James Williams's Midweek Alarm, which is set to run fast 50 km before work, is, surprisingly, not the most terrible thing about his current training regime. By far not.
"The worst bubble I've ever suffered was indeed the youngest," admits the amateur ultra-runner, after sneaking away from his desk at Sky – where he's a performance examiner – to talk about it Phone. "It happened about five weeks ago, on the fourth toe of my right foot. It was awful – a huge, yellow, pus-filled balloon that not only covered the bottom of my toe, but also wriggled all the way over it. It actually caused a slight infection in the rest of my foot and the bottom of my leg. Not ideal for a week when I planned to cover 250 miles in training. "
Williams latest bubble is the last in a long line of wild skin blisters, in a career in which he has won the Autumn 1
Now the 31-year-old father of two wants a world record run by John O'Goats to Land's End and With an average speed of 6 minutes and 43 seconds per kilometer, the current record is set to be be broken by nine days, two hours and 26 minutes. Here's how he will do it without getting in the way of a small (or big) blister.
How have you been able to get such an epic blister lately?
I'm not sure how it happened. It did not have anything to do with the socks or sneakers – I wear runners from Hilly Twin Skins and Saucony Kinvara all the time, and both are fantastically comfortable, fit perfectly and are great at preventing blisters. In fact, I have been wearing the same coach for eight years as I have. I think the culprit might have been a bit of a grit in my shoe.
What did you learn from this?
That you have to deal with bubbles as soon as you feel how they form. We refer to the early phases as "hot spots". If you feel like someone is showing up, you need to take off your shoe and sock and take care of it. Just shake your shoe off or see the doctor at your next checkpoint.
Stopping in full racing mode requires a lot of willpower. How do you deal with it?
That's right – but if you notice something on your feet and do not do it right away, you want to be out of action for well over five minutes. Shoe and sock must be removed. My sports psychologist helped me with that. One of our racing strategies is If / Then. It's easy, but it's about listing all scenarios for "When this happens" and finding solutions for "Then I'll". It can be as simple as what happens if I have not eaten for an hour, but it also covers the action of stopping when a bubble occurs. You'll be amazed how much easier it will be to follow such rules when you write them down.
Any quick midterm bug fixes?
I'll have a very basic first aid set with me when I'm running with sterilized needles and patches of John's Groats to Land's End. That's the easy part. The hardest thing is having the expertise to really lance a bubble – that's difficult for me because I can not handle needles very well. Luckily, I'll have an incredible masseur, Kerry Tibby, who will accompany me as part of my team. She is a pro in such things.
What are the craziest prevention measures you've heard of?
The best form of prevention is to make sure your shoes are the right size. I have heard of people who regularly rub alcohol on their feet or use light sandpaper to harden their feet, but so far I have not come to these extremes. I think the funniest thing I do is with my wife when we watch TV together. We rarely watch TV, but when we sit on the sofa, we tend to massage one another's feet. It's a great way to look after yourself if your partner wishes! I am very happy, considering how disturbed my feet are …
What is the most common mistake people make when dealing with blisters?
I've heard too many horror stories from marathon runners who attended major exhibitions before the race day. and attracted by eye-catching new coaches, who then carry them to the start line. Brand new shoes for a big race are a recipe for a bladder disaster.
Have you ever had the really terrible fate of a blister under your toenail?
I've had that before, yes. This happened in my training for the marathon of Sables. Actually, it's a bit disgusting – I hosted a dinner party and walked through my house without shoes or socks when the nail jumped off. To be honest, they look much worse than they feel.
Wow. Did your guests make it for dessert?
Haha, they have. They are aware of what I did with my feet.
And finally: how do I know when to play pop and when not?
To be honest, I do not often get blisters that are horribly enough pop, or that justify a full-blown medical emergency. I would only let one pop if it was the most bulbous – do not start it too soon with a needle. The important thing is to make sure you are using a suitable surgical needle and tighten it immediately. I also think it's important to let as much skin over the bladder as possible – exposing the red, raw skin underneath is a no-no. Then try to dry it out and air it at home.
James Williams is an Athlete from Saucony UK and wears the Kinvara 10. Follow his world record attempt at saucony.com/uk and jamesrunsfar.com