being too small OR too big.  It may also be due to the foot moving forward too much on a steep continuous downhill.  Stopping for a few seconds to lace up your shoes just that bit tighter will save you from many black toenails.


  • Look after your feet when you’re not running:  Runners make the mistake of not paying attention to their feet when they’re not running.  Recovery for the feet is important after a strenous workout.  If you’re required to continue into the day on your feet, make sure you wear comfortable shoes.  My favourite product to put on my feet after a long run to wear around the house is a pair of Oofos thongs.  These awesome thongs absorb 37% of impact and can help relieve pain around the heel, arches and ball of your feet.
  • Trial different blister prevention products .  All feet are different which means the success of blister prevention products are also user dependent.  For example, tape on sweaty feet to prevent blisters won’t work as well as powder products.
  • Get corns and calluses assessed and debrided by a podiatrist regularly.  Corns and calluses are areas of the feet that are experiencing too much force and pressure.  Knowing the reason why this is happening early will prevent much pain to your feet down the track.
  • Foot pain and niggles.  If you know what is normal discomfort vs pain that is a precursor to an injury then you’re a step ahead of the game.  However, if you’re unsure, it’ll be a good idea to visit your podiatrist to get that assessed asap!

Before the Event:

Guess what?  By now, if you’ve actioned all the points above, you’ve got not much else to do.

  • Three weeks out from event:  The first trick to strengthening the skin on your feet for the big day is tanning. This method will increase the number of cells present in the top layers of your skin, which will be more resistant to friction without cracking and blistering. Lemon juice is the most effective and natural product. Every night, apply the juice of half a lemon over your entire foot.  Once dried, apply a thick foot cream and let that soak and dry. 
  • Never try anything new!  By now you should have road tested everything and have learnt what works and what doesn’t for your feet.  It’s not a time to try anything new because someone you know is doing it.  Stick to your plan!

For me, the task ahead to complete the TDS-UTMB ultramarathon is very daunting, but I’m comforted and reassured in knowing that I’ve prepared my feet the best I can for the day.

If navigating this is a challenge for you, we’re here to help.  Myself and our team of amazing podiatrists can give you a personalised assessment and help answer all your questions.  You can Book An Appointment Online or call our friendly help team on (03) 9711 7562.  Run Strong everyone!

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